Part 2 – What causes damage to our Microbiome?
Today, I want to start by asking you to imagine in your mind’s eye, the most incredibly diverse and beautiful garden you have ever seen. It could be based on reality or it could be based on what you know of the wonder and diversity of this amazing planet we live on. For me, I’m actually taken to a forest rather than a garden – to the Amazon Rainforest – where you can find an estimated 10% of the world’s known biodiversity. Well a healthy microbiome is a little bit like that garden or the forest you imagined. When it’s healthy and thriving, it is teeming with life – with a huge variety of species – all with crucial, yet differing roles, that sustain not only the direct environment in which they live (our gut) but also every system that contributes to the life and vitality of the human body.
Just as we can’t think of the Amazon Rainforest without simultaneously thinking about the many things that threaten it’s very existence and value. Our microbiomes are subject to different yet, just as significant threats.
Some of the primary things that cause damage to our microbiome’s include:
- Overuse of antibiotics.
While they are rightly seen as a marvel of modern medicine and can be life saving in some situations, scientists and medical practitioners alike are in complete agreement that their overuse in recent decades is likely to be the primary cause of decline in the diversity and health of our microbiome’s. Study after study reports “….rapid and long-lasting impacts from even a single dose of antibiotics, in some cases with full recovery of the microbiome never observed.” I’m not for a second advocating that we never use antibiotics, but at the same time we need to be really considered in their use as their effects on our microbiomes are far from benign.
Imagine finding some weeds in the garden you imagined above? And then spraying a powerful herbicide like roundup on the garden to get rid of those weeds – now you can see just how difficult it can be to use an antibiotic without causing damage to the overall health of the gut microbiome.