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What Happened to Our Microbiomes?

07/18/2017 10:16 pm ET Updated Jul 19, 2017

The microbiome is “in”.  It’s even gotten its own NIH study, the sci-fi named “Human Microbiome Project”. Those 100 trillion little bacteria cells in your body,  that make up 3 times as many bacteria cells as you have human cells and that have existed in humans for eons, are finally having their “moment”.  I know I’ve been intrigued. I took a probiotic during my second pregnancy last fall, in hopes of setting up my second child with his own healthy microbiome. But, when he was born via an unexpected C-section, I wondered if there was anything else I should do. (I also wondered if I should keep taking them, myself). 

As you may know, these little 100 trillion bacterial tag-alongs are more than just free-riders. In fact, the health of our microbiome can have implications for our overall health: everything from our weight to our digestive health to our immune system. The bad news for our microbiomes today? Antibiotics, industrialized life, and poor diets – among many other things – have altered most of our microbiomes. Our ancestors (and even people in non-industrialized nations today) had what’s considered to be a “healthy” microbiome: one with a broad array of beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacillus, Bacteroides, and Bifidobacterium. Tests show a very different makeup today – even as early as infancy — and this may be contributing to the rise of chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, asthma, allergies, and even depression... Read more on The Huffington Post