At the end of last year, Fortune Magazine predicted that 2015 would be the Year of the Microbiome, because of advances in medical technology and the progress around discovering what’s behind some of our trickiest medical issues.
But just WHAT IS a microbiome?
Maybe you remember biology class, and studying microbes — they’re basically any organism too small to be seen with the naked eye.
The microbiome is the collection of all of these tiny living things that live on and in our body. And what scientists are discovering is that the little guys play a HUGE role in our overall health and how diseases might impact us.
Our microbiomes are also constantly evolving, making it increasingly tricky to figure out just what a “normal” microbiome might look like. What we’re discovering is that “it is reasonable to characterize the microbiome as a newly recognized organ, with a great range of metabolic activities.”
Why does the microbiome matter?
Well, those little creatures that live on your skin are noted as being not only the most diverse, but also some of the most important defensive players when it comes to our health.
“New evidence suggests that commensal skin bacteria both directly protect humans from pathogenic invaders and help the immune system maintain that delicate balance between effective protection and damaging inflammation.”
So, yeah, taking care of the ecosystem that lives on our body is really important!
Show your microbiome some love
But here’s what we’re also learning — besides the fact that it’s always evolving, my microbiome is probably different than your microbiome. There are, of course, some similarities, but the differences mean that there isn’t just ONE way of caring for one’s microbiome.
Stay away from antimicrobial products
A few ways that we can take care of the communities of microbes living on our skin involve protecting that balance that they’re creating. That means eliminating antimicrobial products that kill off the bacteria that are actually good for us.
One of the biggest offenders is triclosan, which has been found to be “no more effective than plain soap at preventing infectious illness symptoms and reducing bacterial levels on the hands.” Not only that, triclosan (found in a wide range of antibacterial or antimicrobial soaps) has been found in water supplies and sewage treatment plants, and has been linked to altering hormone regulation functions in wildlife.
Oils, on the other hand, are able to penetrate and clear out pores, dissolving other oils and other gunk. We’re a huge fan of castile soaps and products containing other awesome oils (argan, coconut, olive, etc.).
And of course, eating nutrient-dense, whole foods can ensure that you’re healthy from the inside out. It’s all about that balance!
Want products that are good for your microbiome, and leave you feeling fresh? Here are a few we’d recommend!