Should the Microbiome Be Treated as an Organ?

So much of your health begins with the microorganisms in your gut that we speak about them a lot. Having a healthy microbiome can promote normal blood. There are ways to boost the condition of your microbiome. So, should we treat it as an organ?

Your microbiome is the trillions of bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses that live inside your gut. When you read that sentence, it’s hard to believe you want one! No one wants things living inside them, but you need a healthy microbiome to help your body break down food, boost the immune system and produce vitamins that your body cannot create! More and more studies have found that your microbiome plays a role in many aspects of your health. It has an impact on your ability to lose weight. A healthy microbiome promotes healthy aging. It plays a role in inflammation and more.

Without a healthy microbiome, we’re sunk. As a baby, you acquire your microbiome while being born and as you eat, and it develops throughout your life. Illness, diet and the use of antibiotics and other drugs can negatively impact your microbiome. But, fiber and a healthy diet rich in fermented foods, like yogurt and pickles, can make it more robust.

The use of probiotic foods and supplements can boost your microbiome if it has been under stress and damaged. “You can influence this huge bacterial colonization process more effectively with probiotics during these periods,” said Dr. Allan Walker of Harvard Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School.

The science behind probiotic supplements is still relatively new, so you may want to stick to helping your gut by eating fiber and fermented food. It is always important to speak to your doctor before taking any supplement. Probiotics — including probiotic foods — feed the microorganisms inside you. If you already have a healthy microbiome, they won’t do much to help.

If you’re dealing with a healthy adult or older child who isn’t on antibiotics, I don’t think giving a probiotic is going to be that effective in generally helping their health,” said Dr. Walker.  

Knowing how large of a role the microbiome plays in health, some scientists are saying that we should start considering it to be an organ and treating it as such.

We know that the human microbiome is crucial in healthy physiological processes,” said Dr. Petra Hanson of Warwick Medical School. “Our research shows that it plays many and varied roles — for example, in the normal development of the immune system, in the mediation of inflammatory pathways and metabolic processes, and in the regulation of appetite.”

It’s an excellent point. It could change the future of research but also the way we think about taking care of ourselves. So frequently, we eat things for our heart health or specifically for our blood sugar. Would you eat differently if your microbiome were stressed as being an organ? It might also change the way doctors approach our health and look for problems when we are ill. We would love to hear your thoughts on this interesting topic. Email us at!

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