Are We Oversimplifying the Microbiome?

New research shows the importance of the “microbiome” on our health. The silent force of our internal microbiome – also known as the bacteria in our gut – has been linked to a variety of positive health end points. Researchers have found that a vibrant internal bacteria has been linked to maintaining a healthy weight, support immune system function, balance hormones, reduced allergies and beyond.

microbiome health

Photo credit: Deposit Photos

As someone who has written several times about this incredible topic, I asked myself: are we oversimplifying this microbiome research to be the latest solution to all of our health problems?

Ed Yong seems to think so. He wrote a thought-provoking piece, “There is No ‘Healthy’ Microbiome” in today’s New York Times. Yong goes on to say that we’ll be misguided if we think microbiome science is easy to understand, track, or define as “healthy”. He uses an example that many of us can relate to, describing how the microbes in a woman’s vagina not only changes month to month during pregnancy, but can drastically change within any 24 hour period. If something that is that complex, unique to the individual and rapidly changing how can we create and define an ideal or healthy baseline? Clearly, more research needs to be done.

So in a world where we know that eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and less processed food is a good thing, will there be a way for us to accurately measure and define a “healthy microbiome”? Maybe and maybe not.

Moving forward, will I still take my daily probiotic, eat fermented foods and more fruits and vegetables? Yes, it’s the right thing to do for my health. And I’ll certainly keep writing about what new research comes forth about microbiomes, but only after I eat my sauerkraut.

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