The microbiome, the nose, the gut and good health
The “microbiome” or microbes that live in us or on us, is a huge area of research interest for many health areas. There are ten times more microbes -mainly bacteria, fungi (yeasts/molds) and viruses in our guts and on our skins than there are cells in our bodies (thought the microbes are tiny and only make up about 2% of us by weight).
Some microbes can be very beneficial to us, helping provide vitamin K for example, and helping to keep bad microbes at bay. However, microbes can get to parts of the body where they should not be, or the wrong type of harmful microbe can take over where beneficial ones should be (overuse of antibiotics can be a factor here).
Gut microbiome disturbance or gut flora imbalance
There is a lot of interest particularly for ME/CFS, where candidiasis, or a yeast overgrowth in the digestive system can either be a cause of ME/CFS, or at least closely mirror the symptoms. Research into replacing the harmful with healthy gut flora by faecal transplant from healthy donors has raised some eyebrows, but it does make sense. There are some useful links on the microbiome and ME/CFS and enterovirus and candidiasis
But today I am concentrating on the nose, or more specifically microbes in the upper respiratory tract. It seems that colonisation with the right type of microbes can help keep harmful ones at bay. Harmful ones can include molds – many people with asthma can have mold allergies, especially if they have been living in very damp unhealthy conditions. However, some people can remain chronically sick even when they move away from these unhealthy conditions with mycotoxins still detectable in their urine; their airways may actually be colonised with harmful molds, possibly as a naso-sinus fungal biofilm, which continue to produce mycotoxins and cause health problems.
As well as causing respiratory problems, mold colonisation in the respiratory tract may be a factor in ME/CFS in some people.
An altered respiratory microbiome may also have a role to play in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Recent studies looking at bacterial colonies in the nose and sinus have shown that there are 7 main types colonising humans, mostly harmless, but between 20-50% of people have the staphylococcus (which may be antibiotic resistant MRSA) type which are potentially harmful. This infection may go unnoticed until it gets into a surgical wound (a huge issue in hospitals) where cause serious problems can occur through infection; from abscesses, blood poisoning, and destruction of heart valves and bones. Current research is focusing on ways of replacing the harmful bacteria with beneficial ones -possibly by nasal spray –which can then compete out the MRSA and help avoid serious infections during surgery.
A normal birth may help protect babies by colonising their respiratory and digestive systems with beneficial bacteria from the mother’s birth canal. The lack of these beneficial bacterial may be one reason that babies born via caesarean section are more likely to have asthma and other chronic health conditions.
So it is best to breathe through your nose; as well as warming, humidifying and filtering the air your breathe, as well as making enzymes and gases that can help clean up the air your breathe, a healthy nose contains lots of beneficial microbes that may outcompete the harmful ones, this could make it less likely the harmful ones will infect you.
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