- Researchers say the human microbiome that lives in your gut is now endangered.
- The loss of bacteria and microorganisms reduces your chance at a healthy life.
- You’re the one killing off your own microbiome.
The human microbiome is endangered. And that’s not a good thing for your health—or the health of the rest of the world.
A new documentary, The Invisible Extinction, highlights how the human microbiome—also known as the bacteria and microorganisms living within the human body, most prevalent in the gut—is on the verge of extinct. And it’s all your fault.
In a discussion with People, two researchers behind the doc, Martin Glaser and Gloria Dominguez-Bello, say the human microbiome is essential for us to digest food, make vitamins, and train our immune systems. “When we eat,” Blaser tells People, “we are nourishing both our human cells and also our microbial cells.”
The slow death of the human microbiome is thanks to our modern way of life. We use antibiotics to kill off bad bacteria. But antibiotics kill off plenty of the good stuff, too. Blaser says the more antibiotics given to a child, the more likely they are to develop a range of illnesses. Blaser adds that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates about one-third of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary, leading to the overuse.
Then there’s the highly processed, chemical-laden food that’s wreaking havoc on our gut health. “The single most important component of the diet to feed the microbiome is fiber,” Dominguez-Bello says. These fibers feed your microbiome, while processed food removes the fiber, posing a negative result for your microbiome.
The researchers want better options for the antibiotic issue, both with improved testing to see if a bacterial infection is really in play, and by developing new antibiotics that don’t have the “collateral damage that are killing every bacterium inside.”
“We are making a complete mess of biodiversity, including microbial,” Dominguez-Bello says. “Microbes are essential in every ecosystem, not only in humans or animals or plants, but also in the oceans. He whole thing is linked together by impact of human activities. We need to preserve microbes because they really modulate functions of Earth. They modulate the climate. They modulate everything. They modulate our own gene expression.”
The human microbiome is a big deal. Let’s not kill it.