Your Endangered Human Microbiome

digestion gut health immune system microbiome nutrition May 23, 2023

Were you aware that scientific researchers say the human microbiome that lives in your gut is now endangered and at risk of going extinct? The slow death of the human microbiome is alarming news, and of great concern for your health and everyone else in the world!

The human microbiome plays a crucial role in our overall health and well-being, including both our physical and mental health. The human microbiome is a collection of trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa, that live in our gut and throughout our body.

A healthy microbiome can aid in digestion, boost the immune system, and protect against harmful pathogens. On the other hand, an imbalanced microbiome can lead to a range of health issues, including inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune diseases, obesity, and mental health disorders.

The culprit is our modern way of living. Everywhere we go — at home, work and in the public square — we’re constantly being exposed to, and even bombarded with, harmful and toxic chemicals throughout the course of each day. They’re in the air we breathe, products we touch, medicine we take, water we drink and food we eat.

Although seemingly inescapable, there’s hope! Here are a few tips on how you can promote a robust and healthy microbiome:

1. Eat a rainbow diet. A diverse diet rich in veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices is high in anti-inflammatory compounds and nutrients necessary to maintain a healthy gut microbiome. The goal is every color of the rainbow, and try to hit 30-50 different plant foods each each week!

2. Limit use of antibiotics, chemicals and pesticides. Antibiotics are sometimes necessary but can disrupt the delicate balance of gut bacteria, allowing pathogens to take over long term. Only use them when necessary and repopulate your gut with probiotics alongside a course of antibiotics and afterward. Food additives and pesticides in genetically modified and non-organic foods also kill our good gut bugs and cause intestinal permeability. 

3. Get enough fiber -prebiotic, probiotic, resistant starches and postbiotic. Each type of plant contains different fibers which feed different healthy gut bacteria and bind different toxins. When you get enough, some also gets past digestion to make it to your colon where your intestinal cells produce potent anti-inflammatory compounds called short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate. These keep your gut lining intact, lower inflammation throughout the body, and reduce pathogenic bacteria.

4. Exercise regularly. Regular physical movement promotes a healthier, more diverse gut microbiome in addition to improvements in metabolism, circulation, aging, detoxification and more. It's some of the most powerful medicine out there. 

5. Reduce stress. Chronic stress may come from work, infections, relationships, overexercise, nutrient deficiencies and more. It's impossible to avoid but it has been shown to elevate cortisol, blood sugar and inflammation, so adding a stress management practice is critical. Try deep belly breathing, box breathing, yoga, a meditation app or simply start by setting your timer for 1 minute and doing deep breathing. Breath is the most powerful way to reset your nervous system and put you back into parasympathetic (rest and digest) mode.

If you’d like to learn more about the scientific research regarding the risk of the human microbiome extinction, check out this recent article from Popular Mechanics, which also mentions a very interesting new documentary, The Invisible Extinction. And, of course, let’s connect if you’d like to discuss improving your personal health.


To hope, health & happiness, Sara

Function Medicine Clinical Nutritionist, CNS, LDN, FMHC, MS-HNFM



Get access to my free informative and inspirational functional medicine newsletters.

SPAM-free. We'll never sell your information, for any reason.