Biohacking: Biome

Trillions of Microorganisms

"The human gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, which are collectively known as the microbiome. These microbes play a vital part in our gut health, supporting digestion and the synthesis of vitamins. 

At this moment, two to six pounds of microbes are living in and on you. This ecosystem of trillions of microbes is also known as your microbiome, which contains bacteria and other microorganisms that are both beneficial and detrimental to your health."

From the UBiome website, in Meet the Microbiome

"Certain microbiota perform tasks that are known to be useful to the human host; the role of most resident microorganisms is not well understood. Those that are expected to be present, and that under normal circumstances do not cause disease, are sometimes deemed normal flora or normal microbiota."

Wikipedia, in the entry Human microbiota

What lives in our gut helps to shape our health

"Most of us are aware that the bacteria in our gut play an important role in digestion. When the stomach and small intestine are unable to digest certain foods we eat, gut microbes jump in to offer a helping hand, ensuring we get the nutrients we need

In addition, gut bacteria are known to aid the production of certain vitamins - such as vitamins B and K - and play a major role in immune function

But increasingly, researchers are working to find out more about how gut bacteria - particularly the bacteria that is unique to us individually - influence our health and risk of disease

Perhaps most studied is how gut microbiota affects an individual's risk of obesity and other metabolic conditions. In November 2014, for example, Medical News Today reported on a study claiming our genetic makeup shapes what type of bacteria reside in our gut, which may affect our weight."

Medical News Today, in The gut microbiome: How does it affect our health?

Skin is the largest human organ

"The skin is the human body’s largest organ, colonized by a diverse milieu of microorganisms, most of which are harmless or even beneficial to their host."

"Symbiotic microorganisms occupy a wide range of skin niches and protect against invasion by more pathogenic or harmful organisms. These microorganisms may also have a role in educating the billions of T cells that are found in the skin, priming them to respond to similarly marked pathogenic cousins."

"The perception of the skin as an ecosystem — composed of living biological and physical components occupying diverse habitats — can advance our understanding of the delicate balance between host and microorganism."

Elizabeth Grice and Julia Segre, National Institutes of Health, in The skin microbiome

Your skin is part of your immune system

Recent studies propose that our skin is part of our immune / lymphatic system. If your gut biome affects the operation of your gut, it stands to reason that your skin biome affects the operation of your skin.

"Recent studies have established that the interaction of T cells and skin-resident APCs are real events and have demonstrated that a subset of T cells that migrate to the skin can egress and return to skin-draining LNs, and even more, circulate in the blood and other tissues. These findings flesh out the concept of SALT with the consequence that, even under the homeostatic condition, skin is an active organ of immune system and immune reactions in the skin could influence systemic immunity."

Gyohei Egawa and Kenji Kabashima, in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology Skin as a Peripheral Lymphoid Organ: Revisiting the Concept of Skin-Associated Lymphoid Tissues

Healthy flora and the things that feed them

"You don't necessarily need probiotics — a type of 'good' bacteria — to be healthy. However, these microorganisms may help with digestion and offer protection from harmful bacteria, just as the existing 'good' bacteria in your body already do. 

Prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics. When probiotics and prebiotics are combined, they form a synbiotic. Fermented dairy products, such as yogurt and kefir, are considered synbiotic because they contain live bacteria and the fuel they need to thrive."

The Mayo Clinic, in the article Do I need to include probiotics and prebiotics in my diet?

First and foremost, probiotic foods are excellent for maintaining healthy gut flora. You already know how important your gut flora are for just about everything: if you want healthy digestion, clear skin, metabolic health, a generally good mood, easier weight loss, or pretty much anything else, pampering your gut flora should be at the top of your priorities list. 

The 'good bugs' in probiotic foods are some of the very same bacteria that populate a healthy gut, so when you eat these foods, it’s an infusion of healthy flora right where they need to be."

Paleo Leap, in the article Paleo Foods: Probiotic Foods

Probiotic Foods

  • Any fermented milk product
    (yogurt, cheese, kefir…)
  • Most fermented vegetables
    (saurkraut, kimchi, pickles)
  • Beet Kvass
    (a fermented beet juice drink)
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Ginger Beer
  • Kombucha
    (fermented tea)
  • Microalgae like Spirulina, Chlorella
  • Miso Paste
  • Natto
  • Olives cured in brine
  • Tempeh

Prebiotic Foods

  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Barley
  • Burdock Root
  • Chicory Root
  • Cocoa
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Flaxseeds
  • Garlic
  • Jerusalem Artichoke
  • Jicama Root
  • Konjac Root
  • Leeks
  • Oats
  • Onions
  • Seaweed
  • Wheat Bran
  • Yacon Root