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The Language of the Microbiome

Posted By Heather Holmes, Thursday, August 23, 2018

We have been conditioned to be afraid of bacteria (microbes).  Countless news clips and articles scare us with pictures of harmful bacteria that has been found on dirty surfaces; companies that make bleach and disinfectants have been conditioning us with advertising for over fifty years – telling us to disinfect, sterilize, and wipe away what we cannot see.  Some people obsess over these small creatures, yet others are able to push them out of their minds. But, no matter how you view bacteria, the simple truth is, they’re always there. 

Our ancient ancestors were resourceful enough to figure out ways to heal wounds and eat in healthy ways, working with nature and the bacterial world around them. With the invention of antibiotics and our extensive overuse of them, we have turned our bacterial world upside down, creating complete imbalance in us, on us and around us. In fact, we are at the point where the bacteria are so resistant that we have few to no antibiotics left to treat us anymore, even for a simple wound. www.cdc.gov

Bacteria will always dictate whether things are clean or dirty, healthy or sick.  Microbes always have the last word no matter what products you use. This means that you cannot kill or clean away enough bacteria on any surface to make it clean (including, skin, teeth, nasal passages and the air). When you kill bacteria, you just allow it to take revenge on you. 

How it is then that microbes get to determine what beneficially lives on a surface or what makes us sick?  They do this through language.  Microbes actually communicate with other microbes through something called quorum sensing. They speak their own language to attract groups just like themselves, and they speak a universal language that allows them to communicate with different species in any given environment.  This ability to communicate is what allows bacteria to increase their numbers and send a message of balance and order (clean and healthy) or chaos (dirty and unhealthy). 

When the number of bad bacteria outweigh the good bacteria, the bad bacteria will form a microscopic substance called biofilm. This biofilm is actually on your counters, on your skin, on your teeth and even up your nose. It protects bad bacteria and makes it impenetrable and impervious to any product you currently have under your sink or in your medicine cabinet. E.coli can multiply in a biofilm at such a rapid rate that you could stack it to the sun and back 100 million times in 24 hours. According to the NIH, biofilm is the source of 65-80% of all infection and disease! 

To make bacteria work in your favor, you need 10 good bacteria for every 1 bad bacteria. This will help you create a balanced bacterial environment – a balanced microbiome. it is imperative to introduce beneficial microbes (probiotics) into an environment.  These probiotics, when applied in the right combinations and the right amounts, give you the exact microbial communicators you need to keep any surface truly clean, healthy and free of biofilm.  In other words, probiotics are nature’s way of keeping all 100 trillion microbes in us and on us balanced. By incorporating them into your daily home cleaning, shower or bath, teeth cleaning, air purification or pet’s drinking water, you create a naturally healthy and protected environment against germy invaders. 

It is important to note that all probiotics are not created equally. Lactobacillus and acidophilus some of the most commonly know probiotic bacteria. These plant-based strains are not ideal outside the digestive track, and there is more evidence to show that the amount plant-based probiotics you need in order to make it past the bile system is so exponential that no one could consume enough of them. This leads to the discussion on spore-based probiotics, commonly referred to as the Bacillus strains.

When thinking about the internal microbiome, it’s important to consider the external microbiome, as well. Collectively they both impact our health. 


Internal Probiotics

For digestive probiotics (plant-based), it’s important to have live cultures; products such as, kefir, kombucha and kimchi, and even some yogurt, with numerous strains, are beneficial.  Probiotic supplements containing plant-based probiotics are traditionally heated, which destroys the efficacy of the probiotics. Therefore, the probiotic supplements lining retails shelves and sold on line are not ideal. You need billions of many different strains for plant-based probiotics to have effect. Additionally, a prebiotic should be consumed when taking a digestive probiotic, as prebiotics act as a delivery mechanism to help the probiotics survive the bile system. 

Spore probiotic supplements have been around for several years, but they are difficult to stabilize in products. This is why very few companies have entered into the spore probiotic space; however, this is changing. Spore supplements are preferred for the following reasons: 

  1. They make it through the bile system.
  2. They build the number of probiotics already in the gut.
  3. They reduce systemic inflammation and repair leaky gut.
  4. They are immune to antibiotics and can act as antibiotics when needed.
  5. They lay dormant when not needed and can come alive when they need to help your gut/body.


External Probiotics

There are even fewer companies in the environmental probiotic space. Some companies have produced probiotic cleaners, odor control products and pet products that contain plant-based probiotics – these probiotics require sugar to stay alive, so you commonly see molasses on the label. Do you really want to clean your counters with sugar or put sugar into your pet? Additionally, the probiotics used in these cleaners cannot clean away biofilm, which is paramount for a truly clean, balanced and protected surface.

You will also find plant-based probiotics in skin care products. Again, these products do not contain probiotics strong enough to eliminate biofilm, but it is a good marketing gimmick. One company, in fact, is making erroneous claims about curing all sorts of disease and on the probiotic bandwagon with less than infection states. This is concerning for many reasons, but the point here is that the probiotic market is set to explode. Thus, an understanding of probiotics is important, especially as less than efficacious products with great marketing flood the marketplace and create confusion. 

As previously stated the external microbiome is equally as important as your internal microbiome, and it can actually have a direct effect on your gut microbiome. Fortunately, there are spore based environmental probiotic products that help you properly clean, balance and protect all of the surfaces and air in your home or office, as well as coat your skin and your teeth – and even help you pet’s digestion, teeth and skin. These are the probiotic products that will make a difference in your client’s/patient’s life and truly impact their health because they remove biofilm and are able to control the bacterial environment wherever they are applied. This means you stay healthy!

Stay tuned for more information about biofilm and probiotics…

Heather Holmes is the President and CEO of P2 Probiotic Power. She passionately embraces the full product line in her daily life and demands the highest quality products for her customers that assure protection of surfaces, barriers to harmful bacteria and healthier lifestyles. She has served in leadership roles in both large, multinational companies, like Medtronic and STERIS, as well as in many early stage companies. Heather’s years of experience working in medical devices and with hospitals, with seven of those years focused on infection control, have prepared her to make her company a leader in lifestyle, health and wellness products. Heather has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Ohio Wesleyan University with a major in International Business and a minor in Economics and has studied in Geneva, Switzerland and American University. 

Tags:  antibiotic  microbiome  prebiotic  probiotic 

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