As I have written in previous blogs, our microbiome is crucial to both our physical and our mental health. The communities of microorganisms that constitute our microbiome determine key aspects of our health and wellbeing by modulating and balancing the soil of our internal flora. If you want to learn more about this before continuing with this article, you can refer to my previous blog https://biovitalnutrition.com/what-is-the-microbiome-and-is-it-important-for-our-health
All through the years, in addition to my interest in health, I have developed a keen interest in our planet’s health as well. This has led me to an important question: could the health of our microbiomes be directly linked to the health of our planet? Could the soil of our flora and the soil of the earth be connected? Can what we eat and do have an impact not only on our health but also on environmental health by allowing ecosystems, both internal and external, to flourish?
More research is starting to emerge showing the connections between what we produce, use and eat, and the environment, thus determining a healthier and more sustainable planet.
What are microbiomes?
Microbiomes are communities of microorganisms made up of bacteria, viruses and fungi. All of us have them and they can be found in our gut, mouth (hence the importance of good oral health to overall health, another important topic of interest in the health sector), urinary tract, skin, mucosa, urogenital tract, respiratory tract and mammary gland. The state of all these different microbiomes influences our immunity, our digestive health, the quality of our skin and many aspects of our health.
And we are not alone in having microbiomes. They can also be found in animals, oceans, soils and rivers where their health impacts and supports whole ecosystems. We cannot disassociate ourselves from animals and the environment: we are all interconnected and their health and our health are linked. How we take care of ourselves is a direct reflection of how we take care of our planet: ecology start with our own.
However, in the same way we are depleting our own microbiomes’ soil by eating non-nutritious food and leading un-healthy lifestyles, we are also damaging these ecosystems.
What is affecting our microbiomes?
As discussed, any change in the composition of our microbiomes can affect our health and the same mechanism is at play with our wildlife’s microbiomes: imbalances can increase the likelihood of diseases in wildlife which, with our increased proximity with the animal world, could pass onto us, putting both wildlife and humans at risk. As seen with Covid-19, infections are more likely to occur with individual with poor microbiomes. It is therefore crucial to monitor them in order to prevent diseases’ outbreaks and protect the health of our planet.
As well as affecting our own health, many of our activities are impacting our planet in many ways:
- Overuse of antibiotics and medicinal drugs is creating antibiotics’ as well as drugs’ resistance and causing pollution to our environment
- Toxic household chemicals infiltrate our water systems, leaking into our rivers, seas and soils, directly affecting wildlife, the water we consume and our food
- Chemical pesticides contaminate soils and waters and reduce the number of insects and wildlife, leading to loss of diversity
- Unhealthy soils release too much carbon in the atmosphere (lack of carbon sequestration), thus leading to poorer plant growth & increased temperature, as well as ocean acidification that impact life in general
Environmental changes affect the composition of microbiomes in humans, animals and the environment.
What should we do and what can we do to protect our microbiomes?
It is therefore crucial to protect these microbial communities to maintain our planet’s health. Sustainable solutions need to be implemented to support our agricultural, healthcare, food and consumer goods systems in ways that do not lead to damages of the different microbiomes constituting both our internal health and the health of our planet.
Disruption of microbial diversity causes what is called dysbiosis, which increases the risk of diseases. Therefore, biodiversity is key: the same way that we need to increase the diversity of our food to increase the variety of our microbiomes, we need to diversify our crops so our soils can be richer in nutrients, making them stronger and more able to sustain life.
One of the ways we can support our internal microbiomes is to consume probiotics or in more severe cases with microbiome transplants: research now indicates these could also be solutions to protect our wildlife and reduce environmental damage, by restoring whole ecosystems and improving their resilience.
In addition, we should, as much as possible, reduce the activities listed above that affect our individual health and that of the planet. We should also reduce and, if possible, stop the use of antibiotics in animal feed which has led to increased resistance to antibiotics. And we should, of course, start by looking at ourselves and lead a healthy and nutritious lifestyle. Feeding ourselves healthily, both through our food and through the choices we make, can have a direct impact on our planet ecosystem which itself has a positive impact on ourselves: it is a positive loop that we must cultivate in order to preserve both our health and that of the planet on which we are lucky to live.
This is just a very brief introduction to the link between our individual health and that of our planet. As a Nutritional Therapist specialising in gut health, I find it such a fascinating subject on which we still have so much to learn. If this has resonated with you as well and you would like to explore ways to improve your own microbiome, your own health and thus our planet’s health, feel free to get in touch with me on 07788 444 199 or email@example.com or https://biovitalnutrition.com/contact/. And if you have found this article interesting, please feel free to share it or comment on it
We can all individually start with small steps to benefit ourselves, our fellow humans and all other living creatures and share our beautiful planet in the best way we can.