The Full Body Microbiome: How to Improve Your Whole-Body Microbiome

There are microbes everywhere in and around you. Your whole body’s health is entwined with these microbes. The impact of your body’s microbiome on your wellness is vast, influencing digestive woes to chronic diseases. But, how would you know if your microbiome is unhealthy? How do you nourish your microbiome? Plus, you are exposed to microbes (in houseplants, on your pets, or the subway) that can disrupt your full-body microbiome, for better or worse. Come explore your full body microbiome and discover what scientific evidence suggests is the best way to leverage the microbes that live on, in, and around you, to improve your health.

What Does the Microbiome do for Your Body?

It’s fascinating the tremendous impact the full body microbiome has on your wellbeing. From brain health to armpit smell, your microbiome influences the health of your whole body. The most well-known part of your full microbiome is your gut microbiome. Yet, you may not realize the extent of the gut microbiome’s influence, which includes the vagina and urinary tract, immune and cardiovascular, muscle and bone health, as well as brain functioning and mood. Plus, the gut microbiome has such profound metabolic capability that its impact is felt in the brain (cognitive clarity, sleep, mood), immune performance, blood cholesterol levels, and body weight. Not to mention, the skin microbiome influences everything from whether you’re struggling with acne to having smelly armpits. In fact, dysfunction of the microbiome may be linked to many conditions, according to published peer-reviewed scientific studies, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.

12 Ways Your Full Body Microbiome Impacts Your Health:

  • Digestion (Poop, Gas, Bloating)
  • Nutrient Absorption
  • Skin Health
  • Sleep
  • Mood
  • Memory
  • Weight Management
  • Urinary Health
  • Vaginal Health
  • Reducing Food and Skin Allergy Symptoms
  • Athletic Performance
  • Anti-aging (Bones, Muscle, Heart, Brain)

Your Body’s Microbiome is Unique

Embrace the complexity and uniqueness of your body’s microbiome – it’s made up of trillions of cells that make it a truly unique microbiome. Even identical twins who share the exact same environmental experience host colonies of differing microbials. While you can’t alter your genetics (one factor that determines the microbes found in your microbiome) you can influence the microbes around you (or, the lack thereof), as well as present your gut microbiome with nourishment. It’s healthy to include plants in your living spaces, play outside in the dirt, and don’t live too clean, says research.

What is the Full Body Microbiome Composed Of?

The full-body microbiome is more than the microbes in your gut. Your full body microbiome includes the microbes that colonize and live in/on your:

  • Skin
  • Mouth
  • Stomach
  • Intestinal Tract
  • Vaginal Tract
  • Urinary Tract
  • Respiratory Tract

The Skin Microbiome

The skin is host to an exciting variety of fungal and bacterial species (Propionibacterium, Staphylococcus, and Corynebacterium) that can harmoniously coexist or wreak havoc to cause problems, according to research. Signs of an unhealthy skin microbiome can include dryness, inflammation, dandruff, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and skin cancer. Most adults enjoy a fairly stable skin microbiome, able to survive off of sparse nutrients while educating parts of the cutaneous immune system to help prevent harmful microbes from inhabiting the area. Your skin’s microbiome is shaped by physiological characteristics; for example, moist environments, such as armpits and space between your toes, host different microbes than on dry hands or oily foreheads. Interestingly, women tend to have greater microbial diversity on their skin than men. And, as you age, your skin microbiome alters, with adolescents who secret more sebum tending to have more active C. acnes present, middle-aged adults hosting the greatest diversity of microbes, and older skin’s natural structural changes further altering the skin microbiome.

9 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Skin Microbiome:

  • Avoid excessive use of cosmetics.
  • Cut out shampoos, creams, and cosmetics with harmful ingredients.
  • Use moisturizers to support skin moisture and microbiota.
  • Reduce exposure to chemicals and pollution.
  • Enjoy regular physical activity.
  • Get sufficient sleep.
  • Practice stress-reducing lifestyle habits.
  • Nourish your body with whole foods.
  • Support your gut microbiome.

The Gut Microbiome

Within the gut lives a complex set of microbial communities that are endlessly growing and changing based on the environment. Some species move around the area, eliciting beneficial or harmful effects, while others tend to stick to their favourite locations. Clinical studies show probiotics (strains of microbes proven in scientific studies to elicit health benefits when consumed in sufficient quantities) have many health benefits. Some of the most fascinating species found in your gut microbiome, clinically proven to elicit health benefits, include Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Saccharomyces boulardii.

8 Ways Your Gut Microbiome Impacts Your Health:

  • Diarrhea – reduce infections and duration
  • Lactose Intolerance – alleviate symptoms
  • Food Allergy – reduce symptoms in children
  • Skin Allergy – reduce symptoms in children
  • Ear Infections – reduce recurrent infections
  • Bladder Infections – reduce recurrent infections
  • Halitosis – improvement
  • Crying time – reduce in colic babies

The Microbial-Gut-Brain Axis

Growing research shows there is an intricate and complex relationship between the gut microbiome and the brain. Firstly, the microbes in your gut create short-chain fatty acids that stimulate the vagal nerve, thus influencing the brain. Secondly, your gut microbes produce and consume a variety of neurotransmitters and hormones that can modify how the central nervous system works. From mood (depression and anxiety) to the development of age-related illness, such as Alzheimer’s disease, the health of your gut can impact your overall health. In fact, dysbiosis of the gut microbiome, may impair memory and learning, trigger inflammation, modify myelin in the brain-altering planning and decision making.

How to Know If Your Microbiome is Healthy

An ecosystem constantly trying to find a stable state, when your full body microbiome is unbalanced a variety of symptoms may be present, including:

  • Indigestion, diarrhea, constipation
  • Food intolerance
  • Heartburn
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Joint or muscle inflammation
  • Skin conditions
  • Recurrent infections (vaginal, urinary, ear, or respiratory)
  • Impaired memory and learning

How to Improve Your Body’s Microbiome

Many holistic lifestyle habits are known to beneficially influence the health of your full body’s microbiome, including good sleep habits, daily movement, nutritious eating habits, and stress management.

The Best Way to Feed Your Body’s Microbiome

What you eat can shape your body’s microbiome. Studies show dietary alterations can have large, temporary shifts in your gut’s microbiome. It is important to have a diversity of microbes in your gut. A healthy gut microbiome hosts many strains that are helpful, including those scientifically proven to be beneficial, called probiotics. Probiotics are described as blooming when they are flourishing. To help them flourish you can eat a diet that helps them get the nutrition they need. Prebiotics are fibers your body doesn’t use as nourishment, but many helpful microbial species in your gut do! Prebiotics need not necessarily come in a supplement form but are also present in many whole foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, legumes), which are well established as key parts of a healthy eating pattern for holistic nutrition.

Can I Restore My Microbiome?

Yes, adopting a holistic lifestyle can help you establish healthy habits that not only support your full body microbiome but many other aspects of your wellbeing.

Learn more about Holistic Nutrition through the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition Distance Education Program.


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Contributed by Allison Tannis

Known for her deliciously geeky words, Allison’s articles and books are read around the world by those curious about where to find the most delicious (and nutritious) places to stick their forks. More at Follow @deliciouslygeeky.