Transmission of Microbes
Many are aware by now that the population of bugs that live in our bodies have a wide array of health effects. However, many are not aware that, just as we can catch a cold, we can catch others’ populations of good and bad microbes! These little critters that outnumber our own cells 10 to 1 are responsible for so many things, including producing various vitamins, preventing tumor growth, pathogen inhibition, modulation of cardiovascular disease and fatty liver disease, emotional and behavior influences, detoxification support, metabolism of drugs, digestive health, estrogen metabolism, weight, blood sugar modulation, skin health, food sensitization and allergies, autism risk, autoimmunity, and other disease processes. This means you want to start out with a good balance of bugs and continue to love on them through your life.
Recently, I was published in Natural Path regarding this topic and the role of the microbiome in prenatal health. Specifically, I discussed the evidence that the microbiome transfer from baby to mamma begins before birth. It is believed that this occurs through placental translocation. This means that an interaction exists between the little bugs in mom’s body moving to baby’s. Therefore, alterations in her health can modulate the ratio of microbes in her body, effecting her child’s wellness.
The good news is that our microbiome is influenced by what we eat and our lifestyle, so moms-to-be
can take this into consideration as well as avoiding unnecessary antibiotics. So, first transmission of our microbiome is in mom’s belly. This is followed by the birthing process, breastfeeding, and, as new evidence suggests, by just being around our friends, families, and various strangers!
A Microbial Cloud
Recently, I sent the following full-text article to a colleague of mine and he expressed that this information reminded him of Charlie Brown’s friend, Pig Pen. It seems that Charles Swartz was a lay microbiome researcher ahead of his time!
In a small study with 11 people, it was found that dispersal of microbes can occur between humans and the environment through direct contact or airborne release. These scientists were able to demonstrate, “that humans emit a detectible microbial cloud into surrounding indoor air…”
Furthermore, the authors reported, “Most occupants could be clearly detected by their airborne bacterial emissions, as well as their contribution to settled particles, within 1.5-4 h. Bacterial clouds from the occupants were statistically distinct, allowing the identification of some individual occupants. Our results confirm that an occupied space is microbially distinct from an unoccupied one, and demonstrate for the first time that individuals release their own personalized microbial cloud.”
What does this mean? Well, not only can we modulate our microbial health through diet, lifestyle, and avoiding unnecessary healthy microbial killing with certain medications, but we can also try to catch a little bit of microbial dispersion from some of our healthy friends. Can you see scientists in the future collecting some microbes from volunteers with desired wellness factors? Maybe we won’t have to go as far as poop pills to get others’ microbial benefits? (Look up fecal transplants if you are confused.)
This means that Pig Pen wasn’t so wrong, was he? Maybe he was just preserving his microbiome and wasn’t necessarily clean-challenged?
LoBisco, S. How Babies Are Full of Bugs Before Birth and Effect Mom’s Microbiome in the Reproductive Tract, Predicting Birth Outcomes. Natural Path. September 21, 2015. http://thenatpath.com/body/pediatrics/the-unsterile-start/
Meadow JF, Altrichter AE, Bateman AC, Stenson J, Brown G, Green JL, Bohannan BJM. (2015) Humans differ in their personal microbial cloud. PeerJ .3:e1258 https://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1258
You Carry Your ‘Microbial Cloud’ With You. Health Day. September 22, 2015.