The Magic of Invisibility – 6 Tips for a Healthier Microbiome

The Magic of Invisibility – 6 Tips for a Healthier Microbiome

Chiropractic Vernon BC Cells

Written by Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC ~ Vernon Chiropractor

I found myself a bit puzzled while answering my 7-year-old daughter’s questions about the invisible things in our lives, like how does Grandpa’s voice end up in the phone, or where do the bugs that make us sick live?

Whether it’s invisible phone signals, aluminum sparking in the microwave, or the half-million single-celled bacteria living on a pinhead, you have to admit it’s absolutely mind-blowing and most of us have absolutely no clue how it all works. Try to explain any of it to a kid and it sounds like magic, really.

As a health professional, I have a particular interest in the cellular organisms that inhabit, or cohabitate with, our bodies.  Apparently, 3-5 percent of your total body mass is made up of non-human organisms—things like E. coli, Staphylococcus Aureus, parasites, etc. Think about that. If you’re a 150-lb person, riding along with you is a 5-lb glob of bacteria, viruses, candida, amoebas, and many other weird things.

One of my favourite philosophers, Alan Watts, once remarked that if you were to look at your blood under a microscope, you would see a war going on. If you picked a side (even if you thought it was the “good side”) and that side won, you would die. Because not only is there a war going on between your human cells and “the others,” but this war is necessary—vital, even—for your survival. Ironic, isn’t it? That some of the “bad bugs” we think about killing off are actually needed, in just the right dose and in certain circumstances, to help us with various life-giving functions like digesting and absorbing food.

This invisible ecosystem of bugs is our “microbiome.” Keeping our biome in balance is what initiated the whole movement on probiotics and the conversation about our gut health.

So what exactly is my take-home message? Well, I’ve noticed that as I have become more informed about the invisible creatures living along with us, I’ve become much more reluctant to throw antibiotic drugs at any old cough and cold, less likely to buy anti-bacterial soaps, and less inclined to make my child scrub deeply every day and live in a completely sterile environment. Higher authorities must also agree, with their “not all bugs need drugs” campaigns, as we now manage the rise of superbugs (microbes that are dangerously resistant to anything we can throw at them, caused by excessive use of antibiotics by humans and farm animals).

Chiropractors in Vernon are typically of the mindset that the body is designed to defend itself in most situations from foreign attacks, and that only on very severe occasions (meningitis, for example), would we need to call in microbe-killing support. The key is trying to respect the body’s innate biome balance. We are witnessing a shift from a world of non-stop antibacterial marketing and an obsession with killing all bugs to one with more awareness of the importance of a balanced microbial ecosystem.

6 Tips for a Healthier Microbiome

  1. Eat more plant-based, whole foods and avoid processed foods (I have a feeling I may say this a few more times in future writings).
  2. Take a probiotic regularly, especially for a couple of weeks following any course of antibiotic treatment. Or add fermented foods to your diet, like sauerkraut and kombucha.
  3. Reduce the overall sugar load in your diet. Too much sugar promotes intestinal yeast, for example.
  4. Encourage your kids to play in the dirt more. Did you know that some bacteria in the soil make vitamin B12, so a bit of soil on freshly pulled carrots is not necessarily a bad thing, especially for your fellow vegetarians worried about low B12 levels?
  5. Embrace your pets. Studies are clear that children in homes with pets have a much lower allergy and asthma propensity. Why? Animals track microbes into the house, forcing the development of a stronger immune system early in life.
  6. Kick antibacterial soaps to the curb. Persistent use of antibacterial soaps increases bacterial resistance, exactly what we don’t need more of. Most experts agree that simple soap and water remains the best approach to clean hands. Scrubbing thoroughly is the key.


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Vernon, BC V1T 9G1
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