Research into the human gut microbiome is literally exploding across the globe, with almost every week witnessing the discovery of a new link between the gut microbiome composition and a significant lifestyle disease. Gut microbiome is technically the collective genomic material of our gut microbiota or all the microbes living in our gut, but for all practical purposes, these terms are used interchangeably.
There are scientists who think that this newfound significance of the gut microbiome is reinforcing the old Germ Theory of Disease, which was partially replaced during the last two centuries, due to the numerous formal studies about non-communicable diseases, like diabetes, hypertension, cancer, cardiovascular diseases etc. Obviously, more than germs were at play, like genetics and lifestyle factors.
So, is the emerging significance of the gut microbiome a reinforcement of the Germ Theory? Superficially it may seem so, as specific gut microbes that are contributing to several lifestyle diseases including type 2 diabetes and hypertension have been identified in the recent past. But on a closer look, the gut microbiome theory of diseases is a vast and comprehensive upgrade of the germ theory.
This is primarily because the gut microbiome is not just a collection of disease causing bacteria and viruses, rather it is a collection of symbiotic or beneficial microbes, neutral or benign microbes and some harmful microbes too. And the so-called benign microbes might be called now as such, just because medical research is yet to unravel the symbiotic ways in which these microbes are either helping human life or the other beneficial microbes to thrive.
The extent of the influence of our gut microbiome is evident from the fact that its less-than-optimal composition can cause not just physical diseases, but mental conditions like depression, anxiety, paranoia and schizophrenia, through the working of the Gut Brain Axis (GBA). For a thorough yet lucid reading of the gut microbiome, GBA, and how you can leverage it to optimise your health, longevity and peak performance, refer to the bestseller, ‘The Making of a Superhuman’ by the noted wellness evangelist and biohacker, Sajeev Nair.
This week in medical research presented yet another explosive discovery about the influence of the gut microbiome in human health. One more reason to care for your gut mates was unravelled, and it is a pretty strong reason from any angle. Researchers at the leading Swedish universities Uppsala and Lund, discovered that specific harmful microbes found in the human gut are closely linked with the development of clogged arteries that cause heart attack and stroke.
This landmark study, published recently in the noted journal ‘Circulation’, has been a well conducted one on a large cohort of nearly 9000 people. What this study found was that two species of the Streptococcus genus – Streptococcus anginosus and Streptococcus oralis – had obvious links with the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques that cause clogged arteries and cardiovascular diseases. Interestingly, these are basically oral and throat microbes and not gut microbes.
Streptococcus is most commonly associated with infections like streptococcal pharyngitis or strep throat, pink eye, meningitis, liver abscesses, bacterial pneumonia etc. But it is their spread from the mouth or throat to being present in the gut that is contributing to their potential for causing arterial plaques and clogged arteries. It is all the more mysterious as the two problematic Streptococcus species now identified are aerobic ones that can’t survive for long in the anaerobic gut environs.
In any case, this new discovery is potentially able to plug some gaping holes in the currently accepted theories about the factors that are contributing to the formation of arterial plaques. But the good news here is that like in all such gut microbiome dysbiosis issues, fostering a healthy composition of the beneficial gut microbes can guard against the proliferation of harmful bacteria like these two Streptococcus species.
Many lifestyle factors including adequate daily exercise and optimum hours of sleep help in encouraging the development of a healthy gut microbiome, but the most impactful interventions in this regard are dietary. Regular inclusion of natural probiotics like fermented foods, and natural prebiotics like fibre-rich fruits & vegetables can help. There are also even more powerful Ayurvedic herbs that are natural prebiotics and probiotics, which are now available in capsule form in supplements like Vieroots Intuit, which can correct and fortify the gut microbiome composition.
Since regular exercising is a proven way to better your gut microbiome composition, you can also join Limoverse, the world’s first blockchain based health & wellness metaverse that motivates you to keep exercising daily by rewarding you with crypto tokens into your wallet every time you exercise, which is measured by either wearables (HealthFi Burn2Earn) or GPS (HealthFi Move2Earn).