The Power of Bacteria and How to Maintain a Healthy Microbiome
Not all bacteria and viruses are bad. In fact, your body houses a variety of microbes that can help keep you healthy – or harm your health.
It’s all about the microbiome! Like fingerprints, everyone has a unique microbiome which can affect your susceptibility or resistance to a variety of health issues like digestive problems, allergies, autoimmune disease, intestinal conditions, and cancer.
What is the Microbiome?
The microbiome is the cumulation of bacteria, fungi and viruses that live in your bowel. Each person is born with a certain microbiome that is inherited from his or her parents, primarily from the mother during pregnancy. The human body has about 100 trillion cells, but the intestines alone carry about ten times as many microorganisms.
Throughout life, as each person grows and develops, they undergo various alterations of this microbiome. You start with a healthy gut biome, but once one becomes exposed to antibiotics or certain infections or parasites, disease occurs.
“Disease can range from inflammatory bowel disease, Clostridium dificile or celiac sprue,” says Dr. Sabine Hazan-Steinberg, an active member of the Community Memorial Hospital medical staff and an expert in the microbiome and gut health. Board certified in Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Internal Medicine, Dr. Hazan-Steinberg is the founder and CEO of Ventura Clinical Trials and the Malibu Specialty Center.
Ventura Clinical Trials has been on the forefront of drug development for the last 12 years, and through her work in clinical research, Dr. Hazan-Steinberg has used fecal transplants as a method to treat her patients under the supervision of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Her work pushed her to go back to the lab and develop a deeper understanding of the microbiome. This month, she will launch a new, nationwide laboratory called ProgenaBiome. By name, ProgenaBiome believes that to understand the gut flora, one needs to understand the familial gut biome.
The laboratory, which is overseen by the Department of Health and numerous physicians, will offer individuals and families fecal testing and genetic analysis to help people improve their health. “By analyzing different fungi, bacteria, and viruses, families can learn what they have in surplus in their microbiomes, what is causing their health problems, and how they can return to a healthy balance and a healthy microbiome,” says Dr. Hazan-Steinberg. “Stool transplant might be in their future.” Presently, unless the case is a Clostridium Dificile, no one has access to a stool transplant unless a case for the treatment is made by ProgenaBiome and Ventura Clinical Trials. “This new avenue to treat disease not only offers promise for patients with inflammatory bowel disease, but also for autoimmune processes and some conditions like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.”
The Path to a Healthier Microbiome: Tips from Dr. Hazan-Steinberg
- Keep a food diary. Keep track of what you eat, how certain foods make you feel, and what foods you can or cannot tolerate. “Essentially, we are what we eat,” says Dr. Hazan-Steinberg.
- Avoid drastic changes to your diet that will affect your microbiome. If you travel to, or move to, a foreign country, try to stick to your diet from your home country.
- Don’t believe what you read about diets. When it comes to diet information, Dr. Hazan says “it’s the wild, wild west.”
- Don’t look to probiotics as a solution.
- For some people, salads and dairy are not necessarily healthy.
- “Don’t obsess about the rate of bowel movements if you have no health issues,” says Dr. Hazan. “Cleanses and such are not necessary. You’re cleaning out your microbiome and putting yourself at risk.”
- Consider undergoing genetic testing to analyze your full genome and the DNA of your gut. You’ll have a clearer picture of your unique microbiome and how to make it healthier.
For more information, visit visit ProgenaBiome online, or email Dr. Hazan-Steinberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.