Both the external environment and your body’s own internal conditions influence the way your gut-microbiota functions, which contributes to your health and wellbeing.
Studies have shown that environmental pollutants enter the body through different pathways, and make their way to the gut. Your body’s internal environment can affect the way your gut-microbiota responds. These environmental pollutants can alter the composition of your gut microbiome, leading to a range of disorders that affect energy metabolism, nutrient absorption, or immune system function.
What exactly are environmental pollutants?
Our immune system and gut-microbiota influence each other’s behaviour. So it is important to understand how environmental pollutants can affect your gut-microbiota.
Antibiotic medications are designed to obliterate the ‘bad’ bacteria that have made you sick. Meaning that consuming antibiotics can change how your micro-organisms behave. By consuming antibiotics you inevitably change how your gut micro-organisms behave – even whether they live or die. The medicine is valuable for knocking out the bad bacteria, but the downside is that it affects the good ones at the same time.
Recurrent use of antibiotics will alter the population balance of your gut bacteria and affect the way your overall microbiome functions. Any alterations to the gut-microbiome can disrupt the balance between the immune system and gut-microbiota, which can trigger some immunological diseases.
The lasting effects on the gut microbiota may persist for years. This can lead to antibiotic-induced gut microbiota dysbiosis. Prolonged use of antibiotics can also cause resistance that reduces the drug’s effectiveness.
It is important to understand that antibiotics treat bacterial disease. They don’t kill viruses. So double check with your doctor if you are prescribed antibiotics to resolve a relevant health problem. You don’t want to take medication that puts pressure on your gut for no reason.
Nanoparticles and food additives
Nanomaterials also known as Nanoparticles (NPs) are tiny, microscopic materials that modern manufacturers put into our food, cosmetic and nutritional products.
They’re helper ingredients, not the active ones. Their role might be to bind ingredients together in a supplement capsule or to make your toothpaste white and are capable of entering the human body through inhalation, ingestion, or skin penetration. Nanoparticles are a new environmental pollutant, and are in some medications, dietary supplements and cosmetic products. There are concerns about the safety of nanoparticles and how these pollutants compromise gut health. It is possible that NPs can influence our gut microbiota through both oral and non-oral avenues.
Food additives like emulsifiers are ingredients put into processed foods to prolong shelf-life. They have been shown to negatively influence gut microbiota and the integrity of intestinal tissue. Read food labels to learn what’s inside these products. Try to eat more fresh, whole foods that don’t contain these damaging additives.
What should I change in my environment to benefit my gut microbiota?
Complex disorders previously attributed to lifestyle are now claimed to be microbiota-related. Since your gut microbiota is so sensitive to medication, reconsidering the use of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs), antacids and H2 antagonists will allow for gut health to flourish. These medications taken for gut conditions like GORD/GERD are generally not recommended for long-term use.
Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is a complex disorder. It was previously attributed to lifestyle practices but researchers now consider it to be microbiota-related.
Reducing pollutants – such as pesticides, nano-materials, food additives, and drugs will reduce the environmental impact on your gut microbiota. Additional changes to your lifestyle and diet will aid the reduction of primary pollutants that inhibit your healthy gut function.