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Microbiome and Asthma: Does your probiotic help you breathe?
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Microbiome and Asthma: Does Your Probiotic Help You Breathe?

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Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO found a connection between the severity of asthma in children and the types of bacteria that live in the nose and throat. 

They zeroed in on two combinations that seem to have an effect. Children with diagnosed asthma who had a lot of Corynebacterium with Dolosigranulum had a lower risk of asthma progression, and children whose nasal mucus had more pathogenic bacteria types like Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Moraxella had more severe asthma progression.

Asthma is a condition in which the airways become inflamed, which makes it difficult to breathe. Around 8.3% of children have asthma, and children miss an average of 13.8 million school days per year due to asthma. 

Imagine a probiotic inhaler that gives kids a hit of the friendly bacteria that either prevent or reduce the severity of asthma. Could this study lead to a development like that? More research is needed, but the potential is there. 

Your microbiome goes beyond the gut.

Most of the time, you hear about the microbiome in the context of your digestion and your gut. The truth is, every inch of your body is covered with microbes that affect your health -- some are harmful, others are friendly. You have a microbiome in your eyes, on your skin, in your hair, in your mouth, and in your airways. As with the gut, the balance of them has a large effect on how well you fight disease and how well your body does its job.

The body of research around the microbiome is growing rapidly, and the medical community is learning more and more about how to turn this research into practice. Doctors are starting to advise that patients take probiotics along with a course of antibiotics, and hospitals are using fecal transplants to address severe recurring colorectal inflammation and diarrhea. It’s a slow process, but clinical practice is headed in the right direction.

How to keep your microbiome healthy.

The community of microbes in your whole-body microbiome depends a lot on which strains you are exposed to and which ones you feed through your diet. You come into contact with different microbes through geographic location, diet, the bacterial profile of the people around you, and more. Everything you touch, breathe, and eat will have an effect on your own microscopic ecosystem.

The key to a healthy microbiome is diversity. You want as many different types of strains as possible, and the more friendly species you have doing the work for you, the better. 

Here’s how to increase your bacterial diversity and maximize your gut health. 

  • Eliminate sugar. A good amount of unfriendly strains thrive on sugar. One well-known sugar-loving strain that likes to take over and cause havoc is candida albicans. Without an adequate sugar supply, it will have a harder time multiplying.  
  • Incorporate fermented foods. Yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and fermented pickles all contain live cultures that pass their benefits onto you. 
  • Take a probiotic supplement. Innoculate yourself with specific strains that are known to be beneficial. 
  • Eat lots of vegetables. Beneficial microbes tend to like vegetables high in prebiotic fiber, like onions, leeks, asparagus, dandelion root and greens, Jerusalem artichokes, and more. 
  • Buy organic whenever possible. Sprays that kill bugs and weeds are also poisonous to the friendly bacteria in your body. 

Get outside. Going out in nature and breathing the outdoor air gives your microbiome a boost. This works even better if you’re traveling, because you can increase the variety of strains you’re exposed to by breathing the air of a new place.

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