No matter how clean you think you are, you are literally covered in germs - inside & out. Like it or not - it’s true. You are absolutely filthy…sorry.
But before you go rushing back for another scrub in the shower, think about your body as a planet, & your different body parts as different ecosystems or microclimates within & on that planet. i.e - the dry, exposed skin on your forearm is a relative desert compared to the moist, warm, hairy, protected valley that is your bum-crack & genital region (this should be a microbial rainforest)! Your armpits are probably somewhere in between these two, & your mouth & gut may be like warm tropical oceans or lakes, swarming with a sea of microscopic life.
The point is - we have to remember that ‘our’ body is not just ours. We are not just ‘us’. We are like a walking planet, supporting microbial inhabitants who are also vitally important in the health of that planet. Just as the health of Earth’s oceans & rainforests effect the health of the entire planet, we can look after our little microclimates with their microbial inhabitants to help ensure the entire ‘planet’ (our body) stays in balance.
THE DIFFERENT MICROCLIMATES IN YOUR BODY.
Part 1: Your Mouth Microbiome
Your mouth is the first point of contact for everything you take into your digestive tract for immune scrutiny / processing. If your gut is a river, your mouth is like the source of that river - so it can potentially influence a lot of things further down the line. Just think about how many times you swallow in a day, & imagine how many microbes are in that saliva? You are constantly seeding your gut with a sea of swallowed microbes! What if your mouth & gums are in poor condition? If your have gum disease, you’re likely to have ‘leaky mouth’ (like leaky gut), allowing things from your mouth to get into your bloodstream that just shouldn’t be there, causing immune issues - a kind of ‘upstream’ leaky gut.
It is well known that a healthy oral microbial balance decreases your risk of heart disease, & inflammatory bowel disease is also apparently more common in those with gum issues. Babies born via caesarian have a different oral microbiome to their vaginally born cousins. H-pylori (the bacteria that can cause stomach ulcers) also lives in biofilms in the mouth - regular dental cleans can reduce reinfection rates. Oral thrush shows us that the body has an overgrowth of the candida organism…there is a LOT going on in our mouths!!
Add to that, we do some strange things with our mouths - that can influence the balance - like kissing other people’s mouths (& other body parts), kissing pets, smoking, drinking hot beverages, swishing things like mouthwash, sucking breath pearls, medicated lozenges, chewing gum, wearing lipstick, using toothpaste etc…all these things can impact the mouth microbiome…even forgetting to drink enough water or breathing through your mouth when you sleep.
Tips for keeping your mouth ecosystem in good condition:
- try to breathe through your nose
- stay well hydrated (pure, filtered water & unsweetened herbal teas are best)
- avoid alcohol & cigarettes
- eat sugar & refined starches minimally
- try to rinse with water after eating stickier carb / sugary foods
- leave some ‘gaps’ in between feeds
- be careful of sipping drinks other than water all day (i.e. acidic things like apple cider vinegar & lemon water can eat into your tooth enamel - best to have these in one short drink, not great for sipping all day).
- drink green or white tea, several cups daily
- get plenty of vitamin C in your diet (fresh fruit & veg)
- take a CoQ10 supplement if you have gum disease
- eat a mineral rich diet to keep the teeth strong
- clean your teeth gently but thoroughly, with care each day…aim for early morning before your leave the house & last thing before bed…can’t wait for those probiotic toothpastes to become standard issue, the chemical ones are not ideal for maintaining healthy microbial balance. Try a natural one with aloe vera & minerals like calcium & silica - but be guided by your dentist if you have dental / gum disease.
- avoid harsh alcohol & chemical containing mouthwashs
- use floss, thoroughly & gently, & do it regularly
- try a mouth specific probiotic lozenge
- try an aloe vera containing mouthwash
- try oil-pulling (many swear by it)
- keep a pot of mint growing near your door, & chew on some fresh leaves as a natural way to keep your mouth fresh & teeth clean (chewing stimulates saliva, which is good to keep the balance).
- look after your gut health further down, it can impact your oral cavity too
Tune in next week for some fun facts about your nasal microbiome & easy tips for keeping it healthy (particularly important in the winter flu season!)