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What Can I Learn by Testing My Home Biome?

In the past several decades, modern life has revolved around a shared understanding of our homes. We see our homes as safe sanctuaries for living, relaxing, and raising our families. And as such, we’ve developed codes of conduct around keeping our homes clean, tidy, and void of anything unsafe or unsanitary. But have you thought, “What can I learn by testing my home biome”?

However, in recent years we’ve seen a rise in new health issues, which has sparked questions around the safety and health of our homes. We realize that our closed-in living spaces no longer include a relationship with our outdoor environment.

More importantly, researchers and experts are beginning to see that the lack of biodiversity inside our homes is problematic.

This has prompted some crucial discussions and research about what’s living and not living in our homes. Indeed, this may be the start of a new era of modern life where we change our ideas about what safe and healthy actually means for our home environments.

What Is A Home Biome, And Why Does It Matter?

The home biome refers to everything that lives in our homes. It may be surprising to hear that humans are the minority inside our own homes. In the book “Never Home Alone,” author and biologist Rob Dunn recounts the myriad of life that resides in our living spaces 1.

Not only do we live with other creatures like spiders and crickets, but we also share a home with thousands of tiny microbes, most of which are beneficial to us. The home biome matters as much to our health and well being as does a healthy diet or whether we get enough sleep each night 1.

Most of us have heard about the importance of a balanced gut biome. Yet, few understand that a balanced home biome is also essential. And that balance includes having many diverse microbes living in harmony with us 1,2.

Most of us have heard about the importance of a balanced gut biome. Yet, few understand that a balanced home biome is also essential. And that balance includes having many diverse microbes living in harmony with us Click To Tweet

In his book, Dunn refers to several studies looking at the differences between the home biome of modern people versus those who live surrounded by more biodiversity. For example, one study compared the microbes in modern homes with those of homes that were more open and connected with nature.

It turns out that the children raised in homes that contained more biodiverse soil-based microbes did not suffer from allergies, asthma, or other inflammatory conditions 1,3.

Dunn also discusses other expert findings that reveal a relationship between our modern lives and inflammatory disease. It turns out that when the biodiversity around us decreases, human inflammation increases 1,3,4,5.

The presence of microbes in our home biome are required for our immune system to develop appropriately. A balanced home biome makes for a balanced immune system that neither under- or over-reacts. The exact evolutionary reason for this health benefit isn’t completely understood yet. However, we do know that a closer connection to outdoor biodiversity is what brings balance to the home biome 1,3,4,5.

In short, our physical and environmental health depends on living with diverse microbes. And these microbes must include those found in the soil and natural environment.

We also know that a balanced home biome is a strong defense against the few harmful pathogens that can live with us. It’s interesting to note that out of thousands of microbes, only a few are actually harmful to us 1. Microbes such as mold, salmonella, and e.coli are the main ones that we try to avoid in our homes.

We now understand that a balanced home biome that includes soil-based microbes is what keeps these harmful pathogens from becoming a problem. We just need to figure out how to nurture a healthy home biome in this modern age.

 

What Can I Learn by Testing My Home Biome?What Is Home Biome Testing?

The first step in fostering a healthy home biome is to know what’s growing within its borders in the first place.

We know a musty smell points to mold growth. Or if we prepare food and someone gets sick, this may point to salmonella growing on our cutting boards or countertops. Our first reaction is to get rid of harmful microbes, but we rarely think about how to bring in good microbes that may be of help to us.

But really, if we don’t know what’s growing in our homes, then we can’t do anything about it. So testing our home biome gives us an incredible tool for understanding the health of our home.

Many of us have used the ERMI test, which covers about 36 species of mold, while the HERTSMI test includes about 5 species. In this way, we no longer have to guess what’s happening with our home biome. Instead, we can understand the health of our home by identifying any potential dysbiosis.

Over-Cleaning Causes Increased Fungal Growth in Urban HomesWhat Is Environmental Dysbiosis?

Again, we are beginning to understand what happens to us when our gut biome is out of balance. By now, many people have heard of dysbiosis in our gut and the accompanying health issues. Now, we need to look at dysbiosis in our home environments.

Dysbiosis refers to a biome that is out of balance. This means that certain harmful microbes are growing unchecked, while other good microbes are not growing enough 7.

The reasons why we have dysbiosis in our gut are actually similar to why we might have it in our homes. In essence, we kill off too many good microbes, which allow the bad ones to grow. In the case of our homes, this often happens by over-cleaning with harsh antimicrobial solutions 8,9,10.

Research shows that mold can indeed be much more common in household areas that are “too clean”. And in the regions that are less cleaned, there is a higher diversity of microbes and less mold 8,10.

What Can I Learn From The Results of My Home Biome Test?

By testing the home biome, not only can we learn which harmful microbes may be growing in our homes, but we can actively do something about it. Also, we can understand more about the levels of beneficial microbes as well.

Through a home biome test, we can see if we have a mold problem or not. Mold growth says a lot about the dysbiosis of our homes because we know that rampant mold growth means a lack of diverse microbes 8,9,10.

Through a home biome test, we can see if we have a mold problem or not. Mold growth says a lot about the dysbiosis of our homes because we know that rampant mold growth means a lack of diverse microbes Click To Tweet

Through a home biome test, we’ll know the exact species growing in our homes, which means we can take the necessary steps to improve balance. Some of these steps include bringing in more soil-based microbes while easing up on our cleaning practices.

Where we were once obsessed with getting rid of dirt, perhaps now we need to relax more. Because having a bit of outside dirt in our homes, is quite frankly, exactly what we need.

While it may sound like a radical idea to bring in more dirt and clean less, the research is clearly showing that this is necessary for reducing environmental dysbiosis 1,7,8. In turn, this improves our own health too 1,4,5,7.

As our modern homes are less connected to the natural environment, this means soil-based microbes are no longer living with us the way they once did. And as mentioned above, without this balance, we’re seeing a rise in inflammatory disease.

Conclusion

Indeed, new developments in home biome research are making us pay attention to what’s living or not living in our homes. An increase in mold likely means we don’t have enough beneficial microbes. And this means that our homes may be in a state of dysbiosis.

By testing our home biome, we can arm ourselves with the knowledge we need to prevent or fix dysbiosis. And since we now understand the connection between home dysbiosis and the rise of inflammatory conditions, we must take steps to prevent this.

As our modern dwellings continue to change and evolve, we’ll need to figure out how we can maintain healthy homes that somehow include a relationship with our natural environments. As creative and intelligent beings, there’s much we can do to restore balance. And testing our home biome is an excellent step towards creating that balance.


REFERENCES

1. http://robdunnlab.com/science-portfolio/never-home-alone/
2. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/336/6080/489
3. https://www.pnas.org/content/109/21/8334
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19895627
5.https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa1508749
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2791814/
7. https://letthemeatdirt.com
8.https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-019-0593-4.epdf
9. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935115000304
10. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133

 

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Gut Biome & Home Biome: How Are They Related?

In the past decade, the importance of a healthy gut biome has been discussed between scientists, medical professionals, and health consumers. By now, most people know that bacteria reside in our guts and that they’re essential to our health. These bacteria are, together, what create the biome. However, many people still don’t understand why having diverse bacteria is important. More importantly, most people don’t understand the similarities and relationship between our home biome and the gut biome. We need the biome in our guts and our homes to be healthy and diverse at the same time.

Why Does Biome Balance Matter?

As living organisms, we’re connected to our living environments, so if one biome is unbalanced, chances are the other is too. Also, by understanding the similarities between the gut and home biome, we can make better decisions for how to improve and maintain them. However, many of us may not understand that the home biome is similar to the one in our gut. Therefore, people may not realize how to create balance in our home biome.

First let’s define both the gut and home biomes and look at their similarities. Then we can discuss the importance of both biomes for the health of our bodies and living environments.

What is The Gut Biome?

The evidence is clear that having healthy and diverse microbes in the gut is essential for the development, functioning, and maintenance of our overall physical health. Gut microbes impact the digestive system, our immune system, our neurochemicals, and many other systems in our body 1,2,3.

For example, gut microbes are needed to help digest and absorb nutrients from the food we eat. This helps sustain the immune system, which is also connected to the nerves, brain, blood vessels, and other vital organs 1,2,3,4. Research shows that a gut biome that lacks diverse and healthy bacteria may be a root cause of health problems like diabetes, obesity, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and autoimmune issues 3,4,5,6.

We’re all born with a sterile gut that becomes populated by essential microbes in infancy. The particular distribution of microbes is unique to each individual even though we share many microbial species between humans 1-6. Many issues can cause us to lose the diversity of our gut microbes. Things like illness, antibiotics, chemicals, food additives, and stress can all cause a shift in the balance of bacteria in our guts. This imbalance is called dysbiosis 5,6. Dysbiosis refers to both the loss of our gut microbes as well as an overgrowth of harmful microbes.

Why Are Healthy Gut Microbes Important?

A gut without enough microbes means that we may not have the ability to digest enough nutrients. Also, if one microbe is allowed to grow too much, this can lead to other health issues as well. An example of an overgrowth of harmful microbes is in a common condition known as candidiasis. This is an overgrowth of Candida yeast in the gut known to cause bloating, headaches, brain fog, and other health problems. Yet another example is a bacteria known as c. difficile, which is known to cause severe diarrhea 3-6.

In recent years, many health professionals are advocating for the use of pre and probiotics to help control dysbiosis. There’s also been much discussion of the overuse of antibiotics as they are known to kill healthy gut microbes. Lastly, we know that things like maintaining a healthy diet or decreasing stress can also help retain the microbe balance in our guts 1-6.

In recent years, many health professionals are advocating for the use of pre and probiotics to help control dysbiosis. There's also been much discussion of the overuse of antibiotics as they are known to kill healthy gut microbes.… Click To Tweet

The goal is to create an environment in our guts where diverse microbes can grow in healthy amounts. This healthy diversity not only contributes to the proper functioning of our bodies, but it prevents unhealthy microbes from growing in large numbers.

When it comes to the health of our guts, we need lots of healthy and diverse microbes that live well together and in balance.

What is The Home Biome?

Now that we understand the gut biome, let’s look at the home biome. Our homes also have a biome that is unique and essential in maintaining the health of our living environment. Just like our guts, our homes get colonized with a variety of diverse microbes, some of which are required to maintain balance and health. If our home biome is lacking in microbes, such as often happens when we overclean and create a sterile environment, then problems can arise 7,8.

Also, if we clear out a few key species of microbes that help maintain balance, we may see an overgrowth of other more harmful species. For example, microbes like mold, yeast, and salmonella can grow unchecked in a home environment that lacks sufficient diverse, healthy microbes 7,8.

So, we also need to consider ways to enhance the growth of healthy bacteria, the same as we would do for our guts. Just as we take probiotics for our gut health, we can also use probiotics for our home. Products like Homebiotic contain healthy soil-based microbes that help maintain the home biome. Also, just as we work to prevent a sterile gut, we want to avoid a sterile home environment. This means we don’t over-clean our homes with harsh chemical cleaners too frequently 7,8.

Just as we take probiotics for our gut health, we can also use probiotics for our home. Products like Homebiotic contain healthy soil-based microbes that help maintain the home biome. Click To Tweet

How Are The Gut & Home Biome Related?

Since we are biodiverse beings that are dependent on our environments, it makes sense that our gut and home biome co-exist. Of course, the microbial population in our guts and our homes will be somewhat different. But, studies show that homes are colonized by bacteria found in humans and pets that live in the house 8.

Interestingly, some microbes that are unique to the home and the immediate outdoor environment also live in our bodies. We know that this relationship creates a diverse biome, and this diversity is fundamental to our well-being as a whole. So obviously, if there is dysbiosis in the home, then there may be dysbiosis in the human biome as well 7,8,9,10.

Interestingly, some microbes that are unique to the home and the immediate outdoor environment also live in our bodies. We know that this relationship creates a diverse biome, and this diversity is fundamental to our well-being as a… Click To Tweet

Indeed, in recent years, research shows how the use of chemicals to clean our bodies and living environments can also affect the human biome 7. Also, we know that homes surrounded by diverse soil-based microbes such as farms or homes with a lot of green space are known to create healthier immune systems in children. This suggests that a direct connection to our environment is what actually creates robust body systems 9,10,11,12.

Lastly, a home that is lacking in diverse microbes is likely to have an overgrowth of harmful microbes like mold. In recent decades, mold illness in the form of allergies, asthma, and other related health issues are on the rise. So we know that our home biome has an effect on our health and well-being 11,12.

Why is This Important To Know?

The more we understand the connection between our gut and home biome, the more we know how to maintain health in both areas. As living beings, we are symbiotically connected to our environments. People are becoming more educated about the importance of healthy and diverse gut microbes. Still, they have yet to see the connection between their gut and their home biome.

The more we understand the importance of having diverse microbes in our guts and in our homes, the more we will take care not to create a dysbiosis in either. As we try to enhance our physical health to ensure the diversity of microbes in our gut, we can also do the same thing for our homes. It just makes sense to look after both so we can improve our overall health.


REFERENCES:

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3667473/
2. https://letthemeatdirt.com
3. https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2013/01/03/healthy-gut-healthy-you/
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425030/
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3448089/
6. https://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/354902
7. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133
8. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139
9. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/all.13002
10. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2607/7/9/287
11. https://www.pnas.org/content/110/46/18360?etoc=
12. https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa1508749

 

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Got Dirty Kids? Great!

Modern society tends to favor clean, perfectly kept children, but do dirty kids make healthier kids? There’s been some talk recently about the benefits of kids playing in dirt and that it may actually benefit their health. The discussion was sparked by research that showed how kids brought up on farms had healthier immune systems than those that had no exposure. It seems that exposure to farm animals, and the dust and dirt that comes with them, actually helps protect and build kids immune systems1.

It seems that exposure to farm animals, and the dust and dirt that comes with them, actually helps protect and build kids immune systems Click To Tweet

It makes sense that parents might then ask, “So, does this mean I should let my kids get covered in dirt or even eat dirt?” The question is valid and perhaps meant with some playful sarcasm; the answer, though, may surprise you. While it may be absurd to have your kids make a lunch out of dirt, having some healthy exposure to it may be a good thing.

WHAT IS HEALTHY DIRT?

When we speak of dirt, we’re really talking about outside soil. Many parents may get concerned about their kid’s health when playing in dirt. What they don’t know is that it contains some specific ingredients that can be healthy for us – microbes.

Outside soil contains microbes that are necessary for the health and wellbeing of all living things that depend on the soil for survival. The main essential microbes to consider are bacteria and fungi, and healthy soil requires balanced and diverse species of these microbes. Human beings, and the environments we live in depend on healthy soil to live well2,3.

WHY DOES A SOIL-BASED MICROBIOME MATTER?

The interaction of all the microbes in the outside soil is called a microbiome. It consists of microbes that co-exist as well as microbes that help or harm each other. Bacteria and fungi compete, help, and eat each other in a quest to find balance4,5.

Balance is essential because a microbiome that lacks balance will have microbes that have either decreased in numbers or and have over-grown. An unbalanced microbiome is called dysbiosis and can cause a range of health or environmental issues5,6.

We also have a similar internal microbiome in our digestive tract, skin, and reproductive organs. We know that the more diverse the microbiome is, the more balanced it is, and the healthier we are as a result5.

All living things are connected and need to live in balance. Although that may sound like a new age cliche, it happens to be a scientific fact. Studies show that external soil also affects the microbiome in our homes and within our bodies6,7. In a sense, microbes are always searching for a way to balance things out and survive.

Microbes within the home reflect the individuals living there as well as plants and food choices. Also, soil-based microbes outside of the house can be found inside depending on the movement of inhabitants and cleaning practices7,8,9.

What experts now understand is that the presence of diverse soil-based microbes inside the home can have a balancing effect against the causes of musty odors 7,8,9. Again, this is the essence of a healthy balance, which also parallels what we know about our internal microbiome. The more diverse our microbes are in our guts, the better our immune system and overall health will be.

HOW CAN MY FAMILY HAVE A HEALTHY EXPOSURE TO A SOIL-BASED MICROBIOME?

None of us want a pile of dirt in our homes nor do we want our kids to eat dirt, but we can begin to shift our ideas and take actions to help include soil-based microbes in our home. By making some changes, we can actually improve the overall health and balance in our home microbiome.

Here are some tips on how to promote a healthy exposure to soil microbes in your home:

Dogs are a big help with bringing in soil-based microbes.

This doesn’t mean you should get a dog if you don’t want one or can’t care for it properly. But if you have one, then you’ve already taken a step in the right direction. Research has shown that homes with dogs have more diverse microbes, and many of them are soil-based7,9.

Encourage your kids to play outside more often.

A good exposure to the outdoors is helpful in so many ways. It promotes exercise, knowledge of nature, vitamin D exposure, and relaxation to name a few. Also, having your kids play outside can help introduce soil-based microbes into the home. Of course, you wouldn’t want to encourage them to bring in piles of it, but natural outdoor play may bring in small amounts that can be a help.

Adults can play outside too.

While we’re talking about kids, let’s not forget that adults need time in the outdoors for their health and stress relief as well. The more we can enjoy nature, the more we want to protect it and learn about it. And of course, we can also improve the soil-based microbiome in our homes by spending time outside.

Be careful with overuse of harsh cleaning products.

Research has shown that household areas cleaned with harsh detergents can obliterate the soil-based microbes. This may cause mold and bacteria to grow in more significant numbers than what you would want7,10. In fact, even environmentally friendly products can also cause trouble if used in excess.

Research has shown that household areas cleaned with harsh detergents can obliterate the soil-based microbes. This may cause mold and bacteria to grow in more significant numbers than what you would want Click To Tweet

Use Homebiotic spray to put natural soil-based microbes into your home.

This product is natural, easy to apply, and is the most effective solution since you get all the benefits of soil microbes without bringing the outside in.

 

CONCLUSION

So, should your kids eat dirt? Well, not exactly, but there’s a definite benefit for encouraging exposure to dirt for sure. By allowing a relationship to happen between soil-based microbes and your home, you can help improve the microbiome in the place you live, eat, sleep, and interact with your family.

There are several ways you can promote and encourage exposure to soil-based microbes. Having a dog and playing outside with your kids is a fun and easy way to bring in the soil without a lot of dirt. Also, being mindful of cleaning products and the frequency of cleaning can help ensure a balance. Lastly, using homebiotic spray can quickly bring the benefits of soil-based microbes into your home, without the dirt.


REFERENCES

1.https://err.ersjournals.com/content/27/148/170137
2.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360132316303419#bib5
3.https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139
4.https://escholarship.org/content/qt68c2j665/qt68c2j665.pdf
5.https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/01/29/579747917/the-cheese-does-not-stand-alone-how-fungi-and-bacteria-team-up-for-a-tastier-rin
7.https://draxe.com/health/gut-health/microbiome/
8.https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133
9.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0966842X1630021X
10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25707017
11.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2631814/