How Microbiotics is Shaping the Health Industry
This is a guest post from Jeriann Watkins at . Do you have a response to Jeriann’s post? Respond in the comments section below.
The field of microbiotics has received a surge of public attention in the past few years. This is for two related but separate reasons. The first is the advancement of technology and the ability to more accurately analyze microbiomes and the bacteria therein.
The second reason is that many of the ways to “improve” your microbiome fall into the wellness field, which is more accepted and profitable than ever. Gut bacteria is affected mainly by diet and probiotics, which are not regulated in the same ways that prescription drugs are. The idea of changing your microbiome is accessible and there are countless (monetized) articles online discussing home remedies and other alternative approaches to altering the bacteria in your body.
These factors have led to an upsurge in companies that analyze the gut microbiome and suggest and sell supplements to those worried about the bacteria in their body- particularly those with immuno-deficiencies. We’ll explore both the medical side of microbiotics and the wellness side and look into how it could affect the future of the medical field and human health.
The Microbiome from a Medical Perspective
It has long been known that the body is made up of 1-2% bacteria at any given time. Bacteria cells outnumber our body’s cells 10 to 1, but bacteria cells are much smaller. The main flaw in the medical community regarding bacteria is the over prescription of antibiotics, which wipe out both harmful and beneficial bacteria. This has two main negative impacts. The first is the effect on the individual’s immune system, since beneficial bacteria has also been affected, leaving the person’s system potentially exposed to new infections and conditions. The second is due to the quick reproductive rate of bacteria. This leads to bacteria developing immunities to antibiotics and becoming stronger and more dangerous.
The ability to analyze gut bacteria and address specific issues allows the medical community to take a patient-centered approach to medicine and prescribe medications, supplements, and lifestyle changes that will impact their microbiome without killing beneficial bacteria or causing antibiotic immunity.
The focus on the microbiome has also resulted in new theories about how antibiotics can be used to fight viruses. This goes against most of what modern medicine has taught us, but utilizes the knowledge of how antibiotics can trigger immune responses. There are many studies needed to develop treatment strategies using this theory, but the research is being done to explore the possibilities.
Microbiotics and Wellness
The wellness industry in the United States has thrived for many reasons. The two main culprits are the expense of mainstream medicine and the medical industry’s refusal to acknowledge and address dangers and side effects of commonly prescribed drugs. This lack of trust has led to the public embracing alternative strategies for health. Wellness is not necessarily at odds with the medical field, as many home remedies and lifestyle suggestions are recommendations that doctors also commonly make. The danger, however comes with the lack of regulation and oversight. Since you need no credentials to give people lifestyle or wellness advice, misinformation and pseudoscience can spread quickly. Wellness advocates aren’t necessarily held to the ethical standards that healthcare administrators face.
The upside is that independent labs and companies are not necessarily bound by the same red tape that the medical industry is. This allows research to be done in areas where conventional medicine is falling short, prompting medical research on the same topics. For example, researchers from McMaster University in Canada have discovered a link between gut microbes and PTSD.
As our knowledge of the gut microbiome expands, the medical community must fight the distrust of the public. This means taking constructive criticism and looking further into important issues like mental health. It means giving up the idea of one healthy body style and embracing patient-centered care. This is the only way to hold the public’s trust and be able to keep the wellness industry accountable, slowing the spread of misinformation.
About the Author:
Jeriann writes about life, health, and literature at dairyairhead.com. She spends her time hunting down studies featured in pop-health articles and finding out what the real study conclusions were. You can also find her on twitter!
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