THE INVISIBLE WORLD WITHIN OUR MOUTHS IS UNDER THREAT
Our bodies are home to more than 100 trillion bacteria - more than there are stars in the sky. But this tiny universe may be in trouble.
Unknown to most, there is a quiet revolution currently happening in science that may change health and medicine forever. Researchers are working away to uncover a complex ecosystem that is separate from, but constantly in and on our bodies. It’s the bacteria which lives with us – our own unique invisible world.
The sterility of our environments and a loss of variety in our diets is reducing the diversity of our tiny internal community.
You are a superorganism, made up of trillions of bacteria
That might sound like a pretty unappealing notion. Who wants to be colonised by bacteria? Aren’t bacteria bad? Well, yes and no. While some bacteria can be harmful, the vast majority of them are harmless – and scientists are discovering that lots of these little bacteria that live with us every day are in fact pretty vital to our health. Researchers now believe we are all host to what they term a microbiota – an (at least) 100 trillion strong community of different microorganisms. And many of these little critters are working hard to keep us safe and strong.
Bacteria is beautiful
So what are bacteria actually doing for our health? Our understanding of this is still in its early stages, but early studies are revealing a wide range of benefits from the good bacteria in our bodies.
So far, studies have found evidence that suggests that good bacteria help us digest food by extracting certain nutrients that we would otherwise lose. It’s also thought that they could act as a natural defence mechanism: stopping bad bacteria and environmental chemicals from entering our bodies and contributing to the immune system response towards any that do. There’s also compelling evidence to show that the microbiome has been evolving alongside us for millennia: constantly adapting with us to meet the challenges of our environment.
The microbiome under threat
Just as we are coming to understand the importance of the good bacteria in our bodies, scientists are also realising the threats they face. It turns out the modern world isn’t a particularly friendly place for our microbiome. Many facets of our contemporary lifestyles may in fact be harming these communities.
Much of this trouble actually starts in the mouth. Our lips, tongue and cheek are the second most bacteria-friendly place in humans after the gut, and a pretty important gateway to the rest of the body. Smoking, drinking acidic drinks, and having a high sugar diet may all be changing the natural oral environment, making it less welcoming to our long-term little companions and leading to conditions like caries and periodontal disease.
When it comes to the rest of the microbiome, the sterility of our environments and a loss of variety in our diets is also reducing the diversity of our tiny internal community – taking away an important advantage we once had.
Boosting your good bacteria
While research on how we should respond is still ongoing, it’s no doubt worth considering what we can do now to maintain this healthy bacterial community and the benefits it brings. Oral hygiene is of course one important element of this – but many modern toothpastes take a dim view of all bacteria, and don’t differentiate between bad and good. So, how do you clean your mouth without eradicating good bacteria? What will get rid of bad bacteria, while maintaining our natural micro-organic balance?
Inspired by nature, Zendium is a new toothpaste specifically created to help maintain a healthy mouth in light of this cutting-edge research. Used at least twice daily, it helps promote good bacteria while reducing the bad, and together with a healthy lifestyle – like cutting down on sugar and quitting smoking – helps create a friendly atmosphere for our tiny, hardworking friends. After all, if they look after us, it’s only fair that we look after them too.