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Move Over Microbiome–Meet Your New Neighbor

DNA Caroline Davis 2010 from Flickr

We’ve talked before about the fascinating human microbiome, the 3 trillion bacteria that live inside our bodies. It’s said to be the next frontier of research now that the genome is mapped, and it impacts our health in tremendous ways.

But lurking even deeper than those 3 pounds of bacteria is another frontier, one that gets into our very DNA. It’s the virome, the viruses that also live within us, so numerous that they outnumber every other organism on earth.

The potential for research and healing of various ailments so many of us suffer from, particularly gut health issues, is immense.

This post is sponsored by WellFuture. Top image from Caroline Davis2010 via Flickr Creative Commons.

I sat down with Catherine Clinton, ND, recently and asked her to explain what the virome is and how it’s going to impact the way we think about health:

If you can’t see the video above, view it directly on YouTube at What’s the Human Virome?

Dr. Catherine always has the greatest research-based info to share with me, like when we talked about the best time to introduce food to infants – something I pretty much got wrong with all 4!

She’s the founder of WellFuture and creator of WellBelly, the infant and child probiotic that Gabe takes daily (when we remember).

If you’re not a video watcher, I got you covered too. Winking smile

Notes on the Human Virome Interview

  • 1:06 – Fun fact: the 3 trillion bacteria living inside us weigh up to 3 pounds!
  • 2:27 – Science is discovering something new – the human virome! Learn more about how the virome is virus based – which is different from the gut biome that we often associate with bacteria.
  • 3:13 – Viruses impact our health. Viruses are the most abundant biological entity on the earth.
  • 4:50 – Learn how virus-infected bacteria (bacteriophages) live in symbiosis in our body and can actually fight infection and inflammatory bowel disease. These viruses attack only the bad bacteria that are hurting us and have zero direct impact on our own bodies.
  • 6:01 – This tidbit about a research study that scientists did with mice and the norovirus (one of the common stomach bug causes) will surprise you! Find the study here.
  • 7:37 – Dr. Katherine explains how Eastern European medicine actually used viruses (bacteriaphages) in medicine, since there was limited to access to antibiotics. This means it’s actually quite well studied, even though it’s “new” around America! Here’s one study about the use of bacteriophages.
  • 8:08 – How can viruses help someone with Irritable Bowel Syndrome? How does one take these beneficial viruses/bacteriophages? (Hint: I had to get over the idea of taking viruses as no different than drinking water kefir or eating homemade yogurt…)
  • 10:37 – How are viruses/bacteriophages better than taking antibiotics? (Hint: This isn’t in the interview exactly, but they won’t infect the good bacteria because each bacteriophage is specific to a certain bacteria thus leaving us and the good bacteria alone. I asked Dr. Catherine that question after telling my son about our interview and HE asked about that – Mr. smartypants!!!)
  • 11:51 – Keeping your virome healthy is both clinical (supervised by a health practitioner) and practical at home. We can see in infants that the health of the virile is tied to the health of the bacterial biome. So how do we keep both healthy?
“Diversity is the key, especially diversity in diet [with] a large range of foods. There are over 120 different varieties of tubers! And of course when you go to the grocery store, we don’t have quite that range. But there are a lot of great things we can be supplementing in our diet – with the fiber and phytonutrients – that can keep your biome healthy.”
  • 12:51 – Learn the secret benefits to environmental diversity and the value of getting outside. Find out how opening your windows and putting up house plants can impact the virome! In other words, for best health we need to focus on exposing our bodies to as many different kinds of food and environmental factors as possible (more on that here on my blog and here is some research on infants and the virome).
  • 14:15 – The type of cleaning products you use can actually disrupt your body’s virome and biome (get outta here, bleach!). Want a safer way to clean? Here’s a list of what I use from floor to ceiling.
  • 15:33 – Dr. Catherine’s Common Sense Rule
  • 16:44 – A little more about WellFuture probiotics designed by Dr. Catherine
  • 18:04 – Dr. Catherine’s exciting update about a change in Well Future’s probiotic formula:
“I’ve been working really hard to transition our company to completely food based nutritional supplements. This new formula of WellBelly has the same important 8 strains of probiotics plus I added lactobacillus reuteri, the strain that has been studied with colic.

And I’m really excited to say that this new formula of WellBelly uses completely organic food based carriers rather than maltodextrin or some of the other industrial by-products. We use organic banana and apple powder as the carrier. I’m excited to be able to offer a whole food probiotic product that doesn’t contain any solvent derived carriers or non food carriers.

Those little babies deserve organic, whole food supplements, especially with daily supplements, not a daily exposure to solvent derived, non food fillers as carriers for probiotics.”

For more from Dr. Catherine, check out her own article on the virome (Link no longer available) and of course try WellBelly for your little ones!

Do you take a probiotic to help support your microbiome? Would you ever consider taking bacteriophages to attack the bad guys in there?

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Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

8 thoughts on “Move Over Microbiome–Meet Your New Neighbor”

  1. whisperingsage

    Just so you know, the internet is blocking my ability to go to wellbelly website links. It’s pretending those are “dangerous”.

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      That’s weird. I can visit them just fine. Do you have a firewall set up that could be blocking them?

  2. Most people don’t quite understand the plethora of healthy flora that live on and in our bodies, and most of it is actually good for us. In fact,if we didn’t have these beneficial microorganisms, our bodies would be in heaps of trouble. I was taught one good reason to have them there is that, if they weren’t there, more “unsavory flora” (think Staph, etc.) would certainly move on in, in their place!

  3. I cant see why a breastfeeding baby would need supplements tho. Seems like the mama eating well–with variety, nutritious, etc–would be giving her baby what it needs. There was never supplements for babies before recently. The extent was prechewing food for the baby or toddler with few teeth. But theyd be getting those germs in the breastmilk already.

  4. Well here we go, smaller and smaller biomes in us. Like discovering the parts of an atom 🙂

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