Cleaning and disinfectant products have been and still are in high demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sanitised hands and surfaces are highly important in efforts to reduce the spread of Coronavirus. However, there is increasing concern that the use of too many antibacterial products could be compromising our gut microbiota (gut flora) and our bodies’ immune response, meaning we are more susceptible to health problems such as disease, allergies and obesity.
The scientific definition of microbiota is: “the assemblage of microorganisms (all the bacteria, archaea, eukaryotes, and viruses) present in a defined environment” which basically means a collection of organisms (bacteria, viruses, etc) inside the body.
The microbiota varies according to its surrounding environment, for example, ‘Gut Microbiota’ refers to the microbiota in the intestinal tract. Our Intestinal microbiota play a vital role in regulating the human immune system, which is of high importance during these uncertain times.
Our bodies and our microbiota have a mutual relationship; we support our microbiota by providing a safe place to live, and they support us in many ways, including defending against harmful microorganisms and degrading toxic compounds. Gut microbiota is also important for nutrition, for example digesting certain foods that humans are not able to digest and facilitating the absorption of dietary minerals (e.g. magnesium, calcium, and iron). It can also shape mood and behaviour because of the gut-brain connection. To read more about the importance of microbiota click here.
Spanish probiotics specialists, EMLIFE have posted an article to start a discussion on how excessive disinfection affects our microbiota. They suggest that we have ‘reinvented’ ourselves and we now take measures and precautions to isolate ourselves from other people and the environment to slow down the infection rate of COVID-19. Wearing masks and gloves, being confined to our homes, keeping a social distance of 2 meters, using alcoholic gels and disinfectants, is all part of the prevention strategy put in place that we are all coming together on to overcome COVID-19. The question is, how is this affecting our microbiome?
EMLIFE’s article explains that our microbiome is ‘confining’. A healthy balanced microbiome is essential for our health and because our microbiome is so isolated and protected, it can lose richness, diversity of microorganisms, or is altered (dysbiosis), its functions and benefits are also lost or altered.
At EMLIFE and Pharma Biozyme LAB, they believe that what isolates us from the environment and other people is isolating us from microorganisms. This means that our microbiome is going to be altered, meaning our health can be altered.
They will continue to closely monitor the changes in the microbiota and how serious these changes are. However, it is clear that an imbalance of the microbiome can lead to disorders in all aspects of health such as gastrointestinal, emotional, autoimmune etc.
It isn’t just that we are directly isolating ourselves, using masks and gloves etc. it is also the changes we are making in our surrounding environment. A dramatic increase in the use of disinfectants has an effect on our microbiota, from eliminating microorganisms from surfaces inside, to going out into a disinfected environment. The number of times and the length of time we leave our home environment and spend outside has decreased, consequently, we don’t interact and exchange with different types of microorganisms as much.
Our environment and the interaction we have with other humans, animals and microorganisms has dramatically changed, even in 2020 alone, which could be affecting our microbiota. What are your thoughts?