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What is a microbiome?

Microbes and microbiomes may seem unusual terms when it comes to human health. But they are as easy to understand as they are important. Microbes were the first form of life on earth. They predominant any other, both in numbers and total biomass. The power of microbes exceeds that of all other organisms in the tree of life (Verstraete, et al., 2017). Microbes are our past and our future.
 
So, micro-organisms fill your everyday life. And just like humans, these organisms are socially minded, gathering in groups. This group is called a microbiome. It is a community of microorganisms in a particular habitat.
 
Despite being invisible to the naked eye, they shouldn’t be overlooked. Humans, animals, plants, soils, oceans, forests, cities, etc. From your coffee corner to your desk and even your chair or laptop. Every single place contains its own unique microbiome, like a fingerprint. Some parts are similar in everyone, but others defined by factors that are personal. These include genetics and lifestyle, like where you live, what you eat and even if you have pets (Verstraete, et al., 2017).
20 things you didn’t know about bacteria

1. At about 5 million trillion strong, bacteria and their cousins, the archaea, vastly outnumber all other life-forms on earth.

2. Lined up end to end, they would stretch some 10 billion light-years—literally from here to the edge of the visible universe.

3. And there are always more on the way. Pseudomonas natriegens, an ocean-dwelling bacterium, can go from birth to reproduction in 10 minutes flat. In five hours a single cell could theoretically give rise to more than 1 billion offspring.

4. Bacteria have been around for at least 3.5 billion years, making them the oldest known life-form on the planet.

5. Humans didn’t catch a glimpse of them, though, until 1674, when Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoe spotted tiny swimming “animacules” while fiddling with the newly invented microscope.

6. No escaping them: Your body has 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells.

7. Can’t catch them, either. Whipping their tails, E. coli can travel 25 times their own length in 1 second, equivalent to a horse running 135 miles per hour.

8. A compelling argument for brushing: He discovered them while examining pond water and scrapings from the human mouth.

9. But most bacteria are harmless, and some are even helpful in aiding our digestion. Mice with bacteria-free intestines need to eat 41 percent more calories than their germy counterparts.

10. Most bacteria have yet to be identified. In 2003 geneticist J. Craig Venter  began trolling the high seas and analyzing the water. On his first trip, he fished out more than a million never-before-seen bacterial genes.

11. The first artificial life-form will be not a robot but a bacterium. Not content with finding natural bacteria, Venter is leading an effort to build a bacterium from scratch.

12. Bacteria have even set up a permanent camp inside our cells. Mitochondria, the power­houses that supply energy to nearly every cell in the body, are the descendants of bacteria that were engulfed by larger microorganisms billions of years ago.

13. When you pop a pill to kill off a bad bug, you kill some of the good guys, too. A bacterium called Clostridium Difficile can move into the prime intestinal real estate cleared out by antibiotics, causing painful inflammation and diarrhea.

14. Bacteria are adept at developing resistance to antibiotics.

15. Floating bacteria are extremely effective at assisting in the formation of ice and snow. Some scientists propose spraying bacteria into the clouds to end droughts.

16. Certain bacteria thrive in extreme conditions. In 2006 a probe at a South African gold mine turned up bacteria living nearly two miles underground,
subsisting on the energy given off by radioactive rocks.

17. Another species, Deinococcus radiodurans,
can survive almost 10,000 times the dose of radiation lethal to humans, making it a prime candidate for the cleanup of nuclear waste.

18. The Midas touch: Australian scientists found that a bacterium called Ralstonia metallidurans 
can turn dissolved gold into solid nuggets.

19. Bacteria are adept at developing resistance to antibiotics. Among the deadliest of resistant bacteria is MRSA,
which killed 19,000 Americans in 2005 alone.

20. But can they run Windows? By programming instructions into their genes, scientists have engineered E. coli that act like computers, solving complex mathematical problems faster than anything made from silicon.

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Your microbiome

decides who you are

If you’re wondering what your microbiome does from day-to-day, the answer is: a lot. Mostly protecting you from unfriendly organisms and helping to neutralise the environment. Your microbiome makes important contributions to other invading microbes. The composition of microbiomes had a very large impact on how we feel and even think. In the gut f.e., the composition of your microbiome decides food digestion, which foods you crave, and how you feel. It could even cause depression. Basically, your microbiome contributes to making you feel and look healthier.

Natural vs indoor microbiome

There are numerous differences between outdoors and indoors to sum up. A very big difference is its microbiome.
Outdoor microbiomes are beneficial because of their diversity and amount of organisms. Indoors is a different story. Buildings try to keep fine dust and other possible harmful organisms out. We’re left inside a box with rarely any organisms left. Which can cause dissatisfaction

Walking through a forest …

you are exposed to the biggest source of organisms! Natural environments burst with it. Any size, any type, from extremely beneficial to potentially harmful. The continuous addition of organisms guarantees its healthy balance.

Inside a building …

micro-organisms get filtered out before entering the building, for health reasons. But these filters can’t distinguish beneficial organisms from harmful ones. Leaving you in a low variety of organisms. This has an effect on your wellbeing, productivity, and even your happiness.

Unbalanced microbiome, what happens?

A balanced and diverse microbiome supports many processes that you need to stay healthy and resilient. When the microbial balance is disturbed, you may not see a noticeable difference. But the microbiome may function less effectively, offering less support and protection.

The impact of the microbiome, whether it is inside our body, in nature or in buildings, needs to be in balance in order to stay healthy – pathogenic organisms having their fair share as well. But as we are building houses and sealing them off from natural microbiomes, this balance gets interrupted, leading us pretty far down the wrong road.

 

Restore natural balance indoors

Natural environments restore its own balance because of the continuous addition. In the human gut, you can take probiotic supplements. They haven’t invented a pill yet that restores the indoor microbial balance.  

For this, reconnection with nature is an obvious change to consider, but how? The good news is, it’s absolutely possible to improve the indoor microbiome. Bacterial ecosystems truly are a force of nature, and with a little help, they can make an incredible comeback. For that little push, we rely on beneficial organisms found in healthy soil.By cultivating the natural organisms that appear in healthy soils and injecting these into your building. The air enriches with nature finest, and you get to enjoy the benefits.

It’s one thing to take your weekly hike in a nearby forest, it’s even better to take your daily coffee in the same microbiome. Restore your natural balance indoors. Bring nature inside your building? Get in touch. 

Interesting articles to discover:

KMO insider: Hoe creëer je een beter indoor klimaat in je bedrijfsgebouw?

tv Oost: Gezond werken dankzij bacteriën in de lucht

Bring nature inside your building

Get your hands dirty