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Gut Health

New In Gut Health: The Essential Role of Fungus

New In Gut Health: The Essential Role of Fungus

At​ ​this​ ​point​ ​you’re​ ​likely​ ​aware​ ​that​ ​bacteria​ ​plays​ ​a​ ​role​ ​in​ ​digestive​ ​health,​ ​and​ ​that​ ​there’s good​ ​bacteria​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​bad​ ​bacteria​ ​despite​ ​the​ ​generally​ ​negative​ ​association​ ​we’re​ ​prone​ ​to have​ ​with​ ​the​ ​word.​ ​What​ ​you​ ​probably​ ​don’t​ ​know:​ ​The​ ​same​ ​goes​ ​for​ ​fungi.

“Both​ ​of​ ​these​ ​communities,​ ​bacteria​ ​and​ ​fungi,​ ​live​ ​in​ ​our​ ​bodies,”​ ​says​ ​Mahmoud​ ​Ghannoum, Ph.D.,​ ​the​ ​scientist​ ​who​ ​coined​ ​the​ ​term​ ​mycobiome.​ ​“Good​ ​bacteria​ ​is​ ​only​ ​half​ ​of​ ​the​ ​story, because​ ​in​ ​our​ ​bodies​ ​we​ ​have​ ​both​ ​good​ ​bacteria​ ​and​ ​good​ ​fungus​ ​together.”

The​ ​digestive​ ​system​ ​alone​ ​is​ ​host​ ​to​ ​some​ ​50​ ​species​ ​of​ ​fungus,​ ​and​ ​fungi​ ​​​imbalance​ ​throws off​ ​your​ ​gut​ ​health​ ​just​ ​like​ ​​ ​a​ ​bacterial​ ​imbalance​ ​does.

More​ ​to​ ​the​ ​point​ ​(and​ ​the​ ​problem)​ ​is​ ​that​ ​taken​ ​together,​ ​bad​ ​fungi​ ​and​ ​bad​ ​bacteria​ ​form​ ​a plaque​ ​along​ ​the​ ​lining​ ​of​ ​your​ ​digestive​ ​tract,​ ​which​ ​provides​ ​a​ ​protective​ ​home​ ​for​ ​the​ ​bad microbes​ ​to​ ​stay,​ ​making​ ​it​ ​significantly​ ​more​ ​difficult​ ​to​ ​relieve​ ​​ ​gut​ ​health​ ​problems​ ​like bloating,​ ​cramping,​ ​and​ ​gas​ ​—​ ​just​ ​to​ ​name​ ​a​ ​few.

The​ ​good​ ​news​ ​is​ ​there​ ​are​ ​a​ ​number​ ​of​ ​lifestyle​ ​choices​ ​you​ ​can​ ​make​ ​that​ ​will​ ​get​ ​your​ ​gut​ ​on the​ ​right​ ​track.​ ​Eating a​ ​healthy​ ​diet​ ​with​ ​prebiotic​ ​and​ ​probiotic​ ​foods​ ​(p​re​biotic​ ​means​ ​they encourage​ ​the​ ​growth​ ​of​ ​beneficial​ ​microorganisms​ ​in​ ​your​ ​gut)​ ​like​ ​avocados,​ ​soft unpasteurized​ ​cheeses,​ ​fermented​ ​foods,​ ​garlic,​ ​peas,​ ​whole-grain​ ​breads,​ ​and​ ​soy​ ​beans​ ​as well​ ​as​ ​properly​ ​managing​ ​stress​ ​​ ​—​ ​can​ ​help​ ​optimize​ ​​ ​digestive​ ​balance. But​ ​lifestyle​ ​changes alone​ ​may​ ​not​ ​be​ ​enough​ ​for​ ​everyone.

The​ ​role​ ​of​ ​fungi​ ​has​ ​been​ ​largely​ ​ignored​ ​in​ ​favor​ ​of​ ​focusing​ ​on​ ​bacteria,​ ​which​ ​has​ ​really​ ​just started​ ​to​ ​change​ ​in​ ​the​ ​past​ ​10​ ​years.​ ​Most​ ​of​ ​that​ ​research​ ​has​ ​come​ ​from​ ​Dr.​ ​Ghannoum, who​ ​currently​ ​directs​ ​the​ ​Center​ ​for​ ​Medical​ ​Mycology​ ​at​ ​Case​ ​Western​ ​Reserve​ ​University,​ ​and whose​ ​work​ ​has​ ​been​ ​funded​ ​by​ ​the​ ​National​ ​Institutes​ ​of​ ​Health​ ​for​ ​more​ ​than​ ​20​ ​years.​ ​“We have​ ​to​ ​study​ ​fungi​ ​because​ ​when​ ​you​ ​disrupt​ ​this​ ​balance​ ​you​ ​are​ ​causing​ ​other​ ​problems,”​ ​he says.

Dr. Ghannoum, The Scientist That Named the Mycobiome

Once​ ​his​ ​findings​ ​about​ ​the​ ​role​ ​of​ ​fungi​ ​in​ ​digestion​ ​were​ ​out​ ​there,​ ​he​ ​says,​ ​people​ ​began​ ​to ask​ ​him​ ​about​ ​how​ ​they​ ​could​ ​address​ ​fungal​ ​imbalance.​ ​The​ ​problem,​ ​he​ ​found,​ ​was​ ​that​ ​no probiotic​ ​on​ ​the​ ​market​ ​was​ ​designed​ ​to​ ​​ ​address​ ​the​ ​dual​ ​role​ ​of​ ​bacteria​ ​and​ ​​ ​fungi​ ​in​ ​the​ ​gut. “In​ ​a​ ​probiotic,​ ​you​ ​need​ ​to​ ​introduce​ ​good​ ​bacteria​ ​and​ ​good​ ​fungi.​ ​Why?​ ​Because​ ​they​ ​work together​ ​to​ ​break​ ​down​ ​digestive​ ​plaque,​ ​”​ ​Dr.​ ​Ghannoum​ ​explains.​ ​As​ ​an​ ​answer,​ ​he​ ​created BIOHM​,​ ​a​ ​new​ ​suite​ ​of​ ​probiotics​ ​specifically​ ​engineered​ ​to address​ ​the​ ​gut’s​ ​total​ ​microbiome​ ​of​ ​bacteria​ ​and​ ​fungi.​ ​Based​ ​on​ ​a​ ​decade​ ​of​ ​his​ ​research studying​ ​the​ ​DNA​ ​of​ ​the​ ​microbiome,​ ​he​ ​also​ ​created​ ​the​ ​BIOHM​ ​Gut​ ​Report​ ​Kit​ —​ ​the​ ​most​ ​comprehensive​ ​gut​ ​analysis​ ​​ ​that’s​ ​ever been​ ​available​ ​to​ ​consumers, and the BIOHM Candida Report, which allows people to get specific insights into the Candida species and levels present in their digestive systems.

“If​ ​you​ ​just​ ​focus​ ​on​ ​bacteria,​ ​you​ ​allow​ ​the​ ​fungi​ ​to​ ​overgrow,”​ ​says​ ​Dr.​ ​Ghannoum.​ ​“When​ ​they overgrow,​ ​you​ ​can​ ​start​ ​to​ ​have​ ​digestive​ ​problems.”​ ​​ ​So,​ ​if​ ​you’ve​ ​been​ ​frustrated​ ​trying​ ​to optimize​ ​your​ ​digestive​ ​health,​ ​you​ ​now​ ​know​ ​that​ ​you​ ​have​ ​to​ ​address​ ​both​ ​bacteria​ ​and​ ​fungi.

How​ ​will​ ​you​ ​know​ ​if​ ​it’s​ ​making​ ​a​ ​difference?​ ​You’ll​ ​feel​ ​it​ ​in​ ​your​ ​gut.

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