New In Gut Health: The Essential Role of Fungus Among Us
RELATED: Why Good Bacteria Isn’t Enough (Hint: You Also Need Good Fungus!)
In this article:
- Understanding Fungus Role in Human Health
- Lifestyle Changes for Balance the Gut and Fungus Ecosystem
- Dr. Ghannoum’s Research on Fungus and Gut Health
- Balancing Fungal Diversity to Fight Off Digestive Infections
- BIOHM’s Role in Keeping the Microbiome Balanced
The Role of Fungus Around Us in Digestion
Understanding Fungus Role in Human Health
At this point, you’re likely aware that bacteria play 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 associate 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 mycobiome, which scientists now use to describe fungal environment within the human body, is an important part of the digestive system. Meanwhile, the microbiome refers to the entire ecosystem of organisms within the body.
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.
This 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.
Lifestyle Changes for Balance the Gut and Fungus Ecosystem
The good news is there are a number of lifestyle choices you can make to get your gut on the right track.
The digestive plaques formed by both bacteria and fungi can be good and bad. While bad bacteria and fungi create plaques that disrupt digestion, good ones actually help the body.
Good digestive plaques help in the promotion of healthy digestion as they break down the food we eat. This allows the body to use the nutrients extracted from these broken down food items.
Eating a healthy diet with prebiotic and probiotic foods (prebiotic means they encourage the growth of beneficial microorganisms in your gut) like avocados, soft unpasteurized cheeses, fermented foods, garlic, peas, whole-grain breads, and soybeans as well as properly managing stress — can help optimize digestive balance.
It also helps to exercise, quit or limit smoking and drinking, and eliminate stress from your daily life. But lifestyle and diet changes alone may not be enough for everyone.
Dr. Ghannoum’s Research on Fungus and Gut Health
Dr. Ghannoum has spent his entire career researching the essential role of bacteria and fungi in keeping the body’s microbiome balanced. There are 50 different species of fungi living in the gut alone.
While researchers focused on how bacteria can positively or negatively affect the human gut, Dr. Ghannoum was the only one to discover the importance of fungi in the digestive system.
RELATED: Interview With Dr. Ghannoum & The Infectious Diseases Hub
Balancing Fungal Diversity to Fight Off Digestive Infections
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.
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.
BIOHM’s Role in Keeping the Microbiome Balanced
Based on a decade of his research studying the DNA of the microbiome, he also created the BIOHM Gut Test Kit — the most comprehensive gut analysis that’s ever been available to consumers.
You just have to mail a stool or fecal sample to BIOHM. All you really have to do is collect a sample using the swab that comes with the kit.
With this kit, you will be able to know how your gut is doing in just 4-6 weeks. You’ll also get specific advice on how to optimize your gut based on your results.
He also came up with 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.”
If digestive fungi are not checked, an overgrowth of pathogens may lead to serious health problems, especially in immunocompromised individuals.
Too much Candida albicans in the body, for example, may lead to Candidiasis. This yeast infection creates itchy white patches on the skin, affecting the mouth and vagina.
Candida Albicans Definition: This is a naturally-occurring opportunistic yeast found in the mouth, gut, and reproductive areas of the body.
Learn how BIOHM works in this video from BIOHM Health:
If you’re experiencing problems with your gut, you may be overlooking certain aspects of your gut health. You might be taking probiotics that only address the gut’s bacteria.
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.
Are you feeling any discomfort with your digestion? Should you have questions about your mycobiome or gut health in general, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 21, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.