The human body is home to as many microorganisms as there are stars in the sky, a friendly little universe of bacteria that comes with us wherever we go. The benefits of having so many (albeit tiny) friends are diverse – among other things, they digest certain foods; generate energy; maintain our skin barrier; assist with metabolic regulation; keep bad external microorganisms out; and help us deal with bad microorganisms that do invade. Like any good host, then, it’s our job to make sure the environment for these friendly bacteria is healthy and happy.
How to boost good bacteria
The science on how to create a good home for friendly bacteria is developing all the time, but there are a few different things that may help you ensure your community of oral microbes (or oral microbiome) is healthy and balanced:
- Eat more plant based foods. Many scientists working in this area believe that eating more plant-based foods is a good place to start. That is, anything not from an animal – fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lentils, tofu, and nuts. Rather than eradicating all animal-products from our diet, just incorporating a few more plant-based nutrients could help promote a more balanced oral environment and good general health.
- Cut down on sugar. It’s long been known that sugar isn’t great for oral health, and new research is filling in the gaps as to why. Scientists think one of the detrimental effects of a high sugar diet may be its impact on our oral bacteria, encouraging the growth of acid-loving bacteria like Streptococcus mutans, which contribute towards caries and periodontal disease and inhibit other, good bacteria.
- Avoid acidic drinks. Acidic drinks are also thought to be an enemy when it comes to oral health. Even sugar-free versions could alter the balance of microorganisms and upset the good bacteria. Again, that doesn’t have to mean never drinking these drinks, just enjoying them as a treat now and then.
- Diabetic? Try to manage your blood glucose levels. If you live with diabetes, making sure it is well managed may be an important part of good mouth care. Oral bacteria may be disturbed by fluctuations in blood glucose. So while we knew well-controlled diabetes was better for health in many ways, it’s interesting to know that ensuring a well-balanced microbiome might be one of them.
- Choose a bacteria boosting toothpaste. Good oral hygiene is of course the foundation of all mouth care. Traditionally, this has been defined as brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing, and using mouthwash. However, the type of toothpaste you use is also important. Using a brand like Zendium, which is specifically designed to boost the good bacteria in your mouth and reduce the bad bacteria, is a good way to keep your oral microbiome a healthy one.
- Quit smoking. Finally, another classic health maxim – the importance of giving up smoking – is given one further justification when it comes to mouth bacteria. Research suggests smoking could harm the delicate balance of oral microorganisms; just one of many great reasons to put out that cigarette.
With so many simple ways to boost the good bacteria in our mouths within our reach, it’s time to take action. Considering the many important things they do for us, it’s time we showed our valued microbial friends a little love in return.