The War On Bacteria — Who Are We Really Harming?

Throughout my training and most of my career as a physician, the prevailing belief in medicine told us bacteria are pathogenic, create health problems and must be eradicated. For decades, this idea has driven us as a society to rely on prescription drug use in a way that is excessive and downright harmful. The notion that “we” must destroy “them” has underscored our choices fueling fears that in the end have left us with an ocean of health conditions all linked to the destruction of the gut microbiome.

The irony here is that “we” actually are “them”. Research has shown that there are possibly 10 times more bacteria within each of us than there are human cells. Incredibly, the total number of genes in the microbiome outnumbers human genes by a factor of at least 200. This means their genes, and the expression of these genes can change the way our own bodies function-and quickly. Maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria then is paramount to our own good health and ability to thrive.

Are bacteria good or bad?

We are at the dawn of a new understanding that there is a place for everything. Even what was once thought to be the most virulent, has some benefit when we change the context. Bacteria in and of themselves are neither good nor bad. It’s how they work together that determines if they have a positive or negative effect. The balance of different communities, types and quantities is the key factor. This idea is groundbreaking, literally shattering everything we have been told in the past.

Take H-pylori for example. Humans have been colonized by this bacterium for more than 100,000 years suggesting some benefit as it’s continued presence has been selected —> Read More