Many more bacterial genes than human genes are found in the body. Samples from 124 healthy Europeans found on average more than 530,000 unique genes in each sample and 99.1% were from bacteria. These bacteria live symbiotically, on, or in, our bodies. While we provide them with food and lodging, they help us stay healthy in many ways including helping us to digest our food, and providing vitamins and other nutrients for us to use.
Dr. David A. Relman of Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA has found that when people take bacteria-killing antibiotics, the microbial ecosystem that returns is different from the microbe population prior to taking antibiotics. Moreover, if the same antibiotic is taken again, even 6 months later, the bacteria take longer to come back and the bacteria are even more different.
Dr. Relman says, “Everything comes with a cost,” he said. “The problem is finding the right balance. As clinicians, we have not been looking at the cost to the health of our microbial ecosystems.”*
Once again, the importance of balance in the body is paramount. Considering that over 75% of the immune system is represented in the gut, immune balance, inflammatory homeostasis, helps the body provide natural resistance to disease. If the immune system is not functioning properly, if it is in disorder, the physical and emotional aspects of our life and health will be out of balance and in disarray.
A body in immune homeostasis is able to respond appropriately to challenges by either “boosting” the “fire power” of an inflammatory immune response to “burn out” an infection, or suppress an inappropriately excessive immune response to the challenge. The key is to maintain immune homeostasis.