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New In Gut Health: The Essential Role of Fungus Among Us

Featured | Candida | New In Gut Health: The Essential Role of Fungus Among Us

Not all of the fungus among us are bad. Others keep the microbiome balanced.

RELATED: Why Good Bacteria Isn’t Enough (Hint: You Also Need Good Fungus!)

In this article:

  1. Understanding Fungus Role in Human Health
  2. Lifestyle Changes for Balance the Gut and Fungus Ecosystem
  3. Dr. Ghannoum’s Research on Fungus and Gut Health
  4. Balancing Fungal Diversity to Fight Off Digestive Infections
  5. 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

Running woman | New In Gut Health: The Essential Role of Fungus Among Us

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​ ​(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​ ​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.

Dr. Ghannoum | New In Gut Health: The Essential Role of Fungus Among Us
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.​

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.