At this point you’re likely aware that bacteria plays 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 have 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 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, which 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.
The good news is there are a number of lifestyle choices you can make that will get your gut on the right track. 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 soy beans as well as properly managing stress — can help optimize digestive balance. But lifestyle changes alone may not be enough for everyone.
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, 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. Based on a decade of his research studying the DNA of the microbiome, he also created the BIOHM Gut Report Kit — the most comprehensive gut analysis that’s ever been available to consumers, and 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.” So, 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.