Are Hidden Contaminants Damaging Your Microbiome?

Your microbiome is a marvelous, diverse ecosystem teeming with trillions of microbes that live on your skin and in your body. Although scientists are still figuring out all the ways that these tiny organisms—which outnumber our human cells 10 to 1—work to keep us well, we do know that a balanced microbiome loaded with beneficial bacteria is absolutely essential for a strong foundation of health.

Unfortunately, so many aspects of our Western lifestyles threaten the delicate microbial balance that is crucial to our wellbeing.

From diets filled with processed, sugary foods and additives, to environmental toxins, medications (such as birth control, antacids, and steroids), antibiotics in food and as medicine, and antibacterial hygiene products, the stability of our microbiomes is under constant attack.

You see, our microbiomes can quickly become out of balance when the bad guy microbes start to outnumber the good guys. Considering that our resident beneficial bacteria perform a plethora of tasks to make sure we’re healthy—regulating immune function, enhancing nutrient absorption, and balancing blood sugar to name just a few—it’s imperative to keep them in good supply.

Harmful Chemicals in Your Food and Water

Sure, you can make the conscious decision to stay away from the medications and unnatural chemicals that can throw your microbiome out of balance, but the solution isn’t always as straightforward as it seems.

Why? Because, without you even knowing it, many environmental toxins, artificial ingredients, and medications may end up in the food you eat and the water you drink, damaging your microbiome despite your best, mindful efforts.

Case in point, a recent study conducted by scientists at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center and the University of Washington uncovered an alarming number of contaminants in fish living near wastewater treatment facilities in Puget Sound.

Researchers tested wastewater flowing out of the treatment plants, as well as local juvenile chinook salmon and staghorn sculpin, and found a shocking 81 drugs, chemicals, and personal care products in their samples1.

Although researchers describe the contaminant levels as likely being too low to be active in humans, we have to wonder about the compounding effect of the nearly 300 pounds of artificial chemicals and toxins that flow into Puget Sound each day!

Among the contaminants were many concerning toxins and synthetic chemicals:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Birth control medication
  • Cocaine
  • Fungicides
  • Industrial chemicals
  • Insect repellant
  • Nicotine
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Painkillers
  • Statins
  • Triclosan

And it’s not just treatment plant water that’s compromised; scientists also found a cocktail of crazy compounds in fish from a local water source used as a reference site due to its “pristine waters.”

What Can You Do to Protect Your Microbial Health?

The good news is that you can restore your microbial balance, despite these aggressors in the environment.

Know your food. Knowing where your food is coming from goes a long way towards eating fare that is clean and good for your foundational health. Choose organically grown produce when possible, ensuring that it’s free from pesticides and other dangerous chemicals. If you eat meat or fish, know where it comes from and buy organic, antibiotic-free whenever possible.

You might also consider getting more prebiotic foods into your diet. These foods feed the good bacteria in your body to help strengthen your natural defenses against artificial antagonists.

Filter your drinking water. As research clearly illustrates, treatment plants don’t filter out all the artificial chemicals that we unknowingly consume. Make sure to use a high-quality filter or reverse osmosis system to get the cleanest possible water for you and your family.

Take probiotics. Try as you might, you can’t avoid every facet of life that depletes the good bacteria in your microbiome. But, you can make sure that you are consistently replenishing the good guys by taking a high-quality, effect probiotic supplement like Hyperbiotics PRO-15.

A natural and comprehensive probiotic supplement, PRO-15 contains 15 different targeted strains of beneficial bacteria that make their way into your gut to set up shop and keep the bad guys at bay. Many wonderful supplements can support your microbial health, but a supportive probiotic (designed to survive your stomach acids) with diverse, well-studied strains is one of the most effective methods of supporting your digestive, immune, and overall health.

Our microbes work hard to keep us healthy in the face of the many indiscriminate effects of modern life. Eating clean, whole foods and adding back the good bacteria that might be inhibited or wiped out is the first step to vibrant living!

1. Meador, J. P., Yeh, A., Young, G., & Gallagher, E. P. (2016). Contaminants of emerging concern in a large temperate estuary. Environmental Pollution, 213, 254-267.


Emily Courtney is a Writer and Editor at Hyperbiotics and mom to two fun and active boys. Emily is passionate about natural wellness and helping others learn about the power of probiotics for vibrant health! For more ideas on how you can benefit from the power of probiotics and live healthier days, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

Posted in Clean Living, Gut Health, Lifestyle, Top Articles