By WIN Contributor: Dr. Laura Imola, Naturopathic Doctor

Early in my practice, way back in 2003, I was so fortunate to have incredible mentors, who stressed the importance of the body’s terrain, now commonly referred to as “THE MICROBIOME.” They were classic Naturopathic Doctors who didn’t just give Vitamin X for Symptom Y, but rather so clearly understood the intricate connection between every system in the body, the microbes, our emotional and spiritual/energetic health, lifestyle and nutrition and took an eclectic approach and using a blend of classical therapeutics. They had a deep understanding of the complexity of these layers, addressed the layers and respected the healing process so people could experience their truest and best expression of health.

If you haven’t already heard, the next hot health topic is the microbiome, more specifically the gut microbiome.  We are going to hear more about this and there’s already plenty of studies proving that our body’s terrain is an essential component to optimal health and illness prevention.

As a student, I first learned about the body’s ecology from one of my first professors in Naturopathic Medicine, Dr. Denis O’Hara, who introduced us to the teachings of one of the first Naturopathic DoctorsDr. Henry Lindlahr.  Dr. Lindlahr was talking about the microbiome way back in 1904!!

He wrote about his findings in which the microbiome of his patients were being “bathed in a milieu of their own toxic excretions,” which Dr. O’Hara would humorously and affectionately translate as they were “drowning in their own crud.”  This is as much of a problem now as it was then.

Food quality, environmental pollution, medication, body care products, household cleaners and a myriad of other things, can significantly flood the body with excess waste and chemicals and changes the delicate balance of our gut terrain, which is leading to disease in so many people. Also, the modern day focus on “killing germs” and germ phobia has decreased exposure, reduced tolerance to microbial diversity and limited immune development. This has become a big obstacle for health in adults and an even bigger obstacle for the health today’s children.

I’ve seen patients who begin to eat better, have more plant food and water, transition to using natural alternatives to antibiotics, stepped away from the antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizers and worked on healthier lifestyle practices, who then also start to see improvements over time in their digestion, immune resiliency, joint health, energy levels, sleep quality, mood and overall feeling of wellbeing.

My eye catching title “Live Dirty, Eat Clean” was brilliantly coined by Dr. Robynne Chutkan, a respected and well educated Gastroenterologist, and Microbiome Expert. She witnessed the importance of the microbiome in her own practice, through her own personal experience with her daughter’s health and through the research base that continues to grow on the countless ways the microbiome is essential to health.

You can listen to her speak on this topic…

…Here with Mind, Body, Green…

..and Here with Rich Roll.

Now that cold and flu season is here, I encourage everyone to think bigger about how they can guard against getting sick and how they are choosing to fight off infections. You can learn more through my last WIN Blog post. And going beyond seasonal health issues, think bigger about taking a proactive approach to your health, support the layers of your health, and take care of that incredible body of yours! If you’re not sure where to start or if you have questions about your microbiome or your health, feel free to visit with me anytime and I’d be happy to help.