Ever heard of a microbiome cloud?

I hadn’t heard this term until it was discussed at a conference I attended. It turns out that you share a “microbiome cloud” with the people you live with and the people you work with.

What is a microbiome cloud?

“Microbiome cloud” describes the collection of organisms that inhabit homes and offices. Everyone contributes some of their own organisms to this communal cloud – from the microbiome on the skin (which sits on dead skin cells and accumulates as dust on surfaces), the lungs (which is exhaled into the air) and the gut (which is distributed into the air when the toilet is flushed).

What is the significance of the microbiome cloud?

Given that we share organisms with our household and our workmates, this could have a positive or negative impact on our own bacterial communities. It could mean that your attempts to rebuild a healthy microbiome in your own gut are being undermined by an unhealthy microbiome cloud in your home or office! Or conversely, you could be benefiting from a predominantly healthy microbiome cloud that is positively influencing your own communities.

How can I improve my microbiome cloud?

If you are making efforts to improve the health of your own microbiome, take steps to ensure that you are surrounded by a healthy microbiome cloud. Dust surfaces regularly to remove dead skin cells and vacuum using a HEPA filter. Close the toilet lid before you flush and encourage your household and workmates to do the same. Open windows and doors daily – even in cold weather – to help with air circulation. And if one person in the house is trying to improve their gut health (by supplementing with prebiotics and probiotics, or by following an eating pattern that promotes good gut health), consider extending this to all members of the household, improving the whole cloud.

How healthy do you think your microbiome cloud is? Are there steps you could take to improve it?

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