Skin, muscles, fluids, flesh, and more than 70 organs make us the living, breathing human beings that we are. But did you know that we also host around 100 trillion microorganisms in our bodies? Scientists call this the human microbiome, and it’s essential for our survival. Research studies say that EMF disturbs the human microbiome which can result in the development of numerous health problems.
Bacteria have gotten a bad rap—and for a good reason. They’re responsible for pneumonia, meningitis, strep throat, food poisoning, and a range of other infections. But the fact is, not all bacteria are harmful. Some of them are actually essential for our bodies. They help us digest food, absorb nutrients, and produce vitamins like niacin, folic acid, B6, and B12 in our intestinal tracts.
In this post, we will talk about the role of the human microbiome in our lives and how EMF disturbs its functioning. And while we’re at it, we’ll also look at how you can protect your microbiome from EMF’s adverse effects.
So, let’s begin.
Table of Contents
What is the Human Microbiome?
Here’s a pop quiz for you. What do you and a deep-sea coral have in common? Answer—both of you are superorganisms.
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Confused? Let me explain.
A superorganism is made up of many smaller organisms that help produce essential components for the superorganism’s good health and survival.
Think of it as a big city. People living in a city have their own lives, but their lives aren’t complete without the involvement of other people in the same city. You rely on other people for clothes, food, and other services. If it weren’t for people supporting each other, the massive cities that we have today wouldn’t be possible.
Similarly, our bodies host an estimated 100 trillion single-celled microorganisms. They help us produce essential nutrients, fight off diseases, and stay alive. This rich ecosystem of non-human cells is the human microbiome.
We get some of these microbes from our mothers, and their population grows as we age. They also carry genes that shape our genetic formation. In fact, the human microbial cells outnumber our native cell population. This means that 99% of our biochemical functions like breaking down food, producing essential substances, and necessary conversions occur by courtesy of our single-celled friends.
Because of this, it’s crucial for your microbiome to be healthy and functioning at its peak.
The Importance of Gut Health
The gut is where most of the good microbes live. They help you with digestion, boost your immune function, and make your central nervous system (CNS) healthy.
The medical community is putting more research into the gut microbiome, and we’re now seeing its incredible complexity and importance to our overall health. Within the past two decades, studies have found a tangible link between poor gut health and problems like endocrine disorders, poor mental health, autoimmune diseases, skin conditions, and even cancer.
Before the introduction of the term “human microbiome” in 2001, our concept of the digestive system was pretty straightforward. It comprises a long tube for food to pass through, different organs to absorb the nutrients, and an excretion system for the waste materials.
After discovering the human microbiome, we know that our digestive system consists of trillions of microbes and is massively responsible for our physical and mental well-being.
Here’s what Dr. E. M. Quigley from the Houston Methodist Hospital said in his 2013 study: “Having a wide variety of these good bacteria in your gut can enhance your immune system function, improve symptoms of depression, help combat obesity, and provide numerous other benefits.”
So, you see how important it is to have a healthy gut. But, if it’s just microbes that you accumulate over time, why isn’t everyone healthy?
Gut Imbalance: What Causes It?
Problems in digestion, nutrients absorption, and waste material elimination are primarily associated with an imbalance in the microbial population that resides in your gut. The probiotic or the “good” bacteria is supposed to function in harmony with your body in a cooperative relationship. And that’s the case most of the time.
When your gut function is healthy, you digest food properly, you fight off illnesses faster, you have virtually no problems with waste elimination, and your immune system works in top-notch condition. But to perform all these tasks properly, the population of different microbes in your gut needs to be well-balanced.
Imbalance in the gut causes the development of several problems in your body. Medical experts refer to this imbalanced state as dysbiosis.
Here are common reasons why an individual would suffer dysbiosis:
- Low stomach acidity, pancreatic insufficiency, or gallbladder/liver dysfunction
- Nutrient deficiency
- Chronic stress
- Pesticide and chemical exposure
- Food intolerance and processed food/low diversity in the diet
But that’s not it.
Scientists have found that the EMF exposure we face daily can also cause a massive disturbance in our gut microbiome.
Role of EMF in Gut Imbalance
The studies present in this subject are limited as of now. But the ones that exist show that prolonged EMF exposure causes significant disruptions in the human microbiome.
That said, EMF’s effect on these microbes varies. It affects some of them negatively, and in some of them, it causes massive population growth.
For instance, a 2017 article found that E. coli multiplies in population when exposed to EMF.
E. Coli & EMF
As you may already know, E. coli or Escherichia coli causes unpleasant health issues like diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting. You get this bacterium by eating contaminated food or coming into contact with human or animal feces. Seeing how harmful this bacterium is, you’d want to stay away from it at any cost, right?
But what if I told you that E. coli already exists inside you and is actually a healthy component in your gut? It’s true.
The gram-negative bacterial strain E. coli is present inside your body and performs functions like digestions, synthesizing vitamins, and maintaining balance within the gut. But in some scenarios, E. coli can become overgrown and dominant, which causes a state of dysbiosis in your gut.
Dysbiosis, as I already mentioned, is a state of imbalance of microbes in your gut.
Research studies have also found that overgrowth of E. coli causes inflammation in your gut, causing problems like chronic constipation, fatigue, and irregular periods in women.
When scientists investigated EMF’s effect on E. coli, they found that exposure to radiofrequency EMF causes this bacterium to proliferate and in a large volume.
Research on the Link Between EMF Exposure & E. Coli Growth
In 2017, a group of Iranian researchers confirmed EMF’s growth effect on E. coli by exposing it to EMF from cell phones and WiFi routers. This study also contained Listeria monocytogenes, which is a potential pathogen. Their experiment found that these two bacteria showed a significantly faster growth rate after their EMF exposure than control.
And what’s worse is that E. coli became more resistant to antibiotics after 6 hours of EMF exposure. If you want to learn more about the link between EMF exposure and bacteria’s antibiotic resistance, I have a separate post that discusses it in-depth.
So, you see how important it is to have a proper balance in your microbiome?
The EMF in our surroundings heavily disturbs this balance, leading to adverse health problems. Let’s look at some more examples.
Lactobacillus Plantarum & Lactobacillus Rhamnosus
Lactobacillus Plantarum (L. Plantarum) is one of the many good bacteria that’s naturally present in your intestines. It’s also the most common probiotic found in yogurt.
This bacterium is known for its ability to heal the intestinal barrier. The intestinal mucosal barrier is something that prevents microbes, even the good ones, from free-flowing around your body. Because, even though they’re good for you when inside the gut, microbes can trigger adverse effects if they get out.
Sometimes, this barrier gets damaged because of constant bacterial attacks. And when this happens, Lactobacillus Plantarum heals the intestinal barrier, keeping you safe.
Similarly, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus (L. Rhamnosus) is also a good bacterium that you can find, especially in dairy products. It’s known to improve allergies, cure gastrointestinal dysfunction, and boost immunity.
These two probiotics are some of the most well-studied microorganisms. And so far, we’ve found that L. Plantarum and L. Rhamnosus are highly susceptible to EMF’s detrimental effects.
In 2016, two Indian researchers performed a study to understand the effects of EMF on these lactobacillus species. They exposed these bacteria to radiofrequency EMF operating on 6.41 GHz, 7.5 GHz, and 7.62 GHz frequencies. After the exposure, researchers found a significant decrease in their population. And the intensity of this effect increased as they upped the radiation’s frequency.
The researchers hypothesized that EMF might have exerted an oxidative effect on the bacteria cells, increasing the free radical damage and destroying their DNA.
EMF Alters Skin Microbiota
We talked about EMF’s effect on our internal microbiome. But did you know that a huge population of microbes reside on our skin surface?
Bacteria such as S. pasteuri, S. lugdunensis, and S. epidermidis live on the surface of our skin, and they fight off pathogens, preserving the integrity of our skin barrier.
According to a 2017 study from Baylor University, Texas, prolonged EMF exposure alters these bacteria, creating problems like acne and eczema.
The researchers concluded:
“The growth of Staphylococci from certain individuals were enhanced under RF-EMF, and in some other cases, the growth was suppressed, which means the disruption to the balanced skin microbiota make it more vulnerable to infection possibly by those opportunistic pathogens or foreign pathogens.”
What Can You Do?
So, it’s pretty clear that EMF exposure causes significant damages to our microbiome. So, how do you avoid such damages?
Well, you can always quit technology and live someplace with little EMF exposure. But is that the right solution? I, for one, would vote against it because, even though EMF is harmful, it makes our lives incredibly convenient. Quitting technology would mean adding a ton of unnecessary hardships and cutting your communication with the modern world. So, not exactly ideal.
Instead of focusing on eliminating EMF from your life, experts recommend making efforts to mitigate it. That way, you can live a safer, healthier life without giving up the convenience of technology.
Here are a few tips to help you with that.
Minimize Use & Maximize Distance
Modern gadgets, especially those that can connect to other devices or the internet via Bluetooth, cellular, and WiFi, emit a massive amount of EMF. And the reality is, at any given time, we’re surrounded by any number of these devices exposing us to their EMF emissions.
This is why we recommend minimizing your tech use and maximizing your distance from EMF-emitting gadgets.
And the best part is, there are many ways you can employ these two rules in your life without giving up tech use. For instance, you can turn off your WiFi router at night and mitigate a considerable amount of unnecessary EMF exposure. And for maximizing distance, you can simply stop carrying your phone in your pocket or your bra.
Visit my “Healthy Living Tips” page to learn more about how you can minimize your tech use and maximize your distance without negatively impacting your enjoyment of modern technology.
Switch to an Ethernet Connection
I think we all agree on the notion that the modern world is incomplete without the internet. And what better way to get high-speed internet in your home than WiFi?
But you also have to realize that while WiFi is a highly convenient medium for internet connectivity, it also exposes you to its massive EMF emissions.
So, the best way of reducing EMF from your WiFi without compromising on network speed and quality is to switch to a wired connection.
I have a separate post that explains the benefits of switching to a wired connection in-depth. It also has a detailed guide on how you can perform this switch yourself at home.
Exercise & Proper Nutrition
Even though our bodies haven’t evolved to defend against human-made EMF naturally, we’re resilient to its effects to some degree. Our in-built healing system is extremely good at repairing the damages that prolonged EMF exposure causes. It only becomes a problem when we expose ourselves to massive EMF for so long that it overwhelms our healing system.
Studies have found that when you exercise regularly and consume proper nutrition, your resistance to EMF-induced health problems increases significantly.
Building biologist and EMF expert Cathy Cooke wrote this amazing article explaining what nutrients you should add to your diet to increase your resilience to EMF. So, give it a read.
This, I feel, is the most important of all steps while trying to reduce your EMF exposure. When you know the ins and outs of a specific concept, you can mold it your way to work in your favor.
Another reason for educating yourself on the subject of EMF is that it’s tricky. A minor mistake in your EMF mitigating or shielding efforts can invert the results.
And finally, when you know the subject well, you don’t fall prey to misinformation—which, frankly, is abundant.
SYB’s primary mission is to translate complex EMF science into information that’s accessible to the general public, which we’ve been doing for almost a decade. You can find everything you need to know about EMF, its health effects, and prevention on this website (ShieldYourBody.com). I recommend you start at the “SYB’s Healthy Living Tips” page.
EMF not only affects our microbiome but also causes a number of other physical and mental health problems. But that doesn’t mean you should try to eliminate EMF from your life. Because that would mean giving up all the convenience tech provides and living as they did in the 1850s.
What you need to do, starting today, is to make an effort to build a healthier relationship with technology.
SYB recently launched a new show called “The Healthier Tech Podcast,” where experts from the medical and EMF industry share actionable tips on optimizing your relationship with technology. Tune in today for free, and start making technology work for you rather than against you.