Through an unlikely series of events, I recently found myself in Paris at the Biocodex International Headquarters. I was there to learn about their latest endeavors in the world of microbiota research. (Gut flora — my favorite topic!)
Crazy right? I just quit my job, and then suddenly I’m in Paris for my first paid writing gig. Without going into the long backstory as to how this happened (which is not the point of today’s post), it all started when a friend shared a sample of Florastor with me. Florastor is Biocodex’s signature product, a probiotic featuring a unique strain of beneficial yeast called Saccharomycese boulardii lyo CNCM I-745.
I know, I’d never seen all those letters and numbers after a probiotic before either. It’s basically a super-specific strain of yeast that my friend’s company (Biocodex) discovered and began testing with great success in clinical trials for maintaining a healthy intestinal microbiome.
Interestingly, this product is used in hospitals all over the world and has been the subject of hundreds of clinical trials, testing its efficacy on positively impacting the gut microbiome. Being the gut health geek that I am, I swiped up those samples and encouraged my friend to check out my series Why Gut Health Matters right here on CWB.
One week later, after reading through my series, he and his team invited me to join them on the Paris trip, where I would learn about their new foundation and research institute. I couldn’t believe my ears — a trip to Paris? Yes please! Where do I sign?
I spent the next few weeks learning what I could about Biocodex so that I would be prepared for the big event. And what I learned, both before and during this serendipitous experience has been nothing short of amazing. This company has been conducting research of its own since its inception as a GI company back in 1953. But they’ve now launched an expansion project that includes not only funding outside research endeavors (Foundation), but also providing information — in layman’s terms — for those of us who want to learn more about how we can take better care of our health (Institute). They also have a special section on the institute website geared toward empowering doctors with the latest research outcomes to better serve their patients.
The overarching goal for both the Foundation and Institute is to spread the wealth of knowledge, all while digging for greater and deeper understanding of the relationship between microbiota and human health.
Biocodex Microbiota Foundation
The mission of this undertaking and the important projects Biocodex is in the process of launching are incredibly impressive. The Biocodex Microbiota Foundation will support scientific research on microbiota, leveraging an international committee of independent scientists to determine an annual research topic and grant funding to the most exciting and innovative proposals.
The Foundation is completely independent from Biocodex the company, with an ethic of trust in the scientific community and respect for researchers. To that end, the company has deliberately removed any concern about profitability, regardless of the outcome of the research. This is truly a quest for knowledge and understanding — full stop — as the President of Biocodex, Jean-Marie Lefevre, emphasized more than once during the kick-off meeting. Biocodex has committed to 6 years of funding with a firm, dedicated budget, which will be subdivided annually across multiple countries to the most innovative researchers in the world.
Biocodex Microbiota Institute
The Biocodex Microbiota Institute will be the first international platform for scientific expertise on microbiota, with the goal of educating both the general public and health care professionals on the latest findings in the field. The Institute has already published a book, entitled, Gut Microbiota – A Full Fledged Organ, which will soon be available directly through the website.
I was deeply honored to be among the first to hear about what Biocodex is planning for the betterment of the human race. I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but I truly believe that the research they’ll be funding and publishing, along with the information they’ll be sharing with the general public, will ultimately enable us to better understand our own ecology and how changes to it can dramatically influence our health.
That’s a lot to take in, right? Let’s break it down, because I want you to bookmark the Institute Website and use it as a reference going forward (much like I hope you use CWB!). There’s a TON to learn there, so I’ll just start with the basics.
The Human Microbiome
The statistics on how many non-human cells are living on and in our bodies at any given time is staggering. Microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and viruses) outnumber human cells more than 10 to 1 in and on our bodies, with dense concentration in the large intestine. When all is harmonious between us and them, we function well and our health flourishes. But when dysbiosis occurs (an imbalance of organisms, including an excess of pathogens), our health suffers, and diseases are able to take hold.
Thirty years of research have resulted in a greater understanding of the relationship between gut dysbiosis and certain pathologies, but there’s a lot of work left to do. Precious little is known about the microbiota living in other areas of the body and how they interact with bugs in the gut to impact our health. Interestingly, it’s still unknown whether dysbiosis causes disease, or if the reverse is true. The current hypothesis is that both are possible, creating a “vicious circle” that leads to poor health outcomes and chronic illness.
What causes dysbiosis?
Dysbiosis can occur after a round of antibiotics kills most, if not all, of the living bacteria in the body (especially the gut bacteria that help us assimilate nutrients and digest certain fibers). It can also be the result of a viral, bacterial, or parasitic infection.
Another major cause of dysbiosis is stress. If you’ve read my gut health series, you know that I have dedicated a lot of time and energy to explaining the connection between gut health and stress. You might be surprised at how profoundly stress affects our health. Not only does it create obstacles to efficient digestion and metabolism, it can impact our sleep, and all three of these functions can have an effect on the microbiome. In fact, stress can play a role in causing a type of dysbiosis of particular personal interest to me lately, due to a recent diagnosis of my own: SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). Research seems to point to a causal relationship between stress and impaired motility — the movement of food from the small to the large intestine — which is a contributing factor in SIBO. Stress is a powerful thing and should be taken seriously!
Impacts on the Microbiome
I pulled this image from the Biocodex event, because it perfectly illustrates the myriad factors that impact the microbiome.
We all know that we should eat our veggies and avoid smoking, but did you know that the inevitable fact of aging can have an impact on the gut biome? I didn’t. So as we get older, it’s that much more important to stay on top of our health, including regular exercise, adequate sleep, a nutrient-rich diet, live foods, and possibly supplementing with a probiotic. And don’t forget the spirit part of the mind-body-spirit equation. That’s where healthy relationships, supportive community, time spent outside, and possibly a meditation or religious practice come into play.
A Company on a Mission
Since the inception of the company in 1953, Biocodex has been embarking on research connecting intestinal dysbiosis to digestive health conditions. Now that mission is expanding, drawing dotted lines to certain cancers, allergies, neurological disorders, diabetes, obesity, fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, and many other pathologies that hadn’t previously been linked to gut dysbiosis.
This year, the Foundation is calling for innovative research exploring the interaction between the liver and gut microbiota. They have a long-term commitment to uncovering solutions to some of the most pressing diseases we face as a society today. And through the Institute, they’ll disseminate the information they glean so that we can take the measures necessary to protect and improve our health.
Each of us is truly an ecosystem of our own, in the same way that the soil in which we plant our food is an ecosystem, and the forests we hike through to get some exercise and stress relief are their own ecosystems. There are so many moving parts that lend a hand in helping us thrive, and we’re learning that the microbiome is at the foundation of it all.
I hope you’ll bookmark the Biocodex Institute website and refer to it when you have a health concern or question. After taking part in their kickoff meeting and talking with the president and medical leaders in the company, I’ve learned that these projects are fueled by a passionate quest for knowledge aimed at expanding the possibilities of truly helping patients heal. I’m just thrilled to have been included in this event, an I’ll certainly keep you informed as I learn more about this amazing undertaking.
FTC DISCLOSURE: This is a sponsored post, which means I have received monetary compensation for sharing the above information. All opinions are my own.