Biofilms: What’s all the hype about?

Most of us know what a microbiome is by now and how important your own is, but now another new-ish microbiology word is trending that might not be as familiar: biofilms.  They have just as much impact on your health as microbiomes, as they are a resilient, and highly adaptable community of microorganisms that play a significant role in various aspects of our lives. 

What Exactly are Biofilms?

Biofilms are complex and highly organized groups of microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, and algae, that live in a protective shield allowing the biofilms to grow and thrive. They can be found in rivers, oceans, and even underground water sources. They are also commonly seen in dental plaque, on the surfaces of rocks in rivers, and on the roots of plants. 

Biofilms are formed when a free-floating microorganism first adheres to a surface (e.g. medical implants, rocks, plants) and begins to multiply and form microcolonies. The microcolonies continue to grow and secrete extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), creating a slimy matrix that encases the entire structure. As the biofilm matures, it becomes increasingly resistant to environmental threats like antibiotics, disinfectants, and immune responses. This resistance is one of the key features that make biofilms a challenge to deal with in various contexts.

The Importance of Biofilms on Your Health

In the healthcare field, biofilms present a significant challenge. They are implicated in various infections, such as urinary tract infections, surgical site infections, and even chronic diseases like cystic fibrosis. Biofilms provide a safe haven for bacteria to evade the immune system and resist antibiotic treatment, making them particularly problematic in healthcare settings. Addressing biofilms can resolve issues with SIBO, candida, parasites, GERD, and recurring infections that won’t seem to go away or continue to return.

How Do We Tackle Biofilms for Improved Health?

Since biofilms are so resilient, it’s important to support your body in an optimal way to rid itself of these stubborn microcolonies. There are various natural compounds and dietary interventions that may disrupt biofilms, such as enzymes, essential oils, probiotics, and certain supplements. Make sure you ask your provider what will work best for your body.