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Any ecologist will tell you that a forest filled with a rich variety of plants is healthier than a commercial plantation containing only one species of tree. The complex ecosystem prevails through storms, droughts and temperature changes without any outside intervention, but monocultures require constant input from farmers to stay stable. The same is true on your skin – it is more balanced and healthy when it supports an abundant mix of microbial species.

If you pause to think about it, it makes perfect sense. We are told that our microbiomes defend against pathogens and perform a vast array of functions such as aiding in digestion and the essential synthesis of vitamins and minerals. We cannot expect just few types of microbes to be expert at everything, each is specialised for specific tasks and fills a specific niche in our guts or on our skin. Losing some of them can cause an imbalance.

Our modern lifestyles have not helped the diversity of our microbiomes. We compromise diversity by constantly sanitising, washing, consuming preserved or treated foods and drinks, avoiding nature and by taking medications such as antibiotics that are designed to kill bacteria. Even our skincare products are highly preserved, inadvertently killing beneficial microbes on the surface of your skin with each application. Such continuous disruptions place your skin (and body) into a state of constant imbalance and this leads to increased levels of inflammation and accelerated ageing.

There is good news though, it’s easy to make changes and intelligent choices once you recognise the factors that could be depleting the diversity of your microbiome. Eat foods the way nature intended, choose your skincare and personal care wisely, clean you home with less aggressive products and come to terms with the fact that nature is not dirty.

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