Your Gut and Your Health, Part I: How do Toxic Chemicals Affect the Microbiome?

Your gut and it's bacteria are essential to your overall wellbeing. These little guys do a lot of work as we go about our day to day lives. Read on to learn more about your gut microbiome, how toxic chemicals can affect it, and how to keep it healthy!

Many of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the tiny living things in and on our bodies. But these organisms, our microbiome, can be as important as our own cells.

What is the Microbiome?

The microbiome consists of all wanted and unwanted microbes that live on and in our bodies. They live in our gut, eyes, skin, reproductive organs, and other areas.

There is a roughly equal number of human cells and microbes in the human body. Microbes are a part of our existence.

Some examples of microbes include:

  • Bacteria

  • Fungi

  • Viruses

  • Protozoa

The most useful microbes are bacteria. They help us with:

Babies inherit their microbiomes non-genetically from their mothers. The uterus and placenta contain bacteria.

The microbiome depends on a person’s diet and environment. For example, stress can alter the type and amount of microbes in the gut. 

Exposure to everyday toxic chemicals can also alter the human microbiome.

What are everyday toxic chemicals?

Man-made toxic chemicals are everywhere in our daily life. They are in our food, the air we breathe, and the water and beverages we drink.

We can also absorb them through our skin. This can happen unintentionally, like when we touch cash register receipts. Or we can be exposed through personal care products such as:

  • Cosmetics

  • Lotions

  • Hair products

Some of these chemicals are especially harmful to the microbiome in your gut.

Chemical exposure, your gut, and you

Exposure to toxic chemicals can alter the microbiome by:

  • Killing microbes

  • Changing microbe growth rates

  • Changing the nutrients in the gut

  • Altering the networks between microbes

Many chemicals which mess up hormone function can also mess with the microbiome. These chemicals include:

Bisphenol A

Bisphenol A (BPA) is found in many plastic products, as well as food and drink packaging and cash register receipts. BPA has been linked to a range of health effects, but it has also been shown to reduce and change microbiome diversity.


Phthalates are also found in plastic products as well as personal care products, particularly in fragrances and perfumes. They are hormone disruptors which can affect fertility and male development. They also can disrupt the microbiome.


Triclosan is an antibacterial used in some personal care products. It is made specifically to kill bacteria, good or bad. It also is a known hormone disruptor. Researchers found that triclosan can alter the microbiome in animals and humans.

Pregnant women should be especially careful with the personal care products they use. 

Research shows that postnatal exposure to chemicals in personal care products decreases the diversity of the microbiome later in life.

Other chemicals can also affect the human gut microbiome including:

  • Heavy metals

  • Pesticides

  • Air pollution

Altered microbiomes can cause issues with gut health and digestion. However, health effects extend beyond the gut, to many other aspects of our health. 

“Unhealthy” microbiomes have been linked to:

  • Obesity

  • Diabetes

  • Depression and other mental disorders

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Asthma

Clearly, a healthy microbiome is extremely important.

How can I keep my Microbiome healthy?

There are several steps to a healthy microbiome:

  • Eat foods rich in plants and fiber

  • Eat fermented foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, tempeh, and miso

  • Take probiotics

  • Avoid everyday toxic chemicals

It can be hard to avoid these chemicals, as they are in many products we use every day. But Million Marker is here to help!

  • Shop from our Approved Product List. We’ve screened each product to ensure that they are free of chemicals that might harm the microbiome. Our products include soaps, lotions, hair care, oral care, cleaning products, and much more!

  • Get tested! Our test identifies the type and source of chemical exposures, so you can eliminate them from your life.