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The Bacteria You Just Can’t Do Without!

By Anne Laing
Just as a healthy garden needs healthy soil, so our bodies need healthy diverse bacteria.

Our gut is home to approximately 100 trillion microorganisms!! It is known to have over 400 known diverse bacterial species. In fact, we’re more bacterial than we are human!!

We’ve only recently begun to understand the extent of the gut flora’s role in human health and disease. It coped well in the past before the introduction to chemicals and processed foods.

Among other things, the gut flora promotes normal gastrointestinal function, provides protection from infection, regulates metabolism and comprises more than 75% of our immune system.

The Culprits.

  • Antibiotics and other medications like birth control and anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods
  • Diets low in fermentable fibres
  • Dietary toxins like wheat and industrial seed oils that cause leaky gut
  • Chronic stress
  • Chronic infections

Antibiotics are particularly harmful to the gut flora and its diversity. This diversity is not recovered after antibiotic use without intervention.

We also know that infants that aren’t breast-fed and are born to mothers with bad gut flora are more likely to develop unhealthy gut bacteria, and that these early differences in gut flora may predict overweight, diabetes, eczema/psoriasis, depression and other health problems in the future.

The Gate keeper:

The gut barrier is the gatekeeper who decides what gets in and what stays out of our body. It is important to know, the gut is a hollow tube that passes from the mouth to the anus. Anything that goes in the mouth and isn’t digested will pass right out the other end! This is, in fact, one of the most important functions of the gut: to prevent foreign substances from entering that delicate barrier into the body.

When the intestinal barrier becomes permeable (i.e. “leaky gut syndrome”), large protein molecules escape into the bloodstream. Since these proteins don’t belong there and the body sees them as invaders, it mounts an immune response and attacks them. (It becomes over- whelmed with the garbage we throw down our throats and this, in time, knocks out the whole delicate defence system = disorder!)

New research holds that the intestinal barrier in large part, determines whether we tolerate or react to toxic substances we ingest from the environment. Damage to the intestinal barrier causes an immune response which affects not only the gut itself, but also other organs and tissues. These include the skeletal system, pancreas, the kidneys, the liver and the brain.

Leaky gut = fatigued, inflamed and depressed.

The main reasons we should not eat wheat and other gluten-containing grains is that they contain a protein called gliadin, which has been shown to increase zonulin production and thus directly contribute to damage in the gut wall.

While bad gut flora may cause bloating and digestive trouble, in many people it does not. Instead it shows up as problems as diverse as heart failure, depression, brain fog, eczema/psoriasis and other skin conditions, metabolic problems like obesity and diabetes and allergies, asthma and other autoimmune diseases.

The Solution

  • You must rebuild healthy gut flora and restore the health of your intestinal barrier. This is especially true if you have any kind of autoimmune disease, whether you experience digestive issues or not.
  • Maintain and restore a healthy gut
  • Eat plenty of fermentable fibres (sweet potato, yam, yucca, etc.)
  • Eat fermented foods like kefir, probiotic yogurt, sauerkraut, kim chi, etc., and/or take a high-quality, multi-species probiotic.
  • Treat any intestinal pathogens (such as parasites) that may be present
  • Take steps to manage your stress

Remove from your diet:

  • Cereal grains (especially refined flour)
  • Omega-6 industrial seed oils (corn, cottonseed, safflower, soybean, etc.)
  • Sugars (especially high-fructose corn syrup)
  • Processed soy (soy milk, soy protein, soy flour, etc.)

-Adapted from an article by Dr McBride-