Bacteria: Friend or Foe?Today we are looking at foundation #3, the continuing study of macro and micro nutrients. The focus is on the human microbiome.Many studies highlight that the human body contains at least 10 times more bacteria than the number of human cells in the body. The majority of those bacteria, and the most diverse, are found in the human gastrointestinal tract. The bacteria we are talking about are known as the human microbiome. It is a complex system of living micro-organisms (microbiota) that live on and in you. Microbiota, as described by Joshua Lederberg, is an “ecological community of commensal, symbiotic, and pathogenicmicroorganisms” found in and on all multicellular organisms studied to date, from plants to animals. Microbiota include bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi, and viruses. Microbiota have been found to be crucial for immunologic, hormonal, and metabolic regularity in human beings.The microbiome begins to develop in utero and at birth. As baby comes through the birth canal, she is exposed to a plethora of micro-organisms from mom that help build her own personal microbiome, similar to mom but unique to baby. As the infant microbiome is established, commensal bacteria quickly populate the gut, prompting a range of immune responses and “programming” the immune system with long-lasting effects. By age three, baby has a microbiome that resembles that of an adult. The diversity and the function of the microbiota is inversely related to inflammatory conditions in humans. A study performed on germ-free animals highlights the need for diversity in the human microbiome. The study revealed that the germ-free animals had reduced immune cells and reduced lymph. In the same study, it was found that the germ-free animals could restore development of important immune cells with administration of specific bacteria.The human gastrointestinal tract is a physical and functional barrier protecting you from danger on a daily basis. The 30 μm-thick single-cell barrier not only holds 60 trillion bacteria within its borders, it determines what is a foreign antigen and a pathogen. It allows in that which is beneficial to the body while simultaneously restricting that which is harmful. Your gut permits the gathering and digestion of nutrients. It prevents pathogens, toxins, and other pro-inflammatory substances from entering the body. The gut barrier is made up of epithelium cells that secrete a protective mucous. This mucous helps create tight junctions that allow this system to work properly by keeping the junctions between cells tight. A lack of production of this mucous contributes to leaky gaps in the junctions of the cells in the intestines, allowing pathogens, toxins, and pro-inflammatory substances to enter the body. The breakdown of the borders between intestinal cells is known as having a “leaky gut,” or dysbiosis.When the gut enters dysbiosis, it allows bacteria and bacterial components into the blood stream. A leaky gut is a malfunctioning organ unit that disrupts not only the immune system, with which it has an intimate relationship, but has the potential to affect all other systems in the body. The following is a list of possible issues related to a leaky gut. This is not an all-inclusive list: Increase in bacteremiaHeadachesAllows the blood brain barrier to be crossedSystemic inflammationAutoimmunityIncrease in likelihood of depressionImmune dysfunctionAllergiesAnxietyIncreased susceptibility to infection and diseaseDecrease in cognitionHypertensionFatigueDecreased liver functionStressIncreases chances of IBD/IBSMalabsorption of nutrientsIncrease in dental issues How do we keep our gut from becoming leaky?The study of gut microbiota for a healthy lifestyle can be traced back as far as a twentieth-century Nobel laureate, Elie Metchnikoff. He hypothesized that restoring gut microflora could be achieved by regularly ingesting fermented milk or yogurt. He believed this because of his study of Bulgarians living to be 100 years of age or greater who consumed yogurt or “sour milk,” as they called it. This discovery of the Bulgarian yogurt aligned with his study of gut microbes and milk that soured when it aged.The term probiotic is derived from the Latin, which means “for life.” Probiotics are nonpathogenic, beneficial live bacteria and yeast. They are also essential for optimal digestion of food and absorption of nutrients, and they help your body produce vitamins, absorb minerals, and aid in the elimination of toxins. When they are eaten in proper amounts, they contribute a health benefit to the host by restoring and/or maintaining the homeostasis of the gut microbial ecosystem. Probiotics have been written about in scholarly journals as being able to help with health problems relating to obesity, diabetes, depression, and even heart disease.The best source of probiotics is in the form of food. “Fermented foods contain 100 times more probiotics than supplements,” according to Dr. Joseph Mercola. It is important to eat a wide variety to gain as many different cultures of good bacteria as possible. Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, lassi, kefir, yogurt, pickled vegetables, (cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash, carrots), cheese curds, and pickles are a good place to start. It is important not to use commercially produced fermented products because of the pasteurization and sugar content in these foods. Here is a good place to seek more information on your fermentation food journey. Optimize the use of probioticsMaintaining gut health is a matter of making sure the correct ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria and yeast is kept in check. When your gut is balanced, there is a proper foundation for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being to be balanced.A prebiotic is a special type of soluble fiber that is used mostly by the probiotics as a fuel. Probiotics work with prebiotics in a symbiotic relationship in your large intestine for optimizing gut health. Vegetable and water-soluble fibers are fertilizers for the good bacteria. Prebiotic foods are as follows. This is not a complete list. Find this list and other instruction on fermented foods here: Acacia gumRaw chicory rootRaw Jerusalem artichokeRaw dandelion greensRaw garlicRaw or cooked onionRaw leekRaw asparagusAvoid sugar; it actually helps the bad bacteria to grow in your gut. When you eat a healthy diet you cause your good, beneficial bacteria to grow and bring balance to your gut. Focus on a variety of whole foods. A tablespoon portion of fermented foods as a complement to your daily meals is a good place to start. As your good bacteria grows and your microbiome adapts, you can add more fermented foods. As always, avoid trashing your gut with the following products to optimize your gut flora: genetically modified organisms and processed foods. Limit the use of antibiotics. Focus on consuming organic vegetables, grass-fed meats, pasture- raised eggs, and wild-caught salmon. Fermented foods are key to maximizing gut health. Get as many nutrients as you can from whole foods. Then, where you are lacking in certain nutrients, use supplementation. We offer health consultation and blood analysis in the clinic to show exactly what you may be deficient in. If you are looking for a partner in regaining your health, or just want to maintain your health in a better way, please schedule an appointment with Friends and Family Health Centers by clicking here. Our services include chiropractic care, car accident injury care, nutritional consultation, and muscle manipulation. This article is part of an ongoing series of articles based on the five foundations of health, written by Birmingham chiropractor Dr. John Palmer of Friends and Family Health Centers.Referenceshttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3533697/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792171/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16497592http://nautil.us/issue/31/stress/what-your-microbiome-wants-for-dinnerhttp://nautil.us/issue/36/aging/the-man-who-blamed-aging-on-his-intestineshttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6004897/DisclaimerThe entire contents of this article are based upon the opinions of Dr. Palmer, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Palmer and his community. Dr. Palmer encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care professional before using products based on this content.
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