The Wars Within

chess-board

The microbiome, now recognized by many authorities as an actual organ, seems to stick its tiny fingers into just about everything. The aggregation of creatures in the human gut is suspected of influencing most, it not all, of the body’s metabolic processes. Coincidentally, metabolism has a lot to do with obesity.

In the universe of health and healing, the care and feeding of the microbiome might be the next big thing. Humans don’t know a whole lot about what goes on in that fantastically complicated kingdom, but, so far, it seems a good general principle to keep the bugs happy. They not only live where our food is digested, they digest it, and apparently have a lot to say about whether it is converted to energy or fat.

It is a good idea to prevent things from going wrong in that realm, because any malfunction could manifest as obesity (and its concurrent diseases like diabetes). The bugs don’t mean to be unkind, but if we assault them with substances that are not good for them, we will inevitably feel the results. Our friendly bugs wish we would not attack them with antibiotics, which are specifically designed to kill bacteria, which is what they are.

Unfortunately, antibiotics are grossly overprescribed, and even if this were not so, we soak up plenty of antibiotics from food, water, cleaning products, etc. When large populations of microbiota are killed off, this leaves the survivors unable to defend their territory properly, as Julie Daniluk explains:

Like warring factions on Earth, yeast and bacteria battle for space in your body. Bacteria emit antifungal chemicals, and yeasts counterattack with antibacterial force. These creatures share a fluctuating and opposed relationship throughout your body, and, particularly in your gut… If you’re healthy, neither microorganism gains sole reign, so it’s essential for your health that they’re maintained in balance.

Another life form eager to perform a hostile takeover is toxic yeast. One expert believes this can be prevented by ingesting, during a course of antibiotics and for two weeks after, a benign relative of bread yeast, saccharomyces boulardii, which apparently fills up the yeast “slots” so candida can’t move in during the vulnerable period.

Likewise, devastation of the microbiome opens the door to opportunistic, selfish, and even deadly varieties of bacteria. Unlike some other organs, when the microbiome is wounded, it does not need surgical replacement. What it needs is replenishment with a diverse population of bacteria of the right kinds and, more importantly, in the right proportions.

This science is in its infancy, and since we don’t know the exact mix, all we can do is supply the microbiome with precursors that have been shown to be useful.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Meals That Heal Inflammation,” JulieCaniluk.com, 2013
Source: “9 Weird Things Killing Your Gut,” RodaleWellness.com, 04/08/14
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