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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Medical Revelation

As revealed in my last post, our bodies, particularly our gut (small and large intestines), are host to trillions of microorganisms whose cells outnumber those in are in our body by 10 to 1.  Bacteria make up most of the flora in our gut with about 500 different species, however probably about 99% of the bacteria come from 30 or 40 species - both good and bad. The main function of these bacteria appears to be in the digestion of the food we eat and in preventing the growth of harmful, pathogenic bacteria. Actually it is estimated that about 85% of our immune system sits in our gut.
Early research, carried out mainly by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, claims that the ideal balance of good and bad bacteria forms the foundation for good health, both physical and mental. An interview with Dr. McBride reveals her own personal reason for becoming involved in tracing the effects of the gut flora in causing mental illnesses as well as allergies. Her first child, a son, was diagnosed with autism, and the fact that she found a cure not only for him, but also others with similar psychological symptoms, is profoundly convincing.

In researching the subject, I have found it amazing that a child is born sterile and it picks up the microorganisms that will populate its gut first in its passage through the mother’s birth canal and then in the mother’s milk as well as the environment. That nature would leave to chance such an important basis for the child’s health must have had no easy solution and explains why some infants have such a difficult time digesting food in their first few months. However, the bacteria in our digestive tract are very forgiving and usually the good bacteria win out. If not, in my health food store I found a brochure ‘Life Start’ advertising probiotic supplements that can ensure the mother’s optimal health and other products for the new born child - so now help is available for any mother who wishes to be proactive in maintaining and passing on a healthy bacterial system to her baby.
There are many informative interviews and talks on line by Dr. Campbell-McBride and one of her short but convincing videos is very worth viewing because it outlines the factors that damage our gut flora. For someone who suffers from autoimmune or degenerative diseases like Multiple Sclorosis, Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, osteoarthritis, Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, CFS etc., she has written a book that gives a diet that can reset the bacterial imbalances in your gut and cure your disease.  It is not an easy diet to follow but has been shown to work and she has many collaborators around the world who are trained and working with her methods. 
As I mentioned this has been a personal journey for me having suffered for over a year with severe digestive problems after undergoing a course of antibiotics. After posting the October 28 ‘Fermented Foods’ blog in which I said I was cured, I had a relapse for a day or so but then I felt even better again and have had no further problems.  McBride describes this reaction as a ‘die back’ where the good bacteria become so numerous they are able to kill off a pathogenic colony of bacteria, which then releases its toxins causing the illness symptoms to return temporarily. 

I have only barely touched on the subject of the importance of our gut flora, and its influence on our health. For those with some conditions that are not successfully treated by modern medicine, I’m convinced that their real challenge could well be to identify strategies that help optimize their bacterial population. The aim would be to heal and seal their gut and live happily ever after in a friendly, symbiotic relationship with the trillions of microorganisms that can optimize their health.  Rie

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