About Gut Health
Our modern lifestyle would seem to suggest that humans reliant largely on western diets are losing the war against disease. Statistics abound demonstrating the increases in cancer, heart disease, diabetes and numerous immune deficiency diseases.
On-going research continues to confirm the detrimental effect of our toxic-laden foods, and the over-use of synthetic chemicals in both the growth and preparation of our food. Our body is designed to overcome a certain amount of toxicity but over time too often breaks down or no longer functions in an optimal way. The cause of the breakdown in health can be attributed to both external and internal influences.
Health is not only determined by the food you eat, but also on your body’s ability to break down those foods and process them in a way that is useful to the body. When the body is no longer able to break down the foods that we eat our health becomes greatly impaired, resulting in chronic diseases, serious illness and disease and even premature death.
Our digestive system is basically a tube that runs through the body. The small intestine is a major component of that tube and it has two major functions. The first is to allow necessary substances into the bloodstream in order for the body to use these raw materials to grow and function properly.
The second is a protective one. It prevents toxic substances and large molecules – mainly certain proteins – from getting into the bloodstream. These large molecules are not handled well by the body and frequently cause the immune system to produce antibodies against them. This may result in a series of inflammatory reactions that characterize food allergy reactions.
The immune system may also stimulate the body to produce antibodies against its own tissues,resulting in auto-immune disease as seen in some forms of arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. When large molecules break through the intestinal barrier to enter the bloodstream, the person is said to have increased intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut syndrome”.
Nutritional supplements are not the answer. If they were, many of these issues would be resolved, and people would be more healthy. More than 99% of all vitamins and minerals sold today are synthetic. They do not contain living enzymes that are the life force of the plant and animal kingdom. Without enzymes, life cannot exist and without life, enzymes cannot exist.
The secret to good health lies in maintaining an optimal balance of and between friendly bacteria and harmful bacteria in the intestinal tract.
Bacteria are everywhere. We swallow them with our food, drink them with water, they are in the air we breathe, on our skin, in our mouths, digestive tract, sinuses and all other areas of our bodies.
Some of them are very beneficial, some are neutral, and some are quite harmful. Some are extremely valuable for good health as they work harmoniously with our immune system.In a healthy colon, there are literally billions of beneficial or “friendly” bacteria. Healthy “friendly” intestinal bacteria are essential to good intestinal health and without them, overall vibrant health is quite difficult to achieve and/or maintain.
Under favourable conditions, they multiply at a fast enough rate to keep pace with the large numbers that are lost during elimination. When they are located in the intestinal tract, they are referred to as “intestinal flora,” “micro-flora”, “good bacteria”, “friendly/beneficial bacteria” or sometimes just “flora.”
These friendly bacteria make (or synthesize) many important vitamins in the digestive tract including Vitamin K and some of the B vitamins. They also help the colon perform the very important task of maintaining a proper pH or acid balance.
It is important to keep levels of antagonistic or “unfriendly” micro-organisms under control, and it is necessary for the pH to stay in the correct range in order for other health supporting bacteria to exist.
The appendix is attached to the small intestine and is also connected to the immune systems of the body. It plays an important role in maintaining friendly bacterial balance in the intestine and bowel. Without its function, the immune system may become weakened, and it may take much longer to recover from diseases, illnesses or certain other “conditions”.
Where do we find ‘friendly’ intestinal bacteria? Research has discovered that thirteen “families” of friendly bacteria (called lactobacillus) populate the human intestinal system. Each “family” consists of many species which are in proportion and balance in a healthy intestinal system.
The friendly lactobacillus bacteria are identified as Acidophilus, Delbruekii, Caseii, Bulgaricus, Causasicus, Fermenti, Plantarum, Brevis, Heleveticus, Lactis, Bifidus, Leichmanni and Bacillus Coagulans (also known as Sporogenes).
Most raw foods, especially those with chlorophyll, feed these friendly bacteria in the intestines, whereas cooked and processed foods inherently feed the harmful bacteria.
The ratio of good “friendly” bacteria in the gut, to “harmful” bacteria, is ideally in the vicinity of 80% good – 20% harmful. Many nutritionists believe that ratio is today reversed in most people, e.g., 20% good – 80% harmful. This can be due to a variety of factors, primarily the denatured diets we frequently consume, and the widespread use of antibiotics.
Yoghurt and Kefir have traditionally been a good source of friendly lactobacillus, however pasteurisation destroys the bacteria for the most part. We have lost the major sources of lacto-bacillus and are not receiving the quantities of these bacteria in our diets as we used to.
It is important that the products we use are guaranteed to contain live bacterial cultures at the time of ingestion.
Allergies may be good indicators of out-of-balance or missing friendly bacteria. For example, many people appear to be allergic to dairy products. The primary reason is usually that they cannot digest lactose, (or milk sugar), and this can lead to allergies, headaches, cramps, mucous formation and many other health problems.
Some species of lactobacillus bacteria can digest lactose. When the lactobacillus levels or ratios are disturbed, or when the bowel ecology becomes out of balance, digestion is impaired, and health problems may develop.
Another example is that children may suffer one common cold after another because their immune system has been traumatised due to the use of antibiotics without replacing the lactobacillus bacteria.
It is important to replenish the friendly bacteria as soon as possible after taking antibiotics in order to maintain good health.
In adults, bad breath and bad body odours are good indications that normal bacteria levels are critically low. When lactobacillus levels are low in the colon, partially digested food decays, producing foul gas and toxaemia.The prevalence of cold sores (herpes simplex), constipation, intestinal gas, diarrhoea, acne, vaginitis, headache, symptoms of hypoglycaemia, yeast infections and many others, are often signs of low levels of beneficial intestinal flora..
Research is now revealing that to attain the health benefits attributed to Lactobacilli fermented foods, live active bacteria need to be consumed on a regular, even daily basis.
It is believed the life span in the human body of these cells is 3 to 10 days. Only the active forms have the ability to tolerate the acidity of the stomach and the alkalinity of the intestine to benefit our overall health through a stronger immune system.
Lactobacilli Bacteria alter the pH of the large intestine to a slightly more acidic level, thus inhibiting or destroying putrefactive bacteria, moulds, mould spores and yeast, particularly Candida. The bad smell of intestinal gas is usually the result of bad bacteria fermenting undigested food products.
Repopulating the gut with healthy, live good bacteria can reduce this unwanted population.
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