In my previous post, “I know what my Immune System is… I think,” I outlined this important bodily system, which is frequently referenced these days, especially in marketing ads. Unfortunately, there’s a major component that frequently gets overlooked. Though little research has been done to verify what many holistic doctors have known for awhile, your digestive tract is more important than most people realize. Its obvious function is to break down food and extract essential nutrients; the connection that’s commonly missed is its ability to do so. While there are many things your body needs (e.g. protein, vitamin C), it can’t absorb them without proper “flora.” Often, symptoms of a deficiency stem from an Immune System imbalance rather than a lack of ingestion via diet. You can increase your nutrient intake all you want but if your gut lacks the resources to absorb and assimilate them, what’s the use?
While the argument can be made for taking multivitamins, one risk is an overdosage of any particular vitamin since each body is different, especially depending upon other health and lifestyle factors. Another risk of multivitamins is ingestion of questionable ingredients used to flavor, color and bind tablets/ capsules, especially for those trying to avoid allergens, HFCS, or any additional sugar. General overeating is also a factor; without the gut health to maintain proper digestion, food becomes unnecessary calories, which merely generate fat without providing any nutrients.
Within the intestines and colon lives a microscopic community. Like every other ecosystem, an imbalance creates a ripple effect of problems. Obviously, the optimal conditions for nutrient absorption exclude harmful bacteria. But undergrowth of beneficial bacteria is equally problematic. Sugar and starch, which gets converted into sugar, lack microbes. Additionally, harmful bacteria (including parasites) thrive off sugar; helpful bacteria rarely survive it. Antibiotics, while necessary in some instances, were overprescribed for decades. In fact, many doctors prescribed them for viruses to patients prone to complain; it was easier to shut them up with an incompatible cure– especially when they refused to accept it just needed to run its course– since they would get paid either way. I once questioned a physician, who informed me doctors were “just now” realizing the impact of indiscriminately killing all microbes– both good and bad. My holistic doctor said she and others in her field had known about the problem for at least twenty years– her mentor already knew for years before teaching her. The physician challenged the claim: “Really? Twenty years??” Though I didn’t have courtroom-quality proof, I could attest that I was told ten years prior to this conversation. She was speechless. But it’s not surprising given the profit to be made by eager pharmaceutical companies.
Microbial imbalance plays a significant role in autoimmune- related conditions, such as food allergies, inflammatory Bowel Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupis, Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis. More research is desperately needed. In fact, the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) hasn’t approved the use of any probiotics as treatment. At the very least, one aspect should include replenishing and maintaining gut flora. But as I’ve already explained in previous posts, multiple natural substances have antibiotic (and antiviral) properties–most notably ginger root and raw honey. The probiotics fad seems to have sparked some interest in repopulating beneficial intestinal microbes. But over-the-counter remedies pose the same risks as multivitamins, especially the quantity of refined sugar in commercial yogurt. Fortunately, there many foods naturally either add or feed beneficial intestinal bacteria. Fermented foods, such as kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, natto, yogurt, kvas, apple cider vinegar, tempeh, miso and kimchi are particularly potent. Incidentally, this is one argument for seeing a nutritionist, which people frequently ask me about. My response is always the same: “Have you?” They answer by stammering and stuttering then declaring they “eat fine.” Are you sure? Why isn’t this part of regular healthcare, along with regular physical, well woman and dental examines??