Hello everyone, Dr. Shea back again for another edition of Wellness Wisdom! Most of us are well aware of the importance of HEALTHY BACTERIA in our digestive system. There are 10 times more bacteria than there are cells in your body and the balance of the good and bad bacteria is CRITICAL! Talk about PROBIOTIC supplements is widespread and new fascinating studies are published regularly that are finding that not only are these bacteria able to simply improve digestive issues they are actually modulating and DEVELOPING our immune systems, relieving arthritis and pain, fighting obesity, improving depression and anxiety through the gut/brain axis, influencing brain function in the elderly, manufacturing and recycling antioxidants like glutathione, and even producing and secreting neurotransmitters locally such as GABA and serotonin. Something that is HIDDEN and not talked about is how this healthy MICROBIOME is under CONSTANT SIEGE and I hope to shed some light on this subject for you today.
From the instant that we are born we are inundated by antibacterial creams and drugs in sterile rooms. There is an ever increasing chance that we are born via c-section bypassing our first chance to be exposed to the natural microbiota of our mothers. We are often times removed from contact and exposure to ANYTHING new out of fear and bathed in antibacterial soaps. And lastly, we are told to delay or forego breast feeding (which is the MAIN way that we start to build our probiotics and natural immunity) so that we can vaccinate our kids. We are set back from the beginning and stay tuned because there is much, much more!
The second way that we are crushing our families microbiome is the constant use of ANTIBIOTICS. In a "developed" country like the U.S., the average child is exposed to 10-20 courses of antibiotics by the time they are 18! Antibiotics are estimated to account for one fourth of all prescriptions for children and sadly a large number are completely unnecessary. Antibiotics DO NOT WORK for VIRAL infections like colds, flu, ear infections, bronchitis, and sore throat but they are commonly handed out and even requested by patients and this needs to STOP. A new study led by researchers at the University of Minnesota has found a 3 way link among antibiotic use in infants, changes in gut bacteria, and disease LATER IN LIFE. The imbalance of gut microbes, called dysbiosis, was tied to infectious diseases, allergies, autoimmune disorders and even obesity later in life.
Another hidden assault on our healthy bacteria (as if we needed more) is prevalent in our FOOD! Animals such as cows, pigs, chickens and even farm raised fish are being fed antibiotics and steroids like candy. This helps keep them "healthy" and exponentially makes them bigger and more profitable at the consumers expense. And we wont get into how these antibiotics are forcing bacteria to rapidly evolve into "Super bugs"! Genetically modified (GMO) "Round Up Ready" and non-organic crops are prevalent today that are sprayed with copious amounts of pesticides (glyphosate) that when ingested disturb our healthy microbiome. A recent German study found that glyphosate left unhealthy bacteria such as salmonella and clostridium pretty much unaffected while at the same time they found that our friendly helpful strains are susceptible to the chemical leaving a void to be taken up by unhealthy bacteria.
Lastly, our microbiome is greatly effected by the common drugs that we are prescribed. Widespread use of NSAIDs is thought to be killing off healthy bacteria leading to an overpopulation of the bad H. pylori bacteria which leads to peptic ulcers. It is no wonder that when probiotics are introduced these problems are greatly reduced. If you are taking a statin drug or metformin for diabetes you are also messing with your healthy bacteria. The list could go on and on when it comes to drugs and we are just scratching the surface of these issues! In the next 10-15 years we will have a much greater understanding of these complex interactions and look back with trepidation at our naiveté. So what can YOU do in the meantime? The first line of defense should be your food. Stop with the GMO's and try to get organic as much as you can. Vote with your dollars! Start introducing probiotic foods into your diet such as kefir milk, yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi. Skip the soda (oh yeah aspartame affects gut bacteria leading to obesity!) grab a kombucha drink instead or a green tea. After all of this if you feel like you have been especially hard on your bacterial buddies buy a high quality probiotic supplement, preferably with time release enteric coating and plenty of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. However, certain strains are better for certain conditions so check with your WELLNESS doctor if you have any questions but there is a wealth of information at your fingertips now that you know the basics! Hope this was helpful everyone, thank-you so much for reading! Wish you all health and happiness!