Wellness begins in the gut and living microbes outnumber the cells in our body by 10:1.
In fact, you could say we are more bacteria than human and many scientists believe that bacteria are crucial to a healthy immune system and one of the most underestimated determiners of health in our time.
Within our gut is a delicate balance of about 100 trillion microflora, 10 times that of the human cells in the body.
These highly intelligent and sophisticated bacteria communicate with the gut wall receiving information from the gut-brain (or enteric nervous system) as to what our nutritional requirements are.
Then these bacteria and enterocyte’s (the cells that line your gut) set to work on supplying these nutrients to the body.
These helpful bacteria play a number of vital roles in the digestion of food; how we break down and absorb nutrients, how we react to foods and, importantly, they support 80 percent of our immune system.
Therefore, it is a reasonable to conclude that both disease and wellness begin in the gut.
The bacteria survives by feeding-off the foods that we eat and their excretions balance and maintain the pH levels of our gut. Good bacteria require a lower pH than pathogenic bacteria in order to thrive.
If your gut becomes too alkaline, pathogenic yeasts and bacteria can take over affecting overall health and the immune system. Beneficial bacteria excrete lactic acid, which helps lower the pH ensuring they thrive in the slightly acidic environment they help to produce.
As if that was not enough, another role of gut bacteria is to produce vital nutrients including Vitamin K and Vitamin B7 (biotin).
While we are only just beginning to truly understand how vital bacteria are to our health, clinical trials around the globe are proving bacteria are instrumental in the reversal of many diseases and disorders.
And we are not talking one or two species. While the majority of gut bacteria is made up of 30 to 40 different types, but there is an estimated 300 to 1000 different species all working in a harmonious symbiotic relationship to keep us, their host, healthy.
Good bacteria need us to be healthy to ensure their survival, just as much as we need them to be healthy.
When all is working well, it is a marriage made in heaven, however, when disease strikes, this organ is usually suffering. Many naturopaths treat 80 percent of illness through correcting gut ecology.
It is truly astounding what happens when we address this organ, which may sit at the top of the pecking order in how we should address illness. Sadly, modern medicine has some catching up to do when it comes to gut health.
When antibiotics were first created, scientists understood we had non-pathogenic bacteria in our body.
However, the consensus of the time was that they did not require further investigation because these bacteria were ’too microscopic’ to have any effect over the host.
By assuming bacteria did not contribute to poor health, they also neglected to explore whether or not bacteria were they in fact contributing to good health. This may have one of the biggest blunders in medical science.
Today, thanks to the work of Molecular Biologists Bonnie Bassler and colleague Peter Everett Greenburg, we have a much greater understanding of how powerful these bacteria are through their discovery of quorum sensing.
Bassler and Greenburg discovered that bacteria communicate by excreting chemical signalling molecules called auto-inducers.
They have one type of language used amongst their own species like a secret code, and another which enables them to communicate in a universal language with other bacterial species.
This communication is called quorum sensing, or quorum signalling and it essentially enables bacteria to function as a multi-cellular organism, which is why they are considered ‘The Forgotten Organ’.
Collectively, bacteria are able to influence genetic expression, which means…
You can read the FULL version of this article in our quarterly eZine, ‘Holistic Living Magazine,’ look for Edition 5 on this archive page. There’s many more articles about the immune system waiting for you too!
Deborah Murtagh – Wholefood Expert