As promised in my last article about “Digestive Health”, I will explain what we mean by
“The Garden Within”.According to an estimation , there are between 300 and 1000 different species living inside our GI tract. The majority of micro organisms are bacteria which are present in our gut, and most of them come from 30 to 40 different species.
We also find fungi and protozoa, but its function is less well understood.
We think that these micro-organisms are symbiotic with their host, rather then just existing
together with no affect on each other. Symbiotic means that there are benefits for the host as well as for the bacteria. However, our gut also contains some harmful bacteria.
Because if they increase or become out of balance, they can cause serious problems and
even death to the host.
That’s why the key is balance when it concerns “The Garden Within”.
The gut of a new-born child is sterile or contains no flora. However, within one month
after the child that was born vaginally, their gut micro flora is well established.
At the age of two, the micro flora of the gut looks similar of that of an adult.
This balance appears to stay relatively normal and healthy, as long as our diet is healthy and no antibiotics are used. However, with the use of modern medicine of to-day it is rare to find someone who hasn’t taken some form of antibiotics in the last few months to a year or who is not eating a healthy diet.
When you add the All-American high-glycemic, and high sugar diet to the mix, you begin
feeding your fungi-like yeast much more than you do your bacteria.
Both the use of antibiotics and our poor diet has been shown to change our “Garden Within”, so that it is out of balance. This may have the effect that the yeast will overwhelm the GI flora, causing a rise in vaginal yeast infections, and even in some cases, systemic yeast.
Antibiotics will destroy the bad bacteria that are the cause of illness, but unfortunately, they also destroy the good bacteria in your bowel. For example, clostridium is a species that is common in the GI tract and normally causes no problems.
However, as antibiotics can kill off the good bacteria, they allow clostridium difficile
(or G.difficile) to grow out of control, causing a heavy diarrhea for the person.
Even the antibiotics we find in our meat, milk and other foods can destroy enough good
bacteria to create an antibiotic induced diarrhea, as more of the good bacteria are destroyed, which allows the pathogenic bacteria to flourish.
We know of several healthy benefits from having a balanced micro flora in your GI tract.
Medical research have shown that the good bacteria in the gut have the following benefits:
- Help in the digestion of carbohydrates
- Stimulates the immune system
- Helps to absorb vitamin k, calcium and iron
- Stimulates the lymphoid tissue of the gut,
which also helps the immune system
- Normally suppresses the grows of the
bad orpathogenic bacteria and fungi
- Decreases the risk of allergic reactions
- Has been associated with weight gain
if it becomes out of balance
There are many other benefits of having a healthy, well-balanced GI flora;
however, there are also some negatives that occur from our GI flora.
They are able to break down certain protein fragments that can potentially be toxic to the GI tract and to the host.
These toxins have been associated with a greater risk of colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, leaky gut syndrome, auto immune disease , and irritable bowel disease.
This is why consuming adequate fiber in your diet is key in removing any of the toxins produced in the GI tract during digestion.
Fiber causes our bowels to eliminate those toxins much more quickly and much more effectively.