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Is Your Gut Friend or Foe? January 28, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing, Health, immunity, Integrative Medicine, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine, nutrition.
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Reprinted by permission from the Gastrointestinal Society. Originally published in the Inside Tract® newsletter, Issue 193, 2015. ©Gastrointestinal Society

All disease begins in the gut

Hippocrates made this statement more than 2,000 years ago. Since then, much has changed in medicine. However, this theory remains of great interest in the medical community, especially when considering the terrain of the individual, how robust their immune system may or may not be, and determining ways to treat our modern day chronic illnesses.

We live in an age when having a diagnosis of some kind is almost as common as having a job. We hear the terms IBS, IBD, autoimmune disease, hormone imbalance, arthritis, allergies, migraines, MS, asthma, neurodegenerative disease, eczema, depression, obesity, and so on.

Having a definitive diagnosis can certainly be beneficial for us to have an understanding of what is going on in the body and how it might be causing symptoms, but none of these diagnoses actually tell us why.

What if understanding the gut is the key to understanding why disease occurs? What if Hippocrates was right? This would mean that for almost all diseases and diagnoses out there, the root cause is in the gut, that what is going on in the gut has ripple effects in the body and that the gut is always a factor in determining disease or health, either partially or completely.

In my practice as a naturopathic doctor, I see a wide variety of health conditions, and more often than not, when we treat the gut, along with making sure all other ‘pillars of health’ are in place, such as sleep, nutrition, exercise, stress management, etc., the symptoms of disease diminish and often go away altogether.

How can that be? What does your gut have to do with your headache or your skin rash or your joint pain?

The Importance of Having Guts: A Genetic Potluck

Not only is the gut our second brain (and some would argue it to be our first), due to the multitude of neurons in the enteric nervous system and the amount of neurotransmitter production that takes place in the gut,[1] it contains the majority of the microbial DNA that dictates our complex functioning as humans. That delicate balance of the good and bad bacteria in the gut, also known as the microbiome, plays a large role in the health of the whole person. We are even more aware of this since scientists mapped out the human genome early this century. Researchers were amazed at the unexpectedly small size of the human genome, which is roughly equivalent to that of a dragonfly. As it turns out, later research has shown that only 1 in 10 cells in the body are human. The other 9 (or 90%) are microbial. This 90% contains the DNA from the microbes that live in and on the body and provides essential functions for the human as a whole.

The Good, the Bad, and the Commensal

When talking about the balance of good (beneficial) and bad (pathogenic) bacteria in the gut flora, there is one more category of microbe to be aware of when thinking about the gut’s influence on the rest of the body and, prior to that, the influence of the environment on the gut. Commensal bacteria are those bacteria that can go either way; they are neither fully beneficial nor are they pathogenic, they act neutrally. This is where much of our own lifestyle influences come into play in the development of health or disease. If we eat a clean and healthy diet, manage stress well, get lots of sleep, fresh air and activity, these commensal bacteria are inclined to go over to the good side. If the opposite is true, then they can turn bad. The stronger one side is over the other, the more influence it has over these commensal microbes, just like a game of red-rover, the side with the strongest hold grows and wins.

To add complexity, we require all these types of microbes in the right amounts to benefit the body. The beneficial bacteria provide the body with nutrients and help remove waste. The pathogenic bacteria, in a balanced amount, train the immune system. When the pathogenic bacteria overtake and overwhelm the beneficial bacteria things can go awry in the body. Dysbiosis, or an imbalance in the microbiome, has effects on the gut such as increasing permeability and integrity of the gut lining, leaving the body more susceptible to autoimmunity and inflammatory disorders.[2]

In short, our microbiome influences our health, and we influence the health of our microbiome.1

From the Gut to Disease

So if something is going wrong or is out of balance in the gastrointestinal tract, how does this translate to symptoms in areas of the body that, seemingly, have nothing to do with the gut?

The common analogy I use to illustrate for patients how some health care professionals believe gut health affects health of the entire body is that of a clogged kitchen sink. Imagine the things that end up in your kitchen sink every day, and imagine it all building up. That drain eventually clogs.

In the body, the main drain is analogous to the gut and your liver, your main detox pathways and means for waste elimination. Should their function become impaired to some degree due to being overwhelmed with the quantity or quality of what it is trying to eliminate, the rate at which your body (the sink) can eliminate potentially toxic by-products of metabolism slows.

Now imagine this continues for years. The level in that clogged kitchen sink begins to rise, eventually reaching the point of spilling over. Each individual exhibits unique symptoms when this spillover occurs. Early research suggests that these symptoms of spillover can be anywhere from fatigue, mood disorders, developmental disorders, skin rashes, allergies, asthma, to serious complications such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or other severe immune dysregulation or autoimmunity.

This seems to depend on the degree of impairment in function of the drain, the quality of what is accumulating in the kitchen sink (what we put in and what we are exposed to, whether it be the food we eat, the medications we take, the environmental toxins we take in, or other factors), and what tools we use to assist the drain with the elimination of waste and toxicity.

Essentially, the integrity of the gut is analogous to the integrity of a drain, responsible for allowing everything to flow through the body with ease.

The Gut, the Brain, and the Gut-Brain Axis

Do you ever get a gut feeling: something you know in your gut even before your brain can explain it? What about butterflies in your stomach when you’re anticipating something? Perhaps when you experience stress you feel it in your gut without necessarily thinking about it.

Research continues to show us the strong links between the brain and the gut. For example, some small studies show that a leaky gut could imply a leaky brain. ‘Leakiness’, or hyperpermeability, in the gut, in part due to an imbalance in the flora, creates a playground for inflammation that cascades systemically throughout the body. Inflammation occurring in the gut might lead to inflammatory processes in the brain.[3] By the same token, what is occurring in the brain could affect the gut via the vagus nerve,[4] altering motility, function, and secretions.

In neurodegenerative diseases such as MS, one study identified hyperpermeability in the blood-brain barrier (BBB), as well as in the tight junctions of the intestinal wall.3 Another study linked this similar leakiness to the autoimmune response in the myelin sheath, or protective fatty layer wrapped around the nerves, causing a breakdown in function.[5]

The gut can also exhibit localized symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation among others, which can be transient and benign, or involve disease processes that penetrate deeper into the gut wall. “The clearest correlation between dysbiosis and disease has been found with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)…”,7 including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, in which strictures[6] and obstructions are among some of the serious complications.[7]

Effects on the gut-brain axis can cause changes to gut flora in conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).[8] Recent research also links depression and anxiety to an inflammatory reaction in the gut.8,[9]

Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS),[10] and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) have all shown alterations in gut flora.1,[11]

Understanding the gut’s influence on the brain as well as the brain’s influence on the gut is a fascinating step toward treating the person as a whole, and not exclusively by symptoms.

The Gut, Allergies, and Atopic Disease

While an obvious allergic reaction or anaphylaxis clearly allows you to identify its cause, the increasingly more common delayed food sensitivities can cause an array of symptoms anywhere from local abdominal pain and bloating to migraines, body pain, skin issues like rashes or acne, and so on.[12] These symptoms may not show up for hours or even days, making it tricky to figure out what is causing the reaction.

In practice it is quite common to have patients test positive for a few-to-many food allergens, when testing for serum immunoglobulins, only to have them eliminate those foods and find that 3 to 6 months later, they now test sensitive to foods they did not initially test sensitive to. This leads some practitioners to suspect that intestinal hyperpermeability (leaky gut) is a factor and may play a role in developing food sensitivities.[13]

Dysbiosis might also be a contributing factor. In infants, the development of food allergies and sensitivities could be related to an overabundance of certain types of pathogenic bacteria, such asClostridiae along with fewer good bacteria.[14]

One study found that in atopic disease such as atopic dermatitis (eczema), the skin microbiome, which the balance of the gut microbiome indirectly alters, is very different from that of healthy skin. The study found the same to be true for psoriasis.[15]

Other symptoms of atopic disease, such as asthma, also relate to gut health. Functional and structural abnormalities, specifically in asthma, relate to persisting inflammation in the lungs and link to altered gut flora. This predisposes an immune response to occur when allergens are present, causing sensitization to these allergens and subsequent symptoms of asthma.[16]

The Gut and Joint Pain

Dysbiosis and intestinal hyperpermeability might play a role in joint inflammation. When an antigen, such as an offending food or toxin enters the blood stream from the gut, the immune system kicks in. An antibody, plus its target antigen, bind together to form a ‘complex’. This complex circulates, causing other cascades of inflammation as it goes, finally depositing in places like the joints. The joints are particularly susceptible because there is low blood circulation to flush the inflammatory complexes out.

A toxemic theory, proposed at the turn of the 20th century, alluded to a build-up of this toxicity in the body from infectious agents ultimately promoting joint inflammation.[17] In a recent study, researchers have correlated an overgrowth ofPrevotella copri to an increased susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis.[18]

The Gut and Obesity

Alterations in the gut flora may play a part in the development of obesity.[19] (See the Inside Tract® issue 192.) Reduced bacterial diversity is common in obese individuals, which researchers believe may be interfering with metabolic pathways, since the gut harbours many microbes responsible for regulating metabolism and extracting energy from otherwise indigestible elements of the diet. One study reviewing the microbiome diversity of obese and lean mice suggests that microbes play a role in the efficiency of calorie use and calorie storage in the body.[20]

The Gut and the Immune System

Have you ever been the only person in your household who doesn’t get sick, or are you the first to get sick?

The gut is our main route of contact with the external world; 70% of the immune system is located in the gut. This is mediated through the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), which is responsible for orienting immune response to contents in the gut and for the production of 80% or our main first immune response, that of Immunoglobulin A (IgA) in the mucous layer.

In a study on the effect of the gut microbiome on the flu virus infection, the immune modulating effects stretch far beyond the gut to the respiratory mucosa, acting protectively.[21]

Increasingly, some health care professionals recognize that disruptions in the commensal microflora may lead to immune dysfunction and autoimmunity.[22]

So Is Your Gut Friend or Foe?

It’s your friend!

If the gut is the root of all disease, as Hippocrates suggested, then, it could also be the root of all wellness.

In other words, if it is true that disease does begin, or has something to do with some amount of disruption, in the gut environment, then this could mean that the root of all health also lies in the gut and in healing the diversity of this environment.

What to Do?

Thus begins your journey of healing the gut.

First, when looking to protect and nourish a healthy gut, think basics: think slow food, single ingredient, whole food, colourful food, and think fresh, unprocessed, and seasonal food, live and fermented foods, and nutrient-dense foods.

As for what to minimize or avoid as much as you can, think medications such as antibiotics, oral birth control, NSAIDs, caffeine, alcohol, processed and genetically modified foods, processed sugar, foods you are sensitive or allergic to, food dyes, packaged, and pasteurized foods.

There is also much talk around seeding the microbiome of a baby’s gut before, during, and after birth. This promotes the development of a healthy immune system, through prenatal health care and preparation of the mother and father, natural vaginal birth, and breastfeeding, along with ongoing exposures to the environment through childhood to train the immune system and increase the diversity of the child’s microbiome.[23]

These basic things are a great start to help the gut move to a state of greater health, and therefore help the whole person establish or maintain health.

Keep in mind that once a disease state is already in process, testing and stronger treatments are required. These might include high dose nutrient supplementation, medications, or natural methods of assisting the body with eliminating accumulated toxins. Naturopathic doctors and functional medicine doctors are the experts in holistic care to help get you on track, deal with the root cause of illness, and address your individual needs. We work closely with your conventional medicine team to ensure a smooth, effective treatment plan.

Reference

[1]       Hadhazy, A. Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being. The emerging and surprising view of how the enteric nervous system in our bellies goes far beyond just processing the food we eat. Scientific American. February 12, 2010.

[2]       Cho I et al. The human microbiome: at the interface of health and disease. Nature Reviews Genetics. 2012;13:260-70.

[3]       Deretzi G et al. Gastrointestinal immune system and brain dialogue implicated in neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. Current Molecular Medicine. 2011;11(8):696-707.

[4]       Fasano A. Leaky Gut and Autoimmune diseases. Clinic Rev Allerg Immunol. 2012; 42:71-8.

[5]       Nouri M et al. Intestinal Barrier Dysfunction Develops at the Onset of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis, and Can Be Induced by Adoptive Transfer of Auto-Reactive T Cells. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(9):e106335.

[6]       Gumaste V et al. Benign and malignant colorectal strictures in ulcerative colitis. Gut. 1992;33(7):938-41.

[7]       Martin R et al. Role of commensal and probiotic bacteria in human health: a focus on inflammatory bowel disease.Microbial Cell Factories. 2013;12:71.

[8]       O’Mahonya S et al. Early Life Stress Alters Behavior, Immunity, and Microbiota in Rats: Implications for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Psychiatric Illnesses. Biological Psychiatry. 2009;65(3):263-7.

[9]       Dinan T et al. Melancholic microbes: a link between gut microbiota and depression? Neurogastroenterology & Motility. 2013; 25(9):713-9.

[10]     Rees JC. Obsessive–compulsive disorder and gut microbiota dysregulation. Medical Hypotheses. 2014;82(2):163-166.

[11]     Gilbert JA et al. Toward Effective Probiotics for Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Cell. 2013;155(7):1446-8.

[12]     Gaby AR. The role of hidden food allergy/intolerance in chronic disease. Alternative Medicine Review. 1998;3(2):90-100.

[13]     Liu Z et al. Tight junctions, leaky intestines, and pediatric diseases. Acta Paediatrica. 2005;94:386–93.

[14]     Ling Z et al. Altered Fecal Microbiota Composition Associated with Food Allergy in Infants. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 2014; 80(8):2546-54.

[15]     Zeeuwen P et al. Microbiome and skin diseases. Current Opinion in Allergy & Clinical Immunology. 2013;13(5):514-520.

[16]     Huang YJ et al. The microbiome and asthma. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2014;11(1):48-51.

[17]     Brusca S et al. Microbiome and mucosal inflammation as extra-articular triggers for rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmunity. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2014;26(1):101-7.

[18]     Scher J et al. Expansion of intestinal Prevotella copri correlates with enhanced susceptibility to arthritis. eLife Sciences, November 5, 2013.

[19]     Tsai F et al. The microbiome and obesity: Is obesity linked to our gut flora? Current Gastroenterology Reports. 2009;11(4):307-13.

[20]     Turnbaugh P et al. A core gut microbiome in obese and lean twins. Nature. 2009;457:480-4.

[21]     Ichinohea T et al. Microbiota regulates immune defense against respiratory tract influenza A virus infection. PNAS. 2011;108(13):5354-9.

[22]     Fung I et al. Do Bugs Control Our Fate? The Influence of the Microbiome on Autoimmunity. Current Allergy and Asthma Reports. 2012;12(6):511-9.

[23]     Torrazza R et al. The developing intestinal microbiome and its relationship to health and disease in the neonate.Journal of Perinatology. 2011;31:S29-S34.

What You Need to Know About Probiotics September 14, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in gut flora, Naturopathic Medicine, probiotics.
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The term probiotics is fast becoming a buzz word for wellness and health benefits. But what exactly are probiotics and should you be concerned with them? It may be startling to learn that of all the cells in your body, only 10% of them are human.The other 90% are in fact, bacteria. The majority of the bacteria are beneficial, even essential to your health. We are all walking, talking ecosystems. The bacteria live all over our bodies, but the ones we are primarily concerned about in terms of probiotics are those in the gastrointestinal tract, specifically the large intestine. Each of us has a different composition of bacteria making up whats known as our microbiota (gut flora). This composition varies greatly between individuals depending on our diets, lifestyles and environmental factors. Over 160 different species of bacteria call your gut home. The aim of probiotics, put simply, is to deliver and optimize growth of the beneficial bacteria thus inhibiting the growth of bacteria which are not helpful to us.

The World Health Organization defines probiotics as ’Live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host’.

Typically, probiotics come in pill, capsule or sometimes powder forms. The bacteria should be live and are often surrounded in a medium of some kind which they can feed off and survive. It is important to realize that in order for you to attain any of the health benefits from your probiotics they must be “live” when you consume them. Most probiotics with live bacteria will be refrigerated however there are some shelf stable brands on the market. Probiotics which have not been kept in the correct conditions will have reduced efficacy. Some brands over populate their products to allow for loss of some of the bacteria during shipping etc. In this way they ensure that by the time they reach the consumer they have the correct dosage of bacteria. The bacteria in your probiotics must also be viable. Think about it, in order for them to successfully colonize your lower intestine where they are most active and can convey their respective health benefits, they must first pass through the rest of your GI tract. This includes the highly acidic environment of your stomach, amongst other things. It doesn’t matter how many billion bacteria you consume in each tablet if they are all dead before they reach your gut. These are some of the reasons why it is important to choose the best quality probiotics you can and to seek advice from a health professional when choosing them.

What are the benefits of probiotics?
There is a growing body of evidence to support the use of probiotics in a plethora of different fields of health care. The health benefits of probiotics in various different forms have been recognized since antiquity. However, we are really only now beginning to fully grasp and examine the importance of the microbiota to our health. The potential of probiotics as treatment for everyday illnesses all the way to serious disease is becoming increasingly apparent with an ever increasing body of evidence support their use.

Studies have shown probiotics to be extremely useful in treating cases of diarrhea. One study showed a 42% reduction in the incidence of diarrhea brought on by antibiotic treatment. It may sound counterintuitive but probiotics can and often should be used in conjuction with antibiotics. Antibiotics do not always differentiate between which bacteria are harmful pathogens and which one are beneficial for us. They can often indiscriminately kill the good guys too! This is why many people experience diarrhea as a side effect when taking antibiotics. Apart from being unpleasant, diarrhea causes dehydration and electrolyte imbalances which can further impede recovery particularly in weaker or immunocompromised patients. Replacing the lost good guys by using probiotics during a course of antibiotics can help patients to avoid this complication altogether. When taking both simultaneously it is important to separate the doses i.e. take them at different times as this allows the probiotics to reach their best potential.

Probiotics have also been shown to have a role in treating conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease. These disorders of the bowel lead to pain, bleeding, cramping, poor digestion and absorption of nutrients from food. They can potentially end up in more serious complications such as bowel obstructions and strictures requiring surgery. A factor common to these disorders is an altered relationship between the body and the gut flora. Resident bacteria in the lumen have been shown to be a factor in the development and persistence of these disorders. The inflammation associated with these diseases is the body attempting to fight off pathogens in the gut. As your immune system can not always differentiate, this affects the good bacteria too. The reasons why the immune system attacks the gut flora in the first place is not well understood. Some theories propose that your body is reacting to changes in the population of the gut flora or changes in the behaviour of the flora and the chemicals they produce. Either way it is clear the the microbiota is intrinsically linked to these disorders. This has prompted scientist to investigate the potential benefits of manipulating the flora with probiotics. Bacteria such as lactobacilli have been shown to have protective immuno-modulating properties which can help alleviate the body’s inflammatory response. Alterations in the permeability of the gut can cause compounds to essentially leak out through the gaps between cells of the small intestine. This in turn leads to inflammation. Bifidobacterium, another probiotic strain, prevents damage to intestinal cells and helps to prevent increased intestinal permeability. There have been positive results from several studies in animals showing an improvement in symptoms of IBS from taking targeted probiotics.

The established ability of certain probiotics to counteract increased intestinal permeability has further reaching potential than just disorders of the bowel. As previously mentioned, the leaking of compounds out of the intestine leads to inflammation. This phenomenon has also been linked to food intolerance, particularly gluten and other inflammatory reactions such as eczema, asthma. Maintaining a healthy intestinal microbiota through probiotic use could help to avoid or alleviate these sensitivities. A recent study with 30 children in Australia used probiotics, namely Lactobacillus Rhamnosus to treat peanut allergy. In a randomised trial they found that about 80% of the children were subsequently able to tolerate peanuts. Other studies using Lactobacillus Rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactis have had positive results in treating infants suffering with atopic eczema. Some scientists hypothesize that the increasing rate of allergies is caused by our reduced exposure to pathogens due to improvements in hygiene. The theory is that the use of probiotics may be a safe alternative for providing bacterial stimulation which is necessary to our bodies. Probiotics have been shown not only to successfully treat allergies in infants but also to reduce the incidence of developing allergies in the first place. Though the mechanism of action is still not fully understood is is thought to be a combination of probiotics’ ability to strengthen the barrier function of intestinal mucosa preventing leakage and the fine tuning of the microbiota. Increasing the population of certain microbes in the gut puts them in direct competition with pathogenic bacteria for food and space and thus helps to reduce the population of harmful pathogens.

Probiotics may also be useful for detoxification. Many of the toxins in the body originate in the GI tract. These include undigested proteins and unhelpful bacteria. The introduction of the correct probiotic strains can help to rid the body of unwanted toxins. Some strain of bacteria can harvest energy from undigestible foods. The healthy flora can also out colonize the pathogens and detoxify the gut in this way.

One of the most exciting potential uses for probiotics is relating to obesity.Research has shown a consistent difference between the gut flora of slim individuals and that of obese individuals. Furthermore, one study in mice, the gut flora of a healthy weight mouse was replaced with those taken from an obese mouse. The healthy weight mice were fed the same diet as before but they became obese. Unfortunately, so far studies have been unsuccessful in doing the reverse- slimming down an obese individual using a slim individual’s gut flora. The research into that continues but what this research does show is a direct link between gut flora and obesity. The gut flora’s potential to contribute to energy harvest is another area of particular interest in relation to obesity. Research in the future may yield a definitive alternative using probiotics to the extreme treatments such as bariatric surgery that are becoming commonly used today.

The potential uses for probiotics are only just beginning the emerge. There is already encouraging research into the link between gut flora and diabetes, cancer and even depression. Further research and refining of their use we may see probiotics revolutionize the way we treat many illnesses. There are some obstacles to take note of when using probiotics. It is important to select appropriate strains. Different bacteria have different functions in the body and selecting the incorrect one may have no beneficial effect or it may exacerbate your symptoms further. Another problem is poorly regulated standardization of probiotics. There is a huge variety of probiotics on the market each with varying levels of efficacy and standards of production. If you have allergies you must exercise caution when selecting a probiotics to ensure it does not contain any of the allergens you are sensitive to. Just as you would with food. Your naturopathic doctor is one of the best resources for information on probiotics. The population of your gut flora is individual and unique to you. As such, you should have an individualized plan for taking care of them. One of our Naturopathic Doctors can help you to choose the correct strain for you based on your individual needs and help you to navigate the vast selection of probiotics on the market to help you find a reputable product that is best for you and your microbial friends.

If you have any questions about probiotics or would like to book an appointment with one of our Naturopathic Doctors you can contact us at 604-235-8068 or by email atinfo@yaletownnaturopathic.com.

What Is SIBO? August 13, 2015

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What is SIBO?

how-to-treat-SIBO-vancouver-naturopath-710x400 It’s short for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, and recently the numbers of patients coming in with this condition has increased significantly. Let’s break it down.

The first question I hear you asking – but isn’t there supposed to be bacteria in my small intestine? Isn’t that why I’ve been putting half of my health spending account towards probiotics on your recommendation? Short answer – yes, there are trillions of bacterial cells throughout the small and large intestine (fun fact: you have more bacterial cells inside and on the surface of your body than you have human cells). But there are different strains of bacteria in different areas. And the problem arises when the bacteria that’s supposed to stay in the large intestine gets into the small intestine.

The main difference in function between the small and large intestine: the small intestine digests food and absorbs nutrients, and the large intestine balances water and electrolytes through selective reabsorption. One other important feature of the large intestine is production of some B vitamins and vitamin K by some of our friendly resident bacteria.

In more detail, the small intestine receives chyme from the stomach, which is a thick mixture of chewed-up, partially-digested food and stomach acid. The acid is quickly neutralized by a base from the pancreas, allowing the bacteria to go to work. As you travel further down the 7-meter length of the small intestine, the numbers of bacteria increase exponentially as they reproduce to continue the digestive process. Without these beneficial bacteria, you would die of starvation within hours. By the time you reach the large intestine, ideally all the useful nutrients have been absorbed, and there’s mostly only waste materials and water. If food carries on into the large intestine, then you experience trouble in the form of gas. And that brings us back to SIBO.

Remember how we said there are different bacteria between the small and large intestine? If food material gets into the large intestine, the bacteria that live there digest it differently from the small intestinal bacteria – with the socially-awkward byproduct of gas (mostly methane). Now imagine if that bacteria that’s supposed to be confined to the large intestine make the move into the small intestine, with its unlimited supply of food particles. It’s the bacterial equivalent of a keg party with the whole town showing up uninvited.

What are the Symptoms of SIBO?

The hallmark symptom of SIBO is bloating. After eating. After eating anything. This is what can sometimes differentiate it from other causes of bloating. If there are particular food sensitivities, bloating can usually be traced to certain foods, which can then be avoided. If you have a deficiency in a certain digestive enzyme (two of the best-known examples are the enzymes that break down lactose or gluten) that bloating is usually accompanied by other fun symptoms like flatulence and/or diarrhea. But the list of possible symptoms associated with SIBO goes on and on – gastrointestinal upset, skin and joint issues, and even mood changes and nutrient deficiencies.

How do I Test for SIBO?

We use a breath test that measures hydrogen and methane. These are gases that are produced by bacteria (but not humans) and so can be used to estimate bacterial activity in the gut. These gases diffuse into the blood and eventually are excreted via the lungs.

How do I Treat SIBO?

There are two main treatment options, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. First – treatment with pharmaceutical antibiotics. The second – treatment with herbal anti-microbial products.

With antibiotics, an advantage is that it only takes a two-week course of treatment. One potential disadvantage (depending on your extended health coverage) is that it’s fairly expensive (between $300-500).

With herbal products, the course of treatment is about twice as long. Typically the herbal supplements should cost less than the antibiotics, but they should be chosen with care and on the recommendation of a health professional familiar with their use and efficacy, as the formulation and potency are key to their effectiveness.

Whether you choose to use either antibiotics or herbals, the remainder of the treatment is the same. First, you need to keep everything moving forward – remember, the original problem is that large intestine bacteria somehow managed to make their way against the flow up into the small intestine. If everything is moving forward properly, this greatly reduces the chances of recurrence.

Second, replace all the essential bacteria that you killed off, using a solid protocol of probiotics. We get wonderful results with the Natren line of probiotics, one of the original and best-researched products available.

To round out the treatment: you’ll need to work on healing the gut lining from any damage done by the invading bacteria; follow a diet specially designed to “feed the person but starve the bacteria”; strengthen the ileo-cecal valve (located between the small and large intestine, designed to prevent bacterial movement upstream); and improve overall digestive health, including production of stomach acid and digestive enzymes.

If you’ve been experiencing the symptoms listed above, you should probably give us a call and get it checked out – it might be SIBO, or it might be something less complicated. Either way, we can make you feel better, and make eating enjoyable again.

Written By: Dr. Reuben Dinsmore, ND

Bacteria help kids stay healthy! March 30, 2014

Posted by Dreamhealer in Allergies, Alternative medicine, Antibiotics, Colds, Diet, Dreamhealer, Experiments, Healing, Health, Integrative Medicine, naturopathic, Naturopathic Medicine, Naturopathy, Research, Skeptics.
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adam healer bacteria

By: Drs. Kay Judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden

Breaking news: Bacteria help kids stay healthy! In a study published this month in the Journal of Pediatrics, scientist found that daily probiotics help toddlers avoid certain infections. Researchers enrolled 300 children, ages 6 months to 36 months, in day care centers in a double-blinded study. Half of the children received placebos and half received probiotics.

For the children who received probiotics, it was found that there was a reduction in frequency and duration of diarrhea episodes. And surprisingly, there was also a reduction in respiratory tract infections in the children who took probiotics.

The children in the study received the probiotic Lactobaccillus reuteri daily for three months. In addition to the already-mentioned health benefits, the study found a reduction in the number of doctor visits, antibiotic use, absenteeism from day school and parental absenteeism from work.

Other studies on probiotics have found that probiotics may help in reducing acute diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, atopic eczema, tooth decay, C. diff. bacteria colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, including pouchitis.

So what is this miracle drug? Probiotics are live microorganisms numbering over 100 trillion, including over 500 bacterial species, which normally reside in the human intestinal tract. These microorganisms help in digestion, provide the body with nutrients, help the immune system and help keep harmful microorganisms in check.

Common probiotics are Lactobacillus bulgaris, Streptococcus thermophiles, Lactobacillus acidophilus and casei, and Bifidobacteria. One can maintain a healthy balance of these “good bacteria” in the body by taking products which contain live and active cultures of these bacteria. These can include the pill and liquid probiotic supplements, as well as foods such as yogurt, and fermented foods such as brewer’s yeast, miso, sauerkraut or micro algae.

If you need additional nondairy yogurt options, yogurts made from rice, soy and coconut milk are available on the market. Some of these can contain added probiotics that provide the same benefits as regular yogurt. To ensure that you are getting the benefit of the probiotics in the foods that you are eating, pick those that state “live and active cultures” on the label. Also look for supplements that are not close to their expiration date, as the live bacteria dwindle over time.

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