GUT / IMMUNE SYSTEM
Is the gut important for anything other than digestion? Believe it or not, you have 10 times the number of bacteria living in your gut, as you have cells in your entire body. In fact, at least 25% of the dry weight of your stool is bacteria! Most bacteria that live in your gut (aka "flora") are not harmful, and actually perform numerous critical functions in your body. Some of these include things like:
- THEY MANUFACTURE VITAMINS: They specifically make one of the B VITAMINS (Biotin) as well as Vitamin K.
- THEY PRODUCE ENERGY: Healthy flora have the capacity to extract energy from unused materials via process of fermentation. A little fermentation is a good thing. Very much fermentation, and you have a problem on your hands. This happens when too many bad bacteria overgrow your gut (DYSBIOSIS). It also happens to the body when CANCER attacks.
- THEY "TRAIN" THE IMMUNE SYSTEM: Research published in the Jan 2010 issue of Nature Medicine, from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, suggests that good bacteria in the gut keep the immune system primed and ready for combat. Senior author Jeffrey N. Weiser, M.D. draws the analogy to how a cold engine versus one that is warmed up and idling would perform. If the immune system is already warmed up by "good bacteria", it can better cope with pathogenic invaders (the bad guys). By the way, ANTIBIOTICS are the biggest preventer of an "idling" immune system.
- THEY PREVENT OVERGROWTH OF PATHOGENIC ("BAD") BACTERIA: There are so called "bad" bacteria that live in harmony with the good bacteria. Keep in mind that we have to have a certain amount of these critters in our gut to maintain good health. The problems start when they get out of balance. This is called Dysbiosis and is frankly a huge problem here in America. Why? Our medical community as well as our farmers are killing off our good bacteria so fast, entire species are being wiped out ---- forever (SEE HERE).
- THEY PREVENT OVERGROWTH OF OTHER PATHOGENIC ("BAD") ORGANISMS: There are a host of critters out there that we do not want in here. Some of these include Yeasts (Candida is the biggie), Molds, Fungus, Parasites, Protozoa, etc. Good bacteria actually keep these in check. Women understand this better than anyone via vaginal yeast infections after using antibiotics. The real problem, however, is not vaginal yeast; it's SYSTEMIC YEAST. What do you think happens when yeast (or the toxic chemicals yeast produces) get into the blood stream? Can anyone say MIGRAINE HEADACHES, LEAKY GUT SYNDROME & FIBROMYALGIA?
- THEY CONVERT 20% OF YOUR BODY'S INACTIVE THYROID HORMONE (T4) TO THE ACTIVE FORM (T3): Hypothyroidism affects a minimum of 10% of America's population (some experts claim the number is double that). Dysbiosis is a huge contributing factor in our country's THYROID EPIDEMIC.
- THEY DEGRADE METHYL MERCURY --- THE MOST TOXIC FORM OF MERCURY: MERCURY is the single most toxic non-radioactive element on the planet. You want it converted into a form that can be excreted instead of stored in your fatty tissues. Good Bacteria do this!
So, as you can see, bacteria perform lots of tasks that are critical to the proper function of your body. But the truly amazing thing about good bacteria is what they mean to your immune system.
Tomorrow: 80% of your body's entire immune system is found in the gut