What is Microbiome?
The sciences of Functional & Integrative Medicine place a special focus on the importance of Gut Flora in overall health.
The interconnection of your gut, brain, immune, and hormonal systems is impossible to unwind. The past few years has brought a scientific flurry of information about how crucial your micro flora is to your genetic expression, immune system, body weight and composition, mental health, memory, and minimizing your risk for numerous diseases, from diabetes to cancer.
It is becoming increasingly clear that destroying your gut flora with pharmaceutical drugs, harsh environmental chemicals, and toxic foods is a primary factor in rising disease rates.
Recent research suggests intestinal inflammation may play a critical role in the development of certain cancers. Until we begin to appreciate this complex relationship, we will not be able to prevent or intervene effectively in many of the diseases that are devastating peoples lives today.
When your microbiome falls out of balance, you can become ill. Those organisms perform a multitude of functions in key biological systems, from supplying critical vitamins to fighting pathogens, modulating weight and metabolism.
This army of organisms also makes up 70 percent of your immune system, talking directly to your bodys natural killer T-cells so that they can tell apart your friendlies from dangerous invaders. Your microbiome also helps control how your genes express themselves. So by optimizing your native flora, you are actually controlling your genes.
Microorganisms trigger the production of cytokines. Cytokines are involved in regulating your immune systems response to inflammation and infection. Much like hormones, cytokines are signaling molecules that aid cell to cell communication, telling your cells where to go when your inflammatory response is initiated.
Most of the signals between your gut and your brain travel along your vagus nerveabout 90 percent of them. Vagus is Latin for wandering, aptly named as this long nerve travels from your skull down through your chest and abdomen, branching to multiple organs.
Your gut bacteria continuously affected by your environment, and by your diet and lifestyle choices. If your microbiome is harmed and thrown out of balance (dysbiosis), all sorts of illnesses can result, both acute and chronic. Unfortunately, your fragile internal ecosystem is under nearly constant assault today. Some of the factors posing the gravest dangers to your microbiome are outlined in the following:
Refined sugar, especially processed high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), Genetically engineered (GE) foods (extremely abundant in processed foods and beverages), Agricultural chemicals, such as herbicides and pesticides. Glyphosate appears to be among the worst Conventionally-raised meats and other animal products; CAFO animals are routinely fed low-dose antibiotics and GE livestock feed Gluten Antibiotics (use only if absolutely necessary, and make sure to reseed your gut with fermented foods and/or a good probiotic supplement).
NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) damage cell membranes and disrupt energy production by mitochondria) Proton pump inhibitors (drugs that block the production of acid in your stomach, typically prescribed for GERD, such as Prilosec, Prevacid, and Nexium), Chlorinated and/or fluoridated water, Stress and Pollution.
The best way to optimize your gut flora is through your diet. A gut-healthy diet is one rich in whole, unprocessed, unsweetened foods, along with traditionally fermented or cultured foods. But before these powerful foods can work their magic in your body, you have to eliminate the damaging foods that get in their way.
A good place to start is by drastically reducing grains and sugar, and avoiding genetically engineered ingredients, processed foods, and pasteurized foods. Pasteurized foods can harm your good bacteria, and sugar promotes the growth of pathogenic yeast and other fungi (not to mention fueling cancer cells). Grains containing gluten are particularly damaging to your micro flora and overall health. This would be a good time for you to review the table above that lists foods, drugs and other agents that harm your beneficial microbesso that you can avoid as many as possible.
Probiotics are supplements designed to increase your beneficial bacteria, the largest concentration of which is found in your gut. Different types of bacteria live in different locations in your gastrointestinal tract. You also have bacteria residing in other areas of your body, such as your mouth and skin. I recommend and use Florify since it is heat stable and acid stable. Very useful when taking antibiotics.
While probiotic supplements have their benefits and their place, it is important before taking a supplement to optimize the conditions where these beneficial bacteria grow.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) restricts supplement makers from making certain health claims; for example, you cannot market a probiotic saying, This is useful to take after an antibiotic, because that would imply that antibiotics might harm you in some way.
The featured Catalyst documentary, “Antibiotic Resistance,” offers a 30-minute-long review of some of the many factors contributing to this man-made scourge.
Today, people are so used to the idea that an antibiotic can cure just about any infection; few can even consider the possibility that someday this remedy may no longer be an option.
Indeed, antibiotics have increased the human lifespan by about a decade, and certain conditions simply could not be treated without them. Take organ transplants for example. Without antibiotics, such procedures become tremendously risky, with a low rate of success.
According to Catalyst, about half of all emergency room admissions are also related to bacterial infections, and they too would have a poor rate of recovery without antibiotics.
Even minor surgeries become risky propositions without these infection-busting drugs. Ditto for everyday infections resulting from cuts, scrapes or bites.
In many ways, modern medicine as we know it is built around a foundation of antibiotics, and that foundation is now severely threatened by the emergence of microbes that are resistant to even our harshest, last-resort antibiotics.
Prior to antibiotics, half of the world’s population died from infections, and many died during early childhood. This is the reality we now face yet again, unless we somehow manage to get antibiotic resistance under control.
Animals and Humans Are Part of a Bacterial Ecosystem
In recent years, researchers have discovered that bacteria and other microorganisms are far from mere adversaries to be carpet-bombed into oblivion. Instead, microorganisms are part and parcel of us we exist as part of a bacterial ecosystem and, in fact, many of our biological processes rely on them.
Even pathogenic bacteria that can cause severe disease only really become a threat to health when they’re allowed to crowd out other, more beneficial bacteria that naturally help keep the pathogens in check. Even certain viruses play an important and supportive role in human health.
Part of the drug resistance problem we’re now facing as a result of decades’ worth of antibiotic misuse is the fact that bacteria are incredibly adaptable. Unless they’re completely wiped out, the surviving stragglers pass on their resistance to other bacteria.
Another piece of the puzzle is bacteria’s ability to share genetic material outside of the procreative process. Scientists recently discovered a bacterial gene (called mcr-1) that can spread among different bacteria with remarkable ease, conferring resistance to the strongest antibiotics in our medical arsenal.
This is a scenario that many have feared might happen, and now there’s no escaping its reality. Less than a year after the mcr-1 gene was first discovered in pigs and people in China,1,2,3 it has now been identified in the U.S., both in pork samples and a patient being treated for E.coli infection.4,5
How Bacteria Share Genetic Material
All that’s required for bacteria to share genetic material, delivered in little packages called plasmids, is proximity. If they’re close enough, the plasmid can rapidly transfer between the various bacteria bumping against each other.
As explained in the film, if humans had this kind of gene-sharing ability, you’d be able to change the color of your eyes from blue to brown simply by standing next to a brown-eyed person. For bacteria, this ability means they can spread drug resistance to other bacteria at “astonishing speeds.”
Unfortunately, scientists drastically underestimated the speed at which resistance can spread, and now we’re faced with a far shorter deadline, in terms of “the end of antibiotics” in medicine, than previously expected.
To give you an idea of just how quickly resistance is now spreading, consider this: a brand new antibiotic was introduced in 2010. The very next year, resistant bacteria were detected.
Antibiotics Are Overused in Human Medicine
Overuse of antibiotics in human medicine is one contributing factor to rising drug resistance among bacteria. In Australia, antibiotics are prescribed at a rate of more than one prescription for every man, woman and child each year. The situation is similar in many other developed nations.
According to Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, associate director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as much as half of all antibiotics used in American clinics and hospitals “are either unneeded or patients are getting the wrong drugs to treat their infections.”6
Lack of education is part of the problem. More than 40 percent of Americans and an astonishing 65 percent of Australians still believe antibiotics can treat viral infections.7 Many patients also insist on taking an antibiotic “just in case” a strategy that is highly inadvisable.
Antibiotics have both short- and long-term effects on the composition and health of the microbes in your gut, and your microbiome plays a crucial role in your overall immune function and general health. You really don’t want to decimate your microbiome with an antibiotic unless absolutely necessary.
Children treated with antibiotics also raise their risk of developing health problems in adulthood, including making them more susceptible to infectious diseases, allergies, obesity and autoimmune disorders as they grow older.8,9
Doctors are not without blame though. Forty-five percent of British doctors admit prescribing antibiotics even when they know it won’t do any good.10
Antibiotic Use in Food Production Must Be Curbed
According to the CDC,11 there are 12 antibiotic-resistant pathogens that pose a “serious” threat to public health, and one-third of them are found in food. The four drug-resistant pathogens in question are:
While livestock sometimes need antibiotics to cure an infection, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) routinely use antibiotics to speed up growth and counteract poor hygiene and crowded living conditions.
In the U.S., an estimated 80 percent of antibiotics sold end up in livestock. In Australia, approximately 70 percent of all antibiotics are used in agriculture.
As noted in the film, industrialized factory farming owes its success to the routine use of antibiotics. However, we’re now paying an unexpectedly heavy price for this convenient way of raising cheap food, as agricultural use of antibiotics is feeding and speeding up the spread of drug-resistant bacteria that kill an estimated 23,000 Americans each year.
Antibiotic Resistance Spreads Via Multiple Routes
Drug-resistant bacteria also accumulate in CAFO manure that is then spread on fields and enters waterways, allowing the drug-resistant bacteria to spread far and wide and ultimately back up the food chain to your dinner plate. You can see how easily antibiotic resistance spreads, via the food you eat and community contact, in the CDC’s infographic.
Should you already have a cold, I would suggest you keep doing everything in your power to boost your immune system and here are some things you should add to your daily regime to help fight the cold: Garlic anti-viral, antibiotic, and antiseptic. Onion raw onion keeps the respiratory tract open. Ginger antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Sage carminative, antiseptic, and astringent. (Note: Sage should not be used when pregnant or breast feeding.) Thyme antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, expectorant, and astringent. Cayenne powder anti-microbial, analgesic, carminative, diaphoretic, and expectorant. Honey local unpasteurized honey is an antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiseptic. (Do not give honey to children under 1 year old.) Mullein expectorant will help to break up mucous. A tea made with fresh ginger, fresh garlic, red cayenne powder, lemon and honey is a powerful cold-fighting tea.
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Read the research by Dr. Mercola & Dr. Brogan for more information on Microbiome.