By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer
Every one of us has over tens of trillion single celled bacteria and countless other microbes in our 17 inches long small gut and five inch long large gut, irrespective of the myriads that colonise our skin, nose, mouth cavity and other passages. Most of these microbes are permanent residents living as boarders and allies, beneficial and important to our health and defensive immune system. But there are other bugs that cause problems though much under the strict surveillance of the good microbes. We have over 600 identified types of microbes including bacteria, fungi and yeast in our gut symbiotically living with us right through our life.
Till lately we thought that all germs in us were pathogenic-meaning cause disease. So we killed them by using antiseptic soaps, spraying with antiseptic and antibiotic sprays and taken internally. Only lately it has become apparent that the war on microbes is not just a futile procedure, but also one that could be harmful to our health.
Just giving antibiotics to kill non-specific bacteria, or unnecessary use of antibiotics has promoted the spread of several strains of ‘antibiotic resistant bacteria’. Such bacteria are no longer susceptible to previously effective antibiotics.
Some microbes will be harmful. For example Clostridium tetani the germ that causes tetanus manufactures a poison (toxin) that is injurious to nerve cells and cause powerful muscle contractions responsible for lockjaw. Farmers working in muddy water seem to suffer from this condition in the past, and vaccinating against the germ has reduced the numbers, today. On the other hand Bifidobacterium is beneficial, in the sense they digest fibre from the food in the colon, produces short-chain fatty acids that stimulate the growth of the immune system that controls inflammation.
Reading a scientist’s article on the subject of’ Traditional vs Modern Medicine in treating gout’ written by Barry Davies (BSc MAusIMM, MAIG), who himself suffer with gout, relates a story about the stomach upset he had with cramps, gaseous distention and so on, whilst living in Kazakhstan. He had also noticed that his blood uric acid level had gone up. The local chemist in Kazakhstan had given him two medications- Ornidazol and Flagyl, which had fixed his stomach problems.
Barry states that he observed that the uric acid level in blood was related to particular types of gut bacteria causing the gastric upset by eating certain types of foods and drinks and when they were destroyed with medication, the gout seems to have subsided.
He writes about Gout, Bacteria and leaky Gut and also poses the question, “Can microbiomes treat gout one day”
He writes about leaky gut syndrome, not recognised by the conventional physicians, stating that there is accumulating evidence that it is a real condition that affects the lining of the intestines... The closest term that is used by the physicians is called,” Increased intestinal permeability” What this means is that the inner lining composed of myriads of minute finger like swaying projections called ‘villi’ while increasing the absorptive surface are crucial in the uptake of nutrients from food.
In this syndrome it is found that the villi are destroyed and results in damage to the lining, and makes less able to protect the internal as well as to filter needed nutrients and other biological material. The term ‘leaking’ refers to the toxins and bacteria that gets into the blood stream because of the damage to the lining as mentioned before. This leads to an autoimmune defensive reaction, which results in gastro-intestinal problems and also distant involvements causing arthritis and other inflammatory and autoimmune conditions
The good microbes are destroyed in this syndrome and further results in an unhealthy situation. Faecal transplants with good bugs into the gut seem to be the answer to the problem, in addition to treating the cause and the prognosis has been favourable.
Gut microbiota and metabolic diseases
Scientists from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg have shown how bacteria such as Prevotella can improve glucose metabolism in healthy subjects. These bacteria seem to be linked with a high fibre intake.
The article published in Cell Metabolism, further mentions of giving barley bread for three days and then giving white bread subsequently to the same subjects, when the glucose and insulin responses to the respective diets revealed that the barley bread was linked to an improved response in terms of sugar compared to white bread. The authors of the study measured the gut microbiota of every individual who participated in the project. It was revealed that dietary interventions did change the bacterial flora. There were a higher proportion of Prevotella bacteria when barley bread was consumed.
When one eats healthy high fibre food, healthy microbes flourish in your gut. Weekend diet changes and on holidays the gut bacteria may change, sometimes giving stomach problems after the variation and changes in the diet pattern.
These gut bacteria varies from person to person. Your genes seem to influence these microbes and contribute to the stability of your own microbial community. Changing your diet patterns seem to change your microbiota from hour to hour and from week to week.
Similarly, there are prebiotics when consumed helps gut bacteria to digest complex fibre taken in the food. (Ref: Cristine Soez-News Watch 11 Feb 2016)
Gut is called the second brain
Gut bacteria may play a part in psycho-somatic diseases, such as in inducing anxiety and depression, according to a new study by researchers at McMaster University (Canada) published in the journal Nature Communications.
On mice experiments subjected to separation from their mothers, it was revealed that the pups seem to develop altered stress responses, anxiety and depression like behaviour in human adults.
When experimented with mice model with the guts were germ free, meaning lacking any microbiota, did not show any signs of anxiety or depression. Hence, it is assumed that bacteria are required for the induction of anxiety and depression in the mouse model, said Premyl Bercik , Associate Professor of medicine at McMaster’s Michael G DeGroote School of Medicine, Canada.
There is an article written by Marie Ellis which states that a new study suggests exercise in youth results in a better gut microbial community, paving the way for better brain and metabolic activity.
Researchers from the University of Colorado-Boulder say they have discovered that exercising early in life changes the gut's microbial community so that it sets us up for better brain and metabolic activity during our lifetime.
Their study is published in the journal Immunology and Cell Biology and is led by Prof. Monika Fleshner, of Boulder's Department of Integrative Physiology.
It is seen in Sri Lanka that parents stress the importance of further enhanced studies at home with tuition masters during the times the children should be more actively involved in outdoor sports activities. In the international school sports is in cooperated into the curriculum and those kids are fortunate to mix play with their education. Furthermore, the bones of children get stronger on participating in active sports and athletics in school, an added bonus when they grow older preventing damage to bones in accidental falls.
WE advise that the readers should keep their commensal bacteria in their guts healthy, by consuming a high fibre healthy balance diet, including pre and probiotics, pickled and cultured foods, with daily exercise for healthy life with longevity. Disruption to such a happy environment has been associated with gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory disease, obesity and psychosomatic disorders.
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