The Ecosystem That Thrives Inside

Small intestinal bacteria, Source:

The human gut is home to over 100 trillion microbes which constitutes the ecosystem of the digestive tract.  An ecosystem is the balance of organisms that exist in an environment; in this instance we are talking about the ecosystem of the gut.  The gut or the digestive system is much like a pond. This ecosystem has an intrinsic balance of bacteria and flora that is mandatory for its existence and health. The healthy human gut has bacteria, viruses and fungus. These organisms can either help us or infect us depending on the balance in the ecosystem at any given time.  Biomedical research has shown that imbalances in gut flora can result in type 1 diabetes, allergies, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune disorders and obesity.

The gut is the root of health and the key to well being which Hippocrates told us 2000 years ago.  The human gut is a lush vegetative environment carrying species that break down our food in ways that we cannot, processing certain vitamins and other nutrients beyond the bounds of our bodies.  These microbes are cooperative with one another to obtain the food they need and are critical for creating the conditions in which they can flourish.

The down side of these microbes is when they do not cooperate, instead competing for themselves and not for the good of the community. They can hijack our entire immune system and undermine our health in ways that you may not even be aware of. Rogue organisms occur when the digestive system is out of balance.  Bad gut bugs create havoc in your immune system and can spiral one’s health down fast.

Elie Metchnikoff, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in his work on the intestinal barrier, said “Death begins in the colon,” which is true. A variety of organisms in the mucous layer of your gut’s first defense is both benign and potentially pathogenic. Research has validated that failure to maintain the balance between an individual’s gut microorganisms has negative consequences for your gut health and your overall body.

The gut has a sensitive teeter-totter balance that is dynamic at any given time. For example, the small intestine replaces itself every 3 to 5 days.  This high tissue turnover is rich in protection as long as the right building blocks are provided to nourish and to repair.

Tune in next week to learn how to nourish and repair your gut.

To your health

Dr. Dana


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