The War Within and Probiotics

bacteriaI’m sure you don’t have to be told that there is a constant war going on in your digestive tract. At one time or other you have eaten, “The Whole Thing,” and felt the wrath of your entire digestive system. It is a very uncomfortable warning that moderation is a wiser way to live.

We tend to think that the war inside us only pertains to our excesses or to our valiant immune system fighting off invaders. In fact it is more about us and our allies against invaders and their allies.

It is a fact that every time we think we know something about the marvelous organism called the human body, we find out how much more there is to know. For instance most of us know that the human body is built on a plan we call the genome. The genome is written in script so small that a copy of the whole thing resides in every cell in our tissue, bones and even hair. Nature or God if you prefer to blame her, came up with that script which has only four letters. The natural world is stunningly economical at times!

In addition to the ten or so trillion human cells structured around this genomic plan we have between forty and one hundred trillion invaders of various types. That invasion is inevitable, it happens to every child born into this world so our bodies have adjusted to that fact and made a few of them into welcome guests.

We are used to the idea that a trillion is a big number, and so it is, these cells are tiny but in many cases very potent. Our body’s adjustment includes using the friendly invaders to occupy and even defend the perfect environment of our digestive tract from more harmful species or types of the same species. We are the site of a constant and ongoing party for as long as we are alive. Invited guests are best though, the other kind cause real problems. In to prevent disturbances in the internal tract that holds our food and dispenses it to our cells we share that feast with a few friendly fellow travelers.

In the case of antibiotics taken for bacterial infections we often really disturb the balance those organisms have established. So how can we fix that and apologize in a manner of speaking for our unutterable rudeness at harming our guests?

One way is to reintroduce the friendlier ones that help the rest of them flourish without encouraging the growth of the bad guys, the pathogens that also would like to turn us into a free lunch. There is now a vast trade in our health food industry in spores and live bacteria called, “Probiotics.” That are supposed to help do just that.

A lot of those products are useless or marginal in their effect on our bodies biota. That is natural enough, cashing in on people’s desire for health is a constant in our society. So as a buyer beware of the few things that make a product in this line effective.

  • The range of  species and members of the friendly species included in the product should be relatively broad.
  • The number of live cells and spores included in each dose should be in the hundreds of billions if possible.
  • The substrate on which they were grown should conform to your dietary limits. If you are sensitive to dairy or wheat or soy  be certain that these were not used as food to grow the organisms chosen.
  • Be sure to feed them well and not to continue to disturb them with toxic chemicals in your diet. Some teas for instance are not a benefit when you are trying to reestablish a healthy intestinal flora.
  • Make certain that you have adequate fiber in your diet since that actually encourages the health of both your own cells and you friendly guests by helping you move your food along at the proper pace.
  • Stay aware of the impact of the effect of your supplement on your internal tract and adjust it to where you are regaining your comfort at a sensible pace. Do not take the whole bottle at once.

I hope you and your happy guests continue to party, hearty on for a long time to come.

About Genene Cote

Genene Coté -- Nutrition Advocate, Counselor and Coach who is also a Whole Food Plant Based Eater (vegetarian/vegan), cook and gardener.
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