The Gut Zoo
As the National Institute of Health works to map our microbial populations through the induction of the NIH Human Microbiome Project (microbiome is a fancy-pants word for the population of organisms that live in, on, and among us) we continue to learn more about our microflora and how it affects not only our gut and our immune system but also, our overall health! We like to call it… the Gut Zoo.
Ponder this for a moment… the ratio of bacteria to human cells in the average adult is approximately 10:1 — with the majority of bacteria residing in the gut. This means that you are vastly outnumbered by these weird little commensals and for all intents and purposes, are one, big blob of bacteria.
There are over 400 species of bacteria in the human gut, more microbes even than there are stars in the galaxy! The most well-known species (for better or worse) include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces boulardii, Escherichia coli, Candida, Helicobacter Pylori and Streptomyces. And, each person’s gut zoo varies depending on diet, country of origin and residence, age, lifestyle practices, health status, etc.
The purpose of this microbial population is multi-functional: combat pathogens
encourage proper immune function
aid in digestion
synthesize important vitamins and minerals
play an important role in lipogenesis, offer anti-carcinogenic activity
and much more… including tasks we are not yet aware of!
So, there is definitely value in keeping the zoo nicely maintained.
Unfortunately, many factors today, including caesarean delivery, ingestion of certain foods, alcohol, antibiotics, and even the aging process can diminish our gut flora.
Key studies point towards having a wide variety of robust microbes in proper balance with each other as being most beneficial for overall health. So, for those with deficient and imbalanced overall flora, treatment focused on re-inoculation and support is warranted… this would include a pre- and probiotic regimen, among other things.
Tell me more about Pre- and Probiotics
There are a number of dietary components that provide us with beneficial biota including fermented products, fruits, and vegetables. At Cell Restore we like to encourage patients to obtain these important florae via supplementation as the nutrient-status of our available food is rapidly deteriorating, but we do also advise to obtain as much of these beneficial biotas as possible from actual diets as well. When supplementing with a probiotic formula, unless your specific presentation warrants otherwise, it’s key to focus on a broad-spectrum formula that contains a number of different genera. This helps to ensure an adequate supply of overall bugs is provided, rather than just a few isolated species. In addition, it’s always a great idea to combine probiotic supplementation with a nice prebiotic which acts as “food” to the good bacteria. (A pre-biotic is included in the Cell Restore Gut Repair & Protect). Often composed of various beneficial ingredients to help all microbiota flourish, prebiotics are also able to encourage the indigenous population that we, as a scientific community, have not yet identified.
Feed the animals
We’ve all seen the signs at the zoo that read, “don’t feed the animals.” Well in this case, PLEASE feed the animals, and make sure it’s the foods they like. The theme remains… it truly is all about the gut! And of course, the gut flora that outnumbers our normal cells 10:1. Remember, keep that gut zoo happy!