By Dr. Mercola
The bacteria in your gut play crucial roles in your health, and your diet can significantly alter your gut microbiome. Sugar nourishes health-harming bacteria, yeast, and fungi in your gut, which may actually harm you more than its impact on insulin resistance.
By eating a healthy diet, you allow beneficial gut bacteria to flourish. They then perform the real “magic” of nourishing your health. You may have noticed that probiotics are now featured in articles relating to all sorts of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, depression and heart disease.
As explained by Russian neurologist Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, creator of the GAPS diet, a woman’s gut flora can also influence the health of her child, and if your child’s gut flora is compromised from birth, he may be at an increased risk of neurological and behavioral problems, as well as vaccine damage.
Naturally, imbalances in your gut microbiome are most readily associated with gut problems, ranging from mild discomforts to severe inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
IBD — A Common Problem With Potentially Serious Consequences
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are collectively known as IBD. An estimated 1.6 million Americans struggle with IBD, and 70,000 new cases of IBD are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.1 Both of these conditions are characterized by symptoms such as:
- Frequent diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and severe pain
- Rectal bleeding
- Weight loss
- Nausea and fever
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are autoimmune diseases that can have serious consequences if left unaddressed. The symptoms associated with these conditions are caused by inflammation in your intestines, which also increases your risk of intestinal blockages, abscesses, bowel perforation, and colon cancer.
IBD Raises Your Risk of Bone Diseases
IBD is also associated with malabsorption and malnutrition, which can result in bone fractures and bone diseases such as osteopenia and osteoporosis.2 In fact, gut inflammation appears to be an important contributor to bone loss.3
Researchers have also found that leaky gut, which allows microbes and other foreign particles to enter your bloodstream, is strongly associated with joint problems such as rheumatoid arthritis.4,5 As explained by a globally recognized leader in the field of functional and integrative medicine, Chris Kresser, in a recent article on this topic:6
“[Your] immune system is intricately involved in the regulation of bone metabolism and physiology. Immune cells that are activated by microbes in the gut can migrate to bone and directly regulate bone remodeling via osteoclast-inducing factor, RANKL and other bone-active molecules.7
Increased levels of activated innate immune cells have been shown to increase expression of the signaling molecule TNFα in bone marrow. TNFα stimulates stems cells in the bone marrow to differentiate into osteoclasts.
This tips the normal balance of bone resorption and formation, resulting in higher levels of bone breakdown and lower bone density.8,9“
Bacteria and Fungi Linked to Crohn’s Disease
Many lifestyle factors can contribute to inflammation in your intestines. Not surprisingly, research suggests bacteria and fungi are involved:
•Previous research has linked Crohn’s disease to the presence of a bacterium called Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, which prevents white blood cells from killing E. coli bacteria known to be present in increased numbers within Crohn’s disease infected tissue. One route of exposure to this Mycobacteria is cow’s milk.10,11
•One study found that Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP) was present in about 92 percent of patients with Crohn’s disease, compared to 26 percent of patients in a control group. MAP is present in about 2 percent of commercial pasteurized milk.
So, not only does pasteurization kill the beneficial bacteria available in milk, but it leaves potentially harmful organisms alive and well. There are good reasons to limit milk consumption altogether (as it is high in natural sugars that can promote insulin resistance and prevent nutritional ketosis).
But if you do drink milk and if you struggle with IBD, raw milk from healthy grass-fed cows is FAR preferable to pasteurized milk from cows raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Raw grass-fed milk can be quite healing when you have IBD.
•Former World Health Organization expert Dr. A.V. Costantini found that people with Crohn’s often have aflatoxin, a mycotoxin made by Aspergillus molds, in their blood.
Research12 seems to confirm the potential role of aflatoxin in Crohn’s, as disease activity in patients with Crohn’s was lower while they followed a yeast-free diet, specifically avoiding baker’s and brewer’s yeasts.
•Researchers have also linked Crohn’s to a lack of the healthy bacteria Bifidobacterium and Bacteriodes and the concurrent reduction in short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).13
SCFAs are produced by gut microbes that ferment dietary fiber, so making sure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet is an important part of the treatment equation.
•Most recently, researchers found that Crohn’s patients have higher amounts of the bacteria Serratia marcescens and E. coli in their intestines, along with the fungus Candida tropicalis.14,15
Experiments revealed that these three microorganisms interact to create an inflammatory biofilm that in turn produces the symptoms of Crohn’s.
Gut Bacteria Have a Powerful Influence on Your Immune Responses
Recent research also shows that gastrointestinal (GI) bacteria may be responsible for overactive immune responses, ranging from celiac disease to food allergies and food sensitivities.
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Crohn’s & cannabis:
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Crohn’s disease & U.C.
Recently, the use of probiotics for maintaining remission from the active disease in patients with Crohn’s disease was given a ‘C’ recommendation rating level by a panel of experts evaluating the efficacy of the supplements, mostly due to a scarcity of data [Floch et al. 2008]. In a small pilot study of 31 patients with Crohn’s disease in remission all patients continued their maintenance medications and were randomized to either S. boulardii for 3 months or placebo [Garcia et al. 2008]. Those treated with S. boulardii were found to have a significant reduction in colonic permeability compared with those given placebo, thus reducing the risk of bacterial translocation in these patients [Garcia et al. 2008]. Two RCTs tested S. boulardii for patients with Crohn’s disease [Guslandi et al. 2000; Plein and Hotz, 1993]. In a small randomized study of 20 patients with Crohn’s disease all patients continued their maintenance medications and were randomized to either S. boulardii for 7 weeks or placebo. Patients treated with S. boulardii were significantly improved compared with the placebo group [Plein and Hotz, 1993]. Finally, in a study of 32 patients with Crohn’s disease who were in remission, significantly fewer patients treated with S. boulardii (6%) relapsed than the control group (38%) [Guslandi et al. 2000]. Further studies to establish the efficacy of S. boulardii in treatment of Crohn’s disease are needed.
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