Microorganism Melodrama!

By: Gemma Davies

Your lower bowel sure is a packed theatre! It’s home to over 500 species of microflora and in scenes more microscopically epic than the Lord of the Rings trilogy, they busily work to maintain your gut lining integrity, fight-off detrimental bacteria and aide your immune system to function optimally! It’s hero against villain, good against evil, and it’s all taking place in your gut without you even knowing it!

In an ideal world, the good guys always win but… the world sadly ain’t ideal… There are so many elements of modern life that interfere with the population of healthy bacteria in the gut that it’s no wonder that the human race is plagued by digestive discomforts and disorders, compromised immune systems and ailing vitality! Just some of the agents working against healthy proliferation of beneficial microorganisms in your belly are: 

1. Poor food choices, poor food preparation:

The diets of traditional peoples, as documented in the work of Dr. Weston A. Price, contain many times the amounts of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals as the modern Western diet. These nutrients are critical for gut health, and the microbial population of your bowel suffers without them. In addition, traditional diets tend to include naturally fermented foods (vegetables, grains and dairy foods) on a daily basis, and a great deal of effort is spent to prepare grains, nuts and seeds correctly to remove phytates and other compounds that can otherwise block the absorption of minerals from food. In a world of highly processed, extruded and pastuerised ‘food’ staples, we’ve got something to worry about.
2. Toxic Trouble:
Anything from contaminated water to bacterial and viral infections can disrupt gut flora significantly. Add to this our orthodox ‘cure-all’, the antibiotic, and our friendly bacteria can easily end up fighting a losing battle!

3. The sad state of soil:

Modern large-scale farming practices do not support soil health! Conventional pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers are toxic chemicals that not only contaminate produce, but have a marked detrimental effect on the earth. Both natural mineral content and populations of beneficial microorganisms are severely depleted by modern farming.

Interestingly, several of the populations studied by Price literally included ‘earth eating’ in their daily lives, selecting clays rich in minerals to both protect their guts from pathogens and supply beneficial microorganisms to the diet. One very simple way to ingest ‘dirt’ daily is to use Earthpaste, and simply swallow after you brush! Available in Peppermint, Spearmint, Cinnamon, Lemon Twist and Wintergreen, the flavours are quite palatable and contain a high amount of food-grade clay!

Because it is now next to impossible to source the vital soil-based microorganisms that our ancestors included in their daily fare, we felt that it was important to make a probiotic supplement available that includes them in abundance. Bearing this in mind, we were particularly impressed with the Garden of Life Primal Defence range. A wholefood, 12-strain probiotic blend, Primal Defence includes HSO’s (Homeostatic Soil Organisms) in the form of Bacillus subtilis. This bacteria has been used to ferment many traditional cultured foods for centuries, including the extremely nourishing Natto of Japan. It also contains Saccharomyces boulardii, a strain that supports the integrity of the epilthelial lining of the intestine, meaning that it both heals the gut wall and supplies important microorganisms to the gut. Primal Defence is shelf stable and is available in both powder and capsules. It is generally recommended that those with digestive troubles or sensitive stomachs begin with the powder and move on to the capsules, which are significantly more potent.

4. Who knows what else…?

Despite the advances of modern science, the realm of gut bacteria is still largely undiscovered. Exactly how and why populations of beneficial microorganisms can be disrupted is still largely unknown. In addition to the above factors, it may be yet to be proven that toxic household and bodycare products, environmental pollution and a whole host of other factors are at play. We could say that microbial imbalance is simply the result of modern life as we know it!

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