Body Wisdom

Guardians of the human body – Microbiome Part 2

How does lifestyle impact the colony of the Microbiome?

In part 1 of this series, you learnt what are microbiomes and how they defend the body in many of the physical mental and emotional functions. In this part, we will understand how our lifestyle impacts the microbiome and their functions. What are the enemies of our friends and what creates weeds in their beautiful functional garden?

Autoimmune diseases and their cause

There are more than a hundred different types of autoimmune conditions today and it’s believed that the body’s immune system wages a war against its own healthy tissues, leading to chronic inflammation. Different autoimmune conditions may affect the same person. Such issues typically have the same cause but different manifestations and symptoms which is nothing but the normal immune system reacting to an abnormal trigger.

What has not been found so far is that instead of naming the bacteria that causes the issues, perhaps the absence of certain protectors will be the answer. In late 1950, Prof David Strachan a lecturer at the London school of hygiene and tropical medicine published papers in the British medical journal that laid the foundation for hygiene hypothesis’ and in 2003 Graham Rooke MD prof at professor of medical microbiology and immunology at University College London expanded on this concept with his ‘Old Friends hypothesis’, both of which suggested that the early exposure to germs resulted in lesser susceptibility to such diseases later in life.

Studies show that affluent societies with more exposure to modern lifestyles suppress the natural development of the human microbiota leading to auto-immune conditions unlike the lesser affluent countries, though they are on the rise here too. Although our ancestors in India may not have had a complete raw lifestyle, the absence of western fast foods and sophisticated super sanitized living conditions, the presence of Indian home-cooked unrefined and unprocessed meals kept them relatively protected.

Some of the common autoimmune issues are: -

  • Addison’s disease
  • Alopecia areata
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Diabetes (type 1)
  • Eczema
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Graves’ disease
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Juvenile arthritis
  • Lupus (SLE)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Polymyositis
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Scleroderma
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Urticaria
  • Vasculitis
  • Vitiligo

Factors affecting the microbiome

  • Role of food – “Food must nourish you, keep your system clean and let the body maintain homeostasis”. It means that the right MB colony should thrive with the right foods and without toxins and chemicals in processed foods.
  • The communications between the MB and human cells happen via the epithelial lining of the GUT.

“Good fences make good neighbours’ – Robert Frost”

A leaky gut is the cause of all the auto-immune conditions also called “Pathological intestinal permeability”. Dysbiosis (MB imbalance) tends to tear the intestinal permeability lining of the GUT. Though the body can fix itself back up multiple times, in some cases the tear may not close if the walls have weakened too much. This is why many people who are not born with food sensitives develop one later in their lives. There are very few case studies to show if they can tolerate the foods of the old lifestyle again, but there is definitely an improvement in the quality of life and symptoms they show after they switch to a healthy lifestyle.

When food containing proteins enters the GUT, it is broken down to the smallest unit called amino acids which are used for building muscles and repairing. If the GUT wall tear is big, the food in its non-broken-down state enters the bloodstream and this is where the auto-immune battle starts. The body produces antibodies to fight against these big sized macromolecules or the microbiome itself which are not supposed to be there. So, over many years due to a bad lifestyle, our bodies cannot tolerate many foods. This is how the body is helping to protect us against the damage we created. If the immune system is protecting itself against an attack to the bones, it’s called Rheumatoid Arthritis and if it’s the skin, it can be Eczema, Psoriasis, Vitiligo, if it’s the blood vessels it can be called Vasculitis. Names can be anything, but the cause is the same – A compromised GUT.

  • Gluten – Although gluten-free diets are considered to be a fad or intolerance to gluten dates back to thousands of years when man domesticated crops and started eating gluten found in wheat, barley, spelt and rye. Since then it has been crossbred and hybridized, processed and polished to increase the yield and decrease production costs which explains why a single dwarf Triticum species of wheat represents the wheat of the world. Lifestyle led dysbiosis have also made the bad bacteria feed on any wheat, in general, showing the same symptoms. Hence, gluten-based foods, in general, can also be a precursor to celiac disease. Hence removing gluten can address some of the symptoms of a leaky gut.

  • Dairy – People cannot tolerate dairy as we lack the enzyme to digest them because they are high in saturated fats and proteins ideally suited for baby cows. Commercially available dairy and its byproducts, don’t help much with the microbiome as the pasteurization kills off the so-called beneficial bacteria. The high quantity of hormones and antibiotics fed to maintain the output of milk by dairy farmers also affects the MB. The domesticated cows also feed on cheap soy or corn-based fodders that have altered their digestion process and also their microbiota.

  • Eggs – Any foreign protein from animals are acidic and are rich in phosphorus, Sulphur and nitrogen. Most animal proteins are irritants to the mucosa and cells of the body leading to an immune response. The more we consume, the more congested the body becomes. Eggs cause inflammation and a leaky-gut; feeds viruses, bacteria, yeast, mould, Candida and other fungi; and trigger edema in the lymphatic system.

  • Refined and processed foods –A sugary, starchy, high-fat diet including alcohols can send the bad bacteria into a feeding frenzy and encourage their growth while leaving the good ones to starve. Yeasts which breakdown foods are found in very low proportions in a healthy colon to help in the breakdown of foods. However, when they feed on the sugary and starchy foods, they multiply rapidly and ferment the food into alcohol and CO2. When they grow beyond control, we see issues such as UTI, depressions, candida overgrowth in the vaginal area and mouth. It’s just an epidemic of missing microbes or severe intestinal permeability when you see cases of Ulcerative Colitis, eczema, thyroid disorders, Vitiligo to name a few.

  • Probiotics and fermented foodsToday, the world celebrates over-the-counter probiotics and fermented foods made from grains, fruits and vegetables as a saviour for a compromised GUT. They believe that the bacteria in the fermented foods restore the flora of the GUT. This is a misconception. Fermented foods are from the time when refrigeration process was unheard of. Man would grow his food and survive on those he grew. In winters when the growth was impossible in harsher climates, they would store the fruits and vegetables in pots. This would not undergo complete decomposition but preserved the food to some extent also making it sour because of fermentation. In Russia, this is how cabbage sauerkrauts were created. Kimchi, kombucha, yoghurt have probiotics that feed on food that’s no longer alive. Many of these cannot complete the journey in the human GUT alive because of the hydrochloric acids. Probiotics in pasteurized yoghurt are all the more dead. It was a matter of survival for people to feed on fermented foods as opposed to feeding it for health reasons. The probiotics in fermented foods survive on decaying matter as opposed to life. In turn, they add to the rotting matter that’s already in there. Some eliminate severe symptoms of bloating, cramps pains when probiotics are fed and once they are flushed out, they become normal. If it does not cause severe symptoms, then the bacteria are not alive to tell the story.

The prebiotics are the living fruits, vegetables and greens which feed the beneficial bacteria in the GUT. Microgreens & sprouts which are closer to the soil have beneficial microorganisms on top of it that helps the GUT. They are unlike any bacteria seen in dead fermented foods.

  • Genetically modified – Crops that are widely consumed today are corn and soy which have been genetically modified to meet the demands among the other reasons stated. The Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a bacterium in the soil that creates a toxin to kill the insects. Bt toxin was genetically modified to work on corn crops so that it would do its specific job but does not affect humans when consumed. However, studies show genes inserted into genetically engineered foods can be transferred to our gut bacteria. So instead of being destroyed, the Bt toxin may actually be present and continually produced by organisms in our digestive tract causing a leaky gut.
  • Miscellaneous – Other products that impact the microbiome are MSG, canola oils, artificial flavours, citric acid as a preservative, processed sugars, fish, natural flavours, artificial sweeteners among the many.
  • Mental imbalance -Research says that mood-related disorders, psychiatric issues and stress can lead to poor gut-brain communications and can negatively affect the GUT bio-diversity by increasing the bad bacteria. A study from Ohio State University showed that stress affects the amount of mucus production in the stomach, which changes the composition, diversity, and amount of gut bacteria growing in the gut. It’s why when we are tired, and stressed, we are more likely to fall sick.
  • Type of birth -If babies go through normal delivery, the baby is exposed to a variety of flora from the mother’s vaginal tract and is smeared with all the bacteria that permeates its skin and creates a stronger environment as opposed to babies born via a c-sec. Off late, the doctors do something like a Pap smear and smear the body of the baby even if it’s not born vaginally due to various complications. That’s a way of artificially inducing the baby to get in touch with the environment. In fact, which gut bacteria you end up with maybe even more important than which genes you inherit because microbiome has known to play a major role in turning genes on/off in the DNA.
  • Role of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs – A compromised GUT can be as a result of drugs, lots of antibiotics, intermittent steroid use for inflammation. I have personally seen people taking antibiotics for months and years for acne who suffered unexplained issues as a side effect such as vaginal infections, hair loss and skin issues to name a few. In case of vaginal infections, while it will suppress the growth of the less desirable species, it will also further reduce the healthy bacterial population, leading to a vicious cycle of recurrence as I have seen in my own case and my clients.

After knowing about how our lifestyle can impact the microbiome and in turn cause ailments, read part 3 of this series to see how we can correct our lifestyles to reverse diseases.

(About myself: Formerly I was with the IT industry for 2 decades and also have my own venture on healthy vegan baking. I have suffered life-threatening allergies and survived twice. I learnt to heal naturally and applied the same on both my kids aged 13 &10. We as a family live a healthy, disease-free lifestyle. Based on my experience and what I have gained from reading, I help others in reversing their ailments naturally and holistically.)



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