'Tid-Bits' of Health

Sylvia Harral, left, and Michele Stewart

A few weeks ago we explored the “Garden Within”, the beneficial bacteria that live in our intestines. Then we had an introduction to “Fat-Burning” and how our body either burns or stores fat. Today, I want to bring these two topics together and show what part the bacteria play in our weight management.

Our “Garden Within” is made up of more than a thousand different kinds of “plants”. These plants are called “Probiotics”, “Beneficial Bacteria”, or “Gut Flora”. The whole garden is called our “Microbiome.” Each strain of bacteria does a specific job that’s necessary to produce an abundantly healthy life. If we don’t have all the different strains in our body, our life and health suffers in some way.

The bacteria are responsible for getting the nutrition out of the food we eat. They extract vitamins and make other nutrients as well. They control our food cravings. They run a “Hormone-Hot-Line” directly to the brain telling the brain when to turn on the “I’m Hungry” switch and when to turn it off. If we don’t have the correct bacteria, it becomes more difficult to control cravings. If we feed the wrong bacteria, we won’t get the correct message to the brain either.

The beneficial bacteria also manufacture about 95% of the body’s supply of serotonin, says Dr. Jack Tips, Ph.D., C.C.N. in his new book “Microbiome: New Discoveries in the Micro Universe”. Serotonin, in turn, influences our moods, memory, learning, and digestion.

Our microbiome is responsible for communicating with our immune system. Some beneficial bacteria make natural antibiotics for the white blood cells to use in controlling pathogens. The natural antibiotics do not destroy other members of the microbiome like the commercial antibiotics do. The natural ones work within the control of the “immune soldiers”, the white blood cells. Dr. Jack Tips says that “80 percent of the human immune system is in the intestines where the external world collides with the internal environment. The primary regulator of immunity is the 80-trillion bacterium in the gastro intestinal tract! Not the thymus, not the brain, not even the intestines – but the bacteria!”

They help keep inflammation under control. Inflammation is, as Time Magazine labeled it, “The Secret Killer” which causes Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Inflammation is also the root cause of chronic-degenerative autoimmune diseases.

Our intestinal Microbiome has a lot to do with our weight. There is a strain of bacteria, called firmicutes, which are extremely good at producing sugar. They will eat anything and turn it into sugar. Firmicutes drive the blood sugar through the roof with their efficiency. Insulin levels are raised and the brain is not told to turn off the “I’m Hungry” switch. The body often becomes insulin resistant and resistant to losing fat weight as well. “Obese people often have more firmicutes,” Dr Tips says.

Now, let’s address how we acquire our microbiome and how it gets damaged. The first inoculation of our microbiome comes to us as we pass through the birth canal. The second inoculation comes from colostrum in breast milk. Babies that are born cesarean and bottle fed with formula have a more difficult time thriving in perfect health. When we take antibiotics without following up with probiotics, we “trade acute, life-threatening pathogenic activity for chronic, degenerative inflammation,” Dr. Tips says.

Pathogenic (disease producing) bacteria and viruses are like weeds in the garden. When it’s time to remove the weeds, do we use a lawn mower? Antibiotics often treat the “Garden Within” like a lawnmower. It’s difficult to remove the “weeds” that way without destroying the “plants” as well.

What can we do to repair our damaged microbiome? There are five steps, and we will cover them in the Gut Garden Workshop. Michele and I will give you the tools and skills for building a healthy microbiome naturally. You will learn four self-tests to see the extent of intestinal damage from the “weeds”. Removing the weeds is followed by repairing the intestine wall. Then the “garden” is replanted and reinforced and the self-tests are redone to verify success in healing the microbiome. I watched a client’s allergies go away last week along with an improvement in energy. The $97 enrollment fee includes tests and materials, recipes, and lunch. Workshop date is Saturday April 25, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at 379 N. Hockett, Porterville. Call 202-9105.

Until next week … take charge.

Sylvia J. Harral is a digestive health specialist and Michele Stewart is a pilates master trainer. They each have more than 15 years experience. Send your questions by e-mail to familyhelm@hotmail.com; by mail to Family HELM Health Center, 379 N. Hockett St., Porterville, CA, 93257; or by phone at 202-9105.

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