Nutritional Therapy:

How can it help?

The gut is an amazing place – it has an internal surface area of more than 300 square metres and there are approximately 150 types of bacteria which live there – millions of bacteria!

There is a major role played in health and disease by this bacterial population and our health can depend upon the composition of the bacteria in the gut. In good health friendly bacteria dominate and in poor health toxic or unfriendly bacteria take over from the beneficial bacteria. Undesirable bacteria can feed on undigested protein in the gut, produce dirty gunge, produce intestinal gas and increase toxicity in the body – not very pleasant! When undesirable bacteria dominate – natural health practitioners call this gut “dysbiosis”.

Many people today have an overgrowth of the yeast – Candida – which occurs naturally in our bodies and is usually kept under check. However with our poor food choices and medication such as antibiotics and chronic stress our friendly bacteria can no longer keep this yeast under control. Yeast overgrowth in our intestines can cause all sorts of symptoms such as bloating, thrush, food cravings especially for sugar and bread, fatigue, foggy head, reduce concentration and depression. As Candida can filter out into the blood and be circulated throughout the entire body it can cause symptoms in any part of our body both physical, emotional and mental.

Around 1907 Eli Metchnikoff observed that Bulgarian peasants who consumed large amounts of fermented milk exhibited greater than usual longevity and good health. In later years research showed that it was primarily through the multiplication of beneficial bacteria in the milk that the benefits were obtained.

We are exposed every day to hostile or undesirable bacteria through food and drink. To counterbalance these invaders you need to ensure a healthy level of “beneficial” bacteria.

    Unbalancing Factors
    The healthy level of good bacteria in the gut can be reduced by factors such as:
  • Poor diet – high in fat, protein, salt and sugar, low fibre and nutrients
  • Antibiotics – even one course can wipe out the good bacteria along with the bad bacteria
  • Other medications such as steroids, NSAID`s, chemo drugs and the pill
  • Foreign travel including diarrhoea and food poisoning
  • Stress
  • Digestive problems
  • High alcohol intake
  • Natural ageing process
  • Environmental pollution and radiation
  • So modern life can leave us very depleted in beneficial bacteria.

What are Probiotics
Probiotics are beneficial strains of naturally occurring bacteria and can come in various shapes and sizes and strengths with a single strain of bacteria or multiple strains. We can now find probiotics in powders, capsules, liquids and straws.

There are products manufactured especially for children and babies.

Children who are not breast fed do not receive high numbers of beneficial bacteria as they are passed on from the mother’s nipple, birth canal and breast skin. However beneficial bacteria passed on to the child will depend on the health of the mother and her levels of good bacteria.

A study conducted in Finland in 2001 found that giving mothers to be and newborn babies probiotic bacteria in foods such as yoghurt halved the likelihood of the child developing eczema.

By purposefully altering the bacterial population of the gut a wide range of health problems may be reduced, reversed or prevented

    Benefits of Probiotics - they can:
  • Compete with harmful bacteria such as Ecol, salmonella etc, by lowering their ability to colonise in the gut
  • Enhance digestion and promote digestive enzymes
  • Enhance nutrient absorption from food
  • Encourage peristalsis of the gut (movement of food along the intestines)
  • Help improve digestive problems such as constipation, bloating, IBS, crohns
  • Improves the response of the immune system and improved resistance to infections
  • Neutralise some toxins and help detoxify the bowel and the liver
  • Protect against food poisoning and traveller’s diarrhoea
  • Help reduce blood cholesterol
  • Help with hormonal balance
  • Help with food intolerances
  • Help with behavioural problems and ADHD
  • Help with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis

There is newer research which indicates that prebiotics can provide a better internal environment in the gut which feeds and supports the friendly bacteria. The word is generally defined as consisting of nondigestible food fibers which stimulate the growth and activity of certain bacteria in the intestines.

A poor gut environment may not even sustain good bacteria given in the form of probiotic capsules. So by initially taking prebiotic supplements and eating foods which contain prebiotics we can provide conditions in the gut to make probiotic supplements work better

Supplements can contain fructo-ol-oligosaccharides (FOS), inulin, psyllium and germinated barley foodstuff(GBF). Prebiotics foods include bananas, berries, asparagus, garlic, oatmeal, barley, flaxseeds, Jerusalem artichoke, onion, chicory, spinach, chard, kale, mustard greens, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils.

Take care of your friendly bacteria so they can take care of you!