Conventional doctors have largely ignored the immensity of stomach bacteria and the gut microbiome’s role in our overall health – this despite volumes of research advocating the efficacy of the 70 trillion microbes (more than the stars in the Milky Way) that live in our digestive tract.
Perhaps this oversight has something to do with a Mayo Clinic study that shows 88 percent of patients are misdiagnosed. Or the National Academy of Medicine report that just about everyone will receive an incorrect or late diagnosis at least once in their lives. Or Research showing that diagnostic errors contribute to 10 percent of patient deaths. That means death by diagnosis kills more people than Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, suicide, and car accidents combined.
“The existing medical establishment is responsible for killing and permanently injuring millions of Americans,” says natural health expert Dr. Joseph Mercola.
In addition to the misdiagnosis epidemic, one could argue that conventional medicine’s indifference to stomach bacteria in our gut microbiome is partially responsible for the surge in chronic illness that accounts for almost 50 percent of Americans who have at least one chronic disease. Then there are the strong medications like antibiotics that conventional doctors dole out like Tic Tacs. Antibiotics have not only wreaked havoc on our microbiomes, they’ve also created devastating superbugs in the process.
The term microbiome was coined by Nobel Laureate American molecular biologist Joshua Lederber who described it as “the ecological community of commensal, symbiotic, and pathogenic microorganisms that literally share our body space and have been all but ignored as determinants of health and disease.”
We acquire our first microbes at birth as we leave the sterile conditions of the womb. After that, scientists believe that our first three to five years of life are essential to establish the microbiome with a composition unique to each person that changes through life as does our environment.
Big Pharma Isn’t Helping
Certified holistic health coach Michael Tamez believes pharmaceutical companies are at least partially responsible for doctors responding to questions about stomach bacteria with sideways smiles.
“Doctors are pressured by the pharmaceutical industry to push their legal drugs,” says Tamez.
In fact, according to ProPublica, many doctors are being paid by the same drug companies whose medicine they prescribe. Companies are laying out about $2 billion in general payments to 618,000 physicians per year to cover everything from promotional speaking and consulting to gifts.
The Daily Beast calls Big Pharma “America’s New Mafia.”
Changing Of The Health Guard
In addition to studies already completed, there were over 800 registered clinical trials (as of the first of the year) taking a look at how stomach bacteria that can help us treat human diseases, according to Labiotech.eu.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, a board-certified infectious disease physician at the University of Pittsburgh, believes the microbiome “holds many answers” to health and disease.
“Almost daily new research is announced linking dysbiosis (microbial imbalance) to many disease processes from infections to cancer to neurological diseases,” says Adalja.
The studies, research, and trials are of particular interest to practitioners of holistic and functional medicine who recognize the connection between good health and healthy gut microbiomes. They also recognize diet and lifestyle modalities as key factors to a balanced gut microbiome as well as supplements such as molecular hydrogen and Just Thrive probiotics.
And now there is also another tool: The Gut Intelligence Test that analyzes a stool sample to determine microbial balance, as well as what gut microorganisms are actually doing. Based on the result, supplements are recommended along with foods to eat (or not eat) to improve overall health including having more energy, better moods, improved skin, and sounder sleep.
Beyond The Physical
Leading experts deem gut health and the gut microbiome a new frontier in neuroscience. Among holistic practitioners, this “brain in your gut” concept is revolutionizing medicine’s understanding of the links between digestion, mood, health and even the way we think.
Not only can impairments in your microbiome promote neurological diseases, but they can also have a powerful impact on your general mood, according to Mercola.
“Depression is increasingly starting to be viewed as a symptom of poor gut health,” says Mercola.
Certified integrative nutrition coach Connie Rogers says research now tells us that cognitive diseases that could benefit from a healthier gut microbiome include:
The autism/gut microbiome nexus is particularly telling. For decades, researchers have noted that about 75 percent of people with autism also have a gastrointestinal abnormality. This has led to several recent studies that show the microbiome of autistic people differs significantly from control groups.
“Unfortunately, medical professionals may not let you in on what can truly help heal your mental health,” says Rogers.
Thomas Ropp Longtime journalist Thomas Ropp is an environmental advocate and proponent of living healthier. After spending most of his life in Arizona, he relocated to a Costa Rican rainforest ten years ago and helped with reforestation projects to expand the habitat of the endangered mono titi monkey. He has dual residency in the United States and Costa Rica.
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