Good bugs in the belly may prevent “bats in the belfry”

Most people don’t realize how very strong the connection is between the digestive tract and the brain. In my book, The Probiotic Cure, I review many scientific references regarding the importance of healthy probiotic bacteria in the intestines to good mental health and function. Recently, scientists have begun to suspect that a virus may be one of the causes of Alzheimer’s disease. What fights viruses? Your immune system! Where is 70% of that? In the intestinal tract!

In last week’s blog I discussed a number of health factors that have become more challenging since our parents and grandparents were young. One problem is that our microbiome has become less diverse. The “microbiome” is the entire collection of trillions of organisms in our gut. The speaker in one of the Ted Talks below offered a great example of how many bacteria each of us are host to. He said it is equivalent to all the blades of grass in a million football fields.

Diversity of strains is important because each one provides different benefits for us. For example, a recent study showed the importance of one strain for bone density in older women. (A Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotic study showed the same supportive effect many years ago.)  There are many reasons for the loss of diversity, some of which seem beyond our control but there some we can affect.

One key factor is the overuse of antibiotics in hospitals and especially “doc in the box” neighborhood medical clinics. One round of antibiotics can disrupt the gut balance for a year!!! So, it is smart to push back a bit when an antibiotic is prescribed. You want to make sure that the problem isn’t caused by a virus because those are not helped by an antibiotic. Sometimes doctors will go along with “watching and waiting”. (The immune section of the Library on has many natural ways to chase off infections.) We also get second hand antibiotics because the overuse in agriculture leaves residues of secondhand antibiotics in meat and dairy products that are not organic. The indiscriminate use of antibiotics has created strains of bacteria that are no longer killed by the drugs. Bacterial resistance is projected to kill more people than cancer by 2050. Insert frowny face.

We can support our good bugs by feeding them good foods. They especially like vegetables but, we have a way to go because fewer than 1 person in 10 eats the minimum 5 vegetables a day. Manufacturers are now adding probiotics to the most ridiculous foods. I say that junk food with added probiotics is still junk food. Yogurt is a source of a strain or two of bacteria. But, they don’t colonize and most have too much sugar, or perhaps worse, artificial sweeteners which kill bacteria.

There seem to be a bazillion probiotic supplements. From what I’ve seen, the vast majority are variations on a theme…they are composed of bacterial strains quick-cultured individually and then spun down to separate them from their dairy or soy food supply. That also breaks up families. They are then freeze-dried into a white powder and encapsulated. Once you swallow them, IF they survive to the gut, they need to first find food. What if they do not like what you had for lunch? Then they must compete for territory with the other strains in the capsule that they never saw before. Only then can they get to work for you creating “postbiotics” which is the magic. I promise you that probiotic gummies are the same type except with some additives that we don’t need.

My choice is the one of a kind Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics. It is created from 12 well-researched strains fermenting dozens of vegetables and superfoods for YEARS. The paste in the capsules contains the food supply, the live bacteria, and the wonderful health giving postbiotics they have been busy creating for years. Postbiotics can be hundreds of substances including enzymes, neurotransmitters, vitamins, immune signaling compounds, organic acids and so on. Check out this video of Dr. Ohhira’s fermentation facility – where science meets nature.

Resources to learn more.

Ted Talk – How microbes shape our world

Ted Talk – An amazing look inside our gut

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