The Friends in our Gut

Nevaby Neva Bodin

Gut bacteria. Something most of us try not to think about. But, is it thinking about us?

A person has an average of ten trillion cells that make us “shape up” into a person. About ten times that many bacteria live in our digestive system, mostly in the intestine.

Studies are linking depression, anxiety, allergies and illness to the types and numbers of our gut bacteria. Also, Type I diabetes, obesity and many auto-immune diseases may be linked to the type or lack of bacteria present in a person. One article I read even suggested autism may be a result of lack of the right gut bacteria or intestinal flora. Now I read an article saying memory seems affected by antibiotics killing off these helpful microorganisms.

When we are born, we are bacteria free. Natural births, where babies pass through the birth canal, start our bacteria farm. Breast milk adds some new breeds of bacteria. It has long been known that babies born by C-Section do not have the same immune response as those born without. As humans grow, contact with dirt, pets, and our world in general adds more bacteria. The majority of our immune cells live in the intestine.

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Sometimes we say someone “has a big gut,” but do we think about what lives in that gut?

Wow—just think of the possible sci-fi stories that could be created around the preservatives in food mutating a bacteria that creates a super-monster individual? (Sorry, off the subject, but a mutant brain cell fired there—probably triggered by one of my bacteria.)

I think we were created with things we need to be healthy and wise, I’m not sure about the wealthy part unless you define wealth as non-monetary. Since we are created bacteria free, a clean slate so to speak, our environment has a lot to do with what we can digest and how we react to it.

I grew up on a farm. We drank raw milk, as it’s now called. I prefer “natural” milk. We hand milked and so bits of dust (won’t say from where) landed in the pail. When done, it was strained by a special filter put in the strainer of the milk separator. (We sold cream for grocery money.) The milk came out white, so it was “clean” and we drank it. I do not believe that filter caught any bacteria. What if those bacteria, which came from the cow, actually helped digest the milk that also came from that cow? I met a young person who was allergic to pasteurized milk, but not raw milk one day.
Our water came from a hand dug well with a wooden casing. (I also read an article recently in a science magazine saying bacteria that can kill some of our heartiest microorganisms making us sick have been discovered in dirt.) We all drank from a communal dipper in a pail of water that stood by the basin of water which we all washed our hands in. Obviously, the bacteria in everyone in our family was related.

“Most of our resident gut bacteria are real workhorses. Some aid in digestion and produce enzymes to break down foods. Others make vitamins, like B12 and K, and other vital compounds, such as the feel-good chemical serotonin. A few help keep the intestinal lining impenetrable. Some gut bacteria help regulate metabolism. And others boost immunity and fight pathogens.”

http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/how_good_gut_bacteria_could_transform_your_health?page=2How Good Gut Bacteria Could Transform Your Health

By Gretel H. Schueller, “The Wild World Within,” July/August 2014

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A lactobacillus in yogurt

Now we eat food with preservatives, wash with antibacterial soap, are encouraged to disinfect everything in our reach with disinfectant wipes, drink water fraught with bacteria killing chemicals, and give our young children antibiotics as they grow.

How do we get healthy bacteria growing in our digestive system? A new age of taking probiotics seems to have emerged. I have seen people helped with these additives. I have a friend who was told to take them for the rest of his life after sections of color were removed because of cancer. They surely rectify some of the damage we’ve done to our little friends in our gut.

But, fructan and cellulose fibers, found in raw fruits and vegetables help cultivate healthy bacteria according to the aforementioned article. Jeff Leach, written about in the article, says the toughest parts are the best and touts a Leek as a great example for changing to healthy bacteria. Heat destroys fiber.

We are what we eat.

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19 Responses to The Friends in our Gut

  1. Leave it to a nurse to talk about digestion! LOL I still find it difficult to “eat healthy” — I love junk food! But, I get fresh fruits and veggies from Bountiful Baskets at least once a month, and I do find those item quite tasty! If I could only get my dentist to remove that sweet tooth I have….HA! Interesting piece, Neva — I am sure my mother shares similar farm experiences with you as her dad raised dairy cows.

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      Yeah, I knew it was out of the writer’s realm to talk about gut bacteria…but writers obviously write about it as I found numerous articles online too. I find it difficult to give up sweets also, got lots of “crowns” in my “royal” teeth, but apparently don’t have the sweet one covered on me either!

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  2. Wranglers says:

    Neva, I’ve been reading about the same things. I’ve added Probiotics to my daily pills. If I could just remember to take them. LOL My son, when he was a year old, used to love to eat sand. I would make him stop of course, but when I asked the doctor, he said it wouldn’t hurt him, and no he wasn’t lacking anything he just liked it. When I grew up we even stopped at a spring that was collected in bricked in vessel, it had a tin cup there and we all drank from it, and so did many other people who traveled the same cup. My friends and I all shared the same bottle of RC Cola. None of those things ever hurt us. This seems pretty gross to today’s generation. Thanks for the info. Cher’ley

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      I have a feeling with all the eating out we all do, we are ingesting and digesting many things we don’t know about! I have found some interesting things in my food in restaurants after already tasting the food…. We must swap some bacteria when we kiss others! However, I don’t believe our environment helps us grow healthy ones as much as it should. Hence, the increase in autoimmune diseases. I have given probiotics to members of my family at times too when things seem out of balance and they definitely helped some.

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  3. I never thought of bacteria as being friendly. Thanks for sharing this.

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      You are welcome. We usually hear about the bad guys and not the good, don’t we? Just like in the newspaper! And I think most of us like to think we are the only inhabitants of our bodies. Ha. We are outnumbered actually….

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Doris says:

    Neva,
    I’ve been following this discussion for some time. I take those probiotics with some success. (Spent most of my formative years in the hospital and took major amounts of antibiotics.)
    Thank you for a very informative post. Appreciate it. Doris

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      You’re welcome Doris. I think it’s such an important thing to realize now. I knew a lady who had her colon rupture and took massive amounts of antibiotics afterward also, then had abdominal pain no one could find a reason for, until a surgeon told her to take probiotics, and her pain went away. That’s what got me doing some research. We have changed and manipulated our foods and environment so much in the last 30-40 years.

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  5. I found this very interesting Neva. I can see that you researched it well and I enjoyed finding out things I didn’t know. I grew up drinking milk on the farm and probably the thing I miss the most about those days was dipping your finger into cookie dough or cake batter or licking the spoon. Not today – we’ve been warned – darn!

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      I still eat and taste and lick raw cookie dough, cake batter etc. Just can’t give up licking that spoon or the beaters. IN fact, did that today as I baked chocolate cake, banana bars and bread. Grew up eating the cracked eggs too, the good ones had to be sold. I researched and I think less than 1% of people get sick from raw eggs. Opera singers used to swallow raw eggs before a performance, at least some of them did, I knew one of them. However, I do recognize the way most chickens/eggs farms are handled now, with thousands in a closed and close environment, diseases are more rampant.

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  6. Mike Staton says:

    Fascinating post, Neva. I’ve often thought — and I think many of the scientific studies over the years and decades are pointing this way — that all these preservatives, etc. are the leading causes of increased cancer. Back in the day, if I took too long to eat a loaf of bread for half-gallon of milk, it would spoil. Now the stuff seems to last forever. I loved eating cookie dough and icing too, just like Linda. I go through spells of eating microwave dinners… I wonder what they’re doing to me.

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      I’m curious about microwaving stuff too. Have seen the email with the plant that died after being watered with microwave water… So, I microwave very little. Maybe a leftover, but popping something in the oven to rewarm it only takes about 10 minutes or even on top the stove. Would love to see some real studies on how it might change food or the enzymes/bacteria in it. I ate a lot of microwave stuff when working in another city for 4 years and had only a sleeping room and microwave. Got real tired of most of them pretty fast. The lasagna held up pretty well. Thanks for commenting.

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  7. Thanks for the informative post, Neva. I have made a point lately to take probiotics and I don’t know if it helps or not but I take one every morning. I seem to have less problems with my digestive system. I buy the refrigerated kind from Whole Foods.

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    • Neva Bodin says:

      Yeah, I think the refrigerated kind are probably the best. I see Walmart is carrying them on the shelf now too. I do know personally of a few people who are helped with abdominal pain or food allergies by taking them. Glad they seem to help you too. There are various choices of types, amounts and kinds now. Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Nancy Jardine says:

    Neva- I also think that young children need to be exposed to bacteria around them (without living in a truly filthy environment), in the hope that it will bolster their immune systems. I’ve always had a very varied diet and have hoped that it would keep my ‘gut’ good. However, I recently read that my large glass of orange juice first thing in the morning might not be the best thing to recduce tummy fat since pressed and processed juice has lost most of its goodness and has too many natural sugars (per serving) for the stomach to process at the start of the day. I totally love my early OJ, so I think I’ll have to work harder and use a juicer to press real oranges – but I’m lazy first thing! I’ll also eat more muesli (which I love as well) and wholegrains early to combat that sugar blip!
    …Or maybe I’ll just not obsess about it and eat less over the course of the day and also exercise. 😉

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  9. katewyland says:

    What I think is fascinating is the concept of a second brain in our gut. From a recent article: “This mind-gut connection is not just metaphorical. Our brain and gut are connected by an extensive network of neurons and a highway of chemicals and hormones …” Who would have thought?

    I discovered probiotics several years ago. When I finally got the right dose, it made a huge difference. I don’t go anywhere without them.

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  10. Joe Stephens says:

    This was a fascinating post. I considered taking probiotics to help with acid reflux, but my doctor friend said yogurt and more fruit and vegetables would help enough. I’ve done that and it seems to be helping a lot.

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  11. Kathy Waller says:

    Interesting post. I knew gut bacteria are good, but I didn’t know how many conditions they’re linked with. I’ve read that because most children today don’t get to play in the dirt, they have more allergies and other health problems. I’m glad I got to play in the sandbox and make mud pies. I still had a lot of allergies, but I also had fun.

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  12. S J Brown says:

    It seems that with all our advances over the last several decades we are going backwards. Our parents and grandparents didn’t have a need for probiotics, hand sanitizers, and specialized water. As kids we made mud pies, drank out of the hose and ate veggies right out of the garden. Back then processed foods were non existent and nobody ever heard of GMO’s. It’s a shame we can’t all return to those days. I think we would be a lot happier and healthier.

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