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Nourishing the Gastrointestinal Tract


Modern day agricultural practices include the use of germicides, radiation and fungicides meant to kill harmful bacteria and other micro-organisms. They also kill beneficial bacteria, leaving our foodstuffs virtually sterile.

Modern day agricultural practices include the use of germicides, radiation and fungicides meant to kill harmful bacteria and other micro-organisms. They also kill beneficial bacteria, leaving our foodstuffs virtually sterile.

An unhealthy gastrointestinal (GI) tract plays a critical role in a wide variety of illnesses some with seemingly unrelated symptoms such as back pain, fatigue, headaches and depression.

Years of overeating poor quality foods, too little sleep, ingestion of alcohol, tobacco, coffee, drugs and other toxic substances all upset the delicate balance of the GI tract's intrinsic nervous system and alter the body's chemistry. Ultimately, this can result in a severely compromised gastrointestinal tract.

Everybody is different in regards to the strengths and weaknesses of their systems and the abuses to which they have been subjected. A thorough case history, physical examination and appropriate laboratory tests should be performed on each patient to identify these individual traits and address them thoroughly at their roots.

Allow for Rest

Continual overeating, use of stimulants (such as coffee) and the ingestion of toxic drugs (prescription and non-prescription) deplete the vital energies of the body. Drugs cannot restore energy to the GI tract; rather, they deplete it. All drugs have toxic effects and the body must expend energy in trying to neutralize and eliminate them. Coffee, alcohol, tobacco and junk food are included in this category. The body will ultimately break down unless given the opportunity to recover its energies.

To utilize the nutrients in our food, digestion, absorption, assimilation, cellular excretion and elimination of wastes are all called into play. This requires the expenditure of significant amounts of energy. To continually eat when the GI tract is not functioning properly is equivalent to exercising with a torn muscle or walking on a broken leg.

It becomes evident that a reduction in food is called for. One may begin with an appropriate liquid diet or a fast, depending on the nature and extent of the illness. I generally prefer starting patients on a short fast or liquid diet with careful supervision and also require that they conserve energy in every manner.

Establish Healthy Bacteria

The gastrointestinal tract is a delicate environment in which billions of micro-organisms and ingested materials interact with lifestyle factors, working for or against the establishment of a healthy internal environment.

Health-promoting intestinal bacteria (known collectively as probiotics) assist in digestion and absorption. They synthesize nutrients (including B vitamins and vitamin K), influence the production of immune factors, protect against disease-producing organisms and are involved with gastric pH. They further promote the health of the intestinal membrane, increase our resistance to food poisoning and provide a host of other functions.

Pathogenic (disease-producing) bacteria interfere with digestion and utilization of nutrients. They produce toxic waste materials and may cause or contribute to a myriad of disease conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, ankylosing spondylitis, cancer, dermatological disorders, constipation and diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease and allergies.

Approximately 400 different types of bacteria live in the small and large intestines, although the majority is comprised of about 20 species, all of which are in a constant battle for dominance. This serves to keep the disease-producing bacteria from gaining the upper hand, but only if the environment is conducive to the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Some specific factors that disturb and limit healthy bacterial growth (thus promoting the growth of pathogens) include the use of antibiotics, antacids, laxatives, steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), excessive sugar and carbohydrate intake, and long-term stress.

Imbalanced Bacteria

It used to be that human beings acquired these necessary probiotic bacteria, inherent in soil, from the foods they ate. Our ancestors were not so fastidious in their practice of washing and scrubbing off every speck of dirt before consuming vegetables; carrots pulled from the ground were simply brushed off and eaten. With every root and vegetable they removed from the soil and every fruit they picked up from the ground came millions of microorganisms. Once ingested, these able allies did battle with disease-producing bacteria, viruses, yeasts, moulds and fungi in the gastrointestinal tract.

Modern day agricultural practices, however, include the use of germicides, radiation and fungicides meant to kill harmful bacteria and other micro-organisms. In so doing, they also kill the beneficial bacteria, leaving our foodstuffs virtually sterile.

Probiotic supplements on the health market today can be very helpful in replacing those much-needed soil organisms. However, most of the popular probiotic formulas contain billions of organisms in the hope that a few might survive the stomach acids and digestive fluids to reach the small and large intestines. Formulas containing homeostatic soil organisms (HSOs) offer highly stable, viable micro-organisms able to survive their arduous journey to the intestines.

Since humans have been ingesting HSOs for millions of years, the body recognizes them and therefore does not attack them. Once implanted, HSOs compete with and crowd out pathogens in the gut, working to displace them. Another significant advantage in taking homeostatic soil organisms in supplemental form is avoiding unwanted parasites and other harmful materials possibly found in the dirt in your backyard, while still benefiting from the HSOs themselves.

A pilot study conducted at the Goldberg Clinic involved 16 subjects between the ages of 20 and 65 with a variety of chronic digestive and immune disorders. The subjects were placed on a protocol of HSOs for 120 days. Subjects were selected based on the types of difficulties they were having and on the highly resistant nature of their problems to both medical treatments and alternative/complementary care. All had been ill for a minimum of three years, with several having complex health problems dating back 10 years and longer.

Subjects were evaluated by changes measured via laboratory analysis and by subjective feedback from the subjects regarding changes in their conditions. Fifteen of 16 reported clinical improvement with relief of symptoms and positive changes in overall well-being. Eight of nine subjects had a reduction in candida (yeast) overgrowth verified by tests. Three subjects who had suffered from long-term chronic constipation with laxative dependency were able to move their bowels daily without the use of laxatives.

Four patients who had been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome reported freedom from their symptoms at the end of the 120-day period. An additional three subjects with chronic irritable bowel syndrome reported between 25 to 100 percent improvement. One woman with a chronic pulmonary fungal infection of several years' duration reported a dramatic improvement in her ability to breathe along with significant improvement in her spirometer readings as evaluated by her medical pulmonologist. Particularly notable were the improvements seen in three subjects with chronic asthma who were able to reduce their inhalant medications by 50 per cent or more during the 120-day study period.

Prevent Reoccurrences

Many individuals still believe in "cures" in the sense that once well, they can return to the habits that first made them ill. If this happens, initially the patient will notice little difference, for the body had been able to set aside some reserves to cope with a limited amount of abuse. However, the gastrointestinal tract, like other body systems, can only take so much abuse for so long before health conditions are created that may not always be easily reversed.

The good news is that the combination of homeostatic soil organisms along with proper dietary practices can ultimately result in the successful reestablishment of a balanced, healthy gastrointestinal tract, the elimination of yeast overgrowth, a significant increase in the body's ability to absorb nutrients and an increase in overall energy and well-being.



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Leah PayneLeah Payne