It seems that almost everywhere you look and read these days regarding health, a story about the gut, leaky gut or microbiome pops up and drags in your attention. It’s a really hot topic, one that is unregulated and one that we as chiropractors can do loads with when we know enough about it. It’s very important to note that just because a health reporter says so, or that someone famous on TV recommends a gut program, this doesn’t necessarily confer safety, efficacy or reason to use and recommend it.
The public, commercially interested groups and medicine have done a very good job limiting the microbiome discussion to just the GUT, however in reality, the microbiome refers to all and any micro-organism that resides in or on us from birth till death. Recently some discussion has emerged that suggests that the microbiome is adaptive and despite the introduction to the world via vaginal birth or C-section, the microbiota of the infant is established over a period as long as 2 years, but importantly it’s the environment of the infant – in the home and surrounds – that most probably determines how rapidly and effectively the microbiomes is established.
The microbiome refers to a state of magical homeostasis, that even till now, have very limited understanding, to the extent of ‘what does a healthy microbiome look like’ and ‘what is the perfect microbiome’ neither of these questions can yet be fully answered. But what we do understand is that there are strains of micro-organisms (flora) that have been identified as being effective in the treatment and management of various conditions including, asthma, hay fever, eczema, colds and flu, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity and more. The important thing to be aware of here clinically speaking is that generic strains are not always as effective as the researched strains. To give an example.
The family of Kristof’s includes a year 11 student, a Human Resources Director, a Chiropractor, a Naturopath, a Nutritionist, a QANTAS pilot, a 2 year old infant, a 4 year old infant and a pregnant flight attendant. It has been shown scientifically that the specific strain of Kristof that can affect the nervous system through a chiropractic adjustment is the Chiropractor Strain, known as Damian Kristof Chiropractor. Though from the same family, the Damian Kristof strain, is not good at flying planes, managing HR nor having babies!
The same applies for strains of bacteria – just because Lacto-Bacillus AcidophilusPlantarum exists in a supplement, it is the 299v strain that does the heavy lifting managing IBS. This applies across the board in the management of all conditions– the specific strain is important.
Also, incredibly important is the role of parasites… its not yet understood the role of parasites in the gut, though in a symptomatic patient, their removal may be lifesaving and beneficial, the most common types of parasite being found these days apart for giardia such as threadworm, BlastocystisHominus and DientamoebaFragilis may infact be resident due to a reduced symbiosis of commensal flora in the gut. Their presence may merely indicate the opportunity to reside due to a dysbiotic condition caused by other environmental factors such as gut cleanses, antibiotic use, contraceptive pill use and antimicrobial cleaning chemicals used in household cleaning. Whilst there is a human tendency to KILL the alien, sometimes its wiser to understand first why it is there and perhaps love the aliens out or to death, rather than to drop a nuclear bomb on them (metaphorically speaking). To this end should we be eating fermented food every day? How much? And is Kimchi better than Sauerkraut?
All fermented foods bring with them micro-organisms that potentially have a role in the micro-biome of a healthy person. The timing of their introduction is very important. Giving a sick person with leaky gut a prescription for probiotics or fermented foods may in fact do more harm than good. Doing a gut repair program if done incorrectly, may also create dire consequences, and it’s important to understand that fermented food is used not in place of fresh veggies, but also with fresh veggies and fruits. In other words, in a healthy, mainly well individual, fermented foods should be well tolerated and may offer some benefit, in healing the gut though, it’s important to ensure that your patients don’t have leaky gut before you go and recommend any introduction to the microbiome orally. To investigate this all properly, if you suspect leaky gut, test for it using an intestinal permeability assay. If you suspect infection in the gut, test for it before treating it. There is nothing more worrisome than a practitioner treating something that they assumed was there.
Chiropractor | Naturopath | Nutritionist
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