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PROBIOTICS & WELLBEING: THE SCIENCE OF GOOD GUT FLORA (IE. FLORA = BACTERIA+YEAST)

AUTHOR: CAROLINE ZANELLI, NUTRITIONAL MEDICINE (NUTRITIONIST) AT BOUNCEREHAB


PART 1:

WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS AND WHY DO WE NEED THEM?


The term probiotic literally means ‘for life’ which is probably why it’s so important that they are included in our daily diet. Probiotics are live microorganisms, which are thought to have a beneficial effect on health, which include balancing our good to bad bacteria ratio. They are often referred to as our “friendly bacteria or our good gut flora”.



So why do we need probiotics?

Well let’s first take a step back and look at our internal make-up. Interestingly our bodies are already made up of a combination of different bacteria and yeasts, both pathogenic (bad arse) and beneficial (awesome) types, and this is referred to as our body’s microbiota or microbiome.


Amazingly, the total microorganisms that are present in the gut are in excess of 100 trillion microbial cells and are estimated to weigh more than 1kg in an average adult (1). That’s a lot of bacteria!

Our bodies work best when our good bacterium outweighs or at least balance the bad, however sometimes our microbiota can become unbalanced and there can be an excess of harmful bacteria. Worryingly, this has been associated with an increase in metabolic and immune disorders (2) and there has been an abundance of research to suggest that an imbalanced microbiota has a role in autoimmune conditions such as crohns disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis. In addition, the latest research also suggests it affects some cancers and can play a role in obesity, depression and stress.


Other factors that affect the balance of our microbiota are gestational age, mode of delivery (natural birth or caesarean section) diet, hygiene and antibiotic exposure .

Some of these factors we can’t change or control but others such as diet and hygiene are key to a balanced microbiota and therefore the prevention of disease.

Antibiotic exposure can cause problems as while they wipe out the pathogenic bacteria, they also take out the ‘good guys’ too. This can result in antibiotic associated diarrhoea and/or secondary infections such as thrush.

Thrush occurs in approximately 1 in 4 women following antibiotic use !


Taking probiotics during and after antibiotic therapy is an absolute must but we’ll talk about this more in the supplement section.

A healthy microbiome is so important that researchers are now starting to refer to the microbiome as its own organ of the body.

To demonstrate this further, this next fact might make you feel a little squeamish but it’s pretty amazing! Let’s take the example of kidney failure; if all other treatment fail you may have to have a transplant to replace this organ. Well the ‘microbiome organ’ is no different and currently the only way to transfer one person’s healthy microorganism to another is through a faecal microbiota transplant!


PART 2: 

Faecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT)…

AMAZING PROBIOTIC SHIT COMING UP NEXT I PROMISE!


You may think this sounds a little far-fetched but it’s cutting edge and happening today with a great success rate in digestive disorders.

To find out more about faecal microbiota transplants visit these two sites and continue to read on:

http://www.cdd.com.au

http://www.probiotictherapy.com.au/pages/concept.html 


Oh and please, don’t try this at home!


What is an FMT?

FMT (Faecal Microbiota Transplantation) uses normal ‘healthy’ human flora introduced into the patients bowel to ‘kill’ the bad bacteria. Wow, now that’s an innovation !

The use of healthy human flora appears to be the most effective probiotic treatment available today. Healthy human flora acts as a ‘broad spectrum antibiotic’ against pathogens with the added benefit of being able to implant missing bacteria.

FMT therapy involves the infusion of healthy human donor flora bacteria into the bowel of the patient. The infusion is repeated for at least 5 days or longer. The therapy includes a special low fibre diet prior to infusion and a course of antibiotics to kill off as many bad bacteria as possible before infusion.

Killing off ‘bad’ bacteria before infusion gives the newly introduced ‘good’ bacteria a better chance of re-establishing dominance. Preparation also includes a bowel washout prior to infusion.