The forgotten organ – The vital organ your doctor (likely) doesn’t know about


Your body is out populated 10:1 by living microbes. In fact depending on what paradigm you view this; you are more bacteria than you are human.

Both disease and wellness begin in the gut. Within is a delicate balance of about 100 trillion microflora, 10 times that of the human cells in the body.

Highly intelligent and sophisticated bacteria communicate with the gut wall, receiving information from the guts-brain (the enteric nervous system) as to what the nutritional requirements are.

Then bacteria and enterocyte’s (the cells that line your gut) set to work on supplying these nutrients to the body.  These helpful bacteria play a number of vital roles in the digestion of food; how we break down and absorb nutrients, how we react to foods, and importantly they support 80 percent of our immune system.

Bacteria produce vital nutrients including Vitamin K and Vitamin B7 (biotin).  They work by feeding off the foods that we eat and their excretions balance and maintain the pH of our gut, which is vital for health. Good bacteria require a lower pH than pathogenic bacteria to thrive. If your gut becomes too alkaline, pathogenic yeasts and bacteria can take over affecting overall health and the immune system.

I believe bacteria are the most underestimated health benefit of our time.  While we are only just beginning to truly understand just how vital a role bacteria play in the body, clinical trials around the globe are proving bacteria are instrumental in the reversal of many diseases and disorders.  While it is unknown how many types of bacteria there are, it is estimated to be between 500 to 1000 species all working in a harmonious symbiotic relationship to keep us, their host, healthy.

“When all is working well it is a marriage made in heaven, however when disease strikes this organ is usually suffering.”

Good bacteria need us to be healthy for their survival just as much as we need them to be healthy.  When all is working well it is a marriage made in heaven, however when disease strikes this organ is usually suffering.  Many naturopaths treat 80 perrcent of illness through correcting gut ecology. It is truly astounding what happens when we address this organ; it is the top of the pecking order in how we should treat illness.  Sadly modern medicine still has yet to come up to speed with this, which is today an extensively researched area.

Why our modern diet and modern medicine kills this organ
When antibiotics were first created, scientists knew we had non-pathogenic bacteria in our body.  However, consensus at the time was that it didn’t require investigation as these bacteria weren’t creating infectious diseases – they were belived to be too microscopic to have any effect over the host.  So these bacterium were forgotten and remained unstudied until now.  Scientists failed to ask that if they weren’t causing any harm, were they in fact contributing to health?

In 2012 some 200 researchers from 80 research intuitions complies the Human Microbiome Project Consortium and have used advanced DNA sequencing to identify the thousands of species, genus and strains.

Today we are aware that when there is enough bacteria in a colony, the ‘light bulb’ switches on and bacteria begin to work as a multi-celled organ.  They also ‘speak’ to one another through chemical messenging.  They have one type of language used amongst their own species like a secret code and another which enables them to communicate in a universal language amongst other bacterial species.  This communication is called quorum sensing and it essentially enables bacteria to function as a multi-celled organ.

Collectively bacteria are able to influence genetic expression.  This neglect in focusing on the healthy human microbiome has been possibly one of the biggest blunders in medical science.

Many commonly digested medicines and certainly modern processed foods destroy healthy gut flora.  Traditional diets and diets high in fermented foods maintain gut-flora health, while sugars and grains can destroy it.  The relevance of all this is that your gut bacteria are a vital organ requiring nurturing in order for you to remain healthy.

“This neglect in focusing on the healthy human microbiome has  been possibly  one of the biggest blunders in medical science.”

I have always believed this is an essential organ to protect. I have raised three daughters over the past 18 years and not once have any of them required a single course of antibiotics.  I have protected their gut flora (their immune system) and in return they have remained vitally healthy girls with gorgeous skin.  What is going on in your gut will show on your skin. Protect your inner ecology and it will reward you with a vibrant health and a glowing complexion and a body capable of anything.

Deborah Murtagh founded Whole Food Secrets, a nutrition and cookery school in rural Cambridge which also offers an online programme in nutrition and weight loss, and The Body Coaches, a nutrition consultancy dedicated to ketogenic dietary protocols for athletes, weight loss, cancer and chronic diseases.

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