May 28, 2011 By Dr.
When you think about it there are so many ways we use the word gut.
We use our “gut” to describe a lot of the things we feel. You need to have guts
to try something new… you can bust a gut laughing… your gut tells you when
something is right.
We are learning that there may be more reason to use the word in these ways than
For example, a brand new study finds that your “gut” may control your organs.
What happens in your gut appears to activate your liver, and benefit your
kidneys, colon, digestive tract, blood plasma, metabolism and reproductive
More on the study in a minute, but first, let me explain what makes this
Feeling the Flora Connection
Inside your digestive system there are millions of little workers that are very
busy protecting you. They keep you from getting infections, and help you digest
your food and turn it into vitamins.
They’re tiny microorganisms called “flora.” You get them at birth, and they stay
with you your whole life.
Your flora stay ready in your gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts to help
activate your immune system.
They are experts at killing the deadly bacteria that can get into your body
through the air and your food like E coli, salmonella and strep.
There are 400 different types of friendly little workers in your gut, and you
may have heard of a few of them.
One, called H. pylori, keeps your hunger in check so you don’t get fat.
Two others, L. acidophilus and B. bifidus seem to give you the most benefit.
They can help rebuild your population of other types of friendly gut flora. And,
these two may also produce B vitamins like niacin, folic acid, biotin, and B6,
as well as vitamin K.
Without these vitamins, you wouldn’t be able to stay calm and relaxed, have
strong bones, clear arteries, a sharp memory, normal hormones, or energy to get
through the day.
If you’re a woman, you have flora in your reproductive tract, too. It makes
lactic acid that protects you from infectious yeasts like Candida.
But the new study takes the benefits of flora to another level.
Researchers found that these millions of hard workers do even more than they
They took mice that had no flora at all, and put them in an environment where
they could build up normal levels. They planned to study them for 20 days.
It only took 5 days for the mice to fill out to a normal size. And their livers
started to properly turn sugars and starches into energy. The flora also
strongly stimulated an enzyme needed to keep cholesterol levels normal.(1)
In fact, the flora had a positive effect on every organ and body system the
researchers looked at.Â
And these microorganisms might be some of the best defenders and allies we have
against the lightning-fast changes forced on our bodies by the modern world.
Scientists are even starting to use flora like this to help plants biodegrade
different kinds of pollution. (2)
I always knew the flora in your gut were a vital part of your metabolism and
good health, which is why I seldom prescribe antibiotics in my practice.
Antibiotics wipe out all the flora in your gut so you lose the protection they
give you. And it’s especially dangerous to overuse antibiotics. Overuse has
created “superbugs” that your flora can no longer protect you from.
Healthy flora is also one of the reasons I recommend eating grass-fed beef.
Because of the drive for profit in the cattle industry, ranchers have switched
from feeding the animals their native diet of grass to feeding them cheap
grains, corn, soy and wheat because that makes the animals very fat quickly. But
this also makes the animals sick, so ranchers have to give them antibiotics to
keep them alive.
And unfortunately, the antibiotics get passed on to you when you eat the
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth A Ton of Cure
One thing I’ve found in my 20 years treating thousands of patients is that
prevention is much easier than the cure.
In this case, it’s much easier to keep your flora healthy than to try to build
it back up after the modern world and Western diet destroy it all.
So here are 4 steps to help protect you and increase your flora, so you can have
more energy, stay lean, and prevent infections:
1. Eat foods that promote healthy flora: Some of these foods will have what are
called “prebiotics” that promote flora. Others will have flora in them already.
A type of
prebiotic that encourages beneficial flora is a type of fiber called inulin.
This fiber resists digestion from the small intestine and reaches the large
intestine intact, where your flora gets the most benefit from it. Bananas,
asparagus, chicory root, dandelion green, and high-fiber vegetables like
leeks, peas, and beans all have this type of fiber.
2. Don’t kill your flora: Additives and chemicals will tend to kill off your
For example, Duke University did a study where they gave animals an FDA-accepted
level of the artificial sweetener Splenda. The sweetener killed off most of the
Even after stopping the Splenda, the animals’ level of one of the most
beneficial kinds of flora, bifidobacteria (it’s one of the first kinds of flora
you get as an infant and essential for normal development) never went back to
3. Don’t feed bad bacteria: Sugar and starches are bad bacteria’s favorite meal.
The more you feed them, the faster they’ll multiply in your body. That can lead
to fungal infections, yeast overgrowths, and even disease. Not to mention gas
4. Take probiotics: Probiotic supplements are available as liquids, powders,
tablets, or capsules. The live microorganisms in probiotics slow the growth of
bad bacteria and help maintain the right balance of good bacteria.
Probiotic supplements help in two ways:
various substances, such as lactic and acetic acids, to decrease the pH of
the gastrointestinal tract and vagina, rendering them less hospitable to
secrete bacteriocins which are natural antibiotics that kill undesirable
bacteria. You should try to get at least a billion microorganisms per day so
you can keep the right amount of flora in your system. It will help you
restore and re-energize the ecology of your gut.
The trick is to find a probiotic that has live, viable microorganisms, with a
diverse mix of species.
Many of the average probiotics you’ll find will say they have “live organisms,”
and they might have when the capsule was bottled. But the cheap ones won’t have
used processes or packaging that promotes a long shelf life for the flora.
You want to either make sure you get the freshest package available, or spend a
little more to get a better brand.
 Ricketts, Marie-Louise, et al, “The Cholesterol-Raising Factor from Coffee
Beans, Cafestol, as an Agonist Ligand for the Farnesoid and Pregnane X
Receptors,” Molecular Endocrinology 2007;21(7):1603-1616
 Rylott, Elizabeth L., et al, “An explosive-degrading cytochrome P450
activity and its targeted application for the phytoremediation of RDX,” Nature
 Abou-Donia, et al, “Splenda Alters Gut Microflora and Increases Intestinal
P-Glycoprotein and Cytochrome P-450 in Male Rats,” Journal of Toxicology and
Environmental Health, Part A, 2008; 71(21):1415–1429