Diversity of Gut Bacteria is a Key to Health
A number of recent scientific studies have concluded that having more diversity in the bacteria in your gut (microbiota) is important for your overall health. And we tend to lose bacterial diversity in our colons and a number of factors in modern life contribute to less diversity, including low fiber intake, c-section births, the use of certain medications such as antibiotics, NSAIDs, and proton pump inhibitors, among others. Loss of bacterial diversity is associated with many negative health outcomes, including increased susceptibility to serious, often chronic conditions, from allergies, celiac disease, autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis, Clostridium difficile infections, and even obesity.(1,2)
One recent study found that infants that had a lower diversity of species in their gut bacteria, were more likely to have food allergies.(3) Each level of increase in bacterial diversity at three months of age was associated with a 55% reduction in sensitivities to foods like milk, egg, or peanut by one year of age.
In another recent study, researchers found that taking a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), like Prilosec (omeprazole), reduces bacterial diversity in the colon (of the microbiota).(4) PPIs are used to treat dyspepsia, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and peptic ulcer disease by reducing stomach acid, but stomach acid helps to prevent bacterial infections in the small intestine. They also found that taking a PPI increased the risk of Clostridium difficile infection, a particularly virulent intestinal infection that is difficult to treat and is sometimes fatal.
So, how do you restore the health of the gastrointestinal tract and restore bacterial diversity? Dietary approaches and nutritional supplements may be the most effective methods to restore balance and diversity within the gastrointestinal system. A diet rich in fiber that feeds the gut bacteria such as from fruits, vegetables, and fermented foods, like saurkraut, yogurt, kefir, kimchi, natto, etc., can be very helpful. Patients may benefit from antimicrobials, botanicals, enzmyes, prebiotics, probiotics, and specific nutrients like L glutamine to optimize the health of the gastrointestinal tract. Diagnostic considerations may include a comprehensive digestive stool analysis, organic acid testing, food antibody testing, as well as gluten sensitivity testing or elimination of gluten from the diet. Speak to Dr. Weitz about getting tested and setting up a nutritional consultation to help improve your digestive system and prevent or reverse the chronic diseases associated with an unhealthy gastrointestinal tract.
1. Brody J. We are our bacteria. NYTimes
2. Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues. By Martin J. Blaser, M.D. Henry Holt and Company, 2014.
3. Azad MB, Konya T, Guttman DS, et al. Infant gut microbiota and food sensitization: associations in the first year of life. Clinical & Experimental Allergy. 45;(3), 2015. 632-643.
4. Seto CT, Jeraldo P, Orenstein R. Prolonged use of a proton pump inhibitor reduces microbial diversity: implications for Clostridium difficile susceptibility. Microbiome 2014, 2:42.
Leave a ReplyWant to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!