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Intestinal Bacteria: A Predictor of Allergies, Inflammation and Irritable Bowel Disease

Note from Carolyn:
Here is the scientific reason why you need to be getting a good probiotic suppliment, such as ProBiotic with FOS. Since we weren't raised on the African diet most of us are behind in the proper flora of our digestion system. Getting it right now can start us on the road to better health.
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I'm so excited to present to you all, a groundbreaking study about how good and bad intestinal bacteria (gut flora) may affect allergies, eczema, inflammation and IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease). Included in these effects are autoimmune problems. Remember that the bacteria in your intestinal tract is part of your immune system - and it either protects you from disease and inflammation - or it doesn't. 
This means that we have some control over these conditions and diseases. As you'll see in the study below, certain foods either feed our gut flora or destroy them. It's up to us to choose.
These are fascinating new findings!
We are beginning to see studies emerge associating varieties of gut flora (good and bad bacteria) with different dietary habits. One particular study compared fecal microflora of European children who eat a modern, Westernized diet to that of children from an African village who eat a rural diet. The European children eat a lower fiber diet, higher in quantities of meat, fat and sugar. The African children eat beans, nuts, vegetables and cereals, such as millet.

This study showed the difference in the populations of bacteria in the intestines of both groups of children. The European children had more Firmicutes which store calories as fat after extracting them from complex sugars. This species has been found in other studies to proliferate more in people who are obese, linking these bacteria with weight gain due to the way they metabolize certain carbohydrates.  

The African children had more Bacteroids than the European children. These bacteria prevent harmful pathogens from colonizing in the intestines. So they, ultimately, help protect from infections and inflammation, especially those in the gut. 
So the Aftrican children had good bacteria that support the immune system, thus preventing diseases more readily. With a balanced immune system, a person is less likely to have allergies, asthma, eczema or environmental sensitivities. 
The European children had few of these good bacteria, setting them up for more disease condition. They also had more of the bacteria that can lead to obesity.
One interesting finding was that the only European children who had gut bacteria resembling the African children were those who were still breastfeeding. The breastfed children were getting immune-building bacteria that protect from infection, inflammation and allergic reactions.
How does this relate to Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) and other autoimmune disorders?
According to the above study, "the gastrointestinal microflora plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of IBD and recent studies demonstrate obesity is associated with imbalance in the normal gut microflora."  
So symptoms of IBD -- bloating, gas pressure, diarrhea and abdominal pain can result if you're deficient in the good bacteria and your immune system is not equipped to recognize the difference between pathogens and non-harmful antigens. People can therefore become more reactive to foods because the gut is already inflamed and the immune system doesn't know how to differentiate between things that are harmful or not. It is always on alert.
Now get this. The trillion microbes that live in the human gut are actually considered to be an "organ". And that "organ's" job is to help digest food and protect us from bad bacteria that cause disease. They also help decrease or prevent inflammation. 
Since about 80% of our immune system is in our gut, you can see that if the diversity and effectiveness of our gut bacteria is diminished, that would set us up for more allergies and immune problems, such as infections. Infections can lead to inflammation and it is speculated that Inflammatory Bowel Disease may begin with a gut depleted of powerful and diverse good bacteria. 
Another point is that we have seen a tremendous rise in autoimmune problems among children and adults in the last decade especially. We know that Irritable Bowel Disease is an autoimmune problem and can co-exist with other autoimmune problems such as fibromyalgia, lupus, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disease. The immune system attacks different parts of the body, causing these inflammatory symptoms.
How can I prevent these inflammatory symptoms?

The upshot is that the food you eat can play a big role in the viability and richness of microbes that protect you from developing inflammatory or autoimmune disease conditions. A diet with a wealth of vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans is beneficial, where a low-fiber, high fat, high sugar diet can lead to more of the allergic and inflammatory diseases that have risen in the last half-century.
Dr. Laura Thompson and Staff at SCICN
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