Tens of trillions of bacteria and other microbes inhabit the large intestine, in particular, and they play a vital role in your health.
In fact, some researchers have declared the collection of gut microbiota, called a microbiome, to be, effectively, another organ because of its function in the body. Without a healthy microbiome, your overall physical and mental health will suffer.
Your microbiome is unique to you, containing a combination of bacteria and other types of microbes that creates a mini ecosystem in the colon, or large intestine.
Depending on where you live and what you eat, your dominant bacteria will be similar to those around you who live and eat similarly, but the exact combination of microbe types your gut fosters will be unique to you.
As you might have guessed, the Western diet high in sugar, low in fiber is the perfect recipe for an unhealthy gut. Without adequate food (fiber), the gut flora become imbalanced. Some bacteria and yeast flourish at the expense of others, and these microbial thugs feed on the many types of sugar we ingest in processed, refined, and junk foods. In addition, they demand more sugar and refined foods in the form of cravings.
Ever been helpless when faced with a donut or a pint of ice cream? It’s because the microbial thugs are in charge and they’re sending strong signals to your brain to feed them.
Over time, this imbalance leads to the breakdown of the intestinal mucosal cells, the tiny little fingers, or villi, that absorb nutrients and protect the gut lining. As these cells break down, the mucus lining of the gut dries and washes away, exposing the gut lining. Then the gut lining develops cracks, which allow tiny particles of undigested food to slip from the intestines into the bloodstream. This is called gut permeability, or leaky gut syndrome.
When particles of food enter the bloodstream, the body’s immune response is triggered as it attempts to deal with these unfamiliar food invaders.
The Western diet, then, keeps the body in a constant state of immune emergency, which leads to widespread inflammation inside the body. This constant state of emergency and inflammation leads to hundreds of chronic diseases, such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Asthma and allergies
- Skin conditions such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Crohn’s Disease, and Ulcerative Colitis
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Schizophrenia, depression, and other mental disorders
- Type 1 diabetes
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Tourette’s Syndrome
- Chronic kidney disease