By Raphael Kellman, M.D., Kellman Center for Functional and Integrative Medicine
For many years it was thought that bacteria of all shapes and sizes were the enemy. These tiny organisms were found to be at the center of disease and symptoms so medicine in all of its wisdom waged a war on their very existence with the invention of so many medications. While such breakthroughs were important and saved lives, at the same time things had gone too far. We now know, bacteria, their quantities, proportion and health are key foundational aspects of our own well-being. If they are out of proportion, we will suffer. If they are sick so are we. Without help from these microorganisms, we cannot thrive or even exist.
Bacteria cover us externally as well as internally with the largest concentration located in the intestine called the gut microbiome. It is astounding that there are ten times more bacterial cells than human in our bodies. Understanding this fact alone is humbling and helps us to glimpse at the deep connections between us and them–if such divisions even exist. They have evolved with us in a way that that makes them indispensible and a necessary part of life. Even our own cellular mitochondria, the source of energy production, have bacterial origins.
The benefits of a healthy microbiome are widespread, touching every aspect of our own function such as digestion, metabolism, inflammatory signaling processes, the immune system, intestinal health, brain function, mood, stress response and weight regulation. Additionally these bacterium produce nutrients and vitamins for our use, influence our genetics and even help create amino acids which are the building blocks of our bodies. With so many critical roles, we can see why the trend of eradicating bacteria would have disastrous consequences.
We must take steps to put an end to practices that harm beneficial bacteria. Overuse of medication is common creating huge deficits in populations necessary for our welfare. Stress is a prime driver of bacterial imbalances that can greatly and negatively alter microbial composition. Common household chemicals as well as more insidious environmental toxins destroy our small friends.
Perhaps the greatest impact of all comes from diet. What we eat has a direct and immediate affect on bacterial populations. A high fat, meat, sugar, and chemical laden diet will create perilous conditions that are sure to damage the microbiome encouraging the proliferation of strains that degrade our health. This is a critical change that must occur to begin to restore true harmony. The Microbiome Diet, focuses on supporting the health of microorganisms through a high fiber, prebiotic way of eating that is nurturing rather than destructive.
Additionally, there are many things that can be done in the clinical setting to ensure improvements in bacterial balance. Because all parts of the body are deeply connected to bacterial health, the core of any comprehensive treatment program must work to rebuild the gut microbiome. Without this critical piece, patients are left in a weakened state that cannot promote healing. Dr. Kellman is one of the most accredited functional doctors in NYC. Call today for your appointment.