Friday, November 30, 2012

The need for human stool transplants are on the rise

In case you've never heard of a fecal transplant, it's a fairly new procedure that was designed to treat those infected with a bacterium called Clostridium difficile which typically occurs in people within hospital settings who are taking antibiotics.

Unfortunately the problem with antibiotics, and the reason I am so against them, is they indiscriminately wipe out all bacteria (good and bad) within the gut.  For this very reason it is crucial that anyone taking antibiotics take a probiotic as well.  This goes for those who are on antibiotics both short and long term.  As you know the gut (intestines) is by all accounts your immune system, and your immune system cannot function properly without healthy gut flora.

Despite this fact doctors in this country continue to indiscriminately over prescribe antibiotics, so its no wonder this new treatment may soon become standard procedure.  As alarming as this may sound (and is), the fact that this procedure is becoming more popular due to antibiotic usage is not what disturbs me the most.  It's the increasing number of cases in children who are not taking antibiotics, but who suffer none the less from Clostridium difficile.  I truly think this only strengthens the argument that Americans, from a young age, have extremely poor diets.

There is a direct undisputed correlation between diet and a healthy gut.  That is without a healthy diet you cannot have a healthy gut.  And anytime unhealthy bacteria have any kind of edge in the battle over your gut, you lose!

So what can you do to insure you maintain a healthy gut (immune system)?

For starters, eat plenty of fermented foods.  Not the store bought pasteurized version, but rather the homemade organic non-pasteurized kind.  It's fun and easy, and there are many types of fermented foods that you can make.
  • My wife and I always have homemade sauerkraut on hand.  For those of you that don't know how sauerkraut is made, it is simply fermented cabbage; cabbage, salt, and patience.  Healthy bacteria do the rest.  
  • Another favorite of ours is kefir.  This is a fermented food/drink made from milk (cow, sheep, goat) or as we like to use fresh young coconut milk.  The hardest part of this one is getting into the coconut, but once you've mastered that there's nothing to it.  Just add some kefir culture starter to the coconut milk and let it ferment for a few days.  Once again it's the healthy bacteria that do all the hard work.
  • One type of fermented drink that my wife and I have yet to try (but plan to) is kombucha.  Kombucha is basically fermented tea but you can be creative and add your favorite fruit to add flavor.  This one requires a yeast culture called a SCOBY, but just like the other fermented foods nature does all the work.  Typical ingredients are usually black tea, although any caffeinated non-herbal tea will do the trick, sugar, your fruit of choice, and a SCOBY.  Although you can purchase a SCOBY online, I find something a little creepy about that which is why we are waiting for a friend of ours to accumulate some SCOBY babies that she can part with.  Yes these alien looking creatures reproduce, and it's the babies that allow you to have multiple batches of kombucha going at once.  Plus they make a tasty and healthy treat for your backyard free range chickens!  :-)
So the next time your doctor prescribes an antibiotic for you, ask for a probiotic as well!  And if he or she won't, go to your local health food store and pick one up.

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