Yes, you read that right. There’s now a procedure called a fecal transplant…and it is what you think it is. Poop from one person is placed into the colon of another. When I first heard of this, aside from the obvious question of “why?” was the thought of the doctor who first suggested this. Can you imagine this person saying this out loud to his colleagues? (I’m assuming it was a male doctor because only a guy would think of this.)
The scene takes place in a conference room of a large well known hospital. Up until now, the meeting has been very boring and some of the doctors have been doodling on their prescription pads and discretely going on Instragram.
“So next up is Dr.___. He has an interesting procedure that might cure severe intestinal disease caused by C.difficle bacteria. Dr _____ would you like to explain?”
“Yes…Thank you…Well I was thinking that the large intestine is home to literally millions of bacteria, and being as how bacteria is so vital to intestinal health and overall health, and with overuse of antibiotics, there is loss of that bacteria, I thought…well…why don’t we introduce some bacteria back into the colon.”
“Yes. That could work….but the bacteria is so specific…where would we get the perfect mix?”
“Well…I was thinking…let’s just give them someone else’s bacteria. We could just take the bacteria from one healthy colon and inject it into another person.”
“So how would we separate the bacteria from the feces?”
“So…like… what are you thinking? Shit enemas?”
(Laughter erupts among the group of doctors in the room)
“Well…actually…yes. That’s exactly what I was thinking.”
“So let me get this straight. We take the poop out of the donor’s colon and inject it into the colon of the recipient through the anus just like an enema?”
“Ok. What the hell. As long as we can get the nurses to do it, let’s give it a try.”
So what does that have to do with cancer? Read on…
If you didn’t have bacteria living inside you, you would die. From your mouth, to your belly, to your skin, bacteria flourishes in numbers that reach the trillions of trillions. In fact, our bodies contain pounds of the stuff…..about ten pounds in all. Scientists call the living, breathing, breeding microorganisms that live on and in us the “Microbiome”. Jeff Leach, author of “Bloom:Reconnecting with your primal Gut in a Modern World”, and founder of the Human Food Project, says that our gut microbiome might be responsible for a variety of illnesses from depression to arthritis to cancer. And what we eat…and don’t eat is definitely affecting our gut.
From the moment you are born, you start building your healthy microbiome. First, but exiting the vaginal canal. (nasty bunch of bacteria there…) and then by breast feeding. Studies show that those born by c-cection and who don’t breast feed have a higher incidence celiac, (gluten intolerance disease) obesity, and type I diabetes. All of which can be a type of autoimmune disorder.
In fact, immunity plays a part in most chronic illnesses including cancer.
What is the role of bacteria in your body?
Bacteria in the mouth: The perfect bacterial mix may help prevent cavities and gum disease.
Small intestine: Bacteria is responsible for making most of the enzymes that break down our food and allow it to be absorbed. Without these enzymes, the food would just leave your body without it ever getting to your cells.
Large intestine: Microbes line this digestive tunnel in the trillions. Bacteria literally feed on fiber that ferments and forms other by-products that your body needs to stay alive like fatty acids. If there isn’t enough fiber for the bacteria to “eat”, they start eating the lining of the colon itself. This creates an inflammatory process in the whole body. Inflammation prevents healing and also promotes chronic illness. It also affects the absorption of important vitamins and minerals.
Without enough happy bacteria, your body is prone to:
- Heart Disease: gut bacteria produce carotenoids: powerful anti-oxidants that help prevent stroke and atherosclerosis or narrowing of the arteries
- Allergies: kids with poor bacterial growth are more prone to allergies of all types
- Obesity: obese folks have up to 40% less bacterial growth than those of healthy weight. Bacteria metabolize food differently affecting how much you absorb.
- High blood pressure: Bacteria affects a certain cell receptor that has to do with blood vessel health
- CANCER: Bacteria can help develop more T-cells to fight tumors and can help chemotherapy to work better. An imbalance in your colon bacteria can increase the e.coli strains that produce cancer causing toxins.
- Mood disorders: Bacteria is responsible for producing up to 95% of the body’s serotonin…a mood and sleep regulator. Known as the “second brain” your colon is intertwines with the vagus nerve that regulates anxiety, worry, and fear. When mice were injected with a healthy dose of gut bacteria, it produced a response similar to that of a tranquilizer.
- Autoimmunity: Studies show a relationship between gut bacteria and the incidence of type I Diabetes, and autoimmune disease as well as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Crohn’s Disease: Those with Chrohn’s disease, a bowel disease characterized by severe inflammation of the intestines, have a proliferation of the bacteria that cause inflammation. Treatment with pre-biotics improved symptoms.
You need bugs!
We have become a culture of cleanliness…to the extreme! The over use of antibiotics…both in children and in our food supply, has messed with our microbiome in a major way. The use of ant-bacterial soaps containing Triclosan…a dangerous hormone disrupting chemical found in everything from hand soap to toothpaste, is killing off the very microbes that keep us healthy! Here are some things you can do to get your daily dose of bugs:
- Don’t take anti-biotics unless you REALLY need them. They don’t work on viruses, so unless you can prove you have a bacterial infection, just wait it out.
- Get out in nature! being outdoors allows us to breathe the air and with it the wonderful helpful microbes that we need!
- Get dirty! Sitting on the grass, digging in the dirt, and rolling in the mud…literally, actually allows some of the bacteria to be absorbed into your body. This is the good stuff!
- Use only plain soap and water to wash. Check your hand and body soaps for Triclosan. It is hormone disrupting, and it kills off the good bugs that you need….get rid of it!
- Kiss your pet! Exposure to pets exposes you to diversify your microbiome! kids where there is a pet at home have less risk of developing respiratory problems.
On a side, but very interesting note, a layer of bacteria was discovered encircling the earth’s atmosphere recently. We are literally surrounded by bacteria…and it’s a good thing!
Feed your bugs!
But NOT with dairy yogurt!!! Your gut bacteria needs FIBER to feed on too…more specifically, fructans. Fructans, a type of prebiotic, are contained in specific raw fruits and veggies. Without these fructans, your gut can’t grow and maintain the healthy microbes that keep you healthy and happy. Make sure you include these foods in your diet every day. Raw is best unless otherwise noted.
- chicory root
- cooked beans
- white onion
- broccoli stalks
Eating fermented foods also feed your gut. Fermented veggies, sauerkraut, kimchi, and fermented forms of soy like tempeh and miso.
Animal products do not contain any fructans…none…nada…zippo. No fructans, poor microbiome. Poor microbiome, poor immunity…increased inflammation….increased illnesses like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and others.
And yet again…another reason to adopt a more plant-based diet…..
And if that’s not enough there was a new study that indicated the relationship between poor gut health and poor food choices. It seems certain colonies of undesirable bacteria that are related to poor gut health can actually have an effect on the food you choose. These unhealthy bacteria make you eat junk food! You can see the study here.
If you are having trouble with your poop, please check out my most read blog post of the century here.