by Allan Tomson, DC
When we talk about women’s health, one might first want to consider female hormones; or we can look at the glandular system, such as the pituitary adrenal axis, the thyroid- pancreas, or the importance of the liver that does so much to detox and protect the body. However, there is a trending topic in women’s health that is equally important: the gut microbiome and how it supports and strengthens the entire body. With more and more research being published on this subject, it is becoming clear that some early thoughts on the microbiome didn’t provide a comprehensive view.
First, let’s look at some anatomy and physiology. The body has a mucous layer covering the surface area of the digestive system—from the mouth, nose and sinuses all the way to the rectum. Additionally, there is a mucosal layer covering the inner surface of the lungs and urinary tract. In fact, the mucosal layer has 150 times more surface area than the skin.
Within this mucosal layer are millions of immune cells and even more bacteria living there. (150 trillion bacteria in the digestive system alone!). Everything is in a constant balance. The body takes in information from the world we live in via this mucosal layer, with the gut layer serving as central command for all mucosa in the body. Damaged mucosa there will give rise to leaky gut. This is largely responsible for disease in other areas of the body through the process of inflammation. The result may give rise to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, arthritis or any number of chronic and autoimmune disease processes.
Let’s look at a several studies of probiotics that are truly eye opening. The first is a 2015 study published in Nature, by University of California, Davis. They took 16 probiotic products readily available and studied whether the species of bacteria claimed on the label were actually in the products. The result was that only one of 16 had the bacteria species in it that was on the label. These were childrens’ probiotics.
Another similar study looked at 40 products to see if the probiotic bacteria ended up in the gut and were viable. They found that almost all the bacteria species were killed when they went through the harsh environment of the stomach. Nothing was still alive! From these studies, we can conclude that delivering live bacteria to the area that needs them is extremely difficult. The body uses the stomach acid and bile from the gall bladder as barriers to unwanted bugs.
One type of probiotic has been shown to move successfully through the stomach and gall bladder regions and remain alive. These are soil-based organisms known as spores. Spores have a protective coating that allows them to survive in soil and they are also effective against stomach acid and bile. Once in the intestines, they are able to attach to the mucosal layer and have strong inhibitive properties toward harmful bacteria while promoting the healthy ones.
These probiotics are showing great promise, not only in restoring gut health, but also in shifting some chronic conditions that don’t respond to other treatments. By looking to spore-based probiotics, you’ll find a more effective option to take in needed probiotics and be healthier for it.
Allan Tomson, DC, is the executive director of Neck Back & Beyond Healing Arts, an integrative wellness center in Fairfax, with a satellite office in Manassas. Tomson is a chiropractor and has skills and experience in functional medicine, visceral manipulation, CranioSacral Therapy and Cayce protocols. To learn more on this topic, contact Dr. Tomson at 703-865-5690 or visit NeckBackAndBeyond.com.