Medical Docs acknowledge the importance of gut bacteria

This post is long overdue. The article came out months ago and news about the microbiome and early human development has steadily increased.

This February 2013 commentary on a study about birthing methods and breastfeeding states what many holistic nutritionists and integrative practitioners base their care plans on:

Bacteria in the gut play an important role in health, helping digest food, stimulating the development of the immune system, regulating bowels and protecting against infection. Disruption of the gut microbiota has been linked to a range of diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, asthma, cancer and others.

We can’t help how we are born, or how our mothers fed us during those critical early days. (Please moms, no guilt and no pressure here. I’m one of you.) But we can help what we do to safeguard the community of gut bacteria that make up 80% of our immune function later in life. One very common disruption to the microbiota is antibiotic use.

Who hasn’t had a doctor prescribe antibiotics for a minor ear infection, or another pesky infection that needs to be treated? It’s standard practice and stops a small infection from blowing up into a big deal. 

Have you ever noticed that your digestion just isn’t quite the same during and for some time after antibiotic use?  That’s because antibiotics kill good bacteria as well as pathogenic ones – a catch 22, really. Your immune system is temporarily dampened during a run of amoxicillin, or what have you, as the drug takes out the good bugs with the bad.

There’s a place for antibiotics and other drugs that mess with our guts.

There are also methods of re-establishing balance after the offending bacteria is eradicated. An immune-boosting diet is rich in zinc, vitamin C, beta-carotene or vitamin A, essential fats and lean protein is essential during or after drug use.

Certain nutraceuticals, like probiotics to the tune of at least 30 billion colony-forming units, are also useful for helping gut flora bounce back to a level where the good outweigh the bad.

The exciting thing about this CMAJ article is how it signals the direction of medicine to come. The days of MDs and NDs operating in separate settings are soon going to be passé. Soon, you won’t have to sleuth out a clinic that has the two professions working collaboratively to achieve sustained health improvements. 

Naturopathy, which relies heavily on nutrition and alternative modalties, is already acknowledged by MDs to be effective for heart disease.

My hope is that all these forward-thinking MDs and NDs will also pick up a nutritionist or two to join their care team, providing therapeutic meal plans, recipes and coaching to patients who want to do more to help themselves.

Check out these links for more about what’s happening with the melding of the medical and naturopathic approaches:

Naturopathic Medicine: From the margins to mainstream 

Hospital houses teaching clinic for naturopathy

Keys to Collaboration

Also worth checking out…this  latest from the New York Times  on early human development and gut bacteria – truly fascinating!

Does your doctor talk to you about gut bacteria?

What about the ob/gyn who’ll delivery your baby?




Author: Emily

Emily wants you to become your own nutrition expert. She has dissected countless food products and nutritional supplements to discover which (if any) could benefit her clients. As a nutritionist, her goal is to teach and inspire you to eat best foods for your life – foods that will have a lasting impact on your current vitality and future well-being.