In a society where citizens are inundated with anti-bacterial sprays, soaps and lotions, most Americans would be shocked to know the crucial role that healthy bacteria play in the body. In fact, optimal health cannot be achieved unless these beneficial organisms are heavily populated internally. So many things in typical lifestyle threaten this normal balance: chlorinated tap water, medications, the average American diet, medical procedures and more. What happens when the normal delicate balance of bacteria gets distorted? And what is the prevalence of children and adults living with undiagnosed infection?
The Beginning of Bacteria in the Body
Hypothetically, infants are born sterile, meaning they have essentially no bacteria in their body. In a society where we have been so trained to be fearful of bacteria and other microorganisms, this may seem like a good thing. During birth and rapidly thereafter, maternal bacteria and the surrounding environment colonize the infant’s gut. Immediately after vaginal delivery, babies have bacterial strains in the upper GI tract from the mothers’ feces. Colonization of these important microorganisms begins with birth and breastfeeding and continues through life. For vaginally born infants not treated with antibiotics, it takes up to 1 month for their intestinal flora to be well established. For babies born via c-section, the initial bacterial exposure is most likely from environmental microbes such as the air, other infants, and the nursing staff. Science shows that in this case, the gut flora may be disturbed for up to 6 months.
The end result for a healthy developing adult is a mixture of 500 plus different species of bacteria, with only small amounts of yeast and other species like protozoa. About 30 – 40 strains of beneficial bacteria should predominate, keeping a healthy balance. To give you a point of reference, the average human body has about ten trillion cells. There are an estimated ten times that number of microorganisms in the intestines of a healthy adult. Scientists have referred to the bacteria in the body as a virtual organ because the metabolic activity performed by these microorganisms actually exceeds other organs in the body.
Some of the imperative functions include:
- Vitamin absorption
- Regulation of fats, triglyceride and cholesterol
- Complete the digestion of foods
- Protect against cancer causing agents
- Increase the body’s absorption of water
- Prevent against infection
- Prevent allergies
- Prevent autoimmune diseases
- Help the body absorb important nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and iron.
- Provide a steady flow of nutrients, especially B vitamins.
- A prime example of nutrients digestive flora provide are B vitamins that are so essential for the body. B vitamins consumed by food have a very short half-life. Even if a person eats a meal rich in B vitamins or takes supplements, within a few hours the body will be depleted. The solution to this problem within the body is that beneficial bacteria, if present within the digestive tract, produce a constant flow of B vitamins. People suffering with a variety of chronic illnesses, and especially children on the autism spectrum are deficient in this area.
- Regulate weight gain and influence obesity
- Research has even documented a different ratio of gastrointestinal bacteria between lean and obese people. In fact, gut flora of obese mice was transplanted into germ free recipient mice and it lead to an increase in weight despite a decrease in food consumption. This is accounted for by the different energy-reabsorbing potential of different bacteria.
- A function of bacteria that cannot be overlooked is the role they play in body detoxification. Depending on the toxic substance, they can either neutralize or, like in the case of heavy metals, they actually chelate them from the body. The bacteria binds to the heavy metal and it is eliminated in the stool.
- The gastrointestinal bacteria also play a huge role on immunity since at least 80% of the immune system is in the gut. Healthy bacteria regulate the immune system by training the body to respond only to pathogens. In addition, they maintain the delicate balance between the two arms of the immune system. The TH1 arm of the immune system allows the body to react appropriately to the environment. The immune system should not overreact to harmless things, such as pollen and benign foods. The TH2 arm oversees allergic reactions. If the balance between arms gets distorted, the body begins to react to various things in the environment in a hypersensitive, allergic way. Needless to say, having abundant healthy bacteria in the body is absolutely imperative to good health.
One of the most profound but common assaults to gastrointestinal bacterial is the use of antibiotics. According to the Journal of Infection and Immunology, when oral antibiotics are administered, the total population of bacteria, including beneficial, is reduced by a factor of 1,000. During the first few years of life a child should be consistently building stronger colonies of beneficial bacteria. If, instead the bacteria is being eliminated, this opens the door for disaster. As the good bacteria is killed off, there is the potential that harmful microorganisms will take root and increase rapidly. Read more about Antibiotic Risks
Killing good bacteria leads to a condition known as dysbiosis or dysbacteriosis, which is the condition of having microbial imbalances on or within the body. Dysbiosis is most prominent in the digestive tract or on the skin but can also occur on any exposed surface or mucous membrane such as the vagina, lungs, nose, sinuses, ears, nails, or eyes. Dysbiosis can also be a bacterial or a fungal (yeast) problem. Both can be very problematic.
How Abnormal Microorganisms Harm Your Health
In a healthy adult, yeast and abnormal bacteria only exist in small quantities. Therefore, the chemical byproducts they produce should also only be present in small quantities. An overgrowth of these microorganisms results in much higher concentrations of these toxins. Then the toxins are absorbed from intestine into the blood and circulated throughout the body.
Certain bacteria, such as clostridia have been shown in research to have a toxic effect that causes behavioral and neurological changes in children and adults. For example, clinical symptoms of closteria infection in children with autism include irritability, agitation, aggression, biting, kicking and screaming, head banging, decreased eye contact and loose stools.
A Case of Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated With Streptococcal Infections Am J Psychiatry 155:1592-1598, November 1998
The Dangers of Yeast Overgrowth
Research has shown that yeast are actually stimulated by the antibiotics that kill off all of the bacteria. Yeast may also be stimulated to grow by heavy metals, which make the combination of vaccines and antibiotics a major health problem. Then, following a meal, the yeast have little competition for the food as it passes through the system. For centuries, human beings have used the process fermentation, the way by which yeast digests sugars. However, when this process of fermentation occurs within the body on a large scale, the adverse effects are disastrous. An overgrowth of yeast in the digestive tract is a core contributor to numerous disease processes and a key factor in autism, ADD and allergies. Animal trials have taught us the consequences of this yeast overgrowth. We have confirmed that infants are much more susceptible to yeast than older animals. Once exposed to Candida at an early age they developed persistent candidiasis. young animals are given antibiotics at an early age, the Candida in intestines increased 130 times. But We then see this as a persistent problem.
Why does this imbalance persist?
Yeast in the digestive tract consume carbohydrates and sugars. The only product of their digestion is alcoholic fermentation, the same process for making alcoholic beverages. So when children have an overgrowth of yeast and they eat potatoes or a piece of bread or sugar, abundant alcohol is produced in their digestive tract. The effects of alcohol are disastrous for ever cell and tissue as this toxic byproduct leaves the gastrointestinal tract and circulates throughout the body. When there is a chronic internal alcohol exposure during early childhood, it is unreasonable to expect a normal neurological development.
Harmful Byproducts of Yeast
Yeast overgrowth in the digestive tract causes nutritional deficiencies even when dietary intake is adequate. A byproduct of yeast, called Arabinose, has been shown to block reactions in the body causing vitamins to not be utilized. One of the most toxic byproducts of yeast, Acetylaldehyde, has disastrous effects on the body as it circulates: it uses up enzymes that are needed to process vitamin B6, reduces Red blood cell’s ability to carry oxygen, reacts with neurotransmitters to create opiates, and affects nerve cell communication in the brain.
There are literally hundreds of documented ways in which Acetylaldehyde damages the body.
Are Oxalates A Factor in Your Health Concern?
Yeast also produce crystals called oxalates that cause many problems in the human body. Oxalates have been shown to deposit in various regions of the body including the brain, Bones, Joints, nerves and muscles and can cause potentially severe symptoms. In the digestive tract, oxalates can cause malabsorption by binding essential elements such as calcium, magnesium and zinc. They also bind heavy metals and trap them in tissues due to their powerful chelating ability. Oxalates can even cause actual lesions because of sharp edges. Oxalates play a role in many different conditions including:
- Joint Pain
- Heart Disease
- Thyroid Disease.
Yeast and Leaky Gut Syndrome
The yeast can also imbed themselves into the lining of the intestinal tract. They actually attach with digestive enzymes. This often causes the intestinal cells to die. If this happens at a great enough rate, the gastrointestinal lining begins to looks like Swiss cheese under microscope. As the lining of the digestive tract is destroyed, undigested foods are able to pass though. And this is what leads to a condition known as leaky gut syndrome. Those suffering with leaky gut syndrome have a high susceptibility to food allergies because the foreign undigested food leaking from the gut abnormally stimulates the immune system. This can cause both allergic and behavioral symptoms. There are other causes for a permeable intestinal tract that include viral infection, heavy metals in the intestinal tract that weaken the membranes and a reduction of enzymes which line and strengthen the intestinal tract.
Yeast Poison the Immune System
Yeast produces gliotoxins which are toxic to the immune system. They also produce other compounds that significantly suppress the immune system… It’s no wonder that most children with autism have a substantial immune system abnormality of some type and often have a history of frequent infections. Individuals with a chronic yeast infection also often produce antibodies that react against various parts of the human body such as the Brain, Kidney, Pancreas, Spleen, Thymus, and Liver. Yeast antibodies can also be “tricked” into reacting against wheat because if the similarities in proteins.
Babies at Risk for Development of Chronic Infection
Certain circumstances automatically shift a baby towards dysbiosis, such as c-section, failure to breastfeed, early introduction to foods such as grains and sweets and many other factors. But is overwhelmingly apparent that the use of antibiotics is potentially the greatest risks factor.
Do You Suffer With A Chronic Yeast Infection?
- Sugar and Carbohydrate Cravings
- Loose Stools or Constipation
- Psychosis or loss of contact with reality
- Achy joints and muscles
- Sleep disturbance
- Increased allergies
- Chemical sensitivity
- Poor attention
- Inappropriate anger
- Mood swings
- Inappropriate behavior (such as making odd noises, or talking very loudly)
- Memory problems
- Sleep Disturbance
Individuals Suffering With Any of the Following Yeast-Related Conditions or Diseases Should Be Tested:
- Mental Disorders
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Chronic Fatigue
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Irritable Bowel
If you or your child suffers with unexplained or uncontrollable behavior, see a healthcare provider who can further investigate if chronic infection may be a factor.