Intestinal Parasites and Worms, Bacterial Dysbiosis, Leaky Gut and Other Human Intestinal Problems.
Intestinal worms, parasites and bacteria form an integral part of everyone's digestive system, and have a direct bearing on our health.
Symbiosis and Dysbiosis
The human intestine maintains within its inner cavity a complex, crowded environment of food remnants and microbial organisms (called "the intestinal flora") from which the body derives nourishment and against which the body must be protected.
The relationship between the human host and her army of microbes is described by the Greek word, symbiosis, which means, "living together". When symbiosis benefits both parties, it is called mutualism. When symbiosis becomes harmful, it is called dysbiosis.
The first line of protection against dysbiosis and intestinal toxicity is strict control of intestinal permeability, the ability of the gut to allow some substances to pass through its walls while denying access to others. The healthy gut selectively absorbs nutrients and seals out those components of the normal internal milieu, which are most likely to cause harm, except for a small sampling, which it uses to educate and strengthen its mechanisms of immunity and detoxification.
Intestinal bacteria perform some useful functions.
Bacteria form the largest segment of the intestinal flora.
The number of bacteria in the large bowel (about a hundred trillion) exceeds the number of cells in the human body.
- They synthesize half a dozen vitamins, supplementing those, which are obtained from food.
- They convert dietary fiber - -that part of food, which humans cannot digest--into small fatty acids, which nourish the cells of the large intestine.
- They degrade dietary toxins like methyl mercury making them less harmful to the body.
- They crowd out pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella, decreasing the risk of food poisoning.
- They stimulate the development of a vigorous immune response.
Bacteria are dangerous tenants however, so that dysbiosis is a common problem.
Four-fifths of the body's immune system is located in the lining of the small intestine.
As powerful chemical factories, bacteria not only make vitamins and destroy toxins, but also destroy vitamins and make toxins. Bacterial enzymes can inactivate human digestive enzymes and convert human bile or components of food into chemicals, which promote the development of cancer.
Some by-products of bacterial enzyme activity, like ammonia, hinder normal brain function. When absorbed into the body, the liver must remove them. People whose livers fail this task, because of conditions like cirrhosis, develop progressive neurological dysfunction resulting in coma and death. For them, the administration of antibiotics which slow the production of nerve toxins by intestinal bacteria can be life saving.
The immune reactions provoked by normal intestinal bacteria may be harmful rather than helpful. Inflammatory diseases of the bowel, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease (ileitis), and several types of arthritis have been linked to aberrant immune responses provoked by intestinal bacteria.
Two types of aberrancy have been described.
Intestinal bacteria contain proteins, which look to the immune system very much like human proteins; they confuse the immune system and may fool the body into attacking itself.
Fragments of dead bacteria may leak into the wall of the intestine or into the blood stream due to a breakdown in the mechanisms, which regulate intestinal permeability.
Circulating through the body, bacterial debris is deposited in tissues such as joints, provoking an attack on those tissues by an immune system trying to remove the foreign material.
Bacterial colonies in the human intestine co-exist with colonies of yeasts, which are no less dangerous, just far less in number. Bacterial colonization prevents yeasts from expanding their niche.
Frequent or prolonged use of antibiotics decimates bacterial colonies, removing the natural brake on yeast growth. The most obvious effects of yeast overgrowth are local infections, like vaginitis, produced when yeast invade and disrupt cells which line the body's surface. Intestinal yeast infections can cause chronic diarrhea, although most gastroenterologists fail to recognize this. Yeast can also provoke allergic reactions, precipitating asthma, hives, psoriasis or abdominal pain.
The occurrence of allergic symptoms or the aggravation of a pre-existing allergy, which follows the use of antibiotics, should always prompt an investigation into yeast overgrowth as a potential trigger. Neglect of this factor by allergists has left countless patients trapped in a spiral of increasing allergic reactivity, augmented each time antibiotics are prescribed.
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The information contained herein is for informational purposes only.