After recently being asked along to present at a local screening of a wonderful new documentary, The Gut Movie from filmmaker and health food nut Kale Brock (yes, that’s his real name) and shared by the wonderful film organisation, Suburban Sandcastles, I sat down, made myself comfy, and proceeded to do my due diligence and watch said documentary.
Now, you guys will have come to know by now, my love and appreciation of the gut in all of its wondrous workings.
Well, thankfully, research and medicine is fast playing catch up on just how important the human microbiome, or the diversity of bugs teeming in our gut are, on the functions of just about all aspects of our body. Now let me tell you, as much as I immerse myself in research, my clinic and patients, this documentary still had a very profound effect on my position and thinking when it comes to our gut and microbiome.
I am consistently impressed, floored and incredibly inspired by just how much our gut influences our brain, mood, hormonal status and immune system.
Doctors, professors, naturopaths, gastroenterologists and microbiologists are conducting a huge amount of research to better understand how we can modify, manipulate and improve gut health, to improve health outcomes of humans.
Most notable is research undertaken by Dr Mimi Tang and her team. Tang designed a study to assess the influence of one particular strain of probiotic, Lactobacillus rhamnoses in a select group or children with peanut allergy.
Incredibly, 80 per cent of the children in the group receiving the probiotic daily for 18 months showed an 80 per cent improvement in their tolerance to peanuts.
This is compared to a 4 per cent rate in the placebo group. Now obviously this is only one study, and I am absolutely not recommending that anyone attempt to do this on their own, but it provides an amazing potential into the understandings and influence of gut flora on food allergies and intolerance. There is also some research about to be conducted by the Royal Children’s Hospital looking at Vitamin D supplementation and its influence on improving food allergies.
The Gut Movie also followed a remote cultural in Africa, the San people, for a week, to observe their hunter gatherer lifestyle, their microbiome and a before and after assessment of westerner’s stool and microbe analysis pre and post their week living with the San people.
Not surprisingly, this group of people lived a relatively simple life, gathering mostly tuberous vegetables containing high amounts of resistant starch which fuel beneficial bacteria, local fruits and vegetables, with meat a rarity.
The health of the San people was astonishingly good. They are lean, vital, active, incredibly joyous and live to an old age with very little to no disease. Needless to say, you will have to see the movie to view the outcomes, but they were quite remarkable.
What this experiment did identify, was that the variance in strains of flora can change rapidly. In as little as 24 hours.
Evident most notably in its look at FMT or faecal microbial transplant, or put simply, enemas of healthy poo being transplanted directly into the gut via the rectum for management of severe inflammatory bowel disease such as Ulcerative Colitis as well as Clostridium difficile.
FMT shows great potential for remission in severe cases of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), in some cases seeing patients discharged symptom-free from hospital after 10 days of receiving the transplant, after previously spending 46 days in intensive care, not expecting to survive.
This area of treatment is very new and very expensive, but certainly opens the door for more research and hope for sufferers of severe symptoms and IBD.
I truly feel that we are on the frontier of a huge break though in the understanding of the gut. Hopefully this new understanding brings less invasive treatment and management and a decrease in the sharp rise of allergies and intolerances.
Do yourselves a favour folks, don’t just take my word for it, watch this movie and keep your eyes on the research.
It’s screening at the Potato Shed on June 20 from 6pm.
Bec Winkler is a naturopath with more than 10 years’ experience. She works at the Chiropractic Centre, Jan Juc.