by Konstantin Monastyrsky
Healthy intestinal flora is vital for forming stools, maintaining immunity, synthesizing essential vitamins, and protecting from colorectal cancers. After bacteria are damaged by antibiotics, laxatives, heavy metals, surgeries, or colonoscopies, fiber is broadly recommended to restore and form stools.
Unlike live bacteria, the dead cells of plants — which is what fiber is — can't perform bacterial functions, essential for humans. The loss of these functions contributes to impaired immunity, diabetes, obesity, hair loss, eczema, seborrhea, anemia, internal bleedings, ulcers, strokes, cancers, and common gastrointestinal, respiratory, and autoimmune disorders.
Despite all of these well known and thoroughly studied facts, the American medical establishment adamantly refuses to recognize the role of intestinal flora in health and longevity, and does everything possible to obliterate bacteria, starting at birth. Then, it profits enormously from treating the resulting diseases. This guide outlines the role of intestinal flora in human health and explains how to restore it.
— Let my people go!
I can't fathom the half genocidal, half suicidal, and 100% negligentattitude of the American medical establishment towards the ruin of innate intestinal flora — a condition known as disbacteriosis.
It's an open secret among medical professionals that disbacteriosis harms patients, particularly children and seniors, who are the most vulnerable. Children — because of their disbacteriosis-related diarrhea and underdeveloped immunity. Seniors — because of practically all age-related diseases, impaired immunity, and antibiotics resistance. That's the genocidal aspect of this travesty.
And, yes, disbacteriosis harms doctors, nutritionists, dietitians, pharmacists, and microbiologists just as ruthlessly. In fact, it harms more medical professionals and their family members than the general public, because they are more likely to use fiber and antibiotics for themselves and their families, indiscriminately. That's the suicidal aspect of this unfathomable “fiasco of judgment” and, perversely, poetic justice.
The perils of disbacteriosis are well known to anyone who has ever seen Activia's ads, or visited a health food store, or perused the Internet's health sites, or attended medical school. Ignoring the role of disbacteriosis in health and/or death is the negligence aspect of this story — the mainstream American doctors don't look for it, don't diagnose it, and don't treat it.
There isn't a single reference in The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy either about “disbacteriosis” or it's alternative — “dysbiosis.” This isn't surprising — the negligent attitude towards this condition encourages the indiscriminate use of antibiotics and fiber from the cradle to the grave.
Fiber, in essence, was embraced and promoted by Big Pharma as a cheap and expedient antidote to expensive and overprescribed antibiotics. Since Merck and its brethren can't sell “bugs” with an enormous profit reserved for patented drugs, why bother ruining an enormously profitable antibiotics franchise?
This negligence has also been fueling an epidemic of colorectal disorders of immense proportion for some time, including colorectal cancers. It is also behind the proliferation of deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria (superbugs), and disbacteriosis-related complications, that are propelling the costs of health care into the stratosphere, increasing mortality, and lowering life-expectancy.
All along, those who are empowered to force change — from the Surgeon General of the United States to the National Institutes of Health, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the American Gastroenterological Association — keep 'mum' even though intestinal flora, just like blood, is considered a fully-fledged organ in its own right, and that much is taught in medical schools everywhere:
How can it be — intestinal bacteria are an essential part of human biology, but disbacteriosis isn't recognized? This is very much like saying that there are no toothless people in the United States because all people without teeth wear dentures.
This tragic farce reminds me of the not-so-distant practice of bloodletting (phlebotomy) to alleviate high fever. Countless millions of people, George Washington among them, had died from this barbaric 'treatment' because there was a universal belief among doctors that the body can easily replace lost blood. Come the 21st century, they still believe that fiber from dead plants can replace 400 species of once live bacteria.
Here is a complete reprint of the Disbacteriosis chapter from Fiber Menace. It's published here against the wishes of my publisher (Konstantin, for God's sake, you need to sell some books!) with the sincere hope of bringing this human tragedy and medical disaster to an end.
Chapter IV. Disbacteriosis
How do you debunk popular ideas about fiber’s role in digestion and elimination without being accused of committing a sacrilege, when it has already become a gold-standard treatment for “regularity,” a miracle laxative, and a concept so embedded in the minds of doctors and patients alike that it’s no longer even questioned by anyone?
Well, there are “sacred truths,” and then there are the long-established, indisputable facts of human physiology:
Breast milk has zero fiber, yet healthy babies produce abundant (relative to their weight and size) stools several times daily.
People who fast for weeks at a time have regular stools, even though they consume nothing but water.
Some people (the lucky ones) who attempted the Atkins Diet, had no problem with constipation, even though their diet contained zero or minor amounts of fiber.
Indigenous Inuit (Eskimo) people, who inhabit the Arctic coast of North America, some parts of Greenland, and northern Siberia, consume a fiber-free diet, and aren’t affected by constipation.
None of the above makes any sense, conventionally speaking. People can’t have regular stools without consuming any fiber, right?
Wrong! The reason you’re stumped is simple: you’ve been conditioned to believe that normal stools are made mainly from food, and that fiber is required to make them. Inevitably, the next logical inference forms a familiar logic:
IF FIBER MAKES GOOD STOOLS,
LET’S FIX BAD ONES WITH MORE FIBER
It seems perfectly logical, right?
Wrong again! Actually, normal stools shouldn’t contain any remnants of undigested food. Dietary proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and even fiber must digest completely. If something you ate exits your body as is, it means it wasn’t digested or couldn’t get digested to begin with, such as denatured protein (burnt meat). Technically, evenindigestible fiber should be fermented by intestinal bacteria.
That’s why a stool exam that shows any visible remnants of undigested fats, proteins, or carbohydrates, or even specks of undigested fiber (any at all), points to impaired digestion, and one disease or another that affects the organ(s) responsible for digestion and the absorption of a specific nutrient. That much is written in any medical reference book, and the observation of stools is widely used as an effective diagnostic tool for disorders of digestion and the digestive organs.
So what, then, are stools made from, if not food and fiber? Primarily water, intestinal bacteria (single cell, free-living microorganisms), dead bacteria and cells shed by the body, mineral salts, coloring pigments, and traces of fat. Intestinal bacteria are by far the largest component of stools. Let’s repeat again the quotation that opens this chapter [R.F. Schmidt, G. Thews Human Physiology, 2nd edition, a medical school textbook, -KM]:
“There are over 400 species of bacteria in the colon; bacteria make up 30%–50% of the total dry matter in the feces, or even 75% according to other calculation. ”
Besides other important tasks, these abundant bacteria make normal stools, unless they are completely or partially decimated by the vestiges of civilized living, or even—harder to believe—by dietary fiber.
Bacterial functions: Welcomed everywhere but in the West
When babies are born, their digestive organs are sterile. Their large intestines get “cultured” after the first few sips of colostrum, a thin yellowish fluid “infested” with the mother’s bacteria and rich in essential nutrients. Colostrum precedes the flow of fat- and protein-rich breast milk. The process continues with breast milk, and the intestinal flora of newborns matures to “adult” status by the sixth month.
Placing newborns on formula milk without first letting them taste colostrum and breast milk is a serious mistake. It may hound young parents for years to come as they grapple with their offspring’s food allergies, diarrhea, constipation, and poor general health.
But for many breastfed babies, even breast milk may lack essential bacteria because of their mothers’ prior exposure to environmental pollutants, antibiotics, and mercury in dental amalgams. That’s why nowadays, many newborns develop gastrointestinal and autoimmune disorders as often as their formula-fed brethren: their mothers suffer from acute disbacteriosis, a change of composition and/or volume of normal intestinal flora.
The presence of bacteria in dairy milk—good ones from the inside of the cow, bad ones from a dirty udder, contaminated hands, or unsanitary utensils—explains why, by law, raw milk must be pasteurized. This is true not so much to prevent human infections (humans drank raw milk for ages), but to prevent spoilage from bacterial fermentation.
Before the statutory pasteurization of dairy milk, intolerance to lactose and milk protein wasn’t as big an issue as it’s become today, because milk’s innate bacteria would assist in fermenting lactose and breaking down protein while the milk was still in the stomach or upper intestine—a process similar to yogurt-making. That’s why fermented dairy products, such as yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, and others don’t cause lactose intolerance or allergies as much (or at all) as regular pasteurized milk does.
In special circumstances, such as allergies, malnutrition, impaired immunity, severe burns, and others, doctors may prescribe a donor’s breast milk to babies or even adults. Unfortunately, human donor milk also must be pasteurized, and is useless for its primary functions: proper digestion thanks to the innate flora, and restoration of intestinal flora.
Intestinal flora—the sum of all indigenous bacteria that reside inside the intestinal tract (the host)—is considered an organ in itself, just like the liver or bone marrow, because the bacteria perform a range of essential, health-critical functions that can’t be reliably duplicated by any other means. Researchers determined these functions by comparing sterile lab animals (without any intestinal flora) with control animals that had normal flora. All of these findings have been confirmed in people as well. Here’s a brief listing of the intestinal flora’s most important functions:
Water retention in stools. Single cell organisms, such as bacteria, contain mostly water, encircled by impenetrable membranes. In large quantities, they provide normal stools with its amorphous qualities. That’s why dry stools reliably point to disbacteriosis.
Formation of normal stools. Since bacteria represent the most dominant component of normal stools, their absence may cause persistent chronic diarrhea or hard, rock-like stools (Type 1 on BSF scale).
Manufacturing of essential vitamins. Bacteria synthesize a whole range of substances, including certain B-complex vitamins, vitamin B12, and vitamin K, which is essential for proper blood coagulation.
Protecting the intestinal epithelium (mucosa) from pathogens. Normal intestinal flora controls the population of undesirable bacteria, such as Candida albicans (yeast) or the infective strains of E. coli. The mechanisms of protection are numerous—competition for food supply, adhesion to the intestinal mucosa, maintenance of desired pH balance, and production of peroxides and enzymes, which kill foreign bacteria.
Tissue development and regeneration. The intestinal mucosal membrane (epithelium) and lymphatic tissues (Peyer’s patches) of sterilized lab animals are poorly developed vis-à-vis healthy animals. The shortcomings of a weak mucosal membrane for intestinal health and underdeveloped lymphatic tissues for immunity are self-evident.
Immunity. Normal intestinal bacteria are responsible for enabling phagocytosis—the body-wide destruction of pathogenic bacteria, viruses, allergens, and other foreign objects by phagocytes,which are specialized blood cells responsible for non-specific (before antibodies) immune system defenses.
Besides the obvious conditions (constipation, diarrhea, and disorders related to B- and K-vitamin deficiencies) other common conditions that have been associated with disbacteriosis are irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, fatigue, diabetes, colon and breast cancers, acne, eczema, psoriasis, asthma, allergies, joint diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, gout, osteoarthritis), and others.
Despite all this, disbacteriosis (a.k.a. dysbiosis)—literally, a sterile gut—isn’t recognized by mainstream Western medicine as a disorder, even though it’s a bona fide medical condition in the rest of the world, particularly in Eastern Europe.
You won’t find a single reference to this condition on the Web sites of either The American Gastroenterological Association or The American Medical Association, while in fact the 1908 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Paul Ehrlich (Goettingen University, Goettingen, Germany) and Ilya Mechnikov (Institute Pasteur, Paris, France) “in recognition of their work on immunity,” specifically the discovery of phagocytosis.
The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy indirectly acknowledges the “possibility” of disbacteriosis (but not the condition) while discussing antibiotic-associated colitis, a condition that occurs when “various antibiotics may alter the balance of normal colonic flora and allow overgrowth of C. difficile, an anaerobic gram-positive bacillus.” Much to the Merck’s credit, it states “...lactobacillus or rectally instilled bacteroides may be required in patients who have multiple relapses”; doctor-speak for the restoration of intestinal flora with oral supplements or enemas, a subject discussed in Chapter 11, Avoiding the Perils of Transition.
When I was growing up in the late 1950’s, pediatric clinics in Ukraine routinely dispensed a specially prepared 'acidophilus milk' for children affected by diarrhea, constipation, or any other digestive disorder. It was a fermented dairy drink made daily from raw cow’s milk, specifically inoculated with live bacterial cultures essential for intestinal health. Today, you can find somewhat similar (sans raw milk) 'live' preparations in health food stores, but not in pharmacies, which dispense antibiotics..
Besides GI tract functions, non-pathogenic bacteria maintain a healthy bioecology of the epithelium, the upper layer of skin and mucosa. Indigenous bacteria prevent colonization by pathogens of the entire skin surface, the epithelium of the eyes (conjunctiva), nose, oral cavity, pharynx, urethra, penis, and vagina.
Antibacterial drugs, soaps, shampoos, creams, gargles, and vaginal douches destroy normal flora, and cause a rapid proliferation of pathogens, expressed in conditions such as conjunctivitis, cellulitis (a bacterial skin infection, not to be confused with cellulite), seborrhea, acne, sinusitis, mouth sores, gingivitis, periodontal disease, vaginal yeast infection, chronic inflammation of urethra and bladder, and many others.
Restoring normal flora becomes exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, if a person becomes dependent on an antibacterial means for infection control. That’s why anything with the words “antibacterial” on it should be avoided like the plague, unless specifically prescribed by a physician for a confirmed life-threatening infectious disease.
Common causes of disbacteriosis
What causes disbacteriosis? Well, anything that kills bad bacteria also kills good bacteria, which are identical single-cell living organisms, albeit better behaving. Here’s just a brief list of the most egregious villains. You will not find any particular recommendations here, because they’re self-evident: don’t use fiber, avoid antibiotics, remove amalgam fillings, use natural soaps, etc. Here we go:
Protein deficiency. The intestinal flora derives its energy and plastic nutrients not from food, but from mucin, which is secreted by healthy mucous membranes. Mucin is a glycoprotein—a molecule that bonds glucose with amino acids. Gastric and intestinal mucus is formed by combining mucin and water. Mucus protects the lining of the stomach and intestines from mechanical damage, enzymes, gastric acid, astringent bile, and food-born pathogens. The deficiency of the essential amino acid threonine, for example, curbs the body’s ability to produce mucin, and, correspondingly, the bacteria’s ability to function and procreate.
Excess dietary fiber. (Yes, you’re reading it right.) The by-products of fiber’s bacterial fermentation (short chain fatty acids, ethanol, and lactic acid) destroy bacteria for the same reason acids and alcohols are routinely used to sterilize surgical instruments—they burst bacterial membranes on contact. And that’s how fiber addiction develops: as the fermentation destroys bacteria, you need more and more fiber to form stools. If you suddenly drop all fiber, and no longer have many bacteria left, constipation sets in as soon as the large intestine clears itself of the remaining bulk.
Author's commentary: This last point, for some reason, is causing intense consternation and controversy among the “experts” on all things fiber. If you are one too, and believe that I am stretching the facts to fit my point of view, please note the following:
(1) The operative phenomenon here isn't that “fiber causes disbacteriosis,” — but 'excess fiber' — as in “the fermentation of excess dietary fiber.”
(2) Let me remind you that wine in the vat left for too long turns into vinegar, all the bacteria die off, and the fermentation stops. Bacterial fermentation in the wine vat, dear opponents, and in the pile of feces happens to be exactly the same process.
(3) Finally, consider this corroborating quote: “Colonic bacteria ferment unabsorbed carbohydrates into CO2, methane, H2, and short-chain fatty acids (butyrate, propionate, acetate, and lactate). These fatty acids cause diarrhea. The gases cause abdominal distention and bloating.” (Malabsorption Syndromes; The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy.) Let the diarrhea run its course a day too long, and disbacteriosis will soon follow. (God, I love those rare moments when Merck and I are singing the same tune.)
Intestinal acidity. Besides fermentation, excess acidity may occur when the pancreas fails to neutralize the stomach’s content because of pancreatic disorders or an obstruction. In this instance, acidic digestive juices spill into the large intestine and destroy bacteria. Interestingly enough, the most likely cause of obstruction in an otherwise healthy person is the blockage of the pancreatic ducts by—you guessed it—too much indigestible fiber in the duodenum. Normal acidity (i.e. safe for bacteria) for stools is within the 6 to 7.2 pH range.
Diarrhea. Acute intestinal infection, food poisoning, laxatives, medical intervention, and other conditions may cause prolonged diarrhea, which will literally wash out all of the bacteria from your gut. An appendectomy (the removal of the appendix) also increases the risk of disbacteriosis, because the appendix preserves the “starter” culture when diarrhea occurs.
Antibiotics and antibacterial medication (such as sulfanilamide, sulpha derivatives, Dynapen, Urex, Nydrazid, Macrodantin, Rifadin, and many others). Antibiotics and antibacterial drugs play an important, life-saving role in many circumstances. However, these drugs are widely and indiscriminately overprescribed to children and adults alike. One such prescription is often sufficient to wipe out the entire bacterial population of your gut.
Antibiotic residue in fowl, fish, livestock, and milk. Industrial farming necessitates the use of continuous, large doses of antibiotics to keep crowded, confined animals alive. Inevitably, some of these antibiotics transfer to the food supply, and affect humans.
Heavy metals. Mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, nickel, silver, and other metals are extremely toxic, even in trace amounts. The sources of contamination vary from industrial pollutants to household chemicals, batteries to electronic components, measuring devices, and other sources. Children are the most vulnerable.
Silverware. Silver is traditionally used for kitchen utensils, goblets, plates, and pitchers for its strong antibacterial properties. Silver flatware isn’t such a good idea after all, especially for babies.
Mercury from dental amalgam. This pollutant is omnipresent in the United States. Amalgam fillings are placed indiscriminately into cavities, because amalgam is cheap and easy to work with. The American Dental Association insists that dental amalgam is safe, while the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classify amalgam as a toxic and hazardous substance: “Another source of exposure to low levels of elemental mercury in the general population is elemental mercury released in the mouth from dental amalgam fillings” (Transportation, storage, and disposal of mercury is regulated by the Code of Federal Regulations, 29 CFR 1910.1000, and its willful violation is a criminal offense, except when mercury is “stored” in your mouth by a licensed dentist.) It isn’t surprising that dentists in the United States have the highest rate of depression, suicide, and drug and alcohol addiction, and the lowest life expectancy among all medical professionals. This could likely be the result of long-term exposure to mercury, which, as already mentioned, is a potent poison, neurotoxin, and carcinogen; one that gradually destroys nervous systems, causes cancers, kills off friendly bacteria, and brings about... an addiction to fiber.
Artificial food coloring. Years ago, a color pigment called crystal violet (also known as crystal gentian) was widely used as a topical antiseptic. There are good reasons to believe that long-term exposure to artificial food coloring may affect intestinal bacteria in the same way crystal violet affected (killed) topical bacteria.
Medical treatments and environmental pollutants. Chemo- and radiotherapy kill bacteria for the same reason they kill cancerous cells. There are other factors that negatively affect the intestinal flora, such as industrial pollutants, household chemicals, antibacterial soaps, and toxic substances found in toothpaste, shampoo, and detergents.
Quackery. If stools aren’t “clean,” then the colon must be “dirty.” This apparently logical inference is the base for “miracle cures” of constipation, migraine, halitosis, yeast infection, indigestion, and an endless array of other ills. While most of these conditions are indeed connected to the dysfunction of the large intestine, “cleaning” the colon isn’t a solution, but a sure formula for creating even more problems by causing even more severe forms of disbacteriosis.
Then there are things most city dwellers don’t do that may cause harm. In the past several years, popular media and medical journals widely reported that children who attend day care, live on farms, or grow up cuddling pets or livestock don’t suffer from asthma or other respiratory disease as often as children who don’t.
What’s going on in the kindergartens and on the farms that makes these kids cold- and asthma-resistant? Well, they sneeze over each other, don’t wash their hands as often, play with domesticated animals, and eat unwashed produce from manured land, so their little guts “stay current” and their immune systems are continuously challenged. It’s self-vaccination, of a kind.
This phenomenon is called the “hygiene theory,” though it should probably be called the “dirt theory.” Enlightened English pediatricians are now advising the parents of sickly city kids to take them to play in the sand boxes. If you don’t yet know this, sand boxes happen to be the favorite outhouse for neighboring cats. For similar reasons, toddlers, puppies, and even adult dogs, unburdened by a leash and/or social mores, eat feces(coprophagia), an instinctive survival trait in action.
This book doesn’t condone eating feces at any age—it’s gross, dangerous because of stool-born pathogens, worms, and toxoplasmosis, and ineffective because bacteria can’t survive the strong acidity of the human stomach. The proper way of inoculating the large intestine with fecal flora is called fecal bacteriotherapy. It’s been employed for ages by natural practitioners of Eastern medicine to ward off diarrhea and constipation. Even some allopathic (mainstream) doctors, although not in the United States, aren’t too squeamish about it, because it effectively cures otherwise incurable ulcerative colitis .
Symptoms of disbacteriosis
Advised by their veterinarians, farmers pay big bucks for bacterial supplements imported from Europe to keep their farm animals well and productive, because nobody will buy a bloated, underweight, sickly calf that’s suffering from chronic diarrhea and digestive distress.
Well, disbacteriosis in humans isn’t any more difficult to spot than it is in livestock. Here are the telltale signs of this condition:
Absence of intestinal gases. When dietary fiber (soluble as well as insoluble) is present in the diet, intestinal gases are produced by bacterial metabolism. A complete absence of gases (in the presence of dietary fiber) suggests an absence of fermentation. Small amounts of soluble (digestible) fiber, such as fruit pectin, speed up the proliferation of intestinal flora, while avoiding excessive fermentation.
Undigested fiber in stool can be seen as white or dark specks. This is best determined by a stool exam performed by a medical lab (CDSA, or Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis). The same exam may superficially determine the symbiotic and pathogenic bacterial content and ratio, but only for a minor subset of hundreds of innate strains.
Constipation. Constipation is one of the most prominent signs, especially when the stools are dry or hard. This means there is too little bacteria to loosen up the formed feces and keep them moist, because, unlike other stool components, bacterial cells retain moisture.
Intermittent or chronic diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. As you’ve read above, the introduction of desirable bacteria into the affected large intestine heals these conditions. So it’s a no-brainer to assume that, along with fiber, disbacteriosis plays a significant role in their pathogenesis.
Frequent respiratory infections, asthma, bronchitis, chronic rhinitis, post-nasal drip, nasal voice, sinus congestions, and allergies. These primarily chronic conditions indicate a weakened immune system because of disbacteriosis. They usually appear after a routine respiratory infection that was treated with antibiotics, which in turn damage intestinal flora.
Blood-clotting problems. Hard-to-stop ordinary bleeding and easy bruising (ecchymoses)—dark, blotchy areas of hemorrhages under the skin—may indicate a deficiency of vitamin K, which is a by-product of bacterial metabolism. Before making this determination, rule out vitamin C deficiency (scurvy) and anticlotting medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen (NSAIDs),warfarin, and others.
Neurological problems and anemia. Vitamin B12 is essential for the normal functioning of the nervous system and production of red blood cells. Since red meat and eggs were almost eliminated from the “healthy” Western diet until the Atkins-style diet came into vogue, the intestinal flora was the only remaining “natural” source of vitamin B12. Numbness and tingling of the hands and feet, paleness, shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, a sore mouth and tongue, and mental confusion are the most common symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency. At this stage, supplements are the only viable option to quickly treat and reverse these symptoms.
Keep in mind that any one of these signs may indicate other conditions. It’s always best to consult a caring, competent physician and ask him or her to arrange for a comprehensive digestive stool analysis (CDSA) at a medical lab.
As you can see, when the bacteria are suffering, everything else suffers too: your immune system doesn’t protect you as well as it used to, your blood doesn’t coagulate, your stools lack moisture, and your colon gets irritable and inflamed from a multitude of factors. Once the bacteria are gone, something must take their place and restore some of their functions. That’s how and why dietary fiber entered the picture:
First, to stimulate the growth of intestinal flora by feeding the remaining bacteria with abundant fiber. It kind of works initially, but it’s a bad idea, really, because the excess acidity from fermenting too much fiber kills off an already dwindling population of hard-working microbes.
Secondly, fiber was introduced to bulk up stools after the bacteria were completely demolished, and when constipation or diarrhea set in. The result of this action, unfortunately, is even worse than the remedy—irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, inflammation, and reduced immunity (all outcomes of disbacteriosis-related diarrhea or constipation).
Finally, as colorectal disorders, caused by coarse, bulky stools, grow worse, a person requires more and more fiber to “plunge” out ever-larger stools.
Naturally, the enlightened way to prevent and treat disbacteriosis isn’t with fiber, more fiber, and even more fiber, but with... intestinal bacteria. This concept is discussed in Chapter 11, Avoiding the Perils of Transition(see page 211). Why such a simple, elegant, practical, inexpensive, and foolproof idea escaped Western medicine still baffles me. [You'll find even more information on this subject just below - KM]
— Free at last!
Q. Can I keep my gut flora healthy by drinking Dannon's Activia?
Theoretically, you can—but only from naturally fermented yogurt or kefir, not Activia. These are Eastern-style dairy beverages made from whole raw milk soured in clay pots or leather sacks.
Because raw milk was infested with all kinds of bacteria picked up from udders, unwashed hands, porous clay, or leather, natural fermentation was the only way of disinfecting and preserving dairy before the era of pasteurization and refrigeration.
After naturally-occurring fermentation, these beverages were bubbly, acidic, and slightly alcoholic. These qualities made them safe to drink for three reasons: (1) bacteria were killed by high acidity and alcohol; (2) lactose intolerance was eliminated because lactose was rendered out by fermentation; and (3) casein—a highly allergenic milk protein—was broken down by bacteria into easily digestible essential amino acids.
While growing up in the Ukraine in the fifties and sixties, we regularly drank raw milk and natural kefir (partially fermented, non-alcoholic). I don't ever recall anyone being hit with diarrhea or loose stools. Notably, these beverages were recommended to children for their nutritional qualities (i.e. proteins, fats, minerals), but not for bacteria or “laxative” effects.
The presumably “live” or “active” bacteria in the commercially fermented beverages such as Activia, including organic ones, are likely to be dead by the time you buy them. So they won't have any beneficial effect on your digestive organs. Manufacturers expose the finished product to high heat in order to shut down fermentation (by killing bacteria, of course). This extends the shelf life of the finished product and prevents blowouts, separation of whey and solids, and spoilage.
You can easily determine if the bacteria in your favorite yogurt are indeed “live” or “active.” Pour the beverage into a clean glass, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and leave the glass overnight in a warm place, such as the boiler room or near a warm electrical appliance. If, come morning, the wrap remains flat, it means the fermentation didn’t start and the gases didn’t form because the bacteria were long dead.
Even if you get lucky, and the bacteria are still alive, your stomach acid and enzymes will kill them on contact anyway. No surprise here—sterilization of food is, in fact, one of the stomach’s key functions. Unlike bacteria in yogurt, supplemental 'dry' bacteria survive the stomach's hostile environment because they are specifically designed to bypass it.
So how can products like Dannon® Activia™ claim to restore “regularity” for some? Well, that happens not because of the bacteria, but due to the presence of inulin—a soluble fiber additive, which happens to be a potent laxative. Each serving of Activia contains 3 g of inulin. That's more soluble fiber than in six capsules ofMetamucil Fiber Capsules laxative — they have only 2 g.
Inulin is harvested from plants, and is broadly used as a filler and stabilizer in processed foods. Without some kind of industrial-strength stabilizer, ersatz dairy like Activia, which is “cooked” from dry milk, would separate into water and solids before reaching consumers:
In addition to inulin, Activia's label lists the following ingredients (Dannon ® Activia™ Light Strawberry, illustration modified, click the link to see the original):
That's hardly a recipe for healthy food! Lets investigate these ingredients:
Cultured grade A non fat milk is a euphemism for dry milk dissolved in water. Dry milk is produced by spray-drying skim milk at extremely high temperatures. This process causes oxidation of remaining lipids, which, in turn, are implicated in atherosclerosis and cancers.
Water. That's tap water from the municipal water supply closest to the Dannon factory. It's the same water with which you and I would flush a toilet. While by itself, filtered and dechlorinated municipal water isn't particularly harmful, is that what you're paying for with this “yogurt”?
Inulin is a known allergen reported in The New England Journal of Medicine in connection toanaphylaxis, a deadly shock. Also, inulin is a fructan—fructose polymer. Fructose and other fructans cause malabsorption of nutrients in 30% to 40% of individuals, and they have been implicated in the pathogenesis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). That's not surprising—after all inulin is a potent laxative, known to cause diarrhea. And what usually follows diarrhea? Constipation, of course. In addition to bloating, flatulence and abdominal cramps caused by fermentation of inulin, alternating patterns of diarrhea and constipation is a dead-on accurate description of IBS's primary symptoms.
Carmine (E 120) is a bright red artificial color harvested from scale insects. Just like inulin, it's known to cause anaphylaxis in some individuals — particularly long-term vegans, and Jews and Muslims who observe kashrut and halal (respective religious dietary rules).
Sucralose (E 955), a.k.a. Splenda®—an artificial sweetener. It has been reported to cause migraines, DNA damage, and thymus degeneration. The thymus produces T-cells, which play a central role in adaptive immunity.
Malic acid (E 296) is a known mouth irritant and cavities-causing agent. It gives Activia its tartness and makes teeth sensitive to hot and cold just like any other strong acid would do. That's the same effect as from eating sour green apples, which contain minute quantities of malic acid.
The remaining ingredients (corn starch, gelatin, sodium citrate) in Activia are less offensive fillers and preservatives, but they too have about as much business being in “healthy” yogurt as rat's excrement does in your dinner. I hope you don't vomit.
Finally, if you are experiencing bloating, flatulence, or abdominal discomfort after eating processed yogurt or ice cream, you are likely being affected by soluble fiber fillers, such as inulin, guar gum, agar, or pectin. To exclude junk food like Activia from your diet, just read the labels. By law, it's all printed there.
To summarize: beware when dealing with lawful cheats. They ruthlessly mint money at the expense of your — and your children’s — health and longevity. The problem here isn't that Activia is junk — that, unfortunately, is still legal to sell. The problem is that Dannon ruthlessly markets it as a 'health' food to unsuspecting consumers. Even more disgraceful — it preys on and exploits adults and children with digestive disorders, who are the first to use this devil's brew.
It's in you power to stop this travesty and tragedy. Bring a copy of this page to your supermarket, grocery store, or cafeteria, particularly so-called organic stores such as Whole Foods. Ask them to remove Dannon products from their shelves. Do not patronize stores that sell this Euro-trash. Contact your stockbroker or mutual fund and ask them to divest Dannon's stock. Send a link to this page to your representatives in Congress, and demand action. The change will come. They all have kids and grandkids too.
(Guess what — I am no longer screaming “bloody murder” alone. Here is more about this courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.)
Q. I've read about fecal bacteriotherapy. Is it better than bacterial supplements?
— Guys, get in!
Similar objectives, different approach. Yes, “healthy” human stool is a better source of intestinal flora than sublimated bacteria in capsules or liquid suspension. And this natural “culture” doesn't have to pass through the stomach and intestines.
When done properly (i.e. by medical doctors), this method of restoring bacterial flora involves pre-treating the recipient with a potent antibiotic to wipe out intestinal pathogens, particularlyClostridium difficile.
Next, doctors collect “fresh” feces from pre-screened donors, mix them with isotonic solution (0.9% sodium chloride in distilled water), and inject the resulting suspension directly into the recipient’s large intestine by means of a flexible tube.
The tube is inserted as far as possible into the colon, so the bacteria can reach the cecum (blind gut, the first section of the large intestine). To assure the bacteria’s survival, the procedure is repeated several times.
You aren’t likely to see this method employed in the United States any time soon, for reasons I described in one of my unpublished articles on this subject:
How and where do you find suitable donors of 'healthy' feces in the United States? Almost all Americans have at one time or another taken prescription antibiotics, or been exposed to potent antibiotics in agro-industrial meat and diary. An additional factor is the mercury in amalgam fillings, which are omnipresent in the United States.
Importing feces from more pristine countries probably wouldn’t be practical, easy, or even legal. Finally, factor in adamant doctors (No way I am giving crap to my patients!), trigger-happy lawyers (The idiot who made up that crap deserves the slammer!), profit-hungry pharmaceutical companies (You can’t make a buck selling crap!), penny-wise insurers (We ain’t paying crap for crap!), and this inexpensive, quick, safe, and effective approach becomes absolutely hopeless.
It ain’t a laughing matter, though. According to the National Institutes of Health, “About 25 to 40 percent of ulcerative colitis patients must eventually have their colons removed because of massive bleeding, severe illness, rupture of the colon, or risk of cancer.” With over one million people affected by inflammatory bowel disease, such as colitis, that's a lot of surgeries.
Most if not all of these tragedies could have been averted. According to medical research published by Australian doctors, fecal bacteriotherapy effectively reversed ulcerative colitis in treated patients.
If you already have U.C. or Crohn's disease, you could dig out your credit cards and take a plane to Australia. It's a hundred-fold cheaper to pay usury to the banks than to be usurped by useless and harmful antibiotics and immunodepressants to keep yourself from bleeding to death.
And tell your doctor about this unique procedure. Many scientists consider intestinal bacteria a full-fledged organ in its own right. So you can look at fecal bacteriotherapy as a form of organ transplant. That should win doctors' respect, insurance reimbursement, and customs clearance to import 'organic crap.'
Otherwise, thank your good fortune for being spared from U.C. or Crohn's, and, for general prevention advice and other good things mentioned here, take “oral bacterial therapy,” such as Enterophilus. It isn't as efficient as the 'real thing' via the anus—but, when taken properly, it delivers good results too.
Welcome home, boys!
American dentists are well aware of the amalgam fillings controversy. You aren't likely to find any such fillings in their own teeth, or in the teeth of their children and spouses. Many no longer use amalgams to avoid exposure.
If you have any “black” fillings, get them replaced with composite fillings. Do it for the same reasons you don’t want mercury in your fish, or lead in your kitchen pipes, or arsenic in your drinking water.
If your dentist tries to talk you out of it — and he or she may for legal reasons — then ask another dentist to do it for cosmetic reasons. Dentists may lose their licenses for replacing a viable filling “without cause” because it's construed as profiteering and malpractice.
When you ask dentists to do the same procedure for cosmetic reasons, or to get rid of a metallic taste in your mouth, that's okay. Hence the charade. Health concerns aren't a good enough “cause” because state licensing boards play along with the ADA's position — amalgams represent zero risk.
If you work in the same office with a person who has amalgam fillings, your exposure to mercury vapors from a breathing person may be similar or higher than from a poorly collected spill from a broken mercury thermometer.
If you would like to learn more about this subject, Amalgam Illness, Diagnosis and Treatment by Dr. Andrew Hall Cutler provides comprehensive information on all issues related to dental amalgams. It's expensive, but worth it.
Let others know about this page! This link may save a life!
1. R.F. Schmidt, G. Thews. Colonic Motility. Human Physiology, 2nd edition. 29.7:733.
2. Search on keywords “disbacteriosis” and “dysbiosis”: www.ama-assn.org and www.gastro.org on 6/19/2004.
3. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1908. Nobel e-Museum; [link]
4. Antibiotic-Associated Colitis; 3:29; The Merck Manual Of Diagnosis and Therapy.
5. American Dental Association. “ADA continues to believe that amalgam is a valuable, viable and safe choice for dental patients and concurs with the findings of the U.S. Public Health Service that amalgam has ‘continuing value in maintaining oral health.’» ADA Statement on Dental Amalgam, Revised January 8, 2002; [link]
6. Mercury Compounds. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; [link]
7. Thomas M. Ball, M.D., M.P.H, et al. Siblings, Day-Care Attendance, and the Risk of Asthma and Wheezing during Childhood, New England Journal of Medicine, 2000 Aug;343:538–543.
8. Borody TJ, Warren EF, Leis S, Surace R, Ashman O.; Treatment of ulcerative colitis using fecal bacteriotherapy; Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 2003 Jul;37(1):42–7. PMID: 12811208.