Our bodies are made up by about 10 trillion cells. You have 100 trillion “bugs” or microbio cells on you right now! Some of our understanding of how these good bugs are beneficial to our health is not new. The bugs that live in our intestines help us digest our food, keep the bad bugs in check and communicate and educate our immune system. The bugs that live on our skin help protect us from infection, protect us from certain skin conditions and yes…also communicate and educate our immune system. What is new information is the extent and reach these symbiotic creatures have on our overall health, prevention of disease and in the case of dysbiosis (sick bugs and bad bugs) cause of disease. As the technology allowing us to study these bugs has advanced so has our understanding about how important and diverse these colonies of bugs are. What you eat, where you live and who you hang out with all influence your flora. The bugs in your gut can influence whether or not you get the flu this year, become obese, get depressed and even how you experience pain with arthritis. As a chiropractor this is very interesting to me!
Certain prescription drugs have an unfortunate side effect of messing with our gut bugs. Antibiotics are arguably one of the most important discoveries in the advancement of medicine. It has no doubt saved millions of lives. Today unfortunately they are over prescribed on a regular basis. According to some studies 60% of antibiotics prescribed for illnesses are the wrong antibiotic or the patient did not require antibiotics at all. The problem arises because the antibiotic doesn’t just kill the bad bugs making you sick it also kills off many of our good bugs! This has contributed to the evolution of many strands of antibiotic resistant bugs in our body and a dis-proportionate colonization of certain gut bugs (dysbiosis). In other words our guts are not healthy. Antacids and acid blockers are a popular prescription and over the counter drug used widely today. These drugs definitely help lower your gut acid. Unfortunately this is not good for you long term. The acid in your gut not only serves to help you break down and absorb foods and nutrients but it also acts as a barrier to prevent many unwanted bugs into our digestive track. Severe medical conditions such as C.diff are known to have a high correlation and may be caused by the over prescription of these drugs. The question we don’t know for sure are what the long term effects on our health this has? How does this contribute to the illnesses mentioned above?
For now it would be well advised to eat as healthy as possible with lots of cruciferous vegetables (bugs love that stuff) and always take a quality probiotic especially after antibiotic use. Avoid “broad spectrum” antibiotics whenever possible. Ask for cultures and tests to determine the source of your illness when possible. Work with your healthcare professional to get off gut antacids and PPIs as expeditiously as possible. They were never meant to be for long term use.
Who knows….we may discover soon how to resolve that chronic low back pain with a good gut bug. We’ll call him Chirobacterium!
Dr. Picchiotti is a chiropractic physician at QC Core Chiropractic and Clinton Core Chiropractic Wellness, specializing in sports injury and wellness nutrition.