The Microbiome and
For true overall health we need a healthy gut. Why? Because life-force depends on it.
The gut is home to both good and bad bacteria, and collectively they outnumber the cells in the body by at least 10-1! Cultivating beneficial gut bacteria is the first line of defense against many serious diseases.
The cornerstone of major disease progression is inflammation. It's important to not think so much about identifying specific diseases but look to the common factor in them all, the one underlying mechanism that unites all disease, and that's inflammation. Inflammation is the pivotal player in causing degenerative disease, and it's commonly referred to as the 3-I's sydrome (as in the letter I) - it starts with Irritation, which causes Inflammation, which then leads to Infection.
We need to centre our attention on the good gut microbes, or microbiota, for regulating the permeability or leakiness of the gut lining - this is the connecting factor. When dysbiosis occurs (the gut bacteria levels become disrupted), usually caused by ingesting inappropriate foods or environmental toxins which upset the gut lining, then the gut wall becomes permeable.
Undigested toxins leak through the gut lining into the bloodstream and creates an inflammatory cascade, triggering the immune system to go into overdrive. This also creates a toxic buildup in the filtration organs - a leaky gut will gunk up the liver, which means it won't be able to perform as well as it should, so the kidneys then have to pick up the slack.
Leaky gut sydrome is the catalyst for just about every chronic condition such as autoimmunity, obesity, diabetes, IBS, Crohns, autism, Parkinson’s, chronic fatigue syndrome ... the list goes on. It affects the whole process for every medical condition, be it joint, skin, brain; everything starts with the gut and specifically the lining which is a mere 1-cell thick, which, as you can appreciate, makes it extremely vulnerable.
Research has been carried out on the genetic signature of ancestral microbiota on human fossils, some 8000-yrs old, by looking at ancient poop, as well as fossilized plaque on teeth. What researchers found was that the microbiota of those living today is almost identical to those ancestors, yet the diseases of today in this cosmopolitan western world, which didn’t exist historically, is induced by environment, food choices, antibiotics, NSAIDS, all of which threaten the microbiota. Life, health, vitality, and a strong immune system, depend completely on the healthy microbiota living within the digestive system.
The modern world is now experiencing an incompatibility between DNA, which until recently has remained relatively stable throughout the course of history, and the microbiota, which has experienced dramatic changes due to modern management and species-inappropriate feed.
We have the right tools right now to improve the equine diet, not just in fibre but in prebiotic fibre which changes the microbiota for the better and nurtures it to flourish.
It's fundamentally important to Feed The Flora, not just for nurturing the gut but for maintaining the lining of the gut and the blood-brain barrier, to exclude the factors that can threaten brain health. Whatever we do to amplify the good gut bacteria and the various organisms, to increase bacteria diversity to ultimately stabilise the gut lining, will reduce inflammation in the body.
We have a separate page on the latest discoveries on the importance of The Microbiome, and how it's now being thought of as The Missing Organ - see our Gut page in the Equine Herbal Nutrition by Category section: The Microbiome - it's eye-opening stuff!
Now we need to look at another major player, Stress, and how The Effects of Stress not only negatively affect the gut, but immunity as a whole.