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 an astonishing 10-1 at least! Cultivating beneficial gut bacteria is the first line of defense against many serious diseases.
As I said before, 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 friendly gut microbes for regulating the permeability, aka leakiness of the gut lining - this is the connecting factor. When dysbiosis occurs (when the friendly gut bacteria levels become disrupted with an overpopulation of the pro-inflammatory gut-damaging microbes), 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 create an inflammatory cascade, triggering the immune system to go into manic 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 now we have putrefactive toxins in the bloodstream circulating around the body.
In human health, leaky gut sydrome is the catalyst for just about every chronic condition - autoimmunity, obesity, diabetes, IBS, Crohns, autism, Parkinson’s, chronic fatigue syndrome ... you name it, the list goes on. It affects the whole process for every medical condition, be it joint, skin, brain; everything starts with that thin mucosal gut wall lining which is a mere 1-cell thick, so you can appreciate that this makes it extremely vulnerable.
Just out of interest, 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 fossilised plaque on teeth. What researchers found was that the microbiota of our ancestors is almost identical to us living today, yet the diseases of today in this cosmopolitan western world didn’t exist historically, all having been induced by environment, food choices, antibiotics, NSAIDS, all of which threaten the microbiota. Life, health, vitality, and a strong immune system, completely depend on the health and diversity of the gut microbes.
Research is also showing that our modern world is now experiencing an incompatibility between DNA - which until recently has remained relatively stable throughout the course of history - and the microbiome, which has experienced dramatic changes due to modern management and species-inappropriate feed. What goes around comes around ...
We have the right tools right now to improve the equine diet, not just in fibre but in prebiotic fibre (from the cellulose fibre in stemmy hay) which changes the microbiota for the better and nurtures it to flourish.
It's fundamentally important to Feed The Flora - naturally though, not via inappropriate supplements - not just for nurturing the gut but for maintaining the lining of the gut and the blood-brain barrier, which 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.
For the full story on leaky gut and the microbiome, see our separate chapters in The Gut System section - Leaky Gut - a Growing Epidemic, and The Microbiome - the Missing Organ? - it's eye-opening stuff 😲.
Back to Immunity, and there's another major player, Stress, and how The Effects of Stress not only negatively affect the gut, but immunity as a whole.