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healing the gut is all about treating your microbiome with tlc




“Medical advice says to avoid sun, fats and red meat, but to drink lots of water, eat polyunsaturated vegetable oils, and focus on the grain-rich bottom of the food pyramid.  The medical advice is simply wrong and is not supported by the biomedical literature.  A recent article in a major medical journal claims that about 90% of medical advice is not based on clinical research studies, but rather represents the opinions of experts who are supported by the health industry.

Many researchers complain in the biomedical literature that there is insufficient focus on the cause of disease and too much emphasis on the study of the impact of specific drugs on disease symptoms. The result is that in most cases the symptoms are treated and the disease becomes chronic. Of course this also means that the patient is a permanent consumer of health care.

The foundation of all healthcare should be to improve the lifestyle of the patient. Diseases don’t just happen.  People are sick because there is something wrong with how they live. Drugs can reduce chronic inflammation, but will also produce additional side effects that will also require interventions. It makes more sense to attack the original causes of inflammation.    Dr. Art Ayers — Cherry-picked from his website, Cooling Inflammation, as are all the quotes in this post.

After reading LAST WEEK’S POST, I hope you are coming to the realization that if you don’t emphasize GUT HEALTH in your recovery process, solving chronic health or weight issues could prove extremely difficult — maybe even impossible.  Enter Dr. Art Ayers.  Ayers has a Ph.D in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from CU, as well as having held post-doctorate and teaching positions at Harvard, Mizzou, Kansas State (GO CATS!), and the University of Stockholm.  He was the Director of the Genetic Engineering Program at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, prior to taking a position at the University of Idaho, where he has worked for the past quarter century.   On top of all this, his wife, a nurse, has been active for the past several decades in promoting natural birth and breast feeding.

If you are sick, OVERWEIGHT, DEPRESSED, or struggling with any number of CHRONIC PAIN SYNDROMES, Ayers’ blog (COOLING INFLAMMATION) should be at the very top of your short-list of must-read material.  The focus of much of Dr. Ayers’ work-related and personal research has been the intimate relationship between INFLAMMATION, Gut Flora, and the foods you eat / lifestyle choices you make.  If your eyes have not already been opened to this relationship, you’ll soon see just how important it really is when it comes to your health.

The chief principle I’ve gleaned from following Dr. Ayers’ site is that our MICROBIOMES are everything; and that everything we eat or are exposed to is either building or destroying them (HERE is a recent example of this).  I will warn you, however, that some of his wisdom is rather unconventional.  Hygiene should be minimal, because most people repair damaged gut flora due to antibiotics, for example, by intimate contact with friends and pets.  Antimicrobial soaps and sterile home surfaces prevent gut flora repair, because the vast majority of bacteria killed by hygiene are beneficial.  Prescription to Repair Gut Flora:  Anti-Inflammatory Diet, Soluble Fiber, Fermented Vegetables, Less Hygiene….. keep your tooth brush near the open toilet.

What could possibly make such an educated individual say something that sounds so utterly crazy to the biggest portion of our largely ‘germophobic’ society?  Easy; few people understand the importance of the Microbiome in the ways that ART AYERS does.  While it might be true that “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” the extremes that our society has gone to rarely promote optimal health (HERE, HERE, and HERE).  Today I want to take you on a short and simplified journey through Gut Health as seen through the eyes of a true expert.

If you are interested in giving your kids a fighting chance in this life; start them out right.  What does this entail?   For starters, the hope is that it involves a VAGINAL DELIVERY.  “If the baby is delivered by Caesarian, then her first gut flora will resemble the nursery staff.  If she forces her way out the old fashioned way, her first flora will resemble her mother’s vaginal flora.”  From there, it is critical to either breast feed, or use a milk bank, as formula causes any numbers of problems. 

“Milk is a baby’s first prebiotic [food source for ‘good’ bacteria] and a major function of mother’s milk is to prevent adult gut bacteria from inflaming a newborn’s gut, before the gut is sealed up and a new immune system is developed.  Formula….. artificial milk substitutes undermine baby gut flora with tragic results.  Formula made from cow’s milk or soy is toxic to baby gut flora and even a single bottle of formula can permanently damage it.  The only reason that babies can survive formula and the growth of adult gut flora in the first weeks of life, is that the disrupted gut flora is highly inflammatory and the inflamed gut provides some protection from infection.   The disastrous impact of formula on gut flora is readily observed in the change to smelly diapers.” 

Dr. Ayers is leading from the front as he reveals how he and his wife birthed and raised their own children.  “My three daughters were all born at home and never used formula — they started to eat some mashed up food at about six months and continued to nurse for more than two years.”  Despite this amount of nursing seeming excessive here in America, it is par-for-the-course for a large segment of the world’s population.  Which brings me to the next big topic — what should you be eating and feeding your families on a daily basis?

Any time a discussion turns to diet, controversy abounds.  It shouldn’t.  As Dr. Ayers shares through his quote from the top of the page, there is a CHASM / CANYON between what is being published in peer-review, and the recommendations / GUIDELINES put out by physician groups and our government.  This is the nature of a large portion of what we erroneously refer to as EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE.  Fortunately, if you click on the previous link you can see how this hypocrisy is being brought to the public eye via the worldwide web.

Dr. Ayers’ anti-inflammatory diet is not much different than the ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET that I promote on my site and in my clinic.  Control blood sugar via “LOW CARB“.  Avoid HFCS, TRANS FATS, and VEGETABLE OILS at all costs.  Get plenty of high quality SATURATED FATS.  Make sure to eat fish or take a QUALITY FISH OIL SUPPLEMENT (“omega-3 supplements are needed to overcome existing inflammation — take with saturated fats.”).  Dr. Ayers is not big on taking vitamins because most vitamins can be produced by properly functioning Gut Flora (he correctly considers Vitamin D a hormone).

“Several research studies show that typical multivitamin supplements or the levels of vitamins in ‘enriched’ foods do not provide improvements in health. Since gut flora produce all of the needed vitamins, this should be no surprise. But why do gut bacteria release vitamins needed for the normal functions of the human body?  Vitamins are enzyme cofactors.  Bacteria can synthesize all of the vitamins needed for metabolism, but humans can’t.  Health requires gut biofilms to supply vitamins and control the immune system.  Eating vitamins may disrupt normal biofilm formation.   All needed vitamins are supplied by healthy gut flora (as biofilm chemical signals) and healthy people do not benefit from multivitamin supplements, but people with damaged gut flora, e.g. because of antibiotic use or autoimmune disease, may require specific vitamins.”

In other words, consuming vitamins for the sake of consuming vitamins can, and sometimes does, disrupt normal Gut and BIOFILM function (HERE).  The result — in similar fashion to taking Antibiotics — is something called DYSBIOSIS; an imbalance in the ratio and types of bacteria living in your Gut.  A gross over-simplification would be that Dysbiosis means you have too many bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria.  The problem is that “good” bacteria can go ‘rogue’ and become “bad” when exposed to the environmental or dietary conditions discussed in this post, or if their numbers are outside the proper ratio.  The quote also reveals how poor Gut Health can lead to vitamin deficiencies.  This is also the reason that when I do recommend vitamins to patients, it is almost always WHOLE-FOOD VITAMINS

Let’s spend a few moments discussing the relationship between things like fiber, grains, and meat.  One of the statements that Ayers makes on his site is that, “Most people would be healthier on a celiac diet.  The anti-inflammatory diet proposed here for celiacs should be uniformly healthy……”  According to Dr. Ayers, however, either a vegan diet or all meat diet can be healthy for you, depending on whether your Microbiome is adapted to handle it properly.  Vegan and paleo extremes can lead to healthy gut flora diversity, if the gut bacterial community is permitted to adjust to the diet composition by avoiding rapid changes and providing diverse bacterial sources.  Meat contains complex polysaccharides, e.g. glycosaminoglycans, such as chondroitin sulfate and heparan sulfate proteoglycans, which are bacterial fodder equivalent to soluble fiber.  And as far as FIBER is concerned, Soluble fiber, e.g. pectin in fruit or inulin in leeks or chondroitin in meat, is healthy food for gut flora; but insoluble fiber, such as in whole grains is a scam and just sucks out micronutrients.

In another of his posts, Ayers goes on to say that, “Grains are frequently a problem — gluten intolerance.”  In answering a comment on one of his posts, he says that, “I wouldn’t agree that grain is fundamental. I think that it has always compromised health, but has become a problem in the presence of so many other inflammatory factors, such as escalating Cesarean births and use of artificial formula. Women are getting pregnant and giving birth at much higher levels of chronic inflammation. Babies are born with higher initial inflammation.”  At one point in a post against some of Dr. Oz’s “questionable” advice (HERE is some I wrote about), Ayers says that, “He also seems to ignore the relationship between grain, antibiotics and autoimmune disease.”  I wrote about this relationship HERE, and almost blanketly recommend that individuals with AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES (click for a list) at least try a GLUTEN-FREE DIET — even if they have been told they are NOT CELIAC and don’t need it.

Dr. Ayers speaks extensively on his site about one other dietary topic as well — fermented foods (there is an inexpensive book he recommends — less than twenty bucks on Amazon).  Although he certainly believes that PROBIOTICS have their place, he is not high on milk-based Probiotics — the majority of the Probiotics on the market today (for years I have recommend HSO’s or ‘soil-based’ Probiotics, or just EATING DIRT).  He also happens to be a vocal advocate of FMTFecal Microbiota Transplant (yes, it is exactly what you think it is).  If you want to see why Probiotics don’t hold a candle to FMT (“Probiotics are unique bacterial species that do not persist in the gut of adults, but dominate the gut of milk eating babies and stimulate development of the gut and immune system.“), make sure to take a look at THIS POST

As you might guess, Dr. Ayers warns us time and time again on his site about the insane numbers of problems that ANTIBIOTICS create in the Guts of babies, children, and adults alike.   But he does not stop there.  Ayers has at least half a dozen posts dealing with the fact that all drugs have antibiotic-like properties as far as your Gut is concerned (HERE and HERE).  There are also the drugs that suppress your ability to kill pathogenic bacteria (for instance, PPI’S or “Heartburn / Reflux Drugs).

Let me end by saying that Dr Ayers is a hero for taking the time to put up mountains of valuable information on his site, and not charging you a nickel for it.   You won’t find one in a hundred MD’s that knows (or is willing to share) what Ayers has revealed about what it takes to raise healthy kids from birth, or how to solve CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY DEGENERATIVE DISEASES / AUTOIMMUNITY at the grass-roots level, by dealing with the ultimate causes of Inflammation.  Whether you are a layperson or a Ph.D researcher; are sick and trying to get well, or are simply wanting to keep your family as healthy as possible, “Cooling Inflammation” has something for everyone.  Make sure to bookmark his site, and don’t forget to browse the comments as well.

“Use olive oil, reduce starch, eat vegetables, eat more fish and less meat, get daily sun, use fish oil supplements, get frequent muscle-building exercise, and stay lean.”  Dr. Art Ayers from Cooling Inflammation


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