Our GI tracts are colonized by hundreds of microorganisms at birth as we pass through the mother's birth canal. These bacteria live in balanced homeostasis, helping digest food, helping absorb Vitamin K and Vitamin B complex and helping our immune response. When this balance is upset with antibiotics, Clostridium difficile bacteria overgrowth can occur. Clostridium difficle infection is serious and it is the most common cause of hospital acquired diarrhea and often leads to severe illness and death. As patients are treated with yet more antibiotics to eradicate the infection a month later recurrent C. diff can commonly return.
The Human Microbiome Project is focusing on understanding the role of human genetic and metabolic bacteria that may help other diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and sjogrens syndrome. These early trials point to the benefits of millions of microbes in our bodies and one can't help but wonder about our factory farmed animal food supply that is so injected with antibiotics and how that may contribute to disease.
Fecal transplants make a lot of sense as we appreciate more and more how important it is to have healthy gut microbes. To keep your gut healthy please:
1. Avoid antibiotics unless necessary for a known serious bacterial infection
2. Buy only organic, local farmed meat and poultry that has not been fattened with antibiotics
3. Eat more fiber, fruits, vegetables and legumes
4. Drink water between meals