The Animals Inside You

Circle shows the original area of eczema (plus some on the underside of the wrist). If you look closely near the point of the arrow, you can see the little bit that remains.

Circle shows the original area of eczema (plus some on the underside of the wrist). If you look closely near the point of the arrow, you can see the little bit that remains.

As a rancher, I tend to talk a lot on this blog about our animals. However, some of the most important animals in our lives actually live inside us. Yep, I’m talking about your gut flora or microbes — those tiny bacilli that (whether you realize it or not) actually rule your life. Gut flora affect your digestive system, of course, but they also affect your brain, your sleep, your immunity and your weight.
The human gut microbiome — which is what the scientists call it — has been found to directly or indirectly influence diseases such alcoholism, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia and restless leg syndrome. The enzymes the bacilli secrete can cause nerve damage, especially when you don’t take good care of the little beasties. They may also cause inflammation throughout the body, and inflammation seems to be at the root of many chronic problems such as heart disease. Although much of the research has been done in mice or other animals, there are plenty of implications for humans.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the gut microbiome is its effect on the immune system. Simply and briefly put, food intolerances can cause damage to the structures in the intestine called the villi — tiny little finger-like protrusions where the nutrients you need are absorbed. Once the villi are damaged, your body allows proteins to pass into the villi that it would normally keep out, causing the immune system to try to protect you. Your body responds with conditions such as eczema, asthma, psoriasis and other auto-immune problems. The other thing that tends to go along with this is taking antibiotics, and I had a course of those last August for a bladder infection that just wouldn’t respond to alternative therapy (my main standby).
So what all this means is that you may be able to treat many of these conditions by healing your gut. To do that, you need a healthy gut microbiome. Enter probiotics. In addition to the probiotics that come in a bottle, you’ll find probiotics in lacto-fermented foods such as yogurt and fermented veggies. I recently had an eczema flare, after at least forty years of no problems. Although I don’t eat wheat because of gluten-sensitivity, I had not realized that gluten intolerance and lactose intolerance often co-exist. And I love my raw milk butter, cream, cream cheese, yogurt, ice cream and cheese. So, after a little research, I stopped all milk products and started taking probiotics twice a day. The eczema isn’t gone, but it’s 90 percent better after about six weeks. My findings indicate that after at least two months of an elimination diet like this, if all of your original symptoms are gone, you can try reintroducing small amounts of the offending substance.


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I can’t wait to have cream in my coffee again!


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