Dr. Mitchell reports on the 2016 Integrative Healthcare Symposium (IHS): Balancing Your Bugs to Keep You Slim and Sharp

integrative health symposium

I just gathered up my notes from the 3 days of lectures at the Integrative Healthcare Symposium at the Hilton hotel in New York, and I’m so excited to share what I learned: mainly, there are good bugs in our gut, in our lungs and on our skin that are the good guys!

Dr. David Pearlmutter, the best-selling author of Grain Brain , was the keynote speaker and gave a brilliant lecture on how bacteria (we’ll give them the cute name- bugs) have a profound effect on our overall health.

The range of effects these bugs have is wide: they affect weight gain and obesity, they affect allergies and asthma - and they even affect depression and anxiety.

Let’s start by addressing a few myths that were immediately debunked in Dr. Pearlmutter’s lecture:

  • “ A Calorie is a Calorie”- meaning it doesn’t matter if the food we eat is a simple carbohydrate like a bagel or a bagful of nuts.
  • A Diet Ice Tea is less fattening than a Regular Ice Tea.
  • Antibiotics and Acid blockers are safe even with frequent use.

The Wrong Bugs Can Make You Fat

Dr. Pearlmutter showed compelling charts that revealed when the bacteria Firmicetes goes up compared to its gut compatriot Bacteroides bad things began to happen - mainly obesity, diabetes and even mental issues.

The reason the Firmicetes can dominate in the gut is due to eating processed foods, mainly from grains which are simple carbohydrates. These bad bugs proliferate and this upsets the proper bacterial balance. This results in the body retaining fat tissue. So, even if you limit your calorie intake to even a low level - say 1500 calories - if you’re eating these type of foods you are going to gain weight anyway. How frustrating!

He then went on to discuss how the public has been deceived into thinking if we just cut back on sugar and substitute with artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, we can literally have our cake and eat it too. Wrong! Israeli medical researchers showed our good gut bacteria doesn’t like this sugar substitute either and, as a result of eating artificial sweetners, the bad bacteria dominate leading to weight gain.

If gaining weight isn’t bad enough, he also mentioned the latest research showing that: how “a big belly”was big belly integrative healthassociated with “a smaller brain”; this is because the change in bacteria from a big gut leads to biochemical changes which leads to a smaller hippocampus - a portion of the brain involved in memory. So now the beer belly not only makes it hard to put on your pants - it may be hard in the future to remember where to find your pants!

Drugs Are Bad for Our Bugs

The most distressing findings were regarding pharmaceuticals that are widely used and considered very safe: antibiotics and proton-pump acid blockers for heartburn. Both radically change the microbiome (the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut).

Everyone today is starting to become aware that the overuse and indiscriminate use of antibiotics is a mistake. It not only leads to resistance in the antibiotics effectiveness and in turn unleashes superbugs harder to treat but by upsetting the balance of good and bad bacteria can lead to a host of medical symptoms: chronic irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, sinusitis, vaginitis and even difficulty thinking and fatigue - it sounds a lot like Candida or yeast overgrowth syndrome

Another culprit in upsetting our good bugs is long term use of potent acid blockers for heartburn. Drugs like Nexium or Prilosec OTC shut down the acid in the stomach which allows the bad bacteria to take over the gut and can lead to medical problems such as: Clostridia difficile diarrhea, vitamin deficiencies due to malabsorption and even hip fractures from the vitamin deficiencies. Maybe a little Sodium Bicarbonate is a better, safer alternative for some heartburn.

What’s the Solution

The new paradigm is this: the same way we tell a pregnant mother to eat healthy for two, we have to teach everyone to start eating healthy for a 100 trillion - those are the bacterial ‘friends’ in our intestines.

Feed your body’s bugs the good stuff: pre-biotic foods, probiotics and fermented foods all of which help the good bacteria in your body thrive.

At Mitchell Medical Group, we treat patients every week with the symptoms that are due to imbalance of good and bad bugs- we call it Candida overgrowth . It was once a controversial diagnosis, but as the science catches up to the clinical presentations, it is clearly more real than ever.

We address the Candida overgrowth with a specific diet for patients, careful use of vitamins and supplements and forms of natural immunotherapy to boost the immune system.

The irony is that in medicine for the past half-century we may have been attacking the wrong enemy. If we can harness the potential of strengthening our immune system with the good bacteria all over our body, it will be incredible to see the explosion in good health and aging!

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