Friday, January 18, 2013

Is 70% of Your Immune System Actually in Your Gut?

Have you been seeing those commercials in which someone emphatically states that 70% of your immune system is in your gut and that's why you should eat probiotics, especially those found in yogurt? Is it true?

 I was particularly interested in this because I had an ulcer when I was only 8 years old and suffered with both upper and lower GI tract disorders long into my thirties. I actually healed myself through emotional/spiritual healing techniques, which is why I've had a fascination with the interaction of mind, body and spirit to this day. Edward Bach, the physician who invented flower essence therapy, was also an immunologist. He was exploring the connection between intestinal flora (bacteria, etc.) and immune health long before the yogurt companies discovered this marketing ploy. He discovered that specific emotional states were associated with certain overgrowths of bacteria in the gut. In fact, it was his great success in creating effective vaccines and later homeopathic nosodes using intestinal flora that led to his breakthroughs in flower essence work.

 I did some research on the web today and found scientific sources that make sense of the yogurt company claims. The fact is that the immune system is distributed in multiple places in the body including the digestive tract. But your intestines are long—about 25 feet combined—and so they comprise about 70% of the immune system by virtue of size alone. And our digestive system depends on a healthy balance of intestinal flora to do its job. When an overgrowth of yeast, for instance, occurs we get a variety of symptoms that can make us quite ill. The idea behind the yogurt company claims is that stress and antibiotics and other factors disrupt the ecosystem of the gut and intentionally eating yogurt with certain active cultures has been proven to restore the balance.

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