Did you think it was unlikely that you possessed a body part that had no function? I know I did. Researchers in the field of clinical nutrition have now discovered the truth. Much like the tonsils, that used to be removed with great abandon prior to discovering the role they played in health, we now know the importance and role of the appendix.
It turns out that the appendix houses probiotics. What are probiotics? They are a major constituent of the intestinal immune system consisting of 100s of trillions of organisms. You have 6 to 10 times more (at least you should have) of these organisms in your gut than you have cells in your body!
A Healthy Small Intestine Prevents Disease
It’s estimated that 70 – 80% of your immune system is housed in your gut. This is why we, as nutritionists, spend as much time as we do ensuring that our patients’ digestive systems are working optimally. More and more research is supporting the premise that without a healthy digestive tract, good health is all but impossible.
Not only do these good bacteria help defend you against infection, but some amazing new research was just released that shows that they have an ability to modify gene expression. Meaning that whether a gene is turned “on” or turned “off” is dictated by the health of your probiotics.
What’s an example of this? Research into celiac disease focused on why certain people don’t develop celiac until later in life, despite having the gene. Prior to this research it was thought if one had the gene then the first teething biscuit or gold fish cracker was enough to initiate the disease process.
These researchers revealed that despite possessing the gene for celiac disease and consuming gluten, an optimally healthy probiotic population is actually capable of keeping the celiac gene turned “off” – in other words the individual continues to tolerate gluten despite their genetic predisposition.
One of the researchers, Dr Alessio Fasano, believes that it’s not enough to have the gene and have the presence of gluten, but there must be a third factor, an initiator, that creates an insult to the gut adequate enough for gluten to then be able to cause its inflammation and subsequent damage.
It’s like the spark that begins the forest fire. You can have a windy day and dry tinder but you need the spark to begin the decimation.
Dr Fasano believes that the “spark” is an unhealthy balance of good and bad probiotics in the gut. The good ones are protectors, but the bad ones are initiators. The make-up of probiotic populations actually have the ability to turn on and off genes at will.
This is terribly exciting and at the very least should have you interested in “who” is being housed in your intestines! As nutritionists we utilize a simple lab test that provides us with the data we need to properly evaluate the health of your probiotic population. Even if you are no longer in possession of your appendix, the health of your intestines can be restored.
Please write to us with your questions and comments. Here at HealthNOW we see patients from across the country as well as internationally at our Destination Clinic. We are here to help you.
To your good health,
Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Dr Vikki Petersen & HealthNOW Medical Center and a clickable link back to this page. Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN is founder of HealthNOW Medical Center and the author of “The Gluten Effect”. She has been featured in national magazines, international medical journals and is a frequent headlined speaker.