If you’re squeamish about ablutions, this may not be the blog for you this week. We’ll be talking about number twos and how you can use them – yes, use them – to stay healthy.
Fecal transplants are giving people with bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and specifically Clostridium difficile infection an almost 90% success rate in relieving symptoms.
The correct medical term is Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) and involves the restoration of the bowel flora by introducing healthy bacterial flora via the transplantation of a stool.
Firstly, a healthy donor has to be found. To be considered a suitable donor people must be in excellent physical shape and eat a healthy diet. They cannot be on medication, ever have used antibiotics regularly or have travelled overseas to a high-risk country in the last six months.
Secondly, the transplantation of the fecal matter involves a variety of methods. The healthy stool can be frozen and taken in capsule form, it can be diluted with a saline solution and used as an enema or infused through a nasal tube directly into the small intestine and bypassing the stomach.
The concept of treating bowel diseases with fecal matter originated in China where ‘Yellow soup’ was made of fecal matter and water, which was drunk by the patient.
The first description of FMT was published in 1958 by Ben Eiseman and colleagues, a team of surgeons from Colorado, who treated four critically ill patients with Clostridium difficile using fecal enemas, which resulted in a rapid return to health.
This treatment is not for everyone but, if you want a healthy bowel, perhaps a course of probiotics is the first step towards recovery from symptoms.
Probiotics compete for space on the wall of the digestive tract, protecting the delicate membrane and eliminating space for bad bacteria. They help regulate the acidity of the gut and can control the growth of the fungus Candida albicans, preventing yeast infections.
Medication, stress, illness and a poor diet can kill friendly gut bacteria allowing the overgrowth of bad bacteria, toxins and other pathogens.
Probiotic supplements can help digestive problems such as chronic diarrhoea and irritable bowel syndrome and their use is associated with a lower incidence of allergies such as eczema and hayfever by boosting the body’s immunity.
Reports that hospitals around the world are struggling with antibiotic-resistant super-bugs capable of infecting immune-affected patients are worrying.
It’s important to keep antibiotics in our medical repertoire but with the knowledge that they can interfere with the natural immune system in our digestive tract.
Creating optimum levels of balance in the complex community of microbes inside us allows our bodies to digest – and hence live – more healthily.