The idea of eating dirt isn’t new. It‚ has been around a long time, dating back more than 2,500 years ago. Hunters and gatherers couldn’t avoid it, and regardless of culture, there is evidence people have included traces of dirt in their diets throughout the ages.
Did they know something that we have forgotten? Think about when you were growing up. Many of you, much like Dr Mercola himself, grew up in families where having a vegetable or flower garden was commonplace. You would also likely help out by pulling weeds and planting seeds with your bare hands.
Even if you didn’t have a family garden, as a kid, you probably played outdoors for hours each day and got more than a little dirty. People didn’t worry so much about dirt, it was part of life. You got dirty and then you cleaned up.
It wasn’t until years later that people became obsessed with cleanliness. We stopped touching dirt and we made sure we didn’t eat it. Today, it is no longer “normal” to get your hands dirty. Designer garden tools and thick, plush gloves just about guarantee that you won’t soil your hands.
And it isn’t just adults. These days kids spend far more time in front of computers than they do digging in the ground. If you do happen to get dirty or end up with dirt-covered food, there is no shortage of fancy vegetable scrubbers, antibacterial soaps and sanitising hand gels to remove grime and bacteria.
While all this may sound like a good thing for your health, this obsession with sanitation and cleanliness has forced us to take a step backwards with our gut health.
An Inside Look at Modern-Day Hunters and Gatherers Reveals Surprising Truths About Microbiome Health
Your microbiome is your unique collection of intestinal bacteria – the trillions of gut bacteria that influence your immune health, mood, behaviour, digestion, metabolism and weight.
Since there is little doubt that modern-day living affects your gut health, how would your microbiome be different if you lived completely isolated from modern medicine, food and culture? To answer that question, a group of researchers and a Venezuelan government medical team set out by helicopter to a remote Yanomami tribe living on the border between Venezuela and Brazil. Members of this tribe have lived as hunter-gatherers for more than 11,000 years in this region of the Amazon rain forest. This outside visit marked their first contact ever with modern society.
After taking samples from 12 of the villagers’ fecal matter, the research team used DNA analysis to determine which species of bacteria thrived in the hunter-gatherers’ guts. Their first surprise was the astonishing number of different species present in the Yanomami’s microbiome. The tribe had about 50 percent more ecological diversity in their gut than the average American.
Obviously, there are multiple factors at play in this remote region.
- The population’s high-fibre indigenous diet differed greatly from the standard American diet
- They had never been exposed to antibiotics
- They had far lower exposure to electrical fields and EMF
- The sanitation and hygiene practices so prevalent in the Western world were absent here
While sanitation and hygiene were indeed important variables, it is believed other factors played a role as well, especially diet.
There are many little-known factors that affect your microbiome on a daily basis that can alter its pH, impact your absorption of nutrients as well as inflammatory response, immune function, digestion, and your gut’s ability to fight invaders.
How Many of These Nine Factors Are Working Right Now to Wreck Your Gut Health?
The health of your microbiome depends on having the proper balance between beneficial bacteria and potentially pathogenic bacteria, as well as the health and integrity of your gut lining.
When your microbiome falls out of balance or loses its diversity, or your gut lining becomes compromised, it can impact many processes in your body and your risk of chronic disease.
Here are nine of the biggest factors:
Processed and sugary foods and pasteurised milk can harm your good gut bacteria
- Antibiotics Most antibiotics can alter your gut microbial balance. Whether you are taking antibiotics right now, just finished a course last week or took them years ago, the well-being of your microbiome may be compromised. Included are the antibiotics hidden in food, especially factory-farmed meats and conventional dairy products.
- Heartburn pills: A British study on twins suggests that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) taken for heartburn can alter your gut flora. An additional 2015 study confirms differences observed in PPI users versus non-users are associated with changes towards a less healthy gut microbiome.
- Fluoridated and chlorinated water: The chlorine in chlorinated tap water can potentially destroy both the bad bacteria and the good, friendly bacteria in your gut. The same is true for fluoride.
- Processed and refined sugars: The chlorine in chlorinated tap water can potentially destroy both the bad bacteria and the good, friendly bacteria in one of the fastest ways to create an imbalance and feed the bad guys is to eat too much sugar and non-fibre carbohydrates. Few things fertilise and speed up the growth of pathogenic microbes faster than sugars!
- Processed and refined sugars: Processed foods, including pasteurised milk, can harm your good bacteria. Eating the typical Western diet of processed foods produces a profoundly different microbiome than one high in vegetables and fibre.
- Bioengineered foods, pesticides and other agricultural chemicals: Certain genetically engineered foods and even some non-GMO foods that are not organic, like wheat, can contain glyphosate, an agricultural herbicide that been shown to target and destroy good gut bacteria. Conventionally raised animals are typically fed bioengineered grains, such as GE corn.
- NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): Certain popular over-the-counter painkillers can damage cell membranes and your gut lining, and harm healthy gut flora.
- Stress: Stress affects your gut in a number of ways including hindering the production of enzymes and absorption of nutrients and reducing oxygen levels and blood flow. Plus, it can impact the functioning of your entire GI tract, including your gut flora.
- Pollution: Airborne particulate matter from car exhaust, home furnaces, and industry, as well as livestock emissions travel from your lungs to your intestines, and can alter your gut bacteria and your intestinal barrier. It can contaminate the food and water supply, leading to further injury of your gut bacteria.
Now that you know what can destroy or upset the balance of your microbiome and the integrity of your gut lining, let’s look at what you can do to help restore your gut health to support your health and well-being.
The Two “R’s” and Why Your Microbiome Needs Them
A healthy microbiome contains two different types of bacteria:
- Bacteria from Mom (and Dad to a lesser degree) during the birthing process, breast-feeding and close interactions with friend and family shortly after birth. These include the commonly used probiotic species lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These organisms are essential for your body’s functioning and control its many biochemical reactions. The typical western lifestyle causes significant harm to these bacteria, which can lead to dysbiosis, or an imbalance of microbes.
- Transient organisms from the natural environment. These microbes are key “reconditioning” probiotics. They are introduced into your microbiome through environmental exposure in the form of spore organisms.
These important bacteria perform critical housekeeping functions in your gut. They are sometimes referred to as the “gut” police because they take care of the condition of your gut and support the growth of good bacteria.
Think of these two categories of bacteria as “reconditioning” and “reseeding” – Environmental bacterial spores condition your gut and ready it for reseeding by beneficial bacteria from fermented vegetables or probiotic supplements.
It has been discussed about how everyday living conditions and lifestyle can easily disrupt your delicate microbial balance and gut lining integrity. And explored how by avoiding dirt and focusing too much on sanitation, we sidestep and destroy the environmental organisms so crucial to your gut health.
Why Regular Probiotics May Not Be Enough to Support Your Gut Health
Mother nature produces bacterial spores as a means to survive extreme environmental conditions and to exist long-term in conditions that might normally kill the bacteria.
The complex spore-forming process takes about eight hours. It involves the build-up of layers surrounding the bacteria core, ending with outer protein-like layers known as the spore coat.
Different from regular probiotics, spore-forming bacteria offer four major advantages over non-spore-forming probiotics such as Lactobacillus in your gut:
- spores in stomach
- Spores can survive the low pH of your stomach to reach your small intestine intact
- Spores can survive the low pH of the gastric barrier to deliver the entire dosage to your small intestine (not the case for all Lactobacillus species)
- Spores resist breakdown from enzymes, solvents, and hydrogen peroxide as they travel to your small intestine
- Spores are heat-stable, so the product can be stored at room temperature without losing any potency or effectiveness
- Certain spores are antibiotic-resistant, which means you can take them while using antibiotics to help support your healthy microbiome
When the spores reach your small intestines and are exposed to the right nutrients, they germinate. This process, which takes just a few minutes, allows water to enter the spore and break down and remove the spore coats. Freed of its protective layers, the beneficial probiotics can resume cell growth inside your body.
Here’s what Dr. Mercola would like you to keep in mind about spores and regular probiotics: They are not interchangeable as they perform different functions in your gut.
To truly optimise the health of your microbiome, you need both.
Bacillus – Nature’s Original Spore Probiotc That Benefitted Even Dinosaurs!
Because our ancestors were hunters and gatherers and ate off the land, much of their diet was teeming with environmental bacteria. These strains of bacteria were able to survive in the outside environment, and they were able to pass through the acidic gastric system and end up thriving in the intestines.
After thousands of years of exposure, humans have actually come to require these specialised strains for proper, healthy function of many of our biological systems. The most well-known, well-studied and widely used spore probiotics are from the bacillus species; in particular bacillus subtilis, bacillus clausii and bacillus coagulans.
You won’t find these spore probiotics in foods, as our modern sterilised food systems have eliminated these critical species from our diets. So where can you find them?
Originally thought of as “soil organisms” studies show they are actually digestive tract organisms that use the soil to transfer themselves from host to host.
Bacillus species are very abundant in the environment and data suggests they spanned the globe thousands of years ago.
While bacteria are known to mutate very quickly, the bacillus subtilis species has remained the same for tens of thousands of years, proof of how resistant bacillus is as an environmental probiotic
Bacillus species, including bacillus subtilis, bacillus clausii and bacillus coagulans have been shown in research to:
- Train the immune system to support a healthy normal inflammatory and immune response
- Support digestion and assimilation of food and nutrients
- Support detoxification processes of your GI tract
- Support your GI defences against invading species and bacterial overgrowth, including your small intestine
- Produce key nutrients at the site of absorption to maximise bioavailability
Bacillus spore probiotics produce vitamins, enzymes, carotenoid antioxidants, and some very valuable fats.
Short-Chain Fatty Acids – The MOST Important Nutrient for a Healthy Gut?
Some researchers believe short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) may be the most important nutrient for a healthy gut and microbiome. SCFAs are fatty acids produced by your gut microbiota as fermentation products from unabsorbed food in your small intestine.
What sets them apart from other fatty acids is their unique structure: Fewer than six carbons in straight and branched-chain configurations. The most abundant SCFAs are acetic acid (C2), propionic acid (C3), and butyric acid (C4). They comprise as much as 95 percent of the SCFAs in your colon.
SCFAs play important roles in the health of your microbiome and gut:
- Support healthy blood flow and fluid and electrolyte uptake
- Promotes healthy intestinal permeability, helps heal your gut and keeps your gut wall sealed
- Promotes the production of immune cells
- Increases fat metabolism
- Supports the growth of beneficial organisms (lactobacillus and bifidobacter)
- Helps promote a healthy normal gut and systemic inflammatory response
In recent years, propionic and butyric acids have received the most attention for a very good reason: Low levels of these are connected with inflammatory processes in your body. The highest concentration of butyrate in your body is in your gut. This short-chain fatty acid is an important energy source for your intestinal cells.
If levels of butyrate run low or are diminished intestinal cells die. Butyrate also plays key roles in supporting digestive health and a normal inflammatory response in your gut. Diet does not provide a reliable, absorbable source of SCFAs, so you must depend on key gut bacteria to produce SCFAs (especially butyrate) for your microbiome.
Introducing Complete Spore Restore – Unique, Research-Proven Spore Biotic Formula
Dr Mercola’s Complete Spore Restore provides four outstanding soil-based spore probiotics:
- Most widely used probiotic in the world
- Research-proven to be a potent immune stimulator
- Antibiotic resistant for use during antibiotic treatment, so spores remain stable in the presence of antibiotics
- Research shows it promotes a healthy inflammatory response in the intestines as well as supporting a healthy immune response
- Can exist in anaerobic conditions like your gut
- May improve gluten sensitivity
- Helps balance your intestinal microflora and promote optimal health
- Produces several different antimicrobial compounds to support a healthy bacterial balance in the gut
- This specific subtilis promotes a positive environment for the growth of beneficial bacteria
- Produces nattokinase (the key compound in Japanese natto) and vitamin K2
- Highly important for immune development as it germinates in the small intestine
- Widely used and considered safe (GRAS – Generally Regarded As Safe)
- Increases SCFA production in the gut by over 40 percent to support reconditioning of your gut and microbiome
- Secretes a bacteriocin, Coagulin, which has activity against a broad spectrum of microbes
- Produces L optical form of lactic acid that has a greater effect on immune stimulation and gut defence
- Potent immune stimulator
- Supports digestive and urinary tract health, as well as nutrient absorption
- Intensively studied with long history of use for gut concerns and normal inflammatory response
Dr. Mercola’s Complete Spore Restore is designed to work together with Complete Probiotics. Here’s how they work with one another in effortless harmony…
Complete Spore Restore Acts Like a Conscientious Gardener in a Lush, Dense Garden… And Complete Probiotics Provides the Seeds
Imagine for a moment a lush, bountiful garden, filled with thousands of different plants. All the plants work together to keep the garden vibrantly healthy. Over time, this garden, like many real-life gardens, experiences assaults that challenge its well-being: Weeds, dousings with herbicides and other harsh chemicals, and a lack of proper soil nutrients.
This picture is painted for one reason – to show you how Mercola’s Complete Probiotics and Complete Spore Restore work together in your gut:
- Complete Spore Restore acts as the gardener. Like any good gardener, it would pull weeds from the garden, detoxify the soil, and replenish the soil’s energy and nutrient content. This is like how it functions in your gut!
- Complete Probiotics provides the new seeds to replace the good plants in your garden (or, in the case of your gut, reseeds new beneficial bacteria). New bacteria can only be as healthy as its foundation and growth medium.
A good gardener leaves the garden when its work is completed, and that is exactly what Complete Spore Restore does in your gut. Providing key “reconditioning” strains of spore biotics designed by nature to be transient, it helps protect and recondition your gut flora during its time there.
Because it leaves your gut when its work is finished, you need new reconditioning strains every day to provide daily, ongoing care. That is why it is ideal to take Complete Spore Restore along with Complete Probiotics every day.
Dr. Mercola have added a Unique Organic Mushroom Blend for Natural Prebiotics
Researchers have discovered that probiotics work more effectively when you include prebiotics. Prebiotics, or non-digestible food ingredients, stimulate the growth and activity of the beneficial bacteria in your gut, and help improve the health of your microbiome.
Mushrooms are one of Dr Mercola’s favourite forms of prebiotics because they offer so many potential benefits. Certain mushrooms contain high levels of a prebiotic substance called Beta-glucans, a non-digestible oligosaccharide that feeds your good bacteria and promotes valuable health benefits.
As part of Mercola’s Complete Spore Restore, Dr. Mercola’s special Organic Mushroom Blend contains three highly valued mushroom mycelium:
- Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) – Helps regenerate your intestinal epithelium or lining, preventing its breakdown and loss of integrity
- Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) – Has a beneficial, modulating effect on immune function and protective qualities for your GI tract
- Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) – Contains two polysaccharide complexes that are gaining a great deal of scientific attention for their ability to enhance immune status
The mycelium part of the mushroom is the part you don’t see, below the ground and the mycelium in this product has been chosen because it more closely mimics the underground environment in which the spores thrive.
Mushrooms are also a rare source of ergothioneine, an unusual sulfur-containing derivative of the amino acid histidine. This “master antioxidant” may play a very important role in protecting your cellular DNA from oxidative damage.
Is Complete Spore Restore for You?
Because your gut needs both kinds of probiotics; spore probiotics and reseeding probiotics, Dr Mercola believes many people will benefit from taking both Complete Spore Restore and Complete Probiotics especially if you have a compromised gut or if any of these situations apply to you:
- You have taken antibiotics any time during the last two years
- You have had surgery or a hospital stay within the last two years
- You have travelled to another country in recent months (your microbiome can change in as little as 24 hours!)
As long as you have a good source of probiotics in your diet, such as high-quality fermented vegetables, Complete Spore Restore can be a suitable “stand alone” product. Keep in mind, Complete Spore Restore is a gut re-conditioner, not a full-spectrum probiotic. And that is why it is recommended to be taken along with Complete Probiotics.
Nearly everyone has heard about probiotics. Few people know about spore probiotics or spore biotics, at least not yet. While they may be as ancient as the Hunters and Gatherers themselves, the power of spores is just becoming known.
Dr. Mercola’s Complete Spore Restore is a potent spore biotic formula that can potentially help you:
- Improve the condition of your microbiome and gut integrity
- Promote tight junctions in your gut epithelial lining
- Support a normal inflammatory response in your gut and body
- Enhance digestion and absorption of nutrients
- Lower the pH in your gut to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria
- Support your body’s immune function
- Reduce unwanted biofilm effects to help fight pathogenic bacteria
- Support your GI tract’s detoxification processes
- Boost the production of short-chain fatty acids by as much as 40 %
- Enhance the benefits of Complete Probiotics
This is an impressive list of potential benefits. All from the addition of soil-based bacteria to your diet.