Achieving optimal gut health in veterinary patients starts with an understanding of how important bacterial organisms are to the entire ecosystem of the planet.
Bacterial organisms are the most primal yet critical contributors to both individual and global health. Their collaborative power to sustain longevity in animals, humans, and the planet, is unparalleled by anything else.
BEGIN BY WORKING WITH NATURE — NOT AGAINST IT
My life’s work is to enrich the lives of all animals, not just companion animals. To achieve this, in my view, we need to understand the framework of how energy influences matter, and immerse ourselves in what nature teaches us. We need to work with nature instead of against it. Without respecting this principle, there is no such thing as true healing.
We must fully embrace the fact that we, our animals, and our planet are all part of an incredible, diverse ecosystem that has no room for hierarchy. We should celebrate the biodynamic way it functions, with everything in nature contributing to its health and longevity. It’s imperative to find a collaborative path in the labyrinth of natural health industry experts, unbiased science, regenerative soil coalitions, and our local biodynamic farmers who are giving back to the soil that keeps the earth intact. The soil is where the most diverse microbiome can be found; a microbiome that is translated into the food our veterinary patients (and ourselves) need to thrive, not just survive. We have to find a way to practice and live the way nature intended, to formulate sustainable and ethical products that can create the most diverse microbial community possible.
WHY DO MANY PROBIOTICS FAIL TO WORK?
With this in mind, let’s look at why so many probiotics are not achieving the desired effect in our patients. In my opinion, it’s because we are flooding the gut with simplistic strains of microbes that come from a narrow range of nonspecies-specific sources, and that are studied within the model of human health. This minimal strain overpopulation causes the gut microbiome to become unbalanced, and can lead to negative health consequences.
In other words, we are compartmentalizing and researching probiotics in a conventional manner, producing products rather than working with the diverse ecosystem needed to support the very foundation of health.
When we approach gut health in this way, we focus on the eradication or reduction of pathogenic bacteria instead of supporting their symbiotic relationship. The goal should be to create a landscape that supports the ebb and flow of what we consider the enemy. Many bacteria that the healthcare system previously deemed dangerous are now understood as being responsible for regulating the balance of the microbiome. These “pathogens” include not only bacteria but fungi, parasites, and viruses. While we know that antibiotics, NSAIDs, diet, stress, and infectious disease can contribute to dysbiosis, so can the limited understanding we have of how prebiotics and probiotics affect the microbial terrain. This fundamental understanding opens the door to enlightening us in differentiating leaky gut, SIBO, EPI, IBD, and food reactivity, and supports us in choosing the most appropriate course of treatment.
FACTS TO CONSIDER
Here are a few facts to digest before I present Part 2 of this article in the next issue of this journal, when I will go deeper by presenting the science behind species-specific probiotics, species-oriented prebiotics, soil contribution, and some key points in recognizing the interactive complicating factors in differentiating leaky gut, SIBO, histamine response, yeast, and “the over-cultured canine” (the over-indulgence of probiotics).
• The intestinal microbiome is a complex milieu. We are only beginning to understand its intricacies and its broad impact on a variety of body systems and organs, including, but not limited to, the central nervous system, cardiac muscle, skeletal muscle, skin, oral cavity, etc.
• Intestinal microbiome dysbiosis (imbalance) has negative impacts on the host animal, irrespective of species: a broad variety of clinical presentations can manifest as a consequence of an acute or chronic insult to the microbiome.
• As animal health practitioners, we face two common scenarios and opportunities:
• Diagnosing and prescribing a course of therapy for an acute or chronic health condition. And triangulating whether or not the health condition is a result of intestinal dysbiosis.
• Building and improving the resiliency of the microbiome to help prevent the first scenario. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Prevention employs a more holistic approach to overall animal health and wellness.
• Science matters. Holistic animal well-being has been marginalized for too long. The value of species-specific probiotics to build the health of the microbiome is science-based. Combining species-specific probiotics with researched prebiotic ingredients extends benefits to the animal. The inclusion of complex large molecules such as humic and fulvic acids further supports and builds animal health. Expected results from professionally formulated microbiome supplements include:
• Increased production of beneficial short chain fatty acids
• Inhibition of pathogenic bacterial growth
• More complete digestion and better availability of dietary nutrients
• Improved cell-mediated immunity
• Reduced inflammation associated with elevated interleukin levels
• Tighter junctions between intestinal epithelial cells, reducing intestinal permeability
• Improved stool consistency with reduced flatulence.
Formulating best-in-class ingredients for microbiome health is a science, supported by documented clinical experience and the lessons that nature provides, for students who are eager to learn and apply them.
When we combine host-specific bacteria with diverse bacteria and add researched, soil-based carbon molecules, we are attempting to fill the gap we humans have created in nature. When I am formulating or have a question, I do not look at what is viewed as “natural”; instead, I look to nature in its entirety for the answer. I hope that my experience and research will provide a useful addition to your own toolbox for restoring animal health.