As you may know, I’m a certified health coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. In one of my online lectures, I came across Mark Hyman, MD, who expanded my knowledge on the health of gut flora. He was probably one of the many factors/reasons why I am so interested in the gut health and named my blog as Garden Tummy. I’m sure our gut health has always been on the study for centuries, but it became more renown and comfortably considered in the 21st century. What Hyman bought up was really interesting because the method involves no medication and special diet!
Poop has always had a bad rap throughout history. In this case of health, it is beneficial for our health. How fecal transplant works is the physician collects a sample of poo from a healthy person, mixes it with a saline solution, and inserts it into the patient’s body via colonoscopy. If you guys don’t know what colonoscopy is, don’t worry, I didn’t know what it was until I wrote this! Basically, the process is what physicians do when they wanna know how your “insides” are doing. Usually the patient is laying down on their side and the physician inserts a small, tubular camera into the patient’s rectum. This is a relatively low-risk and successful procedure, yet it is not covered by most health insurances because it is still considered a experimental transplant.
I heard about fecal transplant for the second time when I was driving and listening to my Freakonomics podcast titled, The Power of Poop. It is absolutely my one of my favorite episode because Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt are absolutely quirky and curious about EVERYTHING. They interviewed a few people from researchers to practitioners to patients and it fascinated me because the results are real and glaring that people are recovering from this trans-poo-sion, coined by the gastroenterologist Thomas Borody. Prior to the transpoosion, his patient William Kostopoulos had multiple sclerosis and as the science community knows, it is incurable and the symptoms are curbed with medication. The experience is debilitating because the symptoms are progressive, usually starting in muscle numbness, spasms, and weakness. The thing is, people don’t know what causes MS, but so far they know to categorize it as an autoimmune disease. And as a health coach, I get really excited when I hear immune system–because most of the time, we can control this area with our actions and what we feed into our mouths!
But this is a slightly different animal. How does a stranger’s stool help Kostopoulous with MS? The answer lies in the little microbes and their link to our immunity. You see, not all bacteria are bad. There are good bacteria that assist our health, and we need more of them in our bodies, especially in our gut. As you may know, the gut is VERY CRUCIAL to our health. To note, there are more bacteria in our guts than there are cells on our bodies! Ain’t that crazy?!?! It astounds me every time but for those germophobes out there, please don’t freak out–these bacteria are what’s keeping you alive and HAPPY.
On a physiological and microbial level,
The vagus nerve, the longest of 12 cranial nerves, is the primary channel between millions of nerve cells in our intestinal nervous system and our central nervous system, which comprises the brain and spinal cord. At the same time, the bacteria in the gut directly affect the function of the cells along the vagus nerve. And some of the gut’s nerve cells and microbes release neurotransmitters that speak to the brain in its own language.
You can definitely learn more about this on ExperienceLife.com
This is why the gut is called our second brain. It’s no surprise because so many of people have stated that they use their gut instinct to form a decision. Lemme clarify that–we feel excitement and nervousness partly because our gut. Our gut, having its own nervous system as well, houses many neurotransmitters. One of them is serotonin, which facilitates our happiness, sleep cycle, and so on.
Now let’s tie this relationship to food. Remember I talked about bad and good bacteria? Well, guess what? EVERY food contains bacteria! The pivotal point is there are certain foods that contain more beneficially diverse bacteria than others. Have you ever heard of the drug Penicillin? It’s derived from the Penicillium bacteria because scientists accidentally discovered that it was able to produce antibiotics to kill off certain bad bacteria. I’m not saying we should ingest more drugs. I’m saying good bacteria is crucial for our health in practical ways. More good microbes in your gut will strengthen your immune system because they are fighting against potential toxins that accidentally enter your body. And when we have a good immune system, we feel stronger, more unstoppable, and happier. And happiness is tied to which neurotransmitter? Serotonin!
So I’ve ranted long enough. How does fecal transplant fit into this picture? How did William Kostopoulous recover from Multiple Sclerosis after the transplant? Feces, not in the prettiest appearance or smell, is a base camp for bacteria. When we insert healthy person’s stool into an unhealthy patient, that patient’s gut flora will be repopulated with healthy bacteria. Those bacteria then started to fortify Kostopoulous’ immune system, which led to his natural recovery.
To make a big point, I’m no doctor. I’m just a health coach who read scientific articles and connected the dots. Although unpleasant, fecal transplant is interesting to me because it’s almost like going back to our roots. Medication did not help William Kostopoulous. Healthy bacteria did. By inserting healthy stool into him, he recovered by feeding his gut (or body) what it needed to get better on its own. The body’s resilience astounds me every time.