It’s not fiber that makes up the bulk of your stool - it’s bacteria! About half of the weight of human feces is composed of bacteria.
The balance of bacteria in the intestinal tract is extremely important. If this balance is at all thrown off, the results could be devastating.
An infection with the bacteria Clostridium difficile leaves many people battling with diarrhea for years.
Many times, an infection can be acquired during hospitalization. Or, after a round of antibiotic therapy, C. difficile bacteria are given just enough opportunity to flourish and dominate the intestinal environment.
C. difficile can inflame the colon and cause chronic, unrelenting diarrhea. An infection with C. difficile can claim lives.
As antibiotic resistance continues to grow, and as physicians continue to use antibiotic therapy indiscriminately, C. difficile is more common than ever.
Symptoms of an unhealthy digestive tract, like diarrhea, shouldn't be taken lightly. From 1999 to 2007, fatalities related to gastrointestinal conditions rose to a whopping 17,000 deaths per year!
The number of people who are dying from illnesses that involve diarrhea has more than doubled between 1999 and 2007. (1)
According to Dr. Aron Hall of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during this 8 year time span from 1999 to 2007, all deaths related to the gastrointestinal tract doubled:
Dr. Hall pulled records from the National Center for Health Statistics and found that the majority of these deaths were due to the intestinal bacterium C. difficile.
Many times, a C. difficile infection will persist even with the use of several rounds of the toughest antibiotics. When an infection continues for months on end, the antibiotics are only suppressing the full range of a C. difficile infection.
While admittedly unusual, a new therapy for C. difficile infection is on the horizon: fecal transplant.
Fecal transplant therapy (otherwise known as fecal bacteriotherapy, fecal flora reconstitution, or fecal microbiota transplantation) is radical, inexpensive, and extremely effective.
In a healthy digestive tract, the friendly bacteria are constantly working to keep the unfriendly bacteria in check. While it is possible for this balance to get thrown off, it almost always returns to a point of stability.
Sometimes, the friendly bacterial community loses the ability to maintain balance. And, in the case of C. difficile infection, it seems like this loss is permanent. Physicians have found that inserting a diluted sample of feces from a healthy donor can cure months, sometimes years, of diarrhea.
Fecal transplants are a niche therapy.
You may be hard-pressed to find a doctor willing move one person’s feces into another person’s colon.
Considering the growing threat of antibiotic resistance and the minimal costs involved in performing the transplant, many people are working towards a standardization of the therapy.
Unfortunately, feces do not neatly fit into any category under Food and Drug Administration standards. In order for a new therapy to undergo the rigorous testing necessary for health professionals to accept it as legitimate, the FDA must approve its status.
Just recently, it was reported that two Canadian laboratories are working together to create a synthetic stool transplant. (2) This would be something that the FDA could consider.
It remains to be seen whether or not synthetic stool can be just as effective as healthy human feces in treating a C. difficile infection.
The results that physicians see with fecal transplant therapy illustrate the value of a healthy inner ecosystem.
In addition to using antibiotics only when absolutely necessary, we can safeguard our digestive tract and our lives when we eat a diet that nourishes a healthy inner ecosystem. This means:
In actuality, the bulk of your stool is made up of almost 50% bacteria - not fiber, as many people believe. Having a healthy balance of good bacteria in the intestinal tract is critical to preserve health.
A bacterial infection of C. difficile can cause serious repercussions, including chronic diarrhea and even hospitalization. In some cases, the infection can be fatal. Even with rigorous antibiotic treatment, a C. difficile infection can persist. In extreme circumstances, a stool donation, or fecal transplant therapy, can be used as an inexpensive yet effective treatment to restore health to the digestive tract.
Until this new therapy is approved by the FDA, it's more important than ever to maintain a healthy inner ecosystem to prevent potentially fatal bacterial infections.
This can be achieved by using the following tips today:
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