Pharmaceutical medicine hasn’t solved problems with acute and chronic disease in spite of antibiotics. Little effort has been made to increase patient resistance to disease. Today’s global epidemic of chronic diseases includes arteriosclerosis/coronary heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Yet, there has been a shift away from a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and tubers rich in lactic acid bacteria (LAB), fiber/prebiotics, antioxidants and LAB/probiotics, all of which increase resistance to disease.
Bacteria and plants have developed defense systems superior to those developed by humans. A few plants contain superantioxidants which are 10 times stronger than vitamin C and vitamin E. Plant foods are rich sources of beneficial bacteria. Fermented foods are predigested by bacterial enzymes before we eat them. There is evidence that combinations of probiotics are more effective than single strain antibiotics. Synbiotics, combinations of prebiotics with probiotics, strongly benefit the immune system.
Fermented foods were eaten regularly by our ancestors. Foods were often stored in the ground for months before being eaten, adding large amounts of bacteria to human intestines in Paleolithic times. Our “…Paleolithic forefathers consumed billions more microbes than are presently consumed in a Western diet.”
Paleolithics consumed about 500 different plants. The modern diet gets 80% of nutrients from 17 plants and 50% of calories from 8 grains. Western foods are highly processed, greatly reducing their nutrient value. Processing reduces the content of important nutrients such as glutamine and glutathione. Processing increases the food content of unwanted nutrients, such as oxidized fatty acids, trans fats and mutagens. Processing food reduces the content of beneficial bacteria and reduces the size of particles, which reduces the amount of nutrients reaching the colon.
Dietary fibers include polysaccharides, oligosaccharides and lignin. Supplemental fibers are needed by people who don’t consume much fruits and vegetables (5-8 servings/day), such as severely ill people. Oat fiber is metabolized primarily in the upper intestine. Wheat fiber is metabolized in the lower colon. The pectin fiber structure provides support for the growth of intestinal flora.
Sugars in plant cells are released slowly by fermentation and are absorbed slowly when surrounded by fiber. Guar gum fiber reduces blood glucose by 44%. Fiber reduces the need for insulin. The cholesterol lowering effect of fiber was is stronger in whole grain cereals and cereal-derived fiber than in fruit and vegetable fiber. Fiber reduces blood clotting and reduces the development of arteriosclerotic plaque.
Fiber, in general, is consumed in low amounts at this time. Seeds, nuts, beans and peas are rich in fiber and are no longer eaten in amounts needed. We are advised to eat 5-8 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, daily. It is recommended that we eat 30-35 grams of fiber per day. But, most people get only about 14-15 grams of fiber daily. This is far below the 60-80 gm/day needed to maintain a healthy and well-functioning human colon.
The amino acids arginine, glutamine, histidine, taurine, sulfur amino acids, polyamines, fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants are obtained from plants by humans. Omega-3 fatty acids, glutamine and glutathione do not tolerate processing. Severely ill people should obtain some of their nutrition from fresh fruits and vegetables.
Lactobacillus plantarum (L. plantarum) is a bacteria commonly found in the colons of Asians, Africans and vegetarian Seventh-Day Adventists. The modern Western diet, containing little fiber, does not favor growth of L. plantarum.
Raw foods tend to be digested in the lower digestive tract. Highly processed foods are digested and absorbed in the upper digestive tract. If cooked root vegetables are allowed to cool after they have been cooked, the crystallized starches will return to the fiber state, making them more nutritional and less hypoglycemic. Digestion in the upper gastrointestinal tract is controlled by enzymes. Digestion in the lower gastrointestinal tract is controlled by bacteria.
More fiber in the colon allows bacteria to provide more antioxidants and nutrition available to the body. Colon tissue gets little nutrition from the blood. It gets nutrition, such as short chain fatty acids and butyrate, from microbial metabolism.
CONCLUSION: Probiotics such as LAB, and prebiotics, such as fibers, have been shown to alter the course of chronic and inflammatory diseases.