You see, besides making passable stools, gut bacteria also synthesize vitamins B-7 (biotin), B-12, and K. The deficiency of these essential vitamins contributes to diabetes, obesity, hair loss, gray hair, eczema, seborrhea, anemia, internal bleedings, ulcers, strokes, cancers, degenerative disorders such as Parkinson and Alzheimer disease, and common gastrointestinal, respiratory, and autoimmune disorders.
Healthy intestinal flora is also vital for prevention of constipation, for maintaining your primary immunity (phagocytosis), for shielding your large intestine from colon cancer, and for averting yeast infection inside your mouth or vagina.
Reader's Testimonial "I found your website 3 years ago because of constant constipation even when eating vegetables, fruit etc., and was scheduled for my second colonoscopy. After reading all your information I have been taking probiotics with every meal and am amazed at the ease of passing bowel movements... and EVERY DAY! Thank You for the website!" E.-J., Canada (via e-mail)
After bacteria inside the gut are killed by antibiotics, laxatives, heavy metals, surgeries, and colonoscopies, fiber is broadly recommended to replace bacteria and form stools, otherwise they turn into grayish rock-hard pebbles, and turn a routine trip to the bathroom into a torture. This condition is called disbacteriosis or disbiosis.
It's also an open secret among medical professionals that disbacteriosis harms patients, particularly children and seniors, who are the most vulnerable. Children — because of diarrhea and underdeveloped immunity. Seniors — because of practically all age-related diseases, impaired immunity, and colorectal disorders.
Well, anything that kills bad bacteria also kills good bacteria, which are identical single-cell living organisms, albeit better behaving. Here‘s just a brief list of the most egregious villains. You will not find any particular recommendations here, because they‘re self-evident: don‘t use fiber, avoid antibiotics, remove amalgam fillings, use natural soaps, etc. Here we go:
Protein deficiency. The intestinal flora derives its energy and plastic nutrients not from food, but from mucin, which is secreted by healthy mucous membranes. Mucin is a glycoprotein—a molecule that bonds glucose with amino acids. Gastric and intestinal mucus is formed by combining mucin and water. Mucus protects the lining of the stomach and intestines from mechanical damage, enzymes, gastric acid, astringent bile, and food-born pathogens. The deficiency of the essential amino acid threonine, for example, curbs the body‘s ability to produce mucin, and, correspondingly, the bacteria‘s ability to function and procreate.
Excess dietary fiber. (Yes, you‘re reading it right.) The by-products of fiber‘s bacterial fermentation (short chain fatty acids, ethanol, and lactic acid) destroy bacteria for the same reason acids and alcohols are routinely used to sterilize surgical instruments—they burst bacterial membranes on contact. And that‘s how fiber addiction develops: as the fermentation destroys bacteria, you need more and more fiber to form stools. If you suddenly drop all fiber, and no longer have many bacteria left, constipation sets in as soon as the large intestine clears itself of the remaining bulk.
For some reason this point is causing intense consternation and controversy among the “experts” on all things fiber. If you are one too, and believe that I am stretching the facts to fit my point of view, please note the following:
(1) The operative phenomenon here isn't that “fiber causes disbacteriosis,” — but 'excess fiber' — as in “the fermentation of excess dietary fiber.”
(2) Let me remind you that wine in the vat left for too long turns into vinegar, all the bacteria die off, and the fermentation stops. Bacterial fermentation in the wine vat, dear opponents, and in the pile of feces happens to be exactly the same process.
(3) Finally, consider this corroborating quote: “Colonic bacteria ferment unabsorbed carbohydrates into CO2, methane, H2, and short-chain fatty acids (butyrate, propionate, acetate, and lactate). These fatty acids cause diarrhea. The gases cause abdominal distention and bloating.” (Malabsorption Syndromes; The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy.) Let the diarrhea run its course a day too long, and disbacteriosis will soon follow. (God, I love those rare moments when Merck and I are singing the same tune.)
Intestinal acidity. Besides fermentation, excess acidity may occur when the pancreas fails to neutralize the stomach‘s content because of pancreatic disorders or an obstruction. In this instance, acidic digestive juices spill into the large intestine and destroy bacteria. Interestingly enough, the most likely cause of obstruction in an otherwise healthy person is the blockage of the pancreatic ducts by—you guessed it—too much indigestible fiber in the duodenum. Normal acidity (i.e. safe for bacteria) for stools is within the 6 to 7.2 pH range.
Diarrhea. Acute intestinal infection, food poisoning, laxatives, medical intervention, and other conditions may cause prolonged diarrhea, which will literally wash out all of the bacteria from your gut. An appendectomy (the removal of the appendix) also increases the risk of disbacteriosis, because the appendix preserves the “starter” culture when diarrhea occurs.
Antibiotics and antibacterial medication (such as sulfanilamide, sulpha derivatives, Dynapen, Urex, Nydrazid, Macrodantin, Rifadin, and many others). Antibiotics and antibacterial drugs play an important, life-saving role in many circumstances. However, these drugs are widely and indiscriminately overprescribed to children and adults alike. One such prescription is often sufficient to wipe out the entire bacterial population of your gut.
Antibiotic residue in fowl, fish, livestock, and milk. Industrial farming necessitates the use of continuous, large doses of antibiotics to keep crowded, confined animals alive. Inevitably, some of these antibiotics transfer to the food supply, and affect humans.
Heavy metals. Mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, nickel, silver, and other metals are extremely toxic, even in trace amounts. The sources of contamination vary from industrial pollutants to household chemicals, batteries to electronic components, measuring devices, and other sources. Children are the most vulnerable.
Silverware. Silver is traditionally used for kitchen utensils, goblets, plates, and pitchers for its strong antibacterial properties. Silver flatware isn‘t such a good idea after all, especially for babies.
Mercury from dental amalgam. This pollutant is omnipresent in the United States. Amalgam fillings are placed indiscriminately into cavities, because amalgam is cheap and easy to work with. The American Dental Association insists that dental amalgam is safe, while the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classify amalgam as a toxic and hazardous substance: “Another source of exposure to low levels of elemental mercury in the general population is elemental mercury released in the mouth from dental amalgam fillings” (Transportation, storage, and disposal of mercury is regulated by the Code of Federal Regulations, 29 CFR 1910.1000, and its willful violation is a criminal offense, except when mercury is “stored” in your mouth by a licensed dentist.) It isn‘t surprising that dentists in the United States have the highest rate of depression, suicide, and drug and alcohol addiction, and the lowest life expectancy among all medical professionals. This could likely be the result of long-term exposure to mercury, which, as already mentioned, is a potent poison, neurotoxin, and carcinogen; one that gradually destroys nervous systems, causes cancers, kills off friendly bacteria, and brings about... an addiction to fiber.
Artificial food coloring. Years ago, a color pigment called crystal violet (also known as crystal gentian) was widely used as a topical antiseptic. There are good reasons to believe that long-term exposure to artificial food coloring may affect intestinal bacteria in the same way crystal violet affected (killed) topical bacteria.
Medical treatments and environmental pollutants. Chemo- and radiotherapy kill bacteria for the same reason they kill cancerous cells. There are other factors that negatively affect the intestinal flora, such as industrial pollutants, household chemicals, antibacterial soaps, and toxic substances found in toothpaste, shampoo, and detergents.
Quackery. If stools aren‘t “clean,” then the colon must be “dirty.” This apparently logical inference is the base for “miracle cures” of constipation, migraine, halitosis, yeast infection, indigestion, and an endless array of other ills. While most of these conditions are indeed connected to the dysfunction of the large intestine, “cleaning” the colon isn‘t a solution, but a sure formula for creating even more problems by causing even more severe forms of disbacteriosis.
As you can see, a lot of things, particularly the ones that make a bundle of money for someone without any scruples, have a greater than great potential for killing the bugs inside your gut, ruining your good looks, and dispatching you to the grave.
Advised by their veterinarians, farmers pay big bucks for bacterial supplements imported from Europe to keep their farm animals well and productive, because nobody will buy a bloated, underweight, sickly calf that‘s suffering from chronic diarrhea and digestive distress.
Well, disbacteriosis in humans isn‘t any more difficult to spot than it is in livestock. Here are the telltale signs of this condition:
Absence of intestinal gases. When dietary fiber (soluble as well as insoluble) is present in the diet, intestinal gases are produced by bacterial metabolism. A complete absence of gases (in the presence of dietary fiber) suggests an absence of fermentation. Small amounts of soluble (digestible) fiber, such as fruit pectin, speed up the proliferation of intestinal flora, while avoiding excessive fermentation.
Undigested fiber in stool can be seen as white or dark specks. This is best determined by a stool exam performed by a medical lab (CDSA, or Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis). The same exam may superficially determine the symbiotic and pathogenic bacterial content and ratio, but only for a minor subset of hundreds of innate strains.
Constipation. Constipation is one of the most prominent signs, especially when the stools are dry or hard. This means there is too little bacteria to loosen up the formed feces and keep them moist, because, unlike other stool components, bacterial cells retain moisture.
Intermittent or chronic diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn‘s disease. As you‘ve read above, the introduction of desirable bacteria into the affected large intestine heals these conditions. So it‘s a no-brainer to assume that, along with fiber, disbacteriosis plays a significant role in their pathogenesis.
Frequent respiratory infections, asthma, bronchitis, chronic rhinitis, post-nasal drip, nasal voice, sinus congestions, and allergies. These primarily chronic conditions indicate a weakened immune system because of disbacteriosis. They usually appear after a routine respiratory infection that was treated with antibiotics, which in turn damage intestinal flora.
Blood-clotting problems. Hard-to-stop ordinary bleeding and easy bruising (ecchymoses)—dark, blotchy areas of hemorrhages under the skin—may indicate a deficiency of vitamin K, which is a by-product of bacterial metabolism. Before making this determination, rule out vitamin C deficiency (scurvy) and anticlotting medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen (NSAIDs), warfarin, and others.
Neurological problems and anemia. Vitamin B12 is essential for the normal functioning of the nervous system and production of red blood cells. Since red meat and eggs were almost eliminated from the “healthy” Western diet until the Atkins-style diet came into vogue, the intestinal flora was the only remaining “natural” source of vitamin B12. Numbness and tingling of the hands and feet, paleness, shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, a sore mouth and tongue, and mental confusion are the most common symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency. At this stage, supplements are the only viable option to quickly treat and reverse these symptoms.
Keep in mind that any one of these signs may indicate other conditions. It‘s always best to consult a caring, competent physician and ask him or her to arrange for a comprehensive digestive stool analysis (CDSA) at a medical lab.
Eliminating disbacteriosis literally means “infecting,” or, as a microbiologist might say, reinoculating your large intestine with synergistic bacterial strains. In practical terms, it means that you need to take a quality pre- and probiotics, such as Colorectal Recovery Program, which I specifically developed for this purpose.
Supplemental probiotics are the most accessible, inexpensive, and easiest form of oral bacterial therapy. You can take these supplements continuously, periodically, or on an as-needed basis, relying on your observations of stools and other symptoms of disbacteriosis as described here and in my books.
The Colorectal Recovery Program is recommended for all disbacteriosis-related conditions. These include chronic constipation, bloating, diarrhea, irritable bowel disease, diverticulosis, depressed immunity, chronic fatigue, anemia, infertility, amenorrhea, acne, hair loss, graying hair, premature aging, prediabetes, diabetes, neurological damage intestinal disorders, oral sores, asthma, acne, seborrhea, respiratory and urogenital infections, recurring vaginal and oral yeast infections, complications from infectious diseases, cancers, radio- and chemo- therapy, antibiotics and antiviral treatments, and after heavy metal poisoning—such as lead or mercury from amalgam fillings.
The Colorectal Recovery Program is particularly effective while breastfeeding and during restrictive weight loss diets, such as the Atkins diet, because it prevents constipation, and eliminates the risk of undernutrition or malnutrition from damaging your eyes, hearing, skin, bones, teeth, hair, and nails.
Unlike most probiotics in liquid form, powder, or gelatin capsules, probiotic capsules in the Colorectal Recovery Program are coated with inert cellulose (“enteric”). This technology prevents dissolution in the stomach, protects the microorganisms from stomach‘s acidity, and assures effective release in the large intestine to assure bacteria survival and colonization. This means you can take it any time, with or without a meal.
The Colorectal Recovery Program is particularly effective when you have a severe case of long-term disbacteriosis because it contains a high quality prebiotic formula (GI Recovery) that I specifically developed to enhance the survival and effectiveness of probiotics once inside the gut.
Unlike practically all fiber-based prebiotics, GI Recovery contains L-Glutamine — an amino acid that stimulates the regeneration of intestinal mucosa that is actually “home” and source of nourishment for intestinal bacteria. Also, this approach doesn't cause gas or flatulence the way fiber-based probiotics do.
If you suffering from chronic constipation, hemorrhoidal disease, incomplete emptying, then restoring anorectal sensitivity should be your next goal. Please continue reading the How to restore anorectal sensitivity page to learn how.
The content of your toilet bowl will tell you. If your stools are light, fluffy, small, and moist without fiber in your diet, you‘re okay flora-wise. I also recommend rotating various brands of probiotics for optimal effect.
You should always take probiotics after any treatment that may damage the intestinal flora, such as a course of antibiotics, laxatives, chemo-, radio-, and retroviral therapy, severe food poisoning, diarrhea, and similar circumstances.
Some brands of probiotics (not Enterophilus), especially liquid formulas, may cause severe bloating. You should always exercise caution when trying out a new brand. Keep in mind that it takes from a few days to a few weeks for intestinal flora to take hold.
Q. I take intestinal flora regularly, but still struggle with constipation.
If you are taking certain common medicines, or if you already have some form of colorectal damage, such as hemorrhoids or nerve da*mage, then bacterial supplements aren‘t going to eliminate those underlying causes of chronic constipation—even if your stools become picture-perfect in all other respects.
You may also suffer from delayed stomach emptying (gastroparesis), so your bacteria never reach the large intestine alive. That‘s because they can't bypass the stomach's acidity and enzymes, even when taken in the morning on presumably an empty stomach.
In this case you‘ll need to use the safest possible method (such as Hydro-C) to stimulate regular defecation. Whatever you decide to do, it still would be better for you than going back to fiber, because the next round of recovery may be even more complicated. Plus, keep in mind all those other essential health properties of intestinal flora, as described above.
In some respects, bacterial supplements are very much like prescription eyeglasses—you don‘t expect them to magically fix bad eyesight, but are still darn grateful for being able to see.
Q. Do you recommend liquid probiotic formulas that can be found in health stores?
To find an answer to this question, I have experimented with several brands in the past. Some left me bloated and flatulent for considerable stretches of time, even on a fiber-free diet. Perhaps they‘d been just too effective. Or, it‘s possible that live bacteria from liquid formulas took hold in the upper sections of the small intestine, where they shouldn‘t be. You may require a course of antibiotics to wipe them out if the discomfort becomes unbearable.
It‘s less likely to happen with capsules, such as Enterophilus, because the bacteria in these preparations are sublimated (dried out) into hibernation. They remain ‘asleep‘ while ‘commuting‘ through the folds of the small intestine. This trip—from the stomach to large intestine—takes around 24 hours. Once these bacteria reach the relative safety of the blind gut (it has the proper pH and no enzymes to devour them), they finally wake up and get into action.
Very, very unlikely. The presumably “live” or “active” bacteria in the commercially fermented beverages such as Activia, including organic ones, are likely to be dead by the time you buy them. So they won't have any beneficial effect on your digestive organs.
Manufacturers briefly expose the finished product to high heat in order to shut down fermentation (by killing bacteria, of course). This extends the shelf life of the finished product and prevents blowouts, separation of whey and solids, and spoilage.
You can easily determine if the bacteria in your favorite yogurt are indeed “live” or “active.” Pour the beverage into a clean glass, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and leave the glass overnight in a warm place, such as the boiler room or near a warm electrical appliance. If, come morning, the wrap remains flat, it means the fermentation didn‘t start and the gases didn‘t form because the bacteria were long dead.
Even if you get lucky, and the bacteria are still alive, your stomach acid and enzymes will kill them on contact anyway. No surprise here—sterilization of food is, in fact, one of the stomach‘s key functions. Unlike bacteria in yogurt, supplemental 'dry' bacteria survive the stomach's hostile environment because they are specifically designed to bypass it.
So how can products like Dannon® Activia™ claim to restore “regularity” for some? Well, that happens not because of the bacteria, but due to the presence of inulin—a soluble fiber additive, which happens to be a potent laxative. Each serving of Activia contains 3 g of inulin. That's more soluble fiber than in six capsules of Metamucil Fiber Capsules laxative — they have only 2 g.
Inulin is harvested from plants, and is broadly used as a filler and stabilizer in processed foods. Without some kind of industrial-strength stabilizer, ersatz dairy like Activia, which is “cooked” from dry milk, would separate into water and solids before reaching consumers:
In addition to inulin, Activia's label lists the following ingredients (Dannon ® Activia™ Light Strawberry, illustration modified, click the link to see the original):
That's hardly a recipe for healthy food! Lets investigate these ingredients:
Cultured grade A non fat milk is a euphemism for dry milk dissolved in water. Dry milk is produced by spray-drying skim milk at extremely high temperatures. This process causes oxidation of remaining lipids, which, in turn, are implicated in atherosclerosis and cancers.
Water. That's tap water from the municipal water supply closest to the Dannon factory. It's the same water with which you and I would flush a toilet. While by itself, filtered and dechlorinated municipal water isn't particularly harmful, is that what you're paying for with this “yogurt”?
Inulin is a known allergen reported in The New England Journal of Medicine in connection to anaphylaxis, a deadly shock. Also, inulin is a fructan—fructose polymer. Fructose and other fructans cause malabsorption of nutrients in 30% to 40% of individuals, and they have been implicated in the pathogenesis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). That's not surprising—after all inulin is a potent laxative, known to cause diarrhea. And what usually follows diarrhea? Constipation, of course. In addition to bloating, flatulence and abdominal cramps caused by fermentation of inulin, alternating patterns of diarrhea and constipation is a dead-on accurate description of IBS's primary symptoms.
Carmine (E 120) is a bright red artificial color harvested from scale insects. Just like inulin, it's known to cause anaphylaxis in some individuals — particularly long-term vegans, and Jews and Muslims who observe kashrut and halal (respective religious dietary rules).
Sucralose (E 955), a.k.a. Splenda®—an artificial sweetener. It has been reported to cause migraines, DNA damage, and thymus degeneration. The thymus produces T-cells, which play a central role in adaptive immunity.
Malic acid (E 296) is a known mouth irritant and cavities-causing agent. It gives Activia its tartness and makes teeth sensitive to hot and cold just like any other strong acid would do. That's the same effect as from eating sour green apples, which contain minute quantities of malic acid.
The remaining ingredients (corn starch, gelatin, sodium citrate) in Activia are less offensive fillers and preservatives, but they too have about as much business being in “healthy” yogurt as rat's excrement does in your dinner. I hope you don't vomit.
Finally, if you are experiencing bloating, flatulence, or abdominal discomfort after eating processed yogurt or ice cream, you are likely being affected by soluble fiber fillers, such as inulin, guar gum, agar, or pectin. To exclude junk food like Activia from your diet, just read the labels. By law, it's all printed there.
To summarize: beware when dealing with lawful cheats. They ruthlessly mint money at the expense of your — and your children‘s — health and longevity. The problem here isn't that Activia is junk — that, unfortunately, is still legal to sell. The problem is that Dannon ruthlessly markets it as a 'health' food to unsuspecting consumers. Even more disgraceful — it preys on and exploits adults and children with digestive disorders, who are the first to use this devil's brew.
It's in you power to stop this travesty and tragedy. Bring a copy of this page to your supermarket, grocery store, or cafeteria, particularly so-called organic stores such as Whole Foods. Ask them to remove Dannon products from their shelves. Do not patronize stores that sell this Euro-trash. Contact your stockbroker or mutual fund and ask them to divest Dannon's stock. Send a link to this page to your representatives in Congress, and demand action. The change will come. They all have kids and grandkids too.
(Guess what — I am no longer screaming “bloody murder” alone. Here is more about this courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.)
Q. How do you know so much about this subject?
I am well informed about this condition because it has been extensively covered in European medical schools for at least a century, including at my alma mater — Lviv National Medical University, one of the oldest and largest medical universities in Eastern Europe.
The role of disbacteriosis in disease was first described by Ilya Mechnikov, a famous Russian-born, French-based scientist, who (along with Paul Ehrlich) was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1908 for their research related to the role of intestinal bacteria in human immunity.
So it isn‘t really something new, unknown, or original in the world of human physiology and medicine.
American dentists are well aware of the amalgam fillings controversy. You aren't likely to find any such fillings in their own teeth, or in the teeth of their children and spouses. Many no longer use amalgams to avoid exposure.
If you have any “black” fillings, get them replaced with composite fillings. Do it for the same reasons you don‘t want mercury in your fish, or lead in your kitchen pipes, or arsenic in your drinking water.
If your dentist tries to talk you out of it — and he or she may for legal reasons — then ask another dentist to do it for cosmetic reasons. Dentists may lose their licenses for replacing a viable filling “without cause” because it's construed as profiteering and malpractice.
When you ask dentists to do the same procedure for cosmetic reasons, or to get rid of a metallic taste in your mouth, that's okay. Hence the charade. Health concerns aren't a good enough “cause” because state licensing boards play along with the ADA's position — amalgams represent zero risk.
If you work in the same office with a person who has amalgam fillings, your exposure to mercury vapors from a breathing person may be similar or higher than from a poorly collected spill from a broken mercury thermometer.
If you would like to learn more about this subject, Amalgam Illness, Diagnosis and Treatment by Dr. Andrew Hall Cutler provides comprehensive information on all issues related to dental amalgams. It's expensive, but worth it.
Let others know about this page! This link may save a life!
1. R.F. Schmidt, G. Thews. Colonic Motility. Human Physiology, 2nd edition. 29.7:733.
3. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1908. Nobel e-Museum; [link]
4. Antibiotic-Associated Colitis; 3:29; The Merck Manual Of Diagnosis and Therapy.
5. American Dental Association. “ADA continues to believe that amalgam is a valuable, viable and safe choice for dental patients and concurs with the findings of the U.S. Public Health Service that amalgam has ‘continuing value in maintaining oral health.‘» ADA Statement on Dental Amalgam, Revised January 8, 2002; [link]
6. Mercury Compounds. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; [link]