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Your Fellow Travelers

It has long been known that over evolutionary time the human organism developed in tandem with a vast host of microbial fellow travelers. The 100 trillion microorganisms inhabiting our gastrointestinal tracts assist in numerous physiological processes critical to our health and well being. The intestinal microbiome (commensal microorganisms) helps maintain the integrity and function of the lining of the small intestine, helps us digest our food properly, and assists in training our immune systems to appropriately recognize friends and foes.1,2 Alterations in composition of the intestinal microbiome (dysbiosis) lead to many disorders and diseases, including celiac disease, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes. Thus, dysbiosis needs to be considered in the evaluation and treatment of many common conditions. Fortunately, many forms of conservative management are available for dysbiosis, including use of probiotics and prebiotics.

Probiotics are formulations of live microorganisms that contain large numbers of colony-forming units, primarily lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.3 Taken as dietary supplements, probiotics persist in the gastrointestinal tract for several days and compete successfully with resident microorganisms. Probiotic bacteria help repair damaged linings of the small intestine, enhance nutrition, and suppress inflammatory intestinal reactions. Importantly, probiotic bacteria ferment undigested carbohydrates in the large intestine and produce nutrients for "good" microorganisms, helping restore the normal composition of commensal microorganisms.

Prebiotics are selectively fermented ingredients (foods) that target specific microorganisms and help restore balance in the intestinal microbiome. The primary targets are bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. By providing dietary substrates, prebiotics stimulate growth of specific bacteria and act to restore a more healthful composition of the intestinal microbiome. Many prebiotics are found naturally in foods such as garlic, onions, asparagus, and leeks. However, an effective means of obtaining prebiotics is to add prebiotic ingredients to bread, yoghurt, and drinks. In order to obtain full benefit, prebiotics and probiotics must be consumed regularly.

Dysbiosis is frequently the result of intolerance to gluten, a class of proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye. Chronic immune and inflammatory reactions to gluten peptides often lead to disturbances in intestinal microorganism homeostasis. Other conditions such as acute intestinal infection disrupt the intestinal epithelial barrier and lead to dysbiosis. The good news is that alterations in composition of the intestinal microbiome are usually correctable by supplementation with probiotics and prebiotics. The key to effective management is knowledge and awareness of the possibility of dysbiosis and access to appropriate methods of natural supplementation.

1Chistiakov DA, et al: Role of gut microbiota in the modulation of atherosclerosis-associated immune response. Front Microbiol 2015 Jun 30;6:671. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2015.00671. eCollection 2015

2Purchiaroni F, et al: The role of intestinal microbiota and the immune system. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 17(3):323-333, 2013

3Hajela N, et al: Gut microbiome, gut function, and probiotics: Implications for health. Indian J Gastroenterol 34(2):93-107, 2015

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  • "Dr. Ron is a colleague and I hold him in high regard! As a specialist he has a broader understanding of health than most traditional chiropractors. Being able to help people get well using chiropractic care, nutrition, and function diagnostic medicine is an area I would recommend any patient to try first, regardless of their current diagnosis."
    Jason N.
  • "My wife and I were visiting from out of town. And my neck and back were achy from all the hours stuck in the car. Dr. Bouffard was very accommodating and his staff were pleasant and helpful! I walked out of his office feeling like a million bucks. I highly recommend his services. Thank you, Dr B!!"
    Brian B.
  • "I have seen amazing results from the chiropractic care I received from Dr. Bouffard."
    James C. / Boothbay Harbor, ME
  • "Dr. Ron Bouffard is amazingly talented. His therapies and advise have saved me from pain and further damage more than once. I learned to listen and recommend him HIGHLY!"
    Lauryl D.
  • "Love, love, love Ron. He is the consummate professional, unbelievably talented practitioner, and a sweetheart of a person. A good soul we are fortunate to have in our community. Thank you Ron, for being here and being you"
    Barbra S. / Edgecomb, ME

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