Two Big Ways You're Destroying Your Body's 'Garden'

His garden is still thriving in a glass jar that he sealed for more than six decades...

Granted, David Latimer only opened the bottle once, in 1972, to add a little bit of water. But otherwise, it was the ultimate low-maintenance garden.

He created his terrarium on Easter Sunday in 1960 with just one plant seedling and some moist compost in a 10-gallon glass jar sealed with a cork. All he did was rotate the jar every now and then so that all sides of the plant got sun.

Here's how his terrarium works...

  • Bacteria in the soil "breathe" in the oxygen and "exhale" carbon dioxide.
  • The plant uses the carbon dioxide, along with the water from the soil, to turn sunlight into energy, while giving off oxygen on the side.
  • When bits of the plant die, the remains add more nutrients to the soil.
  • The leaves also release water vapor which beads up on the glass and slides back down into the soil.

It might sound strange to keep a garden growing in a glass container. But our bodies are a lot like Latimer's terrarium... specifically, our guts.

The "bugs" living in our gut – mostly bacteria, along with fungi, viruses, and more – make up a community, or microbiome.

Our guts are intricately connected with lots of other systems of our body... from the brain to skin to the immune system. For instance, it's estimated that up to 80% of the body's immune cells are found in, you guessed it, the gut microbiome.

A healthy community needs a diverse and balanced population, without too many of one kind of bug. But lots of folks are unintentionally throwing off that balance...

The Negatives of NSAIDs

More than 30 million of us turn to common painkillers as a cure-all. One of the most popular kinds is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ("NSAIDs"), like naproxen and ibuprofen.

But these pills can cause chronic inflammation, bleeding ulcers, and poke holes in the walls of your stomach. This makes extra work for your immune system.

Back in 2005, Big Government finally slapped some warning labels on bottles. But we knew about the dangers of NSAIDs as far back as 1969. Researchers dosed rats with an NSAID. Those rats developed intestinal ulcers and disrupted gut bacteria (like a population boom of bad bacteria) in just two days.

Those labels mentioned NSAIDs causing heart problems, which studies have also shown over the years.

If you've been a longtime reader, you know I'm all about natural solutions.

One powerful way is through mindfulness meditation. It can help manage even chronic pain by working in areas of the brain that handle processing of pain. Regular practice also makes you feel calmer and more in control of your pain and reduces stress (a big culprit behind inflammation).

But if you really need painkillers, load up on "good bacteria"... Studies have shown bumping up intake of "good" bacteria, or probiotics, can help prevent damage to your gut. Aim for fermented food sources like Greek yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut.

Also, start with the smallest dose possible. And make sure you try to stop taking NSAIDs once you've lessened the severity enough to try other solutions. Along with meditation, deep breathing can help relieve tension and stress, and light exercise has your body creating natural "painkillers" in the form of endorphins.

The Problem With PPIs

If you're already taking NSAIDs, you're probably also reaching for proton-pump inhibitors ("PPIs")...

PPIs are used for heartburn. They decrease the amount of acid made in your stomach. But that relief of feeling the burn fading away comes at a big cost. That's because things go haywire without that natural acidity.

Your stomach sets a trap for intruders in the form of super-low pH. This super-strong acid is great at killing potentially harmful organisms. Without that acid bath, disease-causing bacteria can survive and make their way into your intestine. For example, that's why long-term PPI usage has been linked to:

  • Higher risk of dangerous intestinal infections from bugs that cause food poisoning to even cholera.
  • Small-intestinal-bacterial overgrowth, or "SIBO," which causes chronic diarrhea and malnutrition since you can't absorb important nutrients.

The less-acidic environment also means bacteria that normally hang out in one area of the gut could travel to a new area, where they could cause trouble.

A BMJ study published last May that looked at the gut bugs of 1,815 folks found that taking PPIs was linked to changes in 20% of the bacteria, a major slump in diversity, and higher levels of potentially dangerous bacteria.

If you find that your heartburn woes are continuing to pile up, bypass the pharma route and take a preventive path instead...

Eat the Mediterranean way. Extra-virgin olive oil and fish have healthy fats fight inflammation. And plant foods – vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes – have tons of fiber, especially prebiotic fiber, which probiotics in your gut love to eat. Just like with NSAIDs, scientists believe probiotics could prevent all the mayhem in your gut community that results from PPI use.

Aside from eating gut-friendly foods, change up your daily habits...

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals, but not too close to bedtime.
  • Avoid and/or minimize how much you eat of trigger foods like citrus juice, fried foods, caffeine, garlic, and chocolate, to name a few. Tomato is a common trigger, but try adding a pinch of baking soda to knock the tartness down a notch.
  • Don't lie down right after eating, and elevate the head of your bed with extra pillows to tilt your torso up and keep stomach acid from slithering up the esophagus.
  • Move your body more to maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress.

Unlike Latimer's decades-old terrarium, keeping your gut healthy takes a little more care on your part. But you can develop your "green thumb" by following these tips to let your gut's garden flourish.

While we know that dietary and lifestyle changes can pack a powerful punch for most to combat unhealthy weight gain, some folks may need a leg up. And in recent years, they've found their salvation in a revolutionary new technology.

It's promising enough to take on the global epidemic of obesity affecting 200 million adults in the developed world. And this biochemical marvel is already radically changing thousands of Americans' lives for the better... including one of the folks I work with, right here at Stansberry Research. This is his powerful, personal story of despair turned victory.

What We're Reading...

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
March 14, 2024