ONE BODY, THREE WORLDS

Nowadays, two approaches of diabetes, prediabetes, and other metabolic imbalances prevail. The first one, the ‘all-medical’ approach, chiefly deals with endocrine and metabolic processes: calorie intake, insulin metabolism, enzymatic processes and all the neurotransmitters involved in homeostasis, i.e. the regulation of our blood sugar level. It promotes a treatment aiming to ‘chemically’ restore these mechanisms. The second – and most fashionable – approach is the behaviorist one, based on the impact of our mental processes on our organism. The patient must alter his/her behavior in order to avoid getting ill. Its motto: “Knowledge is power.”

We suggest a third outlook, a symbiotic one, that considers the brain, the body and the gut bacterial flora as three distinct but inter-related ‘worlds’ that work in an intimate and lasting association. These three worlds interact, talk together, and sometimes fight one another. And their fights create imbalances that translate into diseases.

First came the bacteria…

Throughout the evolution process that has led from the first life forms on our planet, simple bacteria, to modern man, we have accumulated metabolic processes without discarding all the old ones. The basic bricks of the human body, sulfur amino acids, have survived from the earliest days of the universe, before the Earth had an atmosphere, when its surface was swept by sulfurous gases from repeated volcanic eruptions. And these sulfur amino acids are still indispensable to human life.

More sophisticated organisms gradually appeared, complete with heart, lungs, muscles and digestive tract. This physiological architecture is common to all mammals.

Last element of this gigantic Lego puzzle built over millions of years: the brain, protected within the skull and its own protective membrane (the blood-brain barrier), with its cerebrospinal fluid, its own blood circulation, its electrical signals…

3 interconnected ‘worlds’

The brain, our first ‘world’, controls our whole body. Nerves radiating from our spinal cord innervate every little part of our body and keep it informed. It even has its own receptors in the mouth, nose, eyes and ears so close that they submit data directly to him without passing through our body. This ‘metabolic’ body is therefore under the supervision of the brain, a ‘co-tenant’ that uses it for its own survival. Although the body obeys its own rules, the brain decides almost everything… except in the event of brain death: then the ‘body’s rule’ takes over, as with brain dead patients who keep on breathing when their respirator is removed. The bacterial gut flora’s death, on the other hand, spells the death of both the brain and the metabolic body, and that of the latter inevitably ‘kills’ its two associates.

This means that our three ‘worlds’ do not enjoy a peer to peer relationship but a continuous interdependence relationship with strict cohabitation rules. For instance, we host within our open bodily cavities (mouth, nose, digestive tract, skin, vagina…) a bacterial flora that normally lives in total symbiosis with us, but is strictly banned from entering the body or the brain.

 

In short, our health depends on the harmony between these three players. Its disruption leads to inflammation: when the bacterial flora ails, it becomes inflamed, when the body ails, it becomes inflamed, when the brain ails, it becomes inflamed, and inflammation regulates the disputes between these three players. And their being in opposition heralds health trouble and disease.

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