The Super Probiotic
By Ron Hunninghake, M.D.
Are we human, or are we bacteria?
Bacteria are the oldest living organisms on the planet. As simple single-celled microorganisms, they absorb nutrients from their environment, grow until they have doubled in size…then they divide. They have only one long strand of DNA that encodes all their traits and genetic functions. When they divide, this strand is replicated. Given a nutrient rich environment, bacteria can multiply very rapidly to large numbers.
Most people know that their digestive tracts are home to what are commonly referred to as “the friendly bacteria.” The actual number is over 100,000,000,000,000 (100 trillion) bacteria and other symbiotic microbes. Counting the gut, the bacteria in anatomical cavities such as our sinuses, and then the large numbers on our skin, these microbes outnumber human cells by a factor of 10 to 1!
Even more striking is that the microbial genes of this “human microbiome” (as renamed by the National Institute of Health) outnumber human genes by a factor of 100 to 1! Since all life is carried out by genetic information, this amazing statistic begs the question—are we more bacterial than we are human?
This biomass of bacteria and other microbial species actually outweighs the human liver. As previously unsuspected functions of the human microbiome are being discovered, scientists now speaking of it as the “forgotten organ” within the body. The following chart may represent just the tip of the iceberg of important microbiome functions in regulating and maintaining human health:
control of unwanted pathogens in the gut
regulation of immune function
synthesis of vitamin K and biotin
enhanced mineral bioavailability
synthesis of many neurotransmitters
detoxification and inflammation regulation
Probiotics Are “For Us”
The first yogurts and kefirs probably occurred in the milk-filled goat stomach bags draped over the backs of camels in the hot deserts of North Africa. Temperatures reaching 110°F were ideal for lactic acid producing bacteria found in the stomach linings to go to work. Since this early period in human history, many races have fermented dairy to improve “shelf life” and enjoy the many diverse tastes.
Nobel laureate Metchnikoff in the early 1900s reported on the enhanced health effects and improved longevity of those consuming fermented milk products. Because these bacteria were found to be “for us” instead of “against us” the terminology of “probiotic” was introduced by Lilly and Stillwell in 1965. Probiotics are food supplements that promote healthy bacteria in the gut as opposed to “antibiotics” which are pharmaceutical agents that generally kill both pathogenic and friendly bacteria. The following chart lists typical symptoms that can be improved by the regular consumption of probiotics.
diarrhea, flatulence, constipation, vaginitis, lactose intolerance, food allergies, bloating, indigestion, “brain fog”
Probiotics also promise better immune function. How can bacteria in the gut help our immunity?
The Mighty Macrophage
The defensive linebacker of the cellular immune system is the macrophage. These “Pacman” cells not only gobble up invading viruses and bacteria, they generally direct the other elements and various cell types in a synchronized immune defense. There are two branches of the immune system in which the macrophage functions: the innate (non-specific immune defense) and the adaptive (specific immune defense mechanisms).
Macrophages are themselves signal-directed. The signal that activates macrophages (and subsequently the whole immune response) is a glycoprotein (a molecule made up of a sugar and a protein) called “Gc protein-derived Macrophage Activating Factor.” The abbreviation for this long name is GcMAF.
The important precursor to GcMAF is “Gc” a big protein with 458 amino acids containing three domains. The first domain of Gc binds vitamin D. For this reason Gc is sometimes called “vitamin D binding protein” (though vitamin D is not required for activation of Gc.) There’s a small sugar attached on the threonine amino acid at position 420 of Gc…i.e. position 420 is “glycosylated.”
When injury, inflammation, or any immune challenge is detected in the body, the sugar at position 420 is “deglycosylated” by enzymes produced by B and T-lymphocytes. The result is the conversion of Gc into GcMAF – one of the most powerful activators of the entire immune system discovered to date.
Enter the Super Probiotic
Interestingly, the same enzymes used by the immune system to transform Gc into GcMAF appear to occur during fermentation of milk.
Perhaps Metchnikoff’s observation of “favorable health effects” in those consuming fermented milk products was, in actuality, the first documentation of enhanced GcMAF formation in the body from a natural food source.
It is reasonable to assume that the many and various strains of bacterial cultures in fermented dairy and the ever growing list of probiotic bacteria probably represent different levels of effectiveness in the production of these Gc-to-GcMAF transformative enzymes.
This thinking leads to an intriguing question: would it be possible to create a “super probiotic food” made from a re-engineering of the milk fermentation process so designed to take optimal advantage of nature’s method of making GcMAF?
This has been the working hypothesis of Dr. Marco Ruggerio, an Italian radiologist who for the last three years has been diligently attempting to “crack the code” so as to harvest this potential bounty of enhanced natural immune function. Marco has rounded up bacterial ferments from all over the globe, skillfully combining the art and science of milk fermentation to create a special “medical food” which holds tremendous possibilities for humankind.
Why? Because so many of modern man’s most vexing chronic illnesses tie back to dysfunctional immunity. The following chart is just a summary of the many medical mysteries that involve immune dysfunction:
CFIDS, Fibromyalgia, Candidiasis, Crohn’s Colitis, AIDS, Cancer, Autism, Rheumatoid Arthritis, MS, Lupus, Severe IBS, Parkinson’s
This list alone serves as reason enough to thoroughly investigate the possibilities of finding a dairy fermentation formula that would regulate, heal, and optimize human immune function.
But then, with modern research demonstrating the remarkably diverse ways that the human biome influences overall human health – from chronic mood disorders, psychiatric illness, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and the whole gamut of modern degenerative and inflammatory illness – suddenly these complex illnesses become viable targets for a breakthrough in a food technology that would revolutionize sickness care around the world!
The Nagalase Nemesis
But there’s a big fly in the soup. There is a nemesis enzyme that is activated by viruses, cancer, and other causes of chronic inflammation. The very conditions that are begging for a more effective natural therapy actually sabotage the Gc before it can be activated to GcMAF.
The enzyme’s technical name is: alpha-N-acetylgalactosaminidase…but it has been mercifully abridged to the name NAGALASE.
This enzyme destroys Gc – the precursor of GcMAF. GcMAF is left untouched by it. So, ironically, when the body needs immune support the most, it is often left with inadequate “ammunition” to arm and activate its troops, the macrophages.
Nagalase activity has been used a biomarker for tumor activity (i.e. melanoma) as well as a marker for the progression of various immune suppression diseases such as AIDS and XMRV, a human retrovirus that is associated with CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.)
Therefore, in patients with elevated nagalase levels who are struggling with chronic infection, chronic inflammation, and even cancer, it should be evident that they could benefit from GcMAF.
GcMAF has been synthesized in the laboratory and can be given by injection. However this is expensive and unlikely to be used by the masses of humanity suffering under the weight of chronic immune dysfunction.
Dr. Marco came to the United States this past October to present at the 3rd Riordan symposium on IVC and Cancer. He introduced us to over 40 published studies that document the benefits of GcMAF in cancer patients. He discussed the human biome and the role that GcMAF could play in helping humankind re-establish a healthier relationship with its “bacterial heritage.”
Dr. Marco provided the Riordan Clinic with an opportunity to serve as a test site for his discoveries in the re-engineering of milk fermentation with the explicit purpose of optimizing the production of GcMAF from a natural food. In order to set this food apart from table yogurt or kefir, he prefers to refer to it as a “medical food” he has designated MAF314.
Dr. Marco has developed a home preparation kit where you can learn how to make your own MAF314 and consume it daily for one year as a medical food treatment for any serious immune challenge. Go to www.bravousa.com to find how you can buy the kits for making MAF314 for yourself at home. Or read Dr. David Perlmutter’s new book, “Brainmaker,” to find many other natural ways to boost your own biome.
A famous naturopathic truism goes like this: “Death begins in the gut.” As I grow in my knowledge of natural medicine, I have learned to appreciate the profound truth of this warning. As the digestive system goes, so goes the patient’s health. And digestive health is highly influenced by the health of the living organisms that occupy it.
So, take good care of your gut bacteria…science is showing that they’re as much you as you are!