Gut Health, Immunity and the Prevention of Disease, Episode #146, Dr. Christine Bishara

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Could our gut bacteria play a significant role in the prevention and treatment of disease? Dr. Christine Bishara has been studying disease for over 20 years. She is the founder of “From Within Medical”, a medical wellness practice that emphasizes the mind-body and gut-brain axis to prevent and manage disease. Dr. Bishara discovered that the connection between these systems plays a significant role in disease prevention and management.

Dr. Bishara recently published an article on the role of gut and probiotics on immunity and COVID-19. She shared that through research, her team discovered that children have healthier guts than adults. She believes this is due to the level of gut bacteria called Bifidobacterium. This type of bacteria decreases as we age. Dr. Bishara believes the reason children were less affected by COVID-19 is because of the levels of Bifidobacterium in their guts.

Although Bifidobacterium levels decline with age, in one particular study she cited, Bifidobacterium levels were higher in Italian and Japanese centenarians than in the younger elderly population. Upon further research and study of centenarians in other countries, Dr. Bishara discovered that diet and lifestyle played a significant role. They were mostly vegetarians, and their exercise of choice was walking.

Dr. Bishara went on to say that the importance of our guts to prevent disease is nothing new. According to the Greek Physician and father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, “all diseases begin in the gut”. He made this statement over 2400 years ago. He also said, "let food be your medicine and medicine your food."

Dr. Bishara believes that the Standard American Diet (“SAD”), is what’s destroying our immune system. In a recently written article on the CNN website titled “Poor diets threaten US national security — and it’s serious”. The article stated that “46% of adults have poor quality diet and 56% of children and these numbers are highest in the minority, rural and low-income communities.” The article went on to say that “diet-related illnesses are harming the readiness of the US military and the budgets of the US Department of Defense and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Seventy-one percent of people between the ages of 17 and 24 do not qualify for military service Obesity is the leading medical disqualifier.”

Dr. Bishara doesn’t know why the media or society as a whole isn’t shining a light on our immune system. She believes that the focus should be on prevention rather than treatment. She also believes that people want a quick fix and that we should go back to the basics, which is our food.

She also believes that an excellent place to start boosting your immune system is by taking a probiotic. Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed, generally by improving or restoring the gut flora. You can find large amounts of Bifidobacterium in probiotics.

Dr. Bishara went on to say that while she recommends we take a probiotic, there is nothing better than prebiotics, which is when we consume more fruits and vegetables, cut back on the highly processed foods, and eat more organic foods. If we did all these things, we wouldn’t need a probiotic.

I recently interviewed Dr. Joel Gould on my show. Dr. Gould suffered from Sleep Apnea and Crohn’s Disease. Through his research, he discovered patients with Sleep Apnea usually have low levels of Vitamin D, so he increased his Vitamin D intake, and not only did his Sleep Apnea go away but his Crohn’s Disease. He also stated that 96% of the people who died from COVID-19, had low levels of Vitamin D in their bodies (20% or lower).

Dr. Bishara agrees with Dr. Joel Gould on the importance of Vitamin D to our immune system and how it plays a significant role in our intestinal health.

Dr. Bishara’s practice is located in the Flatiron District of New York City. During the early stages of the pandemic, New York City was considered the epicenter. During that time, Dr. Bishara noticed that the majority of COVID-19 patients had a BMI of over 30%, which is obese. Dr. Bishara believes that COVID-19 is a disease that attacks our immune system.

There was so much information shared by Dr. Bishara on the importance of our immune system and the relationship of our gut to our body and mind. Most people are not aware that 90% of the serotonin in our body is produced in our gut and regulates our mood.

Dr. Bishara’s advice to parents is to “invest in your health and invest in prevention versus treatment.”

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