Organic Consumers Association

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Your Digestive System Dictates Whether You're Sick or Not

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's All About Organics page and our Health Issues page.

More and more, science is finding that teeny tiny creatures living in your gut are there for a definite purpose. Known as your microbiome, about 100 trillion of these cells populate your body, particularly your intestines and other parts of your digestive system.

In fact, 90 percent of the genetic material in your body is not yours, but rather that of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microorganisms that compose your microflora.

True, some of these bacteria can make you sick; for example, the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases recently found Crohn's Disease may be caused by immune responses to certain gut microbiota.

But the majority are good, and they work together as helpmates to aid your digestive system and keep you well. Beneficial bacteria, better known as probiotics, along with a host of other microorganisms, are so crucial to your health that researchers have compared them to "a newly recognized organ." For example, we now know that your microflora influence your:

-Genetic expression 
-Immune system 
-Brain development, mental health, and memory 
-Weight, and 
-Risk of numerous chronic and acute diseases, from diabetes to cancer 

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