E. Coli

E. Coli or Eschericia coli are a type of bacteria that live in the gut. They are helpful to us humans because they inhibit the growth of other bacteria like salmonella and make vitamin K2. K2 helps in blood clotting and is essential for strong bones and the integrity of blood vessel walls. Warfarin or coumadin, is a drug that is commonly given to people who have had a blood clot or stroke or who are at risk of turbulence from a heart arrhythmia with possible clotting. Warfarin inhibits the production of K2.

E. Coli bacteria are anaerobic. ie. they can live without oxygen. They grow by multiplying in a warm environment. Reasonable levels are not harmful but an overwhelming growth can cause watery or bloody diarrhoea with the complication of kidney failure in severe cases. If the gut wall is damaged they leak into the abdomen leading to peritonitis. They are also present in high numbers in Crohn’s disease, an inflammation of the mucose lining of the intestine.

The main sources of E. coli on food are from manure, wild pigs roaming amongst food crops, poor hygiene amongst food workers. Bean sprouts are susceptible because they are often grown in a warm, watery environment from mung beans imported from Thailand. For many years I worked as a quality manager in the whole food industry. It is not commonly known that insects and bird droppings are possible sources of E. coli. For instance some countries are susceptible to cockroach infestations. There is a risk of infestation on seeds and beans imported from some countries with haphazard hygiene standards. The simplest protection is to wash all seeds, especially before sprouting them and blanch them in boiling water or steam before consuming them. You  can lightly roast nuts for 10 minutes in the oven before consumption. As a general rule, if nuts look scuffed they have been mechanically shelled and cleaned. If they look grubby or completely whole they have probably been hand shelled and cleaned. If they come from California they are hygienically cleaned and stored. Think about were they have come from and how they might have been stored. Personally I would never eat raw Chinese pumpkin seeds, unheated natural sesame seeds, or raw peanuts. Lightly roasting them, or eating peanut butter is fine. Washing leafy vegetables is fine.

For many years the media and the macrobiotic movement have fed consumers with a romantic notion about eating unprocessed raw food, unprotected by chemicals that kill bacteria. Most of the fresh food you buy has been washed in a dilute solution of chlorine or in the case of many fresh fruits irradiated, to lengthen its shelf life and inhibit moulds. Again the answers are to take simple hygiene measures before eating them. Some pulses also contain lectins and enzymes that might cause severe stomach aches if not cooked. Sprouting them only reduces their effect by a small amount. The modern trend for very lightly cooking meat and fish allows worms and bacteria to remain in the food. When you eat fish ask yourself is a muddy bottom feeder like cod or mullet. If so, the risk of worms is higher. Ignore the sushi fashion and cook it properly. Farmed salmon is prone to sea lice that attach themselves to the gills and skin. We fool ourselves with all the advice about eating food as near to its original state as possible.

Probiotics are helpful for the gut. They ‘seed’ the intestine with helpful bacteria. Probiodaily is the best regular one that I have come across. Phone Higher Nature T: 0808 178 8614 and quote my practitioner number 171983 if you want to order some or ask their advice. Liquid yoghurts are of some value but probiotic tablets are coated to survive stomach acid.

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