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Integrative medicine and human health - the role of pre-, pro- and synbiotics

Stig Bengmark

Author Affiliations

Division of Surgery & Interventional Science, University College London, 4th floor, 74 Huntley Street, London, WC1E 6AU, UK

185 Barrier Point Rd, London, E162SE, UK

Clinical and Translational Medicine 2012, 1:6  doi:10.1186/2001-1326-1-6

Published: 28 May 2012


Western lifestyle is associated with a sustained low grade increase in inflammation -increased levels of endotoxin in the body and increased activation of Toll-like receptors and neutrophils, which leads to impaired immunity and reduced resistance to disease, changes which might explain the epidemic of chronic diseases spreading around the globe. The immune system cannot function properly without access to bacteria and raw plants, rich not only in bacteria but also in plant fibre, antioxidants, healthy fats and numerous other nutrients. Modern food technology with plant breeding, separation, condensation of food ingredients, heating, freezing, drying, irradiation, microwaving, are effective tool to counteract optimal immune function, and suspected to be a leading cause of so called Western diseases. Supply of pre-, pro-, and synbiotics have sometimes proved to be effective tools to counteract, especially acute diseases, but have often failed, especially in chronic diseases. Thousands of factors contribute to unhealth and numerous alterations in life style and food habits are often needed, in order to prevent and cure “treatment-resistant” chronic diseases. Such alterations include avoiding processed foods rich in pro-inflammatory molecules, but also a focus on consuming substantial amounts of foods with documented anti-inflammatory effects, often raw and fresh green vegetables and tubers such as turmeric/curcumin.