Gut Bacteria – Friend or Foe?

Want to hear something crazy? The average human has over 100 trillion microbes in and on their body! Of those 100 trillion, we are 90% microbial and only 10% human. I’m not gonna lie, that creeps me out just a little! The ideal balance to strive for is 85% good guys and 15% bad. This is a lofty goal and requires you to intentionally be eating foods that will keep the good bacteria population high and avoiding the very things that will destroy that balance. According to Dr. David Williams, two-thirds of the immune system relies on this.

Good bacteria are our little friends and important aids to the digestive process! They make B-vitamins for us. They also make lactic acid, which not only improves digestion, increases absorption of nutrients, but also aids in peristalsis of the intestine. In addition, the good guys make Vitamin K which helps with blood clotting. The secretions of the good bacteria help maintain the balance of your intestinal flora by hindering the bad bacteria.

Some of the symptoms you might experience if you have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth:
  • Gas, Bloating, Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Allergies
  • Acne
  • Depression (Really!)
  • Abdominal Pain or Cramping
  • Vitamin or Mineral Deficiencies
  • Yeast Overgrowth
  • Chronic illnesses such as Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

So what could cause you to need to replace your good bacteria? Stress, medications (antibiotics, antimicrobials, NSAIDS, and acid reducers to name a few), diets high in carbs, sugar and processed foods, chlorinated water, and numerous other factors can alter the bacterial flora in the intestinal tract. Imbalanced colons support the growth of pathogenic bacteria, which are constantly spewing toxins into the system, therefore causing your immune system to work overtime. Keeping a good balance between the good and the bad is extremely important!

How can you replace the good guys? Supplementing with a high quality probiotic is always one option. This would be especially important if you’ve undergone recent antibiotic therapy to replace some of your healthy gut flora that were destroyed by the medication. This is the one I prefer to take to replenish those good soldiers in my gut! Of course the optimal way is to eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, or kefir. (Stay tuned for future recipe posts and how-to videos regarding fermented foods). As you know, these foods are not generally seen in the Standard American diet. According to Dr. Mercola, one serving of fermented veggies has 100 times more beneficial bacteria than an entire bottle of high quality probiotics!

Once you’ve started restoring your gut health, you should notice an incredible difference in the strength of your immune system. You could also see improvements with ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and other gut inflammations that occur from a lack of sufficient probiotics!

Sources: Dr. Mercola, Dr. David Williams, Dr. John Matsen

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