The key ingredient for a strong immune system and staying healthy and well is your gut. You have many bacteria in your body. In fact, you have more of them than you have cells. Most are good for you and the ones found in your gut not only help you digest foods, they work all over your body and are vital for your physical and mental wellbeing.
Your body is home to trillions of microscopic organisms — bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microbes that inhabit almost every part of you. This busy ecosystem of micro-organisms make up what’s known as the human microbiome.
Most of your microbes live in your gut, mainly in your intestines and colon. Bacteria are the most studied of the microbes — we have so far discovered over 1,000 species of bacteria in the gut. These bacterias do a lot — they digest your food, keep your immune system in balance, protect your intestines from infections, remove environmental toxins from the body, and produce B vitamins and vitamin K, which helps your blood clot.
Everyone’s gut microbiome is unique, although certain combinations of microbes — and a diverse mix of them — are the key ingredients of a healthy gut.
Normal gut flora contains small amounts of “bad” bacteria — microbes that cause disease when they overgrow. That’s why keeping a good balance between the good and the bad guys is important — too much bad bacteria makes you sick and robs you of feeling your best. You want vibrant communities where the good and bad bacteria work together in harmony.
Fighting the Good Fight
In the gut microbiome, the “good” bacteria do more than just help with digestion. They help keep your “bad” bacteria in check. They multiply so often that the unhealthy kind don’t have space to grow. When you have a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut, it’s called equilibrium. They are the ones doing the heavy lifting and are responsible for your immune system, so all the days you spend NOT being sick, you have these guys to thank.
Multiple studies have found that if you have too much of a certain kind of bad bacteria in your gut microbiome, you’re more likely to have:
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Food sensitivities or allergies
- Digestive problems like gas and bloating
- Weight gain issues
- Leaky gut
- Skin issues like acne, eczema, and rosacea
- Weak immune system
- Mood swings
- Autoimmune disorders
- Difficulty concentrating
- Joint pain
When your gut bacteria is out of balance, your body isn’t able to digest food as well, which leads to creating a toxic environment in your gut, most commonly leading to one or more of the mentioned diagnosis above. Researchers are looking into new treatments for them that target the bacteria in the gut microbiome.
Your gut flora, your diet, and the strength of your intestinal lining determine the health of your gut. Using antibiotics – which means “anti-life” too often disrupt your gut bacteria. When you’re sick, antibiotics help clear out the bad bacteria, but in the process they wipe out all the good ones too. Antibiotics has been proven to permanently alter intestinal flora and causing lasting damage to your organs.
Todays doctors are unfortunately way too generous and quick with prescribing patients with antibiotics. At the same time, industrial producers of medication are dumping their waste containing antibiotics out in the rivers in nature, making bad bacteria and viruses resilient to antibiotics which will eventually cause the medicine not sufficient to new stems of bad bacteria.
What causes the gut flora to change?
Keeping your gut in balance is a delicate dance, and there’s a lot that can tilt it in the wrong direction. As an adult, the health of your gut microbiome shifts when you:
– Eat processed foods
– Get sick
– Drink alcohol or take drugs
– Experience stress
– Lose or gain weight
– Get older
– Travel overseas or to other new environments
Another thing to point out which is very common among our culture today is; when your body is being overburdened with too many ingredients and amounts of food at once, which leads to developing a state called Toxemia.
This is when your body is not capable of properly breaking down and digesting the consumed food which leads to metabolic waste building up and causing inflammation in your gut. The developed septic materials enters the bloodstream and causes chronic septic poisoning, weakening our immune system further.
Gut Bacteria and Your Brain
Your brain sends messages all over your body. Researchers believe your gut may talk back. Studies show that the balance of bacteria in the gut microbiome may affect your emotions and the way your brain processes information from your senses, like sights, sounds, flavors, or textures.
Scientists suspect that changes in that balance may play a role in diseases like autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, and depression, as well as chronic pain.
Gut Bacteria and Obesity
An unhealthy balance in your gut microbiome may cause crossed signals from your brain when it comes to feeling hungry or full. Research has shows that there is a link to the pituitary gland, which makes hormones that help set your appetite. That gland can affect the balance of bacteria in your gut, too. Some studies on treating obesity are exploring this link.
Can You Change Your Gut Bacteria?
You get your gut microbiome from your mother at birth, and the world around you affects it as you grow up. It’s also influenced by what you eat. That’s why it can be different depending on where you live — and most importantly how, with the right food choices, you can be able to give it a boost in the right direction.
They make your immune system stronger. They boost gastrointestinal health, especially if you have something like irritable bowel syndrome. Some probiotics also help ease allergy symptoms and help with lactose intolerance. But because our gut microbiomes are unique, if and how they work can be different for everyone. You need to adjust the intake to your specific needs, but overall, all probiotics will be useful and beneficial for you either way!
Found in some foods, these are “good” bacteria like the ones already in your gut. They can add to the bacteria in your intestinal tract and help keep everything in balance. But they’re not all the same. Each type works in its own way and can have different effects on your body.
Live probiotic cultures are part of fermented dairy products, other fermented foods, and probiotic-fortified foods.
Some fermented products that contain lactic acid bacteria include: vegetables such as pickled vegetables, kimchi, pao cai, and sauerkraut; soy products such as tempeh, miso, and soy sauce; and dairy products such as yogurt, kefir, and buttermilk.
More precisely, sauerkraut contains the bacteria Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Lactobacillus plantarum, Pediococcus pentosaceus, and Lactobacillus brevis, Leuconostoc citreum, Leuconostoc argentinum, Lactobacillus paraplantarum, Lactobacillus coryniformis, and Weissella sp.
Kimchi contains the bacteria Leuconostoc spp, Weissella spp, and Lactobacillus spp. Pao cai contains L. pentosus, L. plantarum , Leuconostoc mesenteroides , L. brevis, L. lactis , L. fermentum.
Kefir contains Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens, Lactococcus lactis, and Leuconostoc species.
Buttermilk contains either Lactococcus lactis or Lactobacillus bulgaricus.
Other acidic bacteria,said to be probiotic, can also be found in Kombucha. This drink contains Gluconacetobacter xylinus. It also contains Zygosaccharomyces sp., A. pasteurianus, A. aceti, and Gluconobacter oxydans.
Make note that to really get the benefit from the probiotics, these foods are best used when they’re homemade since they are an accumulation of your bacteria flora closest to you or it specifically says on the packing that they contain good bacteria, since a lot of commercial products you buy are unfortunately pasteurized – which is the act of heating it up to a point where no bacteria can live, thus making it useless for the sake of health.
Make sure that you are getting the right stuff, unpasteurized.
Think of these as a food and fuel source for your probiotics. The hard workers need nutrition to keep building your immune system, to fight off other bacteria and colonize your intestines. This ecosystem keeps running as long as they’re given a proper food supply. They are also a great source of fiber and help your body take in calcium better.
They’re found in fruits and vegetables, like:
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Dandelion greens
- Chicory root
- Sweet potatoes
- Unripened bananas and plantains
- Apples (especially the peels)
- Citrus fruits
- Yacon root
You can also get them in foods with whole wheat.
Probiotics boost the growth of good bacteria, and prebiotics help boost the probiotics. When you combine the two, it’s a synbiotic. The idea behind them is to help probiotics live longer. You can make synbiotic combinations with things like bananas and yogurt or stir-fry asparagus with tempeh. Basically combining fermented probiotic foods with prebiotic foods to create the strongest armor possible for you.
To put it in perspective
If a patient is suffering from a difficult disease and antibiotics is not working for treatment, the use of Fecal microbiota transplantation – FMT, is highly effective for restoring the patients health and neutralize the bacterial infection.
FMT is the transfer of fecal material containing bacteria and natural antibacterials from a healthy individual into a diseased recipient. The treatment has gained increasing prominence, with experts of the matter calling for it to become first-line therapy for C. difficile infection.
In 2013 a randomized, controlled trial of FMT from healthy donors showed it to be highly effective in treating recurrent C. difficile in adults, and more effective than vancomycin alone. FMT has been used experimentally to treat other gastrointestinal diseases, including ulcerative colitis, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s. In addition to this researchers hope deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) can someday treat obesity. It uses a coil put on the scalp to stimulate the brain and improve gut bacteria. It already treats depression.