What Is Gut Bacteria?
Some bacteria line the intestines and help to digest food. During digestion, these bacteria make vitamins that are vital for life, send signals to the immune system, as well as make small molecules that can help the brain work.
As food leaves the stomach and enters the intestines, the pancreas releases enzymes that, along with the beneficial bacteria and microorganisms in the bowels, begin to break it down even further. These beneficial bacteria, also known as probiotics or intestinal flora, are in a delicate balance but are rather resilient if we eat well and abide by the digestive best practices.
However, there are some very common things that we do that decimate this natural symbiosis and are responsible in large part for the epidemic level of digestive problems we face today.
Ongoing research has concluded that people with certain diseases often have a very different mix of bacteria in their intestines compared to healthier people. Researchers are also working to define the makeup of gut bacteria in a healthy person vs. the gut bacteria in a diseased person. Scientists are also trying to pinpoint the presence or absence of particular types of bacteria that could lead to higher risk or possibly even reveal the existence of certain diseases.
New evidence supports that it is the diversity of bacteria that creates a healthy biome not just the presence or absence of one particular type.
A variety of bacteria offers the ability to break down many different food sources. Multiple strands of bacteria assure there will also be a production of different molecules that help mature and strengthen the immune system. These bacteria will also aid in the manufacture of the molecules that the brain needs to function properly. In layman’s terms, more different types of good bacteria mean more foot soldiers are strengthening the body and fighting off the “bad guys” or unwanted bacteria.
The Human Microbiome and Disease
Gut bacteria has been connected to disease throughout the body. Research has shown links to colon cancer, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diabetes, and obesity. While these conditions might seem more related to the intestines or metabolism, gut bacteria has been proven to play a role in these diseases.
Recent research shows that certain bacteria can strengthen the immune system, while others can promote the inflammation that’s part of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
Many diseases of the skin, lungs, joints, and other tissue are caused by inflammation, and a bacterial imbalance can lead to elevated inflammation that can advance disease.
Now that we have explained the impact of these different types of bacteria within our body, how do you know if you or your child has a healthy good bacteria versus bad bacteria ratio? Research suggests the ideal good to bad ratio is 85% to 15%.
Some common symptoms of an unhealthy imbalance or bad bacteria overgrowth are:
- Skin and nail fungal infections such as athlete’s foot or toenail fungus
- feeling tired and worn down, or suffering from chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
- digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
- autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma, or multiple sclerosis
- difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lack of focus, ADD, ADHD, and brain fog
- skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, hives, and rashes
- irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or depression
- vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, rectal itching, or vaginal itching
- severe seasonal allergies or itchy ears
- increased sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings
One of the most common harmful bacteria over growths with numerous emerging studies is Candida Albicans or just candida for short.
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