Location, location, location. You have heard this statement before. If you are in real estate, or starting a small business, it seems everyone is concerned about location. In this 3rd installment of our investigating gut dysfunction series we are going to talk about real estate and location…but not the real estate you are thinking about. We are going to talk about the real estate of your digestive tract. That long tube…the inner tube of life…that we tend to forget about until problems start.
Living in the near 20 feet of your digestive tract are living micro-organisms. Bacteria…fungi…parasites…bugs. Tons and tons of bugs. Literally, there are more bugs in your gut than there are cells in your body. But before you get grossed out, you need to understand that your health depends on these bugs in your gut. Healthy bugs, what we call good microflora, are what helps us to digest and assimilate our foods, they manufacture vitamins for us, they boost our immune system and help prevent disease. Treat your gut bugs right and they will treat you right!
Healthy digestion requires some important factors when it comes to your gut microflora:
- Does your gut have the right type of bugs (bacteria and other micro-organisms)?
- Does your gut have the right number of bugs (bacteria and other micro-organisms)?
- Does your gut have the right bugs (bacteria and other micro-organisms) in the right location?
So let’s consider this some more.
The Right Microflora
You want the “good bacteria” to be able to populate your digestive system so they can crowd out the “bad bacteria” that you are often exposed to. Think about the good bacteria as constant surveillance, or a neighborhood watch, to keep you healthy and safe. Their job is to keep things clean, tidy, and create an environment that is inhospitable to unwelcome bad bacteria.
When you take antibiotics, are under chronic stress, have a leaky gut, or any other of a long list of issues…then your good bacteria can be diminished. These good bacteria then are overtaken by bad bacteria in your digestive tract. For example, good bacteria such as Lactobacillus sp. and Bifidobacterium sp. are health promoting. They help you lose weight, they reduce your risk of heart disease, they reduce risk of colon cancer, and so on and so forth. If you start to culture many bad bacteria then you have issues.
For example, a bacteria known as Yersinia has been linked with autoimmune thyroid disease. Bacteria such as H pylori, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcos pyogenes have been linked with triggering psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. So the type of bacteria in your gut is important for your health.
When trying to improve your gut microflora, probiotics are often used. These are supplements that consist of billions of live colony forming units that you can ingest and they can help recolonize a healthy microflora system in your gut. Again, with probiotics, the kind of bacteria used does matter as I discussed in this previous post.
You can actually find out what types of bacteria, fungi, and parasites are living in your digestive tract with the use of functional stool analysis. This will help to determine the types of bugs that your gut has and you can identify if there are any potential causes of the discomfort you are dealing with.
The Right Number of Microflora
Not only do you need the right type of microflora, but you also need the right number. You might have healthy gut bacteria in your gut, but it is colonizing at a level that is too low to confer any true health benefits. This might be due to the healthy gut bugs not getting enough nutrition for them to thrive, a chronic stress that depletes their quantity in the gut, or being exposed to things that kill them off such as steroids and antibiotics.
You might think that you have nothing to worry about since you may not be taking antibiotics right now, but I have a surprising fact for you. Chances are really, really high that you are exposed to antibiotics and antibiotic residues every day. Over 80% of the antibiotics used in the United States are for livestock, poultry, and farm-raised fish. When you eat conventionally raised cattle and chickens you are being exposed to these antibiotic residues. Conventional milk is also a large source of antibiotic residues and all of this adds up to problems for your gut.
The Right Bacteria in the Right Location
Normally your small intestine has lower levels overall of microflora than your colon does. If you have poor digestion, inadequate stomach acid, low pancreatic enzymes, or altered digestion then you can actually start to have bacteria move up into the small intestine and create an overgrowth problem. If you have undigested food particles floating around in the small intestine then this provides a constant food supply for this overgrowth to munch on. This will leave you feeling bloated and gassy.
Wondering What You Can Do?
All of these things play into you having a healthy environment in your gut that will then confer true health and wellness to you. Let me share with you some of the probiotics that I use in my office and the best time to use them.
After antibiotics or if suffering with antibiotic induced diarrhea – I understand that there are times you get an infection that requires a prescription antibiotic. When used appropriately, antibiotics can serve a useful role. You must understand, however, that antibiotics also wipe out your good gut bacteria…as well as the bad bacteria you are trying to eliminate. So it is important to take good bacteria to replace what you have lost. In cases like these, I recommend Proboulardi taken at 1 capsule in the morning when you wake up and 1 capsule in the evening before bed for one month. This really helps to recolonize the gut after antibiotics and also relieves diarrhea associated with antibiotics.
Inflammatory conditions and elevated C-reactive protein – One species of bacteria that has been shown to lower inflammatory markers is found in LactoFlamX. Taking 1-2 capsules each day is effective in calming an overactive inflammatory process and lowers your blood levels of C-reactive protein (a blood marker of inflammation). I have used this successfully with many patients and have confirmed the lowering of C-reactive protein with follow up blood testing.
General maintenance and support of good bacteria – One of the Foundational Five nutrients is Ultra Flora Plus DF. One capsule taken each morning when you wake up is a great way to keep you gut healthy and keep the right number and type of bacteria in your gut.
So start working on having the right number, the right type and the right location of good bacteria in your digestive system. Hopefully next time you hear, “Location, Location, Location!” you will consider your gut!
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”