Every person can improve their health and decrease their suffering by ensuring proper gut health. We have addressed the importance of proper gut health in the last few posts. Today I want to continue our discussion by considering the proper balance of microflora and undue competition from yeast, parasites, and bacteria. Many of the concepts presented in the last post will overflow into this post as well.
Hopefully it is somewhat clear that the right number, the right type and the right location of your gut microflora does matter. We have already mentioned some of the things that disrupt this delicate balance. When the health-promoting microflora are inadequate, it allows for an unhealthy overgrowth of disease-promoting microflora. There are many yeast, bacteria, and parasites that are opportunistic and just waiting to gain a foothold and wreak havoc on your gut health.
There are many things that can promote imbalances in your gut microflora leading to an unfair competitive advantage of the “bad guys” versus the “good guys”. Let’s consider a few of them…
Stress can be physical, chemical, or emotional imbalances. Stress can be anything that moves your body away from health. When you are stressed your body is under a “fight or flight” response that has a negative impact on digestion. This leads to poor gut motility, constipation, irritable bowel, and leaky gut symptoms. When stress is chronic and prolonged it lowers the immune capacity of the gut leading to an imbalance in the gut microflora.
Steroids are often prescribed for people with asthma or inflammatory diseases. Corticosteroids disrupt the delicate gut lining which causes disruption all through the digestive tract. Corticosteroids also deplete your body of very important trace minerals that are required to keep you gut healthy and provide the nutrients necessary to keep your good gut microflora alive and thriving.
We already mentioned that everyone is exposed to antibiotic residues to some degree. This exposure is much higher if you eat non-organic meaty, dairy and poultry. Also if you, or your child, take antibiotics for that ear infection, sinus infection, sore throat, or other infection, then you will have a negative consequence on the integrity of your gut health and the number of good bacteria in your system. The reason many people suffer candida, or yeast, infections after taking a round of antibiotics is because of the disadvantage the good bacteria have after being reduced from the antibiotics. This allows the bad microflora to overgrow and contribute to health problems.
Many people fail to realize that the antacids, acid-blockers and acid-suppressing medications they are continually taking are contributing to their gut microflora imbalances. The vast majority of the time symptoms of acid reflux are often a sign of not enough stomach acid. Adequate stomach acid is vital as the body’s first line of defense to kill bacteria, yeast and parasites that might be trying to hitch a ride on food you ingested. When you take acid suppressing medications you increase the chance of a “bad gut bug” taking a hold in your digestive tract and colonizing there. If you have acid reflux you don’t want to start taking acid blocking medications without understanding the long term consequences. Acid reflux is a sign that something else is going on and shouldn’t be ignored and masked with prescription, or over-the-counter, medications.
Most of the health and integrity of our digestive tract is dependent on decisions we make each day. You can have a profound influence on rebuilding gut health. We want to give our guts a competitive edge. We want them to have a clear advantage to help us build and promote health, rather than foster disease and dysfunction.
These bad microflora…the bad bacteria, yeast and parasites…that are trying to ruin your health are only able to thrive on dead or dying tissue. This means that when you create a healthy environment you remove all substrate they have to feed on. They die off and can’t survive in your gut. By keeping your body healthy, your cells healthy and your immune system healthy, you are able to have a significant influence on what can live in your gut. Consider this previous post about mosquitoes and swamps to help drive this point forward a little more.
Where are some starting points for you? Consider just adding in a few of the following things:
Work on a daily stress management program. This may include deep breathing exercises, prayer, or quiet reflection on motivating quotes or Scriptures.
Use antibiotics judiciously for you and your family. The research shows that “watchful waiting” helps to bolster the immune system, prevents unnecessary treatments and reduces the risk of developing secondary infections that are more difficult to treat.
If you have struggles with acid reflux and acid indigestion then schedule with a health care provider that understands the true underlying cause of acid reflux. Masking the symptoms not only creates an imbalance in your gut microflora, but also increases your risk of constipation, osteoporosis, and malabsorption issues.
If you have asthma, atopic dermatitis or autoimmune diseases that require a prescription corticosteroid then consider working with a health care practitioner that can help you lower inflammation with other safe, natural, and effective treatments. This will allow you to take the lowest possible dose needed (or maybe none at all) of the medications to get the results you need.
You can give your gut a fighting chance and a competitive edge over all the stress, toxins, and malnutrition that try to ruin your health. Consider your daily habits and their influence on your gut.