It is estimated that the gastrointestinal tract is loaded with about 100 trillion microorganisms (bacteria, yeast, and others), about ten times the total number of cells in the human body.
To be healthy, the relationship of good bugs to bad bugs needs to be positively skewed – around 85 percent good to 15 percent troublemakers. When the balance is tipped the other way, all sorts of physical and mental problems can arise.Keeping your gut health in proper balance is essential to your overall health.
Avoiding sugars and starches, eating the right balance of omega fatty acids, staying well-hydrated, and increasing the number of fermented foods you eat are all ways to support a healthy balance of gut flora.
Experiencing digestive issues is a sure-fire way to know you have an unbalanced gut. Many people end up treating their symptoms with antacids, gas medicines, or anti-diarrheal medications, but these don’t get to the root cause of the problem, which is unhealthy gut flora.
If you are struggling with any of the following, you are likely suffering from dysbiosis:
Antibiotics are designed to kill the bad, harmful bacteria in our bodies. When we are sick, this a VERY good thing!
Unfortunately, though, antibiotics cannot discriminate between the good bacteria and bad bacteria in our bodies, so it kills it all! In fact, antibiotic means anti-life, which is the exact opposite of probiotic, which means pro-life.
And research shows that taking even ONE dose of antibiotics may permanently reduce the diversity of your gut bacteria.
However, the greatest danger from antibiotics does not come from those prescribed by your doctor, but rather from the foods you eat. It is estimated that 70 percent of the total antibiotic use in the United States is for livestock, which is why it is critical to eat antibiotic- and hormone-free meats whenever possible.
Other medications that also rob your gut of good bacteria include birth control pills, pain medication, and anti-inflammatories.
Studies show that stress, all by itself, decreases healthy gut flora! Stress is inevitable, no matter how hard we try to avoid it. The problem arises when you let it go on for too long without managing it.
Chronic, unmanaged stress raises cortisol (the stress hormone) levels which damages your gut flora and can stop the gut from working properly. Research has established that taking a probiotic supplement helps to reduce the stress response.
Immunity starts in the gut – in fact, by some estimates as much as 80% of your immune system resides in your gut.
Something called intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut syndrome, is a major source of impaired immunity. Increasing the level of good bacteria in your gut helps to tighten the intestinal “junctions” through which leaking occurs, thus healing the permeability and improving immune function.
By promoting a healthy gut flora with a regular probiotic supplement, studies show you can boost your immune system, strengthen your body’s defenses against illness, and potentially decrease the frequency and length of sicknesses.
If you have used all of your sick days at work, seem to catch everything that goes around, or get sick from the flu every year, then try probiotics.