The health of your gut depends upon the balance between the beneficial bacteria and the pathogens that reside within the gut, as well as the permeability of the lining of the intestinal tract. When these beneficial bacteria are at reduced levels or the lining of the gut is inflamed, your body is at risk from gastrointestinal concerns and disease.
Numerous factors play a role in compromising the microbiome within the gut, some of which may be unavoidable from time to time and include:
- Antibiotics – The use of antibiotics is on the increase. Antibiotics destroy bacteria in the gut whether they are the beneficial ones or pathogens. Aside from antibiotic medications, one of the biggest sources of antibiotics are factory farmed meats and dairy products.
- Processed foods – A typical Western diet of processed foods can alter the flora within the gut as opposed to one rich is vegetables and fibres.
- Refined sugars and hidden sugars – Eating a diet rich in sugar and high in refined carbohydrates helps to feed the pathogens causing an imbalance in the gut.
- Water – Chlorinated and fluoridated water can destroy the beneficial bacteria in the gut resulting in an imbalance.
- Stomach medications – According to studies, proton pump inhibitors usually taken for heartburn as thought to disturb the delicate microbiome within the gut.
- Painkillers – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications are known to be responsible for inflaming the gut lining and affect the delicate balance.
- Herbicides in food – Many GMO foods and some non-organic foods such as wheat have been found to contain herbicides that destroy the beneficial bacteria within the gut.
- Stress – Stress causes the release of the inflammatory hormone cortisol. This inflammation prevents the absorption of vitamins and minerals from the gut which can result in a less than optimum function of the whole body.
These are the main factors that can destroy or compromise gut health upsetting the balance of the beneficial bacteria which may lead to inflammation of the gut lining and therefore a host of concerns such as poor nutrient absorption, inflammatory bowel concerns and a less efficient immune system.
How to maintain a healthy gut
The human body has a remarkable ability to heal itself, given some help. To help achieve overall good health, you need your gut working efficiently. I always point out that for gut health to be optimal, you need to remove toxins and replenish the lost bacteria in the gut.
Some of the strategies below may be of great benefit in tackling a compromised gut and include:
- Avoiding dairy – Many people with a compromised gut are intolerant to lactose in dairy products. Try a dairy-free diet for 30 days and see if this helps.
- Rethink your diet – Reduce intake of gluten containing food, caffeine drinks, alcohol, processed food and sugar laden food. All of these cause havoc within the gut.
Replenish the gut with a good probiotic supplement. A healthy gut should have a wide variety of beneficial bacteria that play a role in a number of processes carried out within the body. These beneficial bacteria work to digest food more efficiently, enhance our immunity, detoxify the gut, remove inflammatory chemicals and manufacture energizing B vitamins to name a few. Choosing the right probiotic can be challenging because there are a wide range of probiotic supplements on the market.
How to find the right probiotic
If you have read any of my previous editorials, you will know that I normally recommend Mega Probiotic ND by Food Science of Vermont. I believe that this is a good all-round supplement which provides eight strains of acid resistant bacteria that can colonise the gut where they perform the varying roles mentioned. Mega Probiotic ND is a great probiotic for general health and is ideal for those who do not have any gut issues and simply wish to maintain a healthy digestive system.
Research into probiotics is increasing exponentially and scientists are beginning to find out how certain probiotic species have very specific roles to play notably in oral hygiene and low mood.
A healthy gut contains hundreds of species of beneficial bacteria which are obtained from:
- Largely the mother during birth and whilst breastfeeding as well as friends and family through close contact.
- From the environment – these are introduced into the gut in the form of spore organisms that are involved in conditioning and supporting the proliferation of the good bacteria.
Herein lies a problem. We are these days almost ‘sanitised’ from these bacterial spores which are so important to curb inflammation, to condition the gut and to encourage the flourishing of the healthy bacteria. Our ancestors did not worry about getting themselves dirty – it was part of life. These days we are all obsessed about cleanliness and this does not just apply to adults but equally to children who seem to be more in front of a screen than in the garden. The probiotic bacteria found in soil are known to condition the gut and encourage the flourishing of its existing species.
If you have a compromised gut function, you may wish to consider the use of a specific probiotic supplement called Prescript-Assist. This probiotic contains more than 29 species of probiotic including those that are classified as “Soil-Based-Organisms” including the bacillus spore probiotic species which is not found in our modern sterilized food system.
Prescript-Assist is a probiotic that has been found to help a wide variety of inflammatory gut concerns though it is a good idea to take this probiotic even if you do not have inflammatory gut concerns such as IBS and colitis.
Prescript-Assist is going to be important:
- If you have a compromised gut
- You have been taking courses of antibiotics recently
- You have been on vacation in the last year
- If you suffer from recurrent fungal infections
You may use Prescript-Assist for a month and then continue with Mega Probiotic ND for general health.
7 takeaway tips on probiotics
- The name probiotics is derived from two Latin words: Pro meaning for and biotic meaning life, in other words ‘for life’.
- Probiotics are critical to gut health and may be invaluable for inflammatory bowel concerns.
- Of the billions of strain of bacteria, only a few hundred strains are friendly to the human body.
- Around 80 percent of probiotic bacteria live in the gut; the rest in other parts of the body including the sinus passages.
- Having a gut full of healthy bacteria is crucial for good health, likewise good health is proportionate to a healthy gut.
- Research into probiotics is on the increase; we are finding out about strains which protect not only the gut but also the heart, gums and many other structures.
- Soil based probiotics have the ability to “seed” the digestive tract with bacteria which will flourish and support the health of the gut.