How healthy (or unhealthy) is your gut bacteria? Find out how to tell here….
“Gut bacteria” is a buzz phrase used nowadays in health culture.
From probiotic commercials, to Dr. Oz re-runs, “Women’s Health” articles and kombucha bottles, it seems like more and more people are talking about the gut—and gut bacteria— but what is “gut bacteria” really? Is it good, or is it bad? Where does it come from? And what’s its role in the first place?
Gut Bacteria 101
Like cells in your body, the bacteria in your body are a vital component of human life.
In fact, if you think back to 9th grade Biology. you cannot have life without bacteria.
Although the word “bacteria” seems like a negative thing, much of your bacteria (“non-pathogenic”) actually help keep your body healthy and balanced—regulating your immune system, influencing digestion,
If you’ve ever seen the movie “Bubble Boy” (a 2001 flick starring Jake Gyllenhaal), the role of bacteria in your body make sense.
Without it, we would be WAY more susceptible to the toxins and pathogens in our environment.
WITH it, we have a stronger “immune system,” healthier digestive system, cardiovascular function, brain function, metabolism and about every other function in our body—at least if we have healthy or “good bacteria.”
There are two types of bacteria:
1.Beneficial (“good”—such as those found probiotics)
2. Pathogenic (“bad” or “disease causing” bacteria—such as those found in strains of bacteria that cause food poisoning or fungal overgrowth)
Both good and bad bacteria come in a blend of trillions of DIFFERENT types and strains, located THROUGHOUT the body (your mouth, skin, urinary tract, gut, etc.)—and the AIM, for optimal human health, is to have more “GOOD” bacteria (than bad guys), as well as a BALANCE of these bacteria (because TOO much of a good thing—even good bacteria—is NOT a good thing).
WHERE DO BAD BACTERIA COME FROM?
So how do you get “bad bacteria” in your body and your gut?
Think about 8-day old leftovers in your fridge, or about what happens to a plate of scrambled eggs if you leave them on the counter for 24 hours?
They spoil. Go bad.
The same thing goes for bacteria in your body.
Bacterial strains can go “bad” or infectious, disease-causing bacteria can invade your body from a variety of exposures and circumstances that leave them to “sour” or rot.
Common causes and influences of “bad bacteria” in your body stem from both the outside and inside world, include:
Sources of Bad Bacteria?
Environmental exposure to bacteria (such as mold, lead and gas poison)
Toxic fumes we breathe in (car exhaust, smog, paint)
Anti-biotics and other harsh medications we take (that KILL off healthy strains of gut bacteria)
Hormone Replacement Therapy & Birth Control Pills
Topical Beauty & Hygiene Products (with toxic ingredients)
Processed & Refined Foods
Hydrogenated Oils (Vegetable Oils, Canola Oil, Grapeseed)
Frequent consumption of foods that are difficult for the body digest (Wheat, gluten, gluten-cross contaminating foods)
GMO’s & Produce grown in Chemical-laden Soil
Conventional Meats & Dairy (administered antibiotics and hormones)
Technology & Light Pollution (radiation, etc.)
Moldy Gluten-Cross-Contaminating Coffee
Carcinogenic Cooking (burned foods, charred pans)
Poor Hygiene (not washing hands, dirtiness)
The MAIN theme of these all?
The primary sources of bad bacteria in our body are ALL triggers from our “exposome”—a combination of environment and lifestyle factors (namely what we eat, drink, put on our body or come into contact with in the outside world).
While we no longer live on the open range, or in forests, caves or huts in nature, there is NO escaping the hard-wired human physiology of our ancestors, who required a handful of “necessities” for health and survival from the beginning of time including:
Safe, healthy Environment
Simply put, the human body simply cannot survive (or thrive) if it does not have these things (real food, water or a healthy, secure environment—not exposed to toxins or life-threatening conditions).
When our body takes a “hit” from these outside influences and stressors—repeatedly (like the Neutrogena face wash we use or Diet Coke we drink every day)—the balance of our bacteria—particularly in our gut—gets thrown out of whack, and the “good guys” become overpowered by the “bad guys.”
You guessed it.
—Synonyms for many of our modern-day diseases we experience that have become “norms” in medical practices.
What Bad Bacteria Do
Bad bacteria—or bacterial overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria—weaken your immune system, stall healthy digestion and proper absorption of nutrients, and trigger the presentation of “chronic diseases” like:
Gut Conditions (SIBO, Fungal Overgrowth)
To “everyday” normal imbalances like:
Acne & Skin Breakouts
Allergies (seasonal, food)
Bloating & Constipation
A “Slow Metabolism”
Poor Fitness Recovery
Unexplained Cravings for Sugar or Other “Junk Foods” (bacteria love foods they can ferment and rot upon in your gut)
Although many people “blame” their genetics on their health (or lack thereof), genetics only influences health about 10-percent.
The other 90-percent?
It starts in your gut—and the balance of you bacteria.
GETTING MORE (HEALTHY) BACTERIA
So if “bad bacteria” is not a good thing…but “good” or “healthy” bacteria ARE a good thing…how do we get more good bacteria than bad?
Since your body is home to lots of healthy bacteria, the goal with maintaining and fostering continued healthy bacteria is to influence it in as many ways as you can—lifestyle, environment and food included.
Here are 7 essentials for encouraging the growth of MORE (good) bacteria:
Take Pre-Biotics (Like Partially Hydrolyzed Guar Gum & Eat a Prebiotic Rich Foods (Resistant Starch )
Take Spore-Based Probiotics & Eat Probiotic Foods, including: Kefir, Kombucha, Sauerkraut, Fermented Vegetables
Drink Clean, Filtered Water. Ditch the plastic water bottles and opt for glass or stainless steel drinking containers instead.
Opt for the Highest Quality of Foods You Can. Consider food to be the “medicine” you invest in, including organic produce, grass-fed and pastured meats, wild-caught fish, and non-hydrogenated plant and animal fats like coconut, avocado, raw nuts and seeds, lard, butter, ghee, etc.
Swap Out the “Culprits.” You don’t have to live in a bubble completely when it comes to “trigger” foods like granola bars, coffee, sweet treats or “pasta”—just choose higher-quality fuel than the standard processed duds. Instead of your Special K granola bar, try a real-food based Primal Kitchen Bar; buy a high quality organic fair-trade coffee instead of moldy Starbucks; swap out your flour and cane sugar for coconut flour and pure maple syrup in your cookie recipe; and instead of bland, tasteless spaghetti noodles, try flavorful spaghetti squash.
Gradually Replace Toxic Beauty & Cleaning Products with non-toxic sources. (Check out Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic and Cleaning Databases, and the ThinkDirtyApp to become a conscious consumer.
Boost Digestion. By optimizing your all-around digestion, you further prevent the growth of unhealthy bacteria that have a “hey day” when you don’t digest your foods as well. Some top hacks include:
Chewing your food (really well) & Slowing down at meal time
1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar in 2-4 oz. of Water Before Meals
Digestive Enzymes- 1-2 with Meals
To thriving bacteria you go!
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drlauryn.com/gut-health/difference-in-good-and-bad-bacteria/ ** Dr. Lauryn Lax __Nutrition. Therapy. Functional Medicine ** drlauryn.com/
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