What You Need to Know About Bugs & Probiotics!

Would you be surprised if I told you that nearly 90% of your body’s cells have been classified as nonhuman cells?[1] One could almost say that, in a sense we are really a life support system for bugs.

Not only are the nonhuman cells in your body numerically significant, they are also physically and mentally significant when you look at the effects they can exert on your body.

One of the most important, health promoting changes you can make, is to make your body, or internal terrain, a friendlier home for your bugs.

Why do I say one of the most important? The reason it’s so important is that the balance of bugs in your body can effect nearly every organ in your body. Let me illustrate.

The Gut & Your Brain

The bacterial environment of the gut and the function of your brain is closely connected. This is increasingly being called the brain-gut axis. The brain-gut axis means that the health and makeup of your gut microbiota (or gut flora) can directly influence brain chemistry and in turn your behaviour.[2][3]

A look at early animal based studies show that regulation of the gut microbiota may help in finding new treatments for regulation of anxiety, mood, cognition, and pain.[3].

Probiotics & Your Heart

Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in developed countries. Preserving healthy gut microbiota is an important step in protecting your heart. Studies have shown that some species of pro biotic organisms can assist in preventing CVD and lowering cholesterol.[4]

Probiotics & Your Liver

We have been seeing increasing numbers of clients with evidence of liver damage and liver stress. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a common complication of type II diabetes and obesity and a common cause of chronic liver disease.

We have found the liver responds well to probiotic supplementation reducing both inflammation and elevated liver enzymes.

How to Preserve Your Gut Microbiota

Have I convinced you of the importance of healthy gut microbiota?

A good diet and healthy lifestyle are the keys to keeping your gut microbiota happy and improving your overall health and resistance to disease. Why not try these simple changes and watch the different it makes in your health?

Swap Refined Sugars & Carbohydrates With Soluble Fibre Rich Fruits & Vegetables

Refined sugars and carbohydrates (cakes, pastries, white pastas, and white bread) can weaken the immune system and lead to an overgrowth of bad bugs in the digestive tract. This reduces the levels of good, protective bacteria and increases inflammation.

Replace refined sugars and carbohydrates with fibre rich soluble fibre from fruits and vegetables. Good sources of soluble fibre include:

  • avocado
  • sweet potato
  • broccoli
  • turnips
  • peaches
  • apples

Soluble fibre helps to feed and nourishes your populations of good bacteria improving your health and lowering inflammation.

Cut Back on Stress & Enjoy Regular R&R

Regular rest and recreation are more than a nice to have – it is an absolute must if you wish to enjoy good health. Long term exposure to psychological and emotional stressors, such as in the workplace or at home, have been shown to create an internal environment that allows the overgrowth of bad bacteria.[5].

For your good health, and the good health of your bacteria, take regular time out from work and daily activity. Find ways that you can de-stress including:

  • a good book in the bath tub
  • take a walk in a national park
  • take up an exercise you enjoy.

More than just fun, relaxation techniques have been shown to decrease levels of bad bacteria in saliva measurements.[6]

Avoid Abuse / Overuse of Antibiotics

One thing I’ve noticed as a Naturopath is that people overuse antibiotics. Are you the sort of person who gets a prescription for antibiotics at the first sign of a sniffle?

While antibiotics are sometimes necessary for stubborn or life threatening infection, overuse of antibiotics is not only leading to antibiotic resistant pathogens but also destroying your good bacteria. One of the best prevention strategies for cold and flu’s is not the use of antibiotics but the daily use of a probiotic.

If you do feel, you need antibiotics try some natural solutions first. Some of my first choices include:

  • taking a flu bomb – made from 2 cloves of garlic, juice of 1 lemon, a little warm water and 1/2 a teaspoon of cayenne pepper this is great for colds and sore throats
  • doing a home fever bath with a steaming hot bath and then going to bed wrapped up tight in a doonah and blanket
  • using natural antibiotics like colloidal silver or olive leaf extract

Taking Supplemental Probiotics

While diet and lifestyle are always the best way to preserve your internal gut microbiota, sometimes the damage has already been done. Maybe you’ve just finished a course of antibiotics, have been on a sugar binge, or have had a bout of diarrhoea; in these cases supplemental probiotics will be important to restore balance.

People often ask what form of probiotic they should take. It’s important to remember that different forms of microorganism have different roles. Some probiotics for example and very good for digestive problems and bloating, while others help to reduce allergies and skin conditions.

While taking the wrong probiotic will not harm you, it will often not lead to an improvement in symptoms. If you think you could benefit from a probiotic supplementation call us today to make an appointment and get the right advice from a professional.

  1. Peter J Turnbaugh, Ruth E Ley, Micah Hamady, Claire M Fraser-Liggett, Rob Knight, and Jeffrey I Gordon. The human microbiome project.. Nature, 449(7164):804–810, Oct 2007.
  2. . The microbiota-gut-brain axis: neurobehavioral correlates, health and sociality. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 7(70)2013.
  3. John F. Cryan and Timothy G. Dinan. Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behaviour. Nat Rev Neurosci, 13(10):701–712, 10 2012.
  4. Lay-Gaik Ooi and Min-Tze Liong. Cholesterol-lowering effects of probiotics and prebiotics: a review of in vivo and in vitro findings. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 11(6):2499–2522, 2010.
  5. Shao-Xuan Wang and Wan-Chun Wu. Effects of psychological stress on small intestinal motility and bacteria and mucosa in mice.. World J Gastroenterol, 11(13):2016–2021, Apr 2005.
  6. Donald R. Morse, George R. Schacterle, M. Lawrence Furst, Jordon Goldberg, Brian Greenspan, David Swiecinski, and James Susek. The effect of stress and meditation on salivary protein and bacteria: a review and pilot study. Journal of Human Stress, 8(4):31–39, 1982.