There’s A Party Going on!!!
About 100 trillion bacteria reside in the large intestine (aka the colon). They weigh in at about 3 pounds, contributing more DNA than our own DNA. Now, that’s a big party! This gut bacteria or microbiome, as it’s often referred to, has both good and bad guys with possible yeast and/or parasites thrown into the mix. Like most parties, you have the well behaved guests, the ones that take things a bit too far, and then there are the few uninvited guests.
10 Signs the Wrong Guys Have Crashed the Party in your Digestive Tract:
Bloating, Smelly Gas, Constipation, Loose stool/Diarrhea, Nausea, Brain Fog, Eczema, Fatigue, Cravings, Depression
Our gut microbiome is extremely important and talks directly to our brains and vice versa. So that means that our moods and behaviors can be influenced not only by our thoughts, but also by the bugs in our gut, all 100 trillion of them! These gut bugs have everything to do with our energy, moods, behavior, weight gain, cravings, skin health, digestion, immune system, and overall inflammation.
Like most parties, you can handle a few people that drink a bit too much and if the uninvited guest or two are not too obnoxious, the party can usually hum along just fine. When there are too many that just don’t belong, the party gets unruly and out of hand.
There’s something called Dysbiosis that often happens in our colon, causing our party to become troublesome. Dysbiosis is a fancy word for an imbalance between the well behaved good bacteria and the obnoxious bad bacteria. The bad bacteria or parasite can cause a lot of havoc and shut the party down.
How Did These Bad Guys Get Into the Party?
There are 4 common ways that the bad guys get a chance to get in and possibly take over:
- Birth Control Pills and HRT
Antibiotics: The use of broad spectrum antibiotics prescribed primarily to treat a cold or flu has had a huge effect on the environment in our colon and immune system. (FYI-most colds and flu are caused by viruses not bacteria-antibiotics do not kill viruses) Antibiotics are sometimes very useful in killing off pathogens and even life savers. The only problem is that broad spectrum antibiotics are overused and are not selective in what bacteria they are killing. They may kill the bacteria that is making us sick but they’ll also kill off our protective good guys that reside in our gut. We can and should chase the antibiotic with a good probiotic and fermented foods but that is often not enough to restore the proper balance. This imbalance can cause anxiety, brain fog, IBS, yeast overgrowth, obesity, bloating, allergies, constipation, eczema, mood and behavior disorders and of course compromise our immune system-a bad party.
C-sections have increased by 40% in the last 20 years. What happens at birth determines either a good or bad environment in the colon from the very beginning. It’s been established that the microbial (bacterial) population from birth is different in a C-section baby compared to a vaginally delivered baby. When born through the birth canal, baby inherits the mother’s bacteria which creates a wonderful start. C-section babies are at a disadvantage from the beginning because they do not get the benefit of mom’s good bugs. The microbes that they’re first exposed to are often from the surgeon’s skin or staff which is very different from what we’d find in the birth canal. When given a choice, I encourage a vaginal delivery.
Diet: Not surprising, a key player influencing our gut bacteria is what we eat. If we eat a diet of coke, breakfast cereal, cookies, chips, pasta, and heavily processed foods our good bacteria is altered and killed very quickly. Studies have shown that just within a 12 hour period of consuming these types of food, our bacteria is altered. Conversely, eating a diet of good fats and greens will feed our good bacteria. There’s a war going on-the good guys vs the bad guys. Who wins is partially determined by what we put into our mouths.
Birth Control Pills and HRT: Birth control pills and HRT (hormone replacement therapy) are both notorious for altering the microbiome of the digestive tract. I recommend probiotics to all my clients taking hormones along with B6 which is depleted if estrogen is ingested as a pill. B6, in the form of pyridoxal-5 phosphate (which is the most absorbable form) is a very important B vitamin, responsible for energy metabolism and the formation of neurotransmitters, influencing sleep, anxiety, and depression.
You Need to Know Who’s at Your Party!
So how do you know if you have parasites, bad bugs or not enough of the good bugs? The best way is with a comprehensive stool test. I like the test from Genova Labs because they use a DNA probe method that is very sensitive. This allows me to see the different types of bacteria in the gut and to tailor a specific probiotic strain(s) for my clients. This test also looks for pathogenic bacteria, parasites, yeast overgrowth, inflammation and the overall function of the digestive tract. It’s a window into an area that rules so much of all of our bodily functions.
This one test can be a life changer and is available from a Functional Medicine practitioner, like me. If you’d like to find out what’s happening inside the organ that has a tremendous amount of influence on your moods, energy, skin, immune system, weight and even cancer contact me and let’s get started healing you from the inside out.
P.S. Correctly cultured foods can make a huge difference in changing the microbiome for many people. Here is a link to a great source to purchase these foods. http://www.culturedvegetables.net/category.sc;jsessionid=048C97163CFFF8263ABA00FA2BF4BC8A.qscstrfrnt05?categoryId=3