Is your gut bacteria friendly?

Article submission, Friday 28th December 2007

Are you the perfect host?

yoghurt  is a good source of micro organisms

Sometimes we need friends to get things done, and one thing for sure is your body has plenty of them. In fact your personal host to literally countless microorganisms* and the ones we are focusing on here reside quite happily (so long as the conditions are right that is) in your large intestinal tract, your colon to be more precise. It really is a case of symbiosis, that is we need them as well as they need us, a real working relationship in fact.

Naturally these bacteria are important to us. Once food is ingested all the useful components for our system is taken out as it travels from the stomach then through into the small intestines. This within itself is a highly complex process of enzyme and other chemical processes. So our bacterial army of friendly gut flora go to work making sure that nothing gets left behind in the colon. Their main job is to populate enough so that undesirable bacteria do not get a foothold in the body whilst also preventing any buildup of yeast and fungus cultures.

Foods like garlic, onion, cheese, sauerkraut and yogurt help towards repopulating bacteria levels. However its a real battle for these bugs to even get into your colon, as your digestive tract is not bacteria friendly! Your stomach is a sterile and highly acidic environment designed to kill all bugs either good or bad. So there is definitely no room for gatecrashers.

gut flora
Foods that are most beneficial for gut flora are called prebiotics which are indigestible non soluble polysaccharide fibres which can be found in wheat, barley, raw oats and Jerusalem artichokes but to name a few, so therefore foods with high fibre content are most desirable.

From a supplement standpoint probiotics can prove very helpful in our diet, as these contain potentially beneficial bacteria which work with our own gut flora thus keeping populations up. When it comes to probiotics it is essential they are enteric-coated which is a protective coating around a supplementary capsule that does not break down in acid conditions so the contents make it to the safer haven of the higher pH environment. Your stomach after all has an acid pH mark of 1.5 - 2.0 (mainly attributed by the high concentrations of hydrochloric acid) which is only slightly milder than battery acid which is 0.5! Supplements in the form of probiotic are usually high in lactic acid bacteria which thrive on carbohydrates and other sugars like lactose.

human digestive tract

What's damaging your gut flora?

Sometimes the conditions within the colon are not always good causing substantial losses to these microbes. Conditions can become unfavourable if:

  • There is a high levels of chlorine or sodium fluoride in our city treated drinking water.
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol.
  • Antibiotics, birth control pills and other allopathic drugs
  • Stress and bad eating habits.

When good bacteria numbers drop we can end up with health issues which can range from excessive gas, constipation, intestinal toxicity to bloating.

Having a satisfactory number of bacteria residing in our intestine has wide health benefits which include:

  • Managing lactose intolerance - as lactose is converted into lactic acid.
  • Cholesterol lowering - by breaking down bile (small intestine) thus preventing its reabsorbtion (which enters the blood as cholesterol).
  • Improving immune system functioning to prevent infections - by controlling numbers of pathogens by means of competition for space within the gut.

*A Close approximation is that the population of these microorganisms is about 10 times more than the entire cell population of the host, and contain anywhere between 300 - 1000 differing species. These of which mainly comprise of Bacteroides, Clostridium, Fusobacterium, Eubacterium, Ruminococcus, Peptococcus, Peptostreptococcus, and Bifidobacterium. Bacteroides alone constitute about 30% of all bacteria in the gut, suggesting that this genus is especially important in the functioning of the host.

Further on the topic of intestinal flora the Health and wellness coach site contains a very informative article on leaky gut syndrome, which is a very common gut disorder.

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