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Healthy Bacteria Make For A Healthy Body

Posted Nov 04 2009 10:05pm

Having bacteria in the large intestine of the body is extremely important because they not only aid the digestive process but they also support your immune system and provide many other benefits. The large intestine is home to about three pounds worth of bacteria, both good and bad, working together and competing for nutrients and space. Balancing out the ratio of good to bad bacteria is key to truly being healthy. They say that the ideal ratio should be about 85% good bacteria and 15% bad bacteria. If this ratio is out of balance then you are said to be in dysbiosis, as most people are.

The small intestine absorbs most of the nutrients from our food but any food that the small intestine is unable to utilize enters the large intestine where bacteria is able to further breakdown anything left. In doing this, the bacteria help to release more nutrients for absorption from the previously undigested matter and they also synthesize and release vitamins themselves into our system for absorption. Vitamin K is a well known vitamin needed for blood clotting of which bacteria help to produce your daily supply of.

Good bacteria are also known to help prevent food allergies and allergic inflammation and heal the intestines. They also decrease Gas, Bloating, Indigestion, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Diarrhea, Constipation, Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis, Bad Breath, Body Odor, Candida Yeast Infections, Colds, Flu, Chronic Fatigue and high cholesterol levels.

The balance of good and bad bacteria can influence your body weight too. Studies have shown that slim people have a different mix of bacteria in their gut than obese people. This mix of bacteria proved important because the bacteria found in obese people was more efficient at extracting calories from food and depositing them into fat.

Studies have also shown that athletes can benefit greatly from having the correct balance of healthy bacteria in their gut. Not only do they help to reduce the incidence of infections like colds and flu but they also help the athlete to recover faster. Less sick days and faster recovery times mean more time to train and improve performance.

If you have a baby or are expecting one then it is important to breast feed because breast milk naturally contains healthy bacteria that establish in your baby’s gut and help to boost it’s immune system for a healthy start to life.

The methods by which the good bacteria is able to assist the body in all of the above functions is varied. Some bacteria help to stimulate the body’s production of a natural immune system enhancer and virus inhibitor called alpha-interferon while other bacteria help the body to fend off disease by producing a protein that gives the immune system a boost. Some also help the body to detoxify by dislodging accumulated decay from the walls of your intestine so that it can be eliminated and other bacteria produce vitamins that your body needs for overall health.

How you eat has a huge impact on the balance of bacteria in your gut. Sugar and grains tend to feed the bad bacteria which gives them an advantage over the good bacteria. Chemicals in the air and water can also throw off the balance of good to bad bacteria. All packaged and processed foods contain chemicals that don’t have to be listed in the ingredients but they are very effective at throwing your system out of balance. Even if the packaged food does not contain chemicals, it is likely to be highly refined and contain unnatural amounts of sugar that allow bad bacteria to thrive so make sure to eat plenty of whole raw fruits and vegetables rather than bags and boxes of pre-made junk.

Stress can also wreak havoc on your gut bacteria so doing as much as you can to alleviate stress can help the good guys to survive. Yoga, meditation, EFT, whatever helps to relax you should be in your weekly, if not daily, routine.

Garlic, Green Tea, onions, apples, berries and Ginseng can also help to support the healthy bacteria in your gut due to their high polyphenol content.

Antibiotics play a very large part in disrupting the balance of bacteria in the gut because they tend to kill everything in their path whether it be good or bad so avoiding the use of antibiotics except in emergency situations can do wonders for your health. If you do have to take antibiotics then following them with a strong course of probiotics is highly recommended.

Probiotic supplements work by establishing colonies of the good bacteria in your intestine which literally crowd out the bad bacteria leaving them little to no room to flourish themselves. It is a competition for living space within your gut and you want to help the good guys win. When you purchase a probiotic you should make sure that it doesn’t need to be refrigerated because the bacteria need to be strong enough to survive your stomach acid…. which is not refrigerated in case you didn’t already know that. Probiotic pearls are usually very small so even people who have trouble swallowing pills should be able to get these down with little effort. Some good probiotics include:

Mercola Complete Probiotics
Vitacost Search

You can also eat fermented foods which naturally contain good bacteria and help to give the good guys reinforcements. Fermented foods include: Fermented milk, Kefir, Yogurt, Natto, Miso, Kimchee, Tempeh, Olives, Sauerkraut and Pickles.

Foods high in soluble fiber also help good gut bacteria to thrive. Soluable fiber is found in foods like plums, lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruits, pears, prunes, psyllium seeds, oatmeal, broccoli, carrots, lentils, brussel sprouts, chickpeas, lima beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans among others.

Fructooligosaccharides and inulin are natural sugars found in certain foods and herbs that are known as Prebiotics. These prebiotics help the probiotics to survive the journey of digestion so that they can reach the large intestine. Some Prebiotics include bananas, chicory root, onions, leeks, fruit, soybeans, sweet potatoes and asparagus. You can also purchase inulin powder if you feel you would like to supplement:
Now Foods Inulin Powder

One great way to support the healthy bacteria while kicking a bad habit is to substitute your coffee use with an herbal coffee which taste like coffee but are actually very healthy and cleansing for your liver while also having prebiotic properties. You can find herbal coffee here:
Mountain Rose Herbal Coffee
Dandy Blend Herbal Coffee

It is said that 80% of our immune system relies on healthy bacteria in the gut so taking whatever precautions you can to care for them and protect them can go a long way in resisting illness and disease.

Resources:

1) Thibodeau & Patton, Structure and Function of the Body, 13th Edition, 2008, p.406-407
2) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2003/10/18/bacteria-gut.aspx
Accessed: 06/16/09, Author: Dr. Joseph Mercola, Rachael Droege
3) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2007/01/06/how-the-bacteria-i
Accessed: 06/16/09, Author: Dr. Joseph Mercola
4) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2004/02/18/good-bacteria-part
Accessed: 06/16/09, Author: Dr. Joseph Mercola, Rachael Droege
5) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/04/18/probiotics-the-cas
Accessed: 06/16/09, Author: Dr. Joseph Mercola
6) http://cholesterol.about.com/od/cholesterolloweringfoods/qt/solublfiberlist.htm
Accessed: 06/16/09
7) http://www.naturalnews.com/023934_probiotics_probiotic_infections.html
Accessed: 06/17/09, Author: David Gutierrez
8) http://www.womentowomen.com/digestionandgihealth/probiotics.aspx?id=1&campaignno
Accessed: 06/17/09, Author: Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP

Having bacteria in the large intestine of the body is extremely important because they not only aid the digestive process but they also support your immune system and provide many other benefits. The large intestine is home to about three pounds worth of bacteria, both good and bad, working together and competing for nutrients and space. Balancing out the ratio of good to bad bacteria is key to truly being healthy. They say that the ideal ratio should be about 85% good bacteria and 15% bad bacteria. If this ratio is out of balance then you are said to be in dysbiosis, as most people are.

The small intestine absorbs most of the nutrients from our food but any food that the small intestine is unable to utilize enters the large intestine where bacteria is able to further breakdown anything left. In doing this, the bacteria help to release more nutrients for absorption from the previously undigested matter and they also synthesize and release vitamins themselves into our system for absorption. Vitamin K is a well known vitamin needed for blood clotting of which bacteria help to produce your daily supply of.

Good bacteria are also known to help prevent food allergies and allergic inflammation and heal the intestines. They also decrease Gas, Bloating, Indigestion, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Diarrhea, Constipation, Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis, Bad Breath, Body Odor, Candida Yeast Infections, Colds, Flu, Chronic Fatigue and high cholesterol levels.

The balance of good and bad bacteria can influence your body weight too. Studies have shown that slim people have a different mix of bacteria in their gut than obese people. This mix of bacteria proved important because the bacteria found in obese people was more efficient at extracting calories from food and depositing them into fat.

Studies have also shown that athletes can benefit greatly from having the correct balance of healthy bacteria in their gut. Not only do they help to reduce the incidence of infections like colds and flu but they also help the athlete to recover faster. Less sick days and faster recovery times mean more time to train and improve performance.

If you have a baby or are expecting one then it is important to breast feed because breast milk naturally contains healthy bacteria that establish in your baby’s gut and help to boost it’s immune system for a healthy start to life.

The methods by which the good bacteria is able to assist the body in all of the above functions is varied. Some bacteria help to stimulate the body’s production of a natural immune system enhancer and virus inhibitor called alpha-interferon while other bacteria help the body to fend off disease by producing a protein that gives the immune system a boost. Some also help the body to detoxify by dislodging accumulated decay from the walls of your intestine so that it can be eliminated and other bacteria produce vitamins that your body needs for overall health.

How you eat has a huge impact on the balance of bacteria in your gut. Sugar and grains tend to feed the bad bacteria which gives them an advantage over the good bacteria. Chemicals in the air and water can also throw off the balance of good to bad bacteria. All packaged and processed foods contain chemicals that don’t have to be listed in the ingredients but they are very effective at throwing your system out of balance. Even if the packaged food does not contain chemicals, it is likely to be highly refined and contain unnatural amounts of sugar that allow bad bacteria to thrive so make sure to eat plenty of whole raw fruits and vegetables rather than bags and boxes of pre-made junk.

Stress can also wreak havoc on your gut bacteria so doing as much as you can to alleviate stress can help the good guys to survive. Yoga, meditation, EFT, whatever helps to relax you should be in your weekly, if not daily, routine.

Garlic, Green Tea, onions, apples, berries and Ginseng can also help to support the healthy bacteria in your gut due to their high polyphenol content.

Antibiotics play a very large part in disrupting the balance of bacteria in the gut because they tend to kill everything in their path whether it be good or bad so avoiding the use of antibiotics except in emergency situations can do wonders for your health. If you do have to take antibiotics then following them with a strong course of probiotics is highly recommended.

Probiotic supplements work by establishing colonies of the good bacteria in your intestine which literally crowd out the bad bacteria leaving them little to no room to flourish themselves. It is a competition for living space within your gut and you want to help the good guys win. When you purchase a probiotic you should make sure that it doesn’t need to be refrigerated because the bacteria need to be strong enough to survive your stomach acid…. which is not refrigerated in case you didn’t already know that. Probiotic pearls are usually very small so even people who have trouble swallowing pills should be able to get these down with little effort. Some good probiotics include:

Mercola Complete Probiotics
Vitacost Search

You can also eat fermented foods which naturally contain good bacteria and help to give the good guys reinforcements. Fermented foods include: Fermented milk, Kefir, Yogurt, Natto, Miso, Kimchee, Tempeh, Olives, Sauerkraut and Pickles.

Foods high in soluble fiber also help good gut bacteria to thrive. Soluable fiber is found in foods like plums, lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruits, pears, prunes, psyllium seeds, oatmeal, broccoli, carrots, lentils, brussel sprouts, chickpeas, lima beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans among others.

Fructooligosaccharides and inulin are natural sugars found in certain foods and herbs that are known as Prebiotics. These prebiotics help the probiotics to survive the journey of digestion so that they can reach the large intestine. Some Prebiotics include bananas, chicory root, onions, leeks, fruit, soybeans, sweet potatoes and asparagus. You can also purchase inulin powder if you feel you would like to supplement:
Now Foods Inulin Powder

One great way to support the healthy bacteria while kicking a bad habit is to substitute your coffee use with an herbal coffee which taste like coffee but are actually very healthy and cleansing for your liver while also having prebiotic properties. You can find herbal coffee here:
Mountain Rose Herbal Coffee
Dandy Blend Herbal Coffee

It is said that 80% of our immune system relies on healthy bacteria in the gut so taking whatever precautions you can to care for them and protect them can go a long way in resisting illness and disease.

Resources:

1) Thibodeau & Patton, Structure and Function of the Body, 13th Edition, 2008, p.406-407
2) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2003/10/18/bacteria-gut.aspx
Accessed: 06/16/09, Author: Dr. Joseph Mercola, Rachael Droege
3) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2007/01/06/how-the-bacteria-i
Accessed: 06/16/09, Author: Dr. Joseph Mercola
4) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2004/02/18/good-bacteria-part
Accessed: 06/16/09, Author: Dr. Joseph Mercola, Rachael Droege
5) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/04/18/probiotics-the-cas
Accessed: 06/16/09, Author: Dr. Joseph Mercola
6) http://cholesterol.about.com/od/cholesterolloweringfoods/qt/solublfiberlist.htm
Accessed: 06/16/09
7) http://www.naturalnews.com/023934_probiotics_probiotic_infections.html
Accessed: 06/17/09, Author: David Gutierrez
8) http://www.womentowomen.com/digestionandgihealth/probiotics.aspx?id=1&campaignno
Accessed: 06/17/09, Author: Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP

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