Probiotics = Beneficial Bacteria = Friendly Flora
Bacterias don’t have a very good reputation and with good reason. Just a little over 100 years ago, the leading cause of death was infectious disease and many of these diseases were caused by bacteria. The discovery of infectious microbes, like bacteria, resulted in improvements in sanitation and food handling that have saved millions of lives.
Of course, bacterial infections are still around.
However, with the development of various antiseptics, disinfectants, and antibiotics relatively few people in Western countries die from infection.
Unfortunately, because of bacteria’s association with disease, it’s all easy to become obsessed with killing germs. This obsession is actually leading to health problems caused by lack of bacteria. It turns out that some species of bacteria are beneficial to health and that over sterilizing your environment makes you more likely to develop allergic reactions, asthma, and autoimmune disorders.
This has also led to unwittingly breeding stronger strains of bacteria that are becoming resistant to antibiotics and disinfectants. So, it’s time to take a new look at bacteria and health.
Intestinal Dysbiosis and the Microbiome
At this very moment there are several pounds of bacteria living inside of you, along with various species of yeasts, fungi, and maybe even a few parasites. Don’t be alarmed, this isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, you need them to be healthy.
These organisms are known collectively as the intestinal microbiome and people with strong immune systems tend to have a more diverse microbiome. Research is suggesting that healthy people have more species of microbes in their gut than unhealthy people.
In fact, when the microbes in your gut are out of balance, a problem known as dysbiosis, you’ll experience a lot of digestive discomfort. Symptoms like gas, bloating, nausea, belching, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, or constipation may all be due to intestinal dysbiosis.
But the effects of dysbiosis go beyond these digestive symptoms. Your immune system will be weaker when you have dysbiosis. It’s easier to catch colds and flu and you may even experience chronic infections like sinusitis. It’s also harder to lose weight with intestinal dyspiosis.
There is a link between the gut and the brain, so intestinal dysbiosis can also affect your mental focus and mood. The wrong bacteria in your gut can contribute to conditions like brain fog, depression, and anxiety, they may also be involved in more serious problems such as mental illness, autism, and Parkinson’s.
Probiotics, Antibiotics, and Dysbiosis
The bacterial good guys have been called friendly flora or probiotics. The term probiotic comes from the roots, pro, meaning for, and biotic, meaning life. Probiotic literally means for life.
In contrast, antibiotic comes from the roots, anti, meaning against, and biotic, or life, which means antibiotics are against life. There’s no question that antibiotics have saved many lives, but broad spectrum antibiotics have been over-prescribed and overused. This has resulted in a lack of diversity in the microbiome and an increase in people suffering from dysbiosis.
And it isn’t just antibiotics. Other factors that have contributed to intestinal disbiosis include the use of NSAID’s birth control pills, chemotherapy and other drugs. The chlorine in drinking water also kills friendly flora.
In order to restore a healthy gut you need to do three things. First, you need to knock down populations of the unfriendly microbes in the gut, which include bacteria like E. coli, and H. pylori, and yeasts like Candida albicans.
Then you need to alter your diet to make your intestines less friendly to the bad guys and more friendly to the good guys. You need to feed the good bacteria with prebiotics and starve the bad bacteria by limiting FODMAPS (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharide and Polyols).
Finally, you need to eat probiotic rich foods and/or take probiotic supplements to build a healthier microbiome. The more diverse you make your microbiome, the healthier you will be.
Knocking Down the Bad Guys
If you have symptoms of dysbiosis, supplementing with berberine may be helpful. Berberine is an alkaloid found in herbs like barberry, goldenseal and Oregon grape, which have been traditionally used for fighting infection. It is helpful for correcting intestinal dysbiosis, reducing both bacterial and fungal overgrowth. It is also helps reduce sugar cravings.
Pau d’arco bark is used for yeast overgrowth, but it has some antibacterial properties as well. It -works very well as a tea, so try drinking about one quart a day of the tea daily. You can also take about 8-9 capsules per day with plenty of water.
A Fungal Cleanse Program is a good way to help rebalance the gut microflora. It contains pau d’arco along with oregano (a great herb for both bacterial and fungal overgrowth), caprylic acid (which helps control yeast), and black walnut (which helps with parasites). Although it was created to combat yeast overgrowth, it also helps knock down unfriendly bacteria, too.
A great feature of this cleanse is the enzyme packet it contains which is taken between meals. Bacteria and yeast colonize the digestive tract in a thin film known as biofilm. (Dental plaque is an example of a biofilm.) This protects them from antibacterial or antifungal substances. The enzymes digest or break down the biofilm, exposing them so they can be destroyed.
Another great antimicrobial for the gut is cinnamon. A Cinnamon Blood Sugar Formula containing cinnamon, nopal, fenugreek, dandelion and burdock can also be helpful for correcting dysbiosis, while balancing blood sugar. Cinnamon is not only antimicrobial, the oil in it helps break down intestinal biofilm. The dandelion and burdock in this formula are also sources of the prebiotic inulin.
Feeding the Good and Starving the Bad
Probiotics also need food and the substances that feed them are called prebiotics. Fructooligosaccharides are prebiotic compounds found in many plants. Inulin is the most well-known prebiotic and is found in many herbs and foods from the sunflower family, including burdock, dandelion, chicory, elecampane and Jerusalem artichokes. Many of these plants are known for their ability to improve intestinal health.
Generally speaking, a diet high in vegetables will provide plenty of prebiotics to help maintain a healthy gut flora. In contrast, a diet high in refined sugars and starches tends to promote the growth of unfriendly bacteria and yeast.
If you have a lot of gas, bloating and digestive distress, it would be wise to not only get rid of the refined carbohydtrates in your diet it would be wise to avoid FODMAPs in general. FODMAPs are food substances that intestinal bacteria can ferment, causing excessive gas, belching and digestive upset. A list of high FODMAPs foods can be found on Tree of Light’s Blood Type, pH and Nutrition charts and on various websites.
Probiotic Supplements and Foods
To rebuild the population of friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract you can use both supplements and cultured foods. Bacillus coagulans is a good probiotic with which to begin. It is shelf stable to it doesn’t require refrigeration to remain potent. It will help to knock down unfriendly flora, preparing the way for more friendly species.
This can be followed by a Probiotic Supplement. This broad-spectrum probiotic will introduce many valuable species into the microbiome.
Children benefit from Bifidophilus especially if they have thrush or are colicky. The powder from probiotic capsules can be sprinkled in the diaper for thrush-related diaper rash.
It’s probably best to take probiotics before meals on an empty stomach. You can also implant them in the colon by mixing the powders from 3-5 capsules into a cup of room temperature water and injecting the solution rectally using a bulb syringe. This implants the bacteria right where they are needed.
When using probiotics to avoid diarrhea while traveling, double or triple the amount normally consumed and take them with meals.
Another big ally of a healthy microbiome is to eat naturally-fermented foods. Yogurt is the most familiar of these foods, but other cultured dairy products like kefir and soft cheeses can also help. Just make sure your brand has live cultures. It is preferable to use grass fed, organic dairy products.
Even better sources of probiotics are naturally pickled vegetables, such as natural pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi. Fermented soy foods like tempeh, miso and natural soy sauce are also helpful. These foods may contain an even broader range of good bacteria. For instance, probiotic-filled miso reportedly contains more than 160 bacteria strains. Again make sure to choose varieties with live cultures. You can also make your own fermented vegetables, many recipes can be found online.
We hope you find this information helpful and beneficial.
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My Vital Force Wellness Center,
Article written by – Steven Horne