Good Gut Bacteria VS Bad Gut Bacteria
The gut flora, also called the gut microbiota, is a complex ecosystem of microorganisms living inside of your digestive tract.
The gut is only one of the locations that human microbes inhabit, even though the majority of microbes are in your gut, your body is covered in bugs that protect you day in and day out.
If this is news to you, take a peek at our introduction to the microbiome article here.
Your microbiome is meant to be in delicate balance.
Throughout our entire lifespan, in a perfect world, that balance between good bacteria and yeast and fungus would not be disrupted. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world and if you are living in the world, you are living in some state of dysbiosis.
Not sure what the heck dysbiosis is? Well, don’t worry! We have you covered here.
Unfortunately, the balance in our guts has been thrown off by our environments: pollutants, sugar, and toxic chemicals in our food, water, and household products. Most people walk around with much more yeast, fungus, and bad bacteria in their gut than good bacteria.
But, who cares? We aren’t dead, we just have a little bit more bad bacterium than good hitching a ride in our intestines…. right?
Well, yes and no. The relationship between the body and bacteria is meant to be a non-harmful coexistence but is, more importantly, a mutualistic relationship of protection, immunity, and overall health. As many good bacteria as there are, there are definitely bacteria and parasites out there that can wreak havoc on your gut and your health. Let’s learn what the difference is and how to keep our gut happy, healthy, and balanced.
Good Gut Bacteria
As we already covered, your body is basically just a big skin bag full of bugs. At any given point, you are walking around with three pounds of alien microbes hitching a ride. These bacterial cells actually outnumber your native human cells ten-to-one.
Your intestines play an important role in a number of bodily functions – I mean, the gut is so important that we are able to commit an entire blog to it.
Yet, if we had to choose the most important take away from our entire blog, lean in, because this is it. The gut is an acquired organ. So, what does this mean for you and your gut health? It means, that your microbiome can be influenced, changed, and healed.
Even before birth, your mothers gut health and diet affect the development of your tiny intestinal tract, then at birth you should be coated with an awesome layer of bacteria from your mother in a healthy vaginal delivery, then hopefully breastfed, then you spend 2 years sticking everything in your mouth and bam, you have developed a totally amazing gut garden by toddlerhood.
YAY! Right? Well, yes and no. As I said – the microbiome can be influenced and changed. So, as children grow and eating habits change, sickness comes along, rounds of antibiotics, exposure to toxins, dyes, and chlorinated water, suddenly that once healthy gut garden is looking a little worse for wear and yeast and candida and icky bacteria swoop in and take over.
When born your gut balance is about 10-20% yeast/fungus and 80-90% good beneficial bacteria. That yeast and fungus is there when you are born, but it is meant to decompose your body after you die, not while you’re living.
We should all be doing our absolute best to keep our good bacteria alive and fighting for us. But, life gets in the way, we get sick, need antibiotics, go on birth control, and then one or five Big Macs later, that yeast and fungus has taken over and is actually decomposing you from the inside out.
So, not all bacteria are created equal and when our bodies get thrown into dysbiosis, we are in for a myriad of future health issues such as a lack of immunity, allergies, asthma, skin conditions, and autoimmune diseases.
What Good Bacteria Means for Your Gut Health
The diverse species of bacteria in the gut offers a good number of benefits including Fermentation of dietary fiber and transforming it into short-chain fatty acids, immunity, hormone development, and reduced inflammation.
In addition to that, gut bacteria play an important role in the synthesizing of vitamin B and K not to mention metabolizing of sterols, bile acids, and xenobiotics (foreign substances such as prescription drugs or carcinogens).
As if that weren’t enough for you to get serious about our gut health. It is also estimated that about 80% of your immune system activity is found in the gut and the digestive tract, specifically, the large intestine. The gut also affects your metabolism, and moods as approximately 90% of serotonin are produced in the gut AND maybe even more importantly, serotonin is the building block for melatonin – you know, the get to sleep fast hormone.
So, the little bugs in your gut are insanely busy and multitalented. So, what are good bacteria? Here are some common beneficial bacteria:
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
Bifidobacterium bifidum is a household name in probiotic strains (if there is such a thing). It helps keep unwanted bacteria out, eases digestion, and boosts the immune system. It plays an important role in immune function and allergy response; and encourages normal, healthy skin.
- Bifidobacterium lactis
Bifidobacterium lactis neutralizes gliadin, the wheat protein responsible for gluten sensitivity. (gluten intolerant? You may be missing this gem!) Gliadin also damages the intestinal lining and can cause Leaky Gut Syndrome.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome? We have the 411 on that right over here!
- Bifidobacterium longum
Bifidobacterium longum keeps acid levels balanced. It’s especially helpful for anyone taking antibiotics.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
Lactobacillus acidophilus supports digestion, particularly lactose digestion (again – intolerant? You probably just don’t have enough of this Rockstar in your intestines) Plus, this gem also boosts the immune system.
- Lactobacillus plantarum
Lactobacillus plantarum produces L. lysine, an amino acid that supports calcium absorption, hormone production, and boosts the immune system. It’s often used as a remedy for bowel disorders.
What Bad Bacteria Means for Your Gut Health
Now that we have an idea of some (there are hundreds and hundreds) of the good guys that be in your gut, let’s look at some infestations that should get the boot.
There are three main types of bad guys living in your gut: Yeast and fungus, harmful bacteria, and parasites:
Yeast and fungus are present in our guts at birth, but their main duty is to decompose our bodies after death. Unfortunately, yeast and fungus can begin to run rampant, typically seen on high sugar diets, after a round of antibiotics, or after a bout of GI distress such as diarrhea which wipes out the good bacteria protecting your gut from yeast and fungus infestation. When this happens, your body enters into a state of dysbiosis and the symptoms can include but are not limited to:
- Sugar cravings
- Mood swings, depression, or anxiety
- Fungal infections such as athletes foot
- Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma, or multiple sclerosis
- Eczema, psoriasis, hives, or rashes
- Brain fog, lack of focus, ADD, ADHD
- Chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
- Digestive issues such as constipation or diarrhea
- Seasonal allergies
Candida Overgrowth in Gut Fungus Growth
Now, we know that the digestive tract is not the only place that yeast and fungus can be found and when it is running rampant, it is truly easy to spot.
Yeast infections can show up as a thick layer of white on the tongue or teeth, the vaginal wall, around the anus, under the armpits, and under toe and fingernails. This means that yeast and fungus have truly taken over and it is time for an intervention.
Bacteria fill our guts and covers our bodies as we have seen some are harmless some helpful, and some downright nasty. Here are a few strains you most definitely want to stay away from:
- Vibrio cholerae
- Certain strains of E. coli
Even just a little bit of these strains can cause bacterial infections with symptoms such as:
- Severe watery diarrhea
- Bloody stools
- Muscular cramps
- Permanent intestinal damage
If these bacterial infections are left untreated, they can cause death and should be treated with the utmost care. Thankfully most medical communities can easily identify and treat these kinds of infections.
There are also bad bacteria that are more just an annoyance than anything to write home about, but when they begin to take over, they can actually crowd out good bacteria and make it harder to absorb nutrients, reduce immunity, and kill off beneficial bacteria in the gut. Some of the annoyingly bad bugs are:
- Clostridium difficile
When these little buggers are at rather low populations, they may even be considered a normal part of the digestive tract.
Parasites are the third type of bad guy that could be taking up residence in your gut, is rather unlikely, but it is possible – so here are three main types of parasites:
- Worms – such as roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms
- Protozoa – such as giardia, Cryptosporidium, and Microsporidia
- Flukes (or flatworms) – Clonorchis sinensis and Opisthorchis viverrini, Chinese liver fluke and the Fasciola hepatica, sheep liver fluke
Tape Worm Round Worms
How Do I Kill the Monsters Inside of Me?
So, now we have you totally icked out and wondering what is actually living inside of you. Sorry about that.
But, here is the good news. Healing the gut and killing off the bad guys takes time and is not necessarily an easy feat. But, it is possible!
With diet and proper supplementation, you can take control of your health and begin to heal the symptoms and root causes of the bad guy overgrowth within your gut.
Doing all of the research and label reading can be difficult. So, if you have any questions about probiotics, prebiotics, antifungal supplements, diet, or dysbiosis – please contact us. We have done the hard part already and are here to help you out.
If you want to schedule a one on one consultation, we would be honored to help you reach your health goals. Just follow this link. We cannot wait to meet you!
Wishing you the best health and the most happiness