Probiotics or Nobiotics?
Did you know that we have more bacteria in our body than there are stars in the sky? Wow. That's seriously hard to imagine! The bacteria in our gut have created a world of their own and function independently to break down and digest our food so that we are able to absorb and extract the nutrients from the food we are eating. However, not all of the bacteria in our gut are nice. It's almost like a superhero movie where the villains try to take over the city and destroy all the good guys. Yup, that can happen in our gut too if we don't eat the right foods or culture our gut properly. In the worse case scenario, we can even end up fueling the bad bacteria in our gut by providing it with the food it loves and needs to thrive.
Bad bacteria in our gut can come in common forms like candida from yeast overgrowth. Candida overgrowth in the gut can become very serious because it will play a large role in how we absorb nutrients and get rid of waste. A bad bacterial overgrowth in our gut can cause our gut lining to become weak and start to absorb all and anything that passes through, which is known as leaky gut. This allows everything to be re-absorbed into our body, including toxins which can build up and make up sick. Yuck. To prevent and cure leaky gut, we need to culture the good bacteria and drive the bad bacteria out! Probiotics can help to culture a healthy gut bacteria but they can also do more harm than good if our gut has a large overgrowth of bad bacteria to start with so not everyone should jump on the probiotics train right away.
Probioitcs are live bacterial cultures that help to restore the good bacteria in our gut. They are found in cultured foods such as yogurt, apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut and even pickles! A lot of fermented foods will contain probiotics. However, if our gut is out of balance and has a large overgrowth of bad bacteria, probiotic supplements can actually feed the bad bacteria! The only way to start balancing your gut bacteria is to really focus in on a diet and lifestyle change. Once the excessive bad bacteria is gone, taking a probiotic supplements every day will help to improve and maximize digestion. If you don't know where to start and are unsure whether your gut needs balancing or not, here are a few tips to get you started.
Get Tested: We can pretty much test for anything these days with our advanced health and science technology which is a huge help to uncovering root problems to things such as bloating, excessive gas or upset stomachs. If you find that you experience any of these symptoms on a regular basis, you may have an imbalance in your gut microbiome. There are many different types of tests that can identify the types of bacteria that are located in our gut. By testing, you can hard evidence if you have an excessive amount of bad bacteria in your gut or not. I would recommend to go see your primary care doctor, a naturopathic doctor or a holistic medical practitioner to get your gut bacteria tested.
Eliminate sugar, dairy and gluten: Just like we enjoy the taste of sugar, dairy and gluten, the bad bacteria in our gut love it too and will feed off of it and continue to grow. The best way to re-balance the gut bacteria naturally is through diet because what we eat enters our gut and creates the type of bacteria that is used to break down our food. Just as our food nourishes us, it also nourishes the bacteria in our gut that take care of us. If we feed it crappy foods, we will have an abundance of crappy bacteria that will make us feel lousy all the time. Sugar and gluten are common foods that can easily cause bad bacteria overgrowth, so I would recommend to start by avoiding processed foods, sugar and gluten containing foods to starve these bad bacteria strains out of the gut! I also recommend avoiding dairy because as we age, our body becomes more sensitive to dairy and cannot break it down as well. Inability to break down dairy may cause gas, bloating and upset stomach pains.
Find a stress reliever: Shockingly, too much stress in our life can cultivate the growth of bad bacteria in our gut as well. The gut is very sensitive food we eat and also to our every day emotions. If we live a high stress lifestyle, our hormones will be out of balance and our immune system will be weakened because our body will be in a fight or flight mode constantly. A weakened immune system will let our guard down and welcome the growth of more bad bacteria because our good bacteria have become too weak to fight it off. Finding a stress reliever will calm the nervous system and strengthen the immune system. These days, it is too easy to run our self into the ground and do so much more than our body can handle, so go out and find a new stress relief whether it be yoga, walking, running, playing with your pet or drawing; all of these can help balance our body.
Once you have adopted these three strategies, I would recommend getting tested again to see if you truly have eliminated the bad bacteria in your gut or if you notice that your gas, bloating and stomach pains have resolved you can bet that your bad bacteria count are going down! Once you have eliminated the excessive bad bacteria, I would recommend incorporating a probiotic to build up the good bacteria in your gut and cultivate it to help nourish your body. There are so many different brands of probiotics out there so it's hard to know which one to take. I personally take The Garden of Life Probiotic and Mood Supplement that has 16 probiotic strains of good bacteria to cultivate my gut and it also has adaptogens to support my stress levels and overall mood. Try looking for a probiotics that have at least 12-15 different strains to give you a well rounded party of good bacteria. So remember, before you decide to start taking probiotics every day, make sure you set a good and healthy foundation for these little guys to help and nourish your body and provide you with lifelong health.
If you have a specific brand name or favorite type of probiotic that you take, let me know! I am always looking for good probiotic supplements to support my body. If you have tried this brand, let me know what your thoughts are and if you take it daily. Happy cultivating!