A healthy gut is absolutely necessary to a healthy body, and in order to have a healthy gut, you must maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your intestinal tract. You need about 85 percent “friendly bacteria” to 15 percent “unfriendly bacteria.” In order to maintain healthy gut micro-flora, you may want to consider supplementing with probiotics.
Probiotics are natural beneficial bacteria that support the correct intestinal balance of the intestines. Friendly bacteria are often destroyed, and the balance of the gut upended, by the use of antibiotics, poor diet, and harmful drugs such as steroids or antacids. When your gut is out of balance, there is an overgrowth of the unfriendly bacteria. The overgrowth of small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is implicated in the common symptoms observed in IBS, CFS, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disese, depression, ADHD and some auto-immune diseases.
The friendly bacteria in your gut help you digest the gluten present in many grains. If you are gluten intolerant, it is critical that you replenish your gut microflora with probiotics. Probiotics also stimulate the production of cytokine cells, which regulate the immune system.
There are other vital reasons to supplement with probiotics. The benefits of balancing the bacteria in your intestinal tract extend far beyond digestion and absorption of the food you eat. A healthy gut also does the following:
1. Improves immune health – the healthy microbes in your gut defend against dangerous bacteria, yeast and other invasive organisms. The bacterial lining of your gut provides a barrier that prevents pathogens from leaking out of your gut into your body.
2. Improves mood and mental health – Within your body, you have something called a “second brain,” the enteric nervous system (ENS). Your ENS communicates with the brain through the vagus nerve, which is the longest cranial nerve in your body, and links a number of organs with your brain. Scientists have also recently identified a previously unknown pathway connecting the brain directly to the gut. Many of the neurotransmitters used by your brain reside in your gut.
3. Boosts energy levels – By supporting your body in absorbing nutrients and disposing of toxics, a healthy gut improves your energy levels.
4. Improves cholesterol levels – A healthy balance in the gut, supported by eating enough fiber, allows your body to excrete excess cholesterol.
5. Regulates hormone levels – When gut microflora is in balance, your body recycles estrogen, rather than excreting it. This supports healthy hormone levels in women.
6. Reduces yeast infection occurrences – If your gut bacteria is out of balance, pathogens are more apt to adhere to the bladder wall, causing infections.
7. Supports a healthy weight – Antibiotics are related to increased weight gain. Not only do people take antibiotics to fight infection, antibiotics are regularly used in raising animals for food. Healthy bacteria in your gut helps curb the effects of antibiotics in your body.
8. Improves oral health – Healthy bacteria in your oral cavity is the first line of defense against invading pathogens, and probiotics support that healthy bacteria.
9. Contributes to longer life – Diverse bacterial flora supports your long-term health. In one study, researchers examined the gut bacteria of 178 elderly subjects (average age 78, and none being treated with antibiotics). They found a direct correlation between the state of their gut bacteria and their overall health. Participants who lived independently had the most varied microbacterial flora and were healthiest. Participants who lived in some type of long-term care had less diverse microflora and they were more frail.