Gut Health Alert: Four Factors That Put Your Gut Microbiome at RiskTy Bollinger March 1, 2017
Few people are truly aware of how important the balance of their gut flora is to their overall health and wellbeing. Some may even be unaware that we have a teeming community of microbes inside us at all! This unseen population of trillions of microbes made up of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and more comprises the gastrointestinal ecosystem that is known as our gut microbiome. The gut “flora” (microbes) are nowadays referred to by scientists as microbiota.
The balance of your microbiota, and overall microbiome health and function, is extremely important, affecting nearly every system in the body. An imbalance (often referred to as dysbiosis) of the gut microbiome and microbiota has been connected to many ailments including: cancer, autoimmune disease, allergies, depression, autism, obesity and weight gain, Alzheimer’s, digestive disorders (GERD, IBS, etc.), yeast overgrowth, and compromised immunity.
What Is an Imbalance of Microbiota?
A “balanced” microbiome refers to the optimum synergy in the symbiotic relationship between the microbes, the function of each, and how those processes relate to your body. This is achieved by having a great diversity of microbiota, and the optimal levels of each microbe.
If one type of microbe is allowed to either gain the upper hand, or be depleted, there are repercussions for your health. Examples of such consequences include fungi (yeast) being able to flourish, leading to yeast overgrowth. A depletion in yeast, too, can cause issues. Because there are bacteria that feed on it, or those that in the presence of the yeast cannot flourish themselves, too few yeast can lead to lack of enzymes, or less nutrients absorbed, or even certain chemicals not being created.
Then there are those bacteria, such as Clostridium and Fusobacterium, that in certain circumstances become pathogens, and thus harmful.
So the gut microbiome really is a delicate ecosystem. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to mess with its balance. In fact, one animal study found that a high-fat, high-sugar diet (the typical Western diet) measurably “shifted the structure of the microbiota within a single day.”
How Our Gut Microbes Get Out of Balance
Here are four common ways that you may be causing your own microbiome and microbiota to shift out of balance.
• Risk Factor #1: Using Splenda®Ⓡ (sucralose)
There’s been controversy about artificial sweeteners for decades. Usually it’s aspartame (Nutrasweet or Equal) and saccharin that get most of the flack, publicly. However, sucralose is not immune to examination or the need for caution. Splenda is promoted as being close to nature and “made” from real sugar. The reality is that sucralose is the result of chlorinating sucrose (sugar). So, it may start out as sugar, but what it becomes sure isn’t natural.
The process of making sucralose binds chlorine to the sugar molecule, meaning consumers are unintentionally ingesting chlorine, a known poison. As a result, the processes that the body goes through to deal with this toxic substance create other chemical reactions harmful to the body.
Furthermore, to prevent the chlorine from ‘detaching’, so to speak, other harmful chemicals are added to the mix. You don’t see these on the ingredient list because they are present in small enough amounts that do not require labeling, by law. So the chemicals one may be ingesting along with sucralose include: acetone; acetic acid; acetyl alcohol; ammonium chloride; benzene; ethyl alcohol; formaldehyde; hydrogen chloride; lithium chloride; methanol; sulfuryl chloride.
• Risk Factor #2: Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol consumption can lead to mucosal damage, quantitative and qualitative alterations of gut flora (ie. small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and dysbiosis), and increased gut permeability, resulting in the translocation of endotoxins and other bacterial products into portal blood flow. In 2009, a study looking at the effect of alcohol on microbiota found significant dysbiosis with alcohol-fed rats. In contrast, the imbalance was prevented by administering the probiotic (beneficial bacteria) Lactobacillus. (The power of probiotics!) (See references at end of article.)
Other studies have demonstrated specific harmful bacteria overgrowth due to alcohol. Conversely, the probiotic Lactobacilli was seen to be severely depleted.
One specific condition associated with alcohol consumption is that of dysbiosis of the small intestine: SIBO – Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth. Typically the large intestine contains the greater amounts of bacteria, and a much lower number in the smaller. The problem with the small intestine having an overgrowth of bacteria is complex, but to put it simply, the extra bacteria in the small intestine are able to consume nutrients that should be absorbed by the body. This can lead to malnourishment. Also, this breakdown of nutrients can lead to bowel problems and gas.
Suffice to say, if you have a gut imbalance, you may want to avoid alcohol while you replenish and rebalance with good probiotic foods and/or a supplement.
• Risk Factor #3: Poor Diet
Diet is by far one of the main culprits for developing an imbalance of microbiota. Here are the primary aspects:
– Too much sugar, (unhealthy) fats, and carbohydrates;
– Too few anti-inflammatory foods such as fresh vegetables;
– Inadequate enzymes, antioxidants, anaerobes, fulvics, polyphenols, resveratrol;
– Products laden with preservatives, chemicals, pesticides, and antibiotics;
– The disappearance of fermented foods from our diet;
– Lack of pre-biotics (these feed the good bacteria [microbiota] and allow them to flourish);
– Incorrect supplementation (ie. probiotic products inferior in efficacy or microbe content, such as mass market yogurts).
• Risk Factor #4: Using Antibiotics
Antibiotics are likely the worst cause of an imbalanced gut, ever. This is especially true if they are used regularly, and in combination with the above.
It’s simple: antibiotics are life-saving medicines which kill bacteria that in the past would have been too much for the body to heal on its own. Nowadays there is a tendency to use these miracle meds even when there is not a life-threatening illness, whether for speed of recovery or to avoid the chance of an infection getting to that level. So we take them, even when at times there’s a 50/50 chance that our illness is a virus (antiobiotics only work on bacteria, not viruses). Either way, the antibiotics do their job and wipe out bacteria in our system. The problem arises in the gut.
As you now know, the gut microbiome is a delicate balance of organisms. However, the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria are all the same to antibiotics which kill bacteria indiscriminately, leaving your microbiome at risk of other microbes, including resistant bacteria, taking over.
Overgrowth of yeast is probably the most well-known result of taking antibiotics. We need yeasts for our gastrointestinal ecosystem, but in the right balance. There are bacteria in the gut that feed off yeasts and fungi, and in the process create enzymes and other chemicals and compounds that assist with health and the microbiome’s many tasks.
When antibiotics have wiped out these bacteria, and yeast is allowed to grow out of control, health problems result. (Yeast overgrowth is suspected of causing several diseases and many common health issues such as infections of the urinary tract (UTIs), respiratory system, and sinuses.)
A study on the effects of taking the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin found that numerous bacterial varieties were killed with just one dose. While most of the test study subjects had a rebalanced flora by the fourth week following treatment, some did not recover even after six months.
Those taking antibiotics out of necessity should be aware of the potential hazards and be certain to take a quality probiotic in conjunction with the medicine, and follow up a course of antibiotics with a proactive plan to replenish their microbiota through diet, avoiding alcohol and sucralose, as well as continuing with a top drawer probiotic that, ideally, is plant-based and contains other microbe-creating and colonizing substances.
Three Things That Promote Healthy Guts
1) Fermented Foods and Substances – For centuries, different cultures have all had their own versions of fermented foods. These cultural treats were not simply tasty, they served a purpose – mainly that of preserving foods before there was adequate refrigeration, and for travel. But whether by design or accident, there’s much more to it than that.
Fermented foods and substances actually contain a wide range of microbe goodness that is beneficial for the microbiome. A diverse set of microbiota equals a happy gut. Eating a diverse range of fermented foods and substances will give you a better balanced microbiome.
It begins with the pre-digestion that occurs in the fermenting. The sugars and starches are broken down by probiotics and yeasts. The end result is an array of probiotics that your gut loves, as well as lactic acid.
2) Anaerobes – The benefits of eating fermented foods and substances is largely due to anaerobes, which are a specialized microbe that assist in the fermentation process, at the same time creating bioactive compounds. These compounds themselves have many benefits, including properties that are antioxidant, antihypertensive, and even anti-cancer. Best of all, anaerobes make the nutrients in fermented foods, and within your own digestive system, more bioavailable to you. This means more is absorbed and utilized by the body.
3) Fulvics – Something else we used to consume more of in ancient times are fulvic and humic acids, often referred to as fulvics. These substances are also promoters of probiotics and a balanced microbiome. It is thought the main reason fulvics are so beneficial for our microbiome and health is that they form bonds with bioactive molecules, acting as a carrier for them. Digestive disorders such as leaky gut (food, pathogens, and other particles are able to pass through the intestinal lining into the bloodstream), SIBO, and IBS can be supported or potentially avoided with the use of good fulvics.
(Ed. note: This article is excerpted from a longer version by Ty Bollinger posted at http://tinyurl.com/j556hu5 Ty Bollinger is a bestselling author, medical researcher, talk radio host, and speaker. For a complete bio, visit http://www.thetruthaboutcancer.com)
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