Gut health is a key factor in both mental and physical well-being. Your gut is connected to a major part of your nervous system and can influence your digestion, your mood, your immune system, your brain, your skin, and so much more.
One of the biggest factors that determines your gut health is your gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is the community of organisms that live inside your gut. This community is made up of bacteria, fungi, yeast and numerous other microscopic bugs. It is estimated that the gut contains trillions of these microorganisms.
These tiny creatures are not just living in the gut passively, but are actively participating in and influencing our many body processes. As you could imagine, the gut microbiome of each person is extremely unique, and is influenced by the food you eat, the environment you live in, the pathogens you are exposed to, your genetics, stress levels, and many other things.
We all have a different ecosystem of microorganisms within us, and the health of our internal ecosystem plays a huge role in our overall health. To improve our health and well-being, we must improve the environment inside of our bodies. While many factors play a role in our gut health, one of the greatest ways to improve gut health is by supplementing with probiotics.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are a certain type of friendly bacteria that provide numerous health benefits when eaten. They are often found in yogurt, kefir, and other fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, as well as in dietary supplements, and even beauty products. Although people often think of bacteria and other microorganisms as harmful “germs,” many are actually very beneficial to the body. Some bacteria help digest food, destroy disease-causing cells, or produce vitamins. Many of the microorganisms in probiotic products are the same as or similar to microorganisms that naturally live in our bodies.
Probiotics may contain a variety of microorganisms. The most common are bacteria that belong to groups called Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Other bacteria may also be used as probiotics, and so may yeasts such as Saccharomyces boulardii. Using probiotics for gut health is an effective health practice, but it is important to use a multi-strain probiotic supplement to get the best results, as different types of probiotics may have different effects. For example, if a specific kind of Lactobacillus helps prevent an illness, that doesn’t necessarily mean that another kind of Lactobacillus or any of the Bifidobacterium probiotics would do the same thing. Therefore, choosing the right type—or types—of probiotics is essential, and we recommend a multi-strain probiotic with at least 30 billion CFUs (colony forming units).
Probiotics & Prebiotics
In addition to supplementing with probiotics, adding more prebiotics to your diet is an important factor for improving the health of your gut microbiome. Prebiotics are indigestible carbs (mostly from fiber) that feed probiotics. In other words, they are foods that we cannot digest, but our gut bacteria can. When we eat these foods, they go to our lower digestive tract, where they act like food to help the healthy bacteria grow. Both prebiotics and probiotics are important for our gut health. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, prebiotics are food for these beneficial bacteria.
How Probiotics Can Detox Your Gut
Within your gut, there are not only bacteria, but parasitic organisms as well. These are unwanted organisms like worms, protozoa, and yeasts that not only feed on your body for their own benefit, but release many harmful toxins that negatively affect your health. These destructive creatures can create health issues ranging from skin rashes, bloating and constipation to more serious illnesses like auto-immune disorders and blood diseases.
Parasites create a toxic environment in the gut and unless you take measures to eliminate them and restore gut health, they will continue to disrupt your health. The bottom line is: if you want to improve your health, you need to improve the health of your gut microbiome and get rid of the harmful toxins and parasites in the gut.
Probiotics are one major way to improve your gut health because these beneficial bacteria compete with the other organisms and can help to kill them off. Probiotics also play a role in your immune system and can help to protect you from future invading pathogens.
One of the organisms that probiotics help to control is Candida. Candida is a type of fungus or yeast that normally lives inside the body and on the skin. There are hundreds of these yeasts, but many species can cause fungal infections if their numbers grow out of control or if they enter the bloodstream or other organs. This type of fungal infection is called candidiasis.
Candida are a natural part of the community of organisms in and on our body and are usually harmless. An issue arises, however, when populations of Candida grow out of control and lead to an infection. Typically, the probiotics, or “good bacteria”, in our gut help to control candida populations, but “bad bacteria” can allow the growth of candida. Because of this, it is very important that we maintain the right balance of bacteria in the gut microbiome.
Probiotics may also be instrumental in treating parasitic infections. As probiotics restore the natural balance of bacteria in your digestive system, they rid your body of harmful bacteria and germs and suppress the growth of parasites. They may also lower the local intestinal pH with lactic acid, which can also modify the growth of acid-sensitive organisms like parasites. Probiotics may also strengthen the intestinal barrier of the gut and support our immune defenses against parasites and other harmful organisms.
The balance of bacteria in our gut microbiome is instrumental to health. If you suffer from poor gut health, you may benefit greatly from supplementing with the right multi-strain probiotic. Probiotics can help you detox your gut and restore your gut microbiome. When your microbiome is thriving, your entire body will benefit.
What Creates Poor Gut Health?
To keep your gut healthy, it’s important to know what causes poor gut health in the first place and what contributes to good gut health. The balance of your gut bacteria is among one of the top things to consider.
Our gut microbiome is ideally balanced at a ratio of 90% “good” bacteria (like Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria, etc.) and 10% “bad” bacteria (Clostridium perfringens, Staphylococcus, etc.). Unfortunately, due to poor diet and lifestyle practices, many people have the inverse ratio of 10% “good” bacteria and 90% “bad” bacteria.
Some of the most common factors that contribute to this imbalance include:
- Taking antibiotics
- Consuming alcohol, especially high amounts of alcohol
- A diet high in sugar and refined carbs
- A weakened immune system
- Taking oral contraceptives
- High stress levels
All of these factors contribute to your gut health and can alter the community in your gut, as they all can potentially kill of the beneficial bacteria in your gut. When the numbers of these beneficial bacteria decline, it allows other organisms to grow and take over in their place. Once this happens, you need to detox the gut and restore the health of your gut microbiome.
How to Restore Your Gut Microbiome & Improve Gut Health
To restore your gut microbiome, it is recommended to follow the 4-step process of:
This is also known as the 4 R’s, and is a protocol that has been used successfully for years in functional medicine. The process involves removing the harmful organisms in your gut and removing anything in your diet or lifestyle that is making you sick, replacing toxic foods and habits with healthy ones and adding anything that you are deficient in, re-inoculating the gut with probiotics and repairing any damage to the intestinal lining.
Remove is the first of the 4 R’s, and it involves removing any pathogenic organisms, allergenic foods, chemical irritants, and medications which may be causing gut inflammation and poor gut health.
People can also benefit from following an elimination diet , and avoiding common food allergens like gluten, dairy, soy, corn, sugar, and GMO’s. Other irritants might include coffee, alcohol and irritants in processed foods.
Along with getting rid of certain foods, one should aim to eliminate all toxic foods, hygiene products, cleaning products, and anything else that may be exposing them to harmful chemicals or organisms. This includes pesticides, preservatives, chemical solvents, heavy metals, cleaning agents, and anything else that is toxic to human health.
Also, to the extent possible, try and reduce your stress level as stress can promote gut inflammation or leaky gut. Lastly, always try to eat only when you are in a relaxed state, as this can also have a major impact on digestion.
Replace is the second R, and involves adding back and replacing anything in your diet, lifestyle, and environment that supports digestive health or might be lacking because of your poor digestive health. For example, we need adequate amounts of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes to break down and extract the nutrients from our food. We also need to replace any vital nutrients which may be effected by leaky gut and gut inflammation, as nutrient deficiencies can lead to neurotransmitter imbalances which can cause mood disorders and poor health.
Re-innoculate is the third R, and involves reintroducing beneficial bacteria or probiotics into the gut to establish a balanced gut microbiome. This can be accomplished by taking a good multi strain probiotic supplement (link product) and eating fermented foods such as miso, kimchi, yogurt, kefir, or sauerkraut. Supplementing with probiotics can have many benefits. You can supplement with probiotics for leaky gut, gut inflammation, digestive health and for many other benefits. In addition to taking a good probiotic, consuming prebiotics in the diet supports the health of the gut microbiome by providing food for these probiotics. Researchers are continually discovering new things about using probiotics for gut health and of the beneficial use of probiotics for gut flora repair.
Repair is the fourth R and involves making use of specific nutrients to repair any damage to the gut and to improve the integrity of the intestinal barrier. The intestinal barrier is a semipermeable barrier made up of intestinal epithelial cells. This barrier allows for the uptake of essential nutrients, but when it becomes inflamed or damaged, it can also allow toxins to penetrate into our bloodstream. The repair process involves using nutrients that can fix the damages in the intestinal barrier and strengthen the health of these epithelial cells. Some of the most essential nutrients for repairing the intestinal barrier include: amino acids like L-glutamine, deglycyrrhized licorice (DGL), zinc and quercetin.
The 4 R’s is a time-tested approach to repairing the gut that involves cutting out the root causes of poor gut health, replacing these substances with healthy ones, re-innoculating our guts with probiotics, and repairing the damage done to our intestinal wall from toxins, pathogens, and gut inflammation.
The health of our gut plays a key factor in our overall health and well-being. Your gut influences your digestion, your mood, your immune system, your brain, your skin, and many other aspects of your health.
One of the biggest factors that determines your gut health is your gut microbiome—the community of organisms that live inside your gut made up of bacteria, fungi, yeast and numerous other microscopic bugs. When this ecosystem of microorganisms has a good balance of bacteria, they carry out their many functions and fight off other harmful organisms. When this community is threatened however, it allows pathogens to grow and can have adverse effects on our health.
One of the best ways to improve the health of this community is by supplementing with probiotics. Probiotics are a certain type of friendly bacteria that restore your gut flora and provide many health benefits. They are often found in yogurt, kefir, and other fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, but the most effective way to rebalance your gut flora is by supplementing with a good multi-strain probiotic.
Probiotics compete with other organisms in the gut and can help to kill off parasites, Candida, bad bacteria, viruses, and other bugs. Probiotics also play a role in your immune system and can help to protect you from future invading pathogens.
If you really wish to restore gut health, you may want to undergo a parasite cleanse, Candida cleanse (link article or products here?), or follow the total gut repair protocol of the 4 R’s. This protocol has been used successfully for years in functional medicine and it is an effective way to restore gut health.
The gut is really at the root of our health, and it is the first place to address a number of different ailments. Probiotics can play a major role in detoxing the gut and in keeping the gut microbiome in balance. If you wish to have lasting health and wellness, then you need to address your gut health and do your best to maintain a healthy gut environment.