31 Oct Gut Flora Imbalances
Gut Flora Imbalances
In your gut lives many different strains of bacteria (flora) – both beneficial and harmful to your health. It is a symbiotic relationship – we need them as much as they need us. Normally, the beneficial bacteria outnumber the harmful bacteria for a healthy gut. Sometimes, however, the bad guys get the upper hand and cause all sorts of problems.
The Role of Gut Bacteria
In our guts are a very complex menagerie of over 1000 strains of bacteria. In fact, there are around 100 trillion bacteria residing in each of us – more than 10 times the number of human cells in our bodies. Evidence suggests that gut flora play a major part in digestive and also immune system health.
Gut bacteria ferment food to produce energy and short chain fatty acids and harvest certain vitamins and minerals (e.g. vitamins B and K, folate, calcium, iron and magnesium). Gut flora also keep organisms such as parasites (e.g. Blasto and Clostridium difficile) at bay.
Clues Your Bacteria May be Out of Balance (Dysbiosis)
- Digestive issues
- Bowel issues
- Unexplained fatigue
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel
- Stomach ulcers (Helicobacter Pylori)
Gut flora is all about balance. You can have too little or too much of a particular strain of bacteria – both can cause problems. If you take a probiotic and you already have enough or too much of a particular bacteria this can put you out of balance and cause problems.
The best thing to do is a stool test to determine your gut flora make-up to see if you have a problem and if so exactly what bacteria is out of balance.
If you have too little good bacteria, then the right probiotic will help. Although interestingly oral probiotics just pass through the bowel and do not colonise in your bowel as they are not innate bacteria. They create a more balanced environment as they pass through but once they pass through they are gone, which is why you must take probiotic every day.
If you have too much bad bacteria, then the best approach may be to use a strong broad spectrum antibiotic to kill it off. Unfortunately, good bacteria will be killed off too which is why taking the right probiotic is important after antibiotic treatment. The antibiotics won’t kill off every last bacteria – there will still be some of each strain remaining somewhere in the gut. The trick is to foster a faster repopulation of the good bacteria so it can keep the bad bacteria under control. This is where probiotics and prebiotics come in.
In some cases, faecal transplants are conducted to repopulate bowels. This type of bacteria is far more likely to colonise in the bowel and repopulate.
In summary, some health conditions point towards gut flora dysbiosis. A test should be carried out to confirm and then a treatment strategy put in place to bring gut flora back to more normal levels for better health. Potential for the presence of Parasites also needs to be considered.