By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
August 12, 2015
- Probiotics aren’t just for bowel problems
- What your gut says about your health
- Best sources of “friendly” bacteria
If you have bowel problems, there’s a pretty good chance you’re taking a probiotic.
These capsules are full of “good” bacteria. And they’re well-known for their ability to ease irritable bowel conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Well, here’s something you may not know…That’s not all probiotics are good for.
You see, your gut bacteria do a lot more than keep your digestive system working properly. In fact, the ratio of good to bad bacteria in your gut can have a profound effect on many other areas of your health.
Here are six additional signs you may need a probiotic.
1. Weakened immune response. Have you ever noticed how some people seem to catch just about everything, while others never get sick? It may point right back to gut bacteria. That’s because somewhere around three-quarters of your immune system is found in your gut. If you get sick a lot, this could indicate an imbalance of good and bad gut bacteria.
2. Depression or mood swings. Your gut has a lot to do with the way you feel. That’s because your gut bacteria manufacture about 90% of your body’s supply of serotonin. You’ve probably heard of this brain chemical before. Low levels of it are associated with stress, moodiness, anxiety, depression and fatigue.
3. Diabetes. If you have diabetes, your gut bacteria are probably quite a bit different from people who don’t have the disease. This creates an imbalance that can lead to inflammation. Today, we know that this is an underlying factor in diabetes. It might also be related to insulin resistance.
4. Obesity often goes hand in hand with diabetes. And once again, microbial imbalances may be the culprit. Certain gut bacteria are associated with a slimmer physique. However, others can cause you to gain weight and are even linked to obesity.
5. Colon cancer is also linked to changes in the gut microbiome. Numerous studies have made the connection. But that’s not the only problem. These changes continue to occur during the development of tumors.
6. Stroke and heart disease. Microbial imbalances in your gut may have severe consequences to your cardiovascular health. You see, the bacteria living in your gut has been linked to both hardening of the arteries and stroke. Patients who have these conditions have very different gut flora than those without them.
I won’t say that your gut micriobiome is the only factor linked to these conditions. But it certainly has a large influence on your risk for them.
With that in mind, restoring a healthy balance of bacteria in your stomach gives you a lot of power to control your health. You can restore a healthy balance by adding more fermented foods to your diet. These foods introduce plenty of good bacteria to your digestive tract. This helps crowd out the bad ones.
Now I’m not talking about eating a container of sugar or artificially-sweetened yogurt each morning.
If you want to get any benefit at all from yogurt, stick with plain Greek yogurt that doesn’t have a bunch of sweeteners and other additives.
Other fermented food sources include miso, natto, kefir, kimchi, tempeh and sauerkraut.
Not crazy about these foods? Don’t worry. If you just can’t stomach them, just take a probiotic supplement every day.
Look for one that contains multiple strains of lactobacillus and bifobacterium. The more strains and the higher the colony count, the better off you will be.
It should also include a “prebiotic” to help the good bacteria survive the trip to the gut and intestines. This will help restore a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
And it won’t just keep your digestive tract working smoothly. It will also work to restore the health of your entire body, from head to toe.
Mayer EA, et al. Gut/brain axis and the microbiota. J Clin Invest. 2015 Mar 2;125(3):926-38.
Nadja Larsen, et al. Gut Microbiota in Human Adults with Type 2 Diabetes Differs from Non-Diabetic Adults. PLoS One. 2010; 5(2): e9085.
Kallus SJ, et al. The intestinal microbiota and obesity. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2012 Jan;46(1):16-24.
Sobhani I, et al. Microbial dysbiosis in colorectal cancer (CRC) patients. PLoS One. 2011 Jan 27;6(1):e16393.
Zackular JP, et al. The gut microbiome modulates colon tumorigenesis. MBio. 2013 Nov 5;4(6):e00692-13.
Karlsson FH, et al. Symptomatic atherosclerosis is associated with an altered gut metagenome. Nat Commun. 2012;3:1245.