Gut Health Affects the Whole Body

The rapid increase in the number of allergies and food related illnesses over the last few decades is a serious issue. In response to this, countless new medications fill grocery stores and pharmacies every year to help people deal with this rise in health issues. Along with new medication, there always seems to be a new diet that promises to help alleviate these issues as well. Something that seems to be consistent with the rise in allergies and food related illnesses is that they are almost happening entirely in developed nations with higher standards of hygiene and better access to antibiotics. A conclusion that researchers draw from this is that people have poor gut health because they do not have enough good bacteria. But where did it all go? There are 100 trillion bacterial cells in the human body and emerging research is finding that human health largely depends on those bacteria.

We Need More Bacteria

This may seem to go against the prevailing wisdom but most people need more bacteria in their body. Science is at war against bacteria and produces many helpful cures and remedies that make life easier for all of us. The problem with this war on bacteria is that not all bacteria are bad but when there is a shift toward an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria, the health problems begin . Your body needs a certain amount of bacteria to develop immunities to pathogens (germs that make you sick). It is the same concept as getting a flu shot to prevent from getting the flu. The immune system needs to be exposed to bacteria in order to know how to fight it. When the immune system detects a foreign substance in the body, microbes communicate with each other in order to determine the appropriate response. If it detects a flu virus then the immune system needs a bigger response than if it detects pollen. When too much bacteria is eliminated from the body, the microbes do not communicate as well and can overreact to substances they shouldn’t have to overreact to. So when a body with too few bacteria detects pollen and overreacts to it that can lead to someone with a pollen allergy. This could explain the rise in allergies to seemingly harmless substances.

Go With Your Gut

Roughly 70% of immunity microbes are located in the digestive system or the gut. The Standard Diet does not provide the nutrients for proper gut health and our immune systems suffer much of the consequences. Long term poor nutrition harms the immune system’s ability to do its job well and causes people to get sick more often or develop nutrition related illnesses. Antibiotics or over the counter medicine are then prescribed which wipe out the good bacteria in the gut.

Introducing healthy bacteria into the gut through probiotics also helps boost the immune system. They return that healthy balance of bacteria to the gut which helps it fight harmful bacteria and not overreact to harmless substances. Probiotics are even known to reduce the duration and severity of cold and flu symptoms. If probiotics are included in the diet from a young age they can even reduce or eliminate allergy sensitivity. Click here for a list of foods that contain probiotics.This endless cycle of poor nutrition, getting sick, and taking antibiotics or medication results in a damaged gut. Just as at times we all need to take antibiotics to kill bad bacteria; we also need to take good bacteria to repopulate the gut. Great options for helping your gut health are probiotics. Probiotics are organisms such as bacteria or yeast that can improve overall health. Consuming these in your diet introduces healthy bacteria back into the gut. You can find them as a probiotic supplement or in foods such as, yogurt, kefir, and fermented foods.

Probiotics can also affect brain health. Research shows that gut health influences neural development, brain chemistry, behavior, and how the brain responds to stress. The brain also influences the health of the gut. Stress can change the microbial makeup of bacteria in the gut making people more susceptible to infection.

The case for helping gut health by giving it more bacteria is strong. It could potentially help you digest food better, fight off infection, and help your brain function better. So give bacteria a break. There are trillions of kinds of bacteria and not all of them are bad. Go with your gut instinct to feel and live better by making an effort to include probiotics in your diet.

Sources:
http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/what-are-probiotics
http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/probiotics-10/slideshow-probiotics
http://www.foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats

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