Did you know that your intestines contain on average two to four kilograms of bacteria-estimated at a thousand, million million of the microbes. Combined with other micro organisms they form the ‘bowel flora’ and a balanced bowel flora is essential to good health. The good bacteria perform many beneficial functions including:
- Assisting complete digestion of foods
- Preventing constipation because they stimulate bowel movement
- The synthesis of B vitamins and vitamin K
- Assist the circulation of hormones
- Can prevent more unhealthy organisms from taking hold in the gut such as Candida, thrush and food poisoning bacteria. If the healthy bacteria deplete then degenerative bacteria can grow in the gut causing internal pollution. This will increase the toxicity of the body and digestive system and can contribute or even cause such conditions as fatigue IBS, excess wind and bloating, insomnia, autoimmune conditions and degenerative conditions such as arthritis.
- Reduce the risk of allergies and intolerances by keeping the bowel in good condition and ensuring that foods are completely digested.
Modern diet and lifestyle have negative effects on the health of bowel flora. An imbalance or ‘dysbiosis’ can occur through many factors such as:
- Antibiotics – these not only kill off the harmful infection causing bacteria but also the ‘good’ bacteria in the body. Exposure to antibiotics comes not just through prescription medication but also from meat and diary products which may contain traces of antibiotics routinely fed to cattle.
- Stress, surgical trauma, fatigue and muscular tension may reduce beneficial bacteria and increase the more toxic ‘bad’ bacteria.
- Diet natural pro-biotic bacteria usually found on the surface of fruits and vegetables are disturbed by use of pesticides and fertilisers and through cooking and processing of foods. The sensitive good bacteria within the digestive system are also very temperature sensitive and can be destroyed by very hot or cold food or drinks .In particular nutritionists recommend avoiding the combining of protein rich food with fruits or combining fruits with vegetables in one meal. This is due to the fact that bacteria break down these foods in different ways. Avoid overloading the system with excess meat, eggs, diary and saturated fats.
You can improve your bowel flora balance by:
- Eating plenty of natural fibre
- Reducing refined processed foods
- By keeping protein and fats to recommend levels
- Eating your five portions of fruit and vegetables per day
- Including some raw fruits and veg in your diet
- Avoid where possible repeated doses of antibiotics.
- Eating organic produce
If you think you have dysbiosis, have recently had a course of antibiotics or had recurrent diarrhoea or suffered food poisoning consider a pro-biotic supplement. Pro-biotics are a nutritional supplement available in health food shops, which should help to restore your bowel flora to a healthy balance. Live yoghurts and pro-biotic drinks can be used after this as a ‘top up’. Then look to keep the digestive system in good health by following the guidelines shown.