Gut Tips#4: Are Probiotics Enough?

out of order text on persons belly
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OK, so here is Gut Tip #4 for you if you are following the series.

Many people take probiotics to help their bacteria balance, to establish a good ‘microbiome’, in the gut. However, sometimes I see that, even when someone has taken billions of bacteria daily for weeks or months, the bacteria balance is still off (called dysbiosis). Mostly, there is a dearth of the beneficial bacteria and that then allows non-beneficial bacteria and other micro-organisms like yeasts and parasites to get more of a look-in than they should. There are always going to be some about: that’s just us – we’re a compost heap! But, it’s all about the balance.

So, if you are merrily taking your probiotics, yet your bacteria balance is still skewed on your gut results, what next?

Bacteria-Blockers

First, look at what can affect the bacteria. These are mainly: Diet, Meds, Chemicals, Hormones and Immune cytokines. Do you need to clean up your diet and get more fibres in for a start? Is one of your meds known to kill off bacteria (hello antibiotics, and there are several more)? Are you taking in too many pesticides from food or BPA from plastic water bottles maybe? Do you need to ensure your liver can process them – see below for the Gut-Liver Axis…? You get my drift here, I’m sure.

The Knock-On Effect

Next, you have to look at the other microbiomes in the body. People think we only have one in the gut, but all of these other ones are bi-directional; in other words: what happens in one of these will affect what happens in the gut microbiome: Skin, Mouth, Lung, Vaginal, Nostril. Could an infection or an imbalance there be messing up your gut balance? Quite possibly.

Communication Problems

Finally, you need to consider the various ‘axes’ that work in the body. Again, these are bi-directional so a problem in any of these body areas could be screwing up your gut. How many of these did you know about?: Gut-Brain Axis, Gut-Skin Axis, Gut-Thyroid Axis, Gut-Pancreas Axis, Gut-Lung Axis, Gut-Endocrine Axis, Gut-Liver Axis. So, could a skin infection, a sub-optimal liver function, your thyroid or brain be affecting your gut function? Maybe.

Fascinating and complex stuff, isn’t it? It is crucial that our microbiome is in good shape. Research is only really just confirming what us naturopaths have been saying for decades now: the balance of the bacteria that we are host to has a HUGE effect on our health, mentally, physically and emotionally.  And it’s not just about the gut. Depression, anxiety and obesity are just some of the key conditions where researchers are finding links to the microbiome. Similarly, you don’t necessarily think of chronic fatigue, chronic pain, chronic skin disorders or even autoimmune disorders in conjunction with the health of the microbiome, but they are all intimately-linked to dysbiosis in the body.

Most people will do fine on probiotics, prebiotics and a dysbiosis type diet (see the Gut Plan). But, if you can’t get your gut bacteria to balance, maybe think about these deeper issues and where else in the body the problem might be stemming from.

I hope that helps. Gut Tip #5 soon…

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