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Go With Your Gut: Balancing Bacteria for Optimal Health

There’s more to you than you think! Or less, depending on how you look at it… If you thought the human population was crazy large, ponder this… On {and in} every single one of us is billions of bacteria and fungus thriving and populating their tribe as we go about our day. We cannot survive without them; they assist with the creation of chemicals for mood, motivation and love. They’re also critical for immune function, keeping nasty bacteria and viruses away and help us breakdown our foods and absorb the nutrients from it. The balance of the different cultures is vital for optimal health. If one population is thriving stronger than what is healthy for us it can cause some nasty issues; from digestion upsets, reflux, nausea and diarrhoea or more serious chronic illnesses such as colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. Fungal overgrowths will also cause issues such as thrush, fungal skin patches and athletes foot. Contrary to this, if a culture or strain of bacteria is exhausted in numbers, the systems that culture supports and interacts with will be impaired. Each bacteria strain has their own specific role to play in our body; For example one friendly bacteria – Bacillus Subtilus – battles it out with Trichophyton interdigitale – a yeast that causes athletes foot. If Bacillus Subtilus are low in numbers then the fungus can thrive, causing a pretty funky looking foot! This same bacterium also releases chemicals on the skin to kill off other invading bacteria’s. Another helpful bacteria, Bacteroides fragilis lives inside the colon and helps reduce inflammation caused by Colitis. Another strain has shown to reduce obesity in mice when tested, causing obese mice to lose weight when given the bacteria while also improving their intestinal protective layer. There are also bacterium that we can pick up (or have in good numbers) that helps reduce asthma and allergies and can reduce the severity of autism and anxiety. Each different strain of bacteria has its role to play in the health of your body. When choosing a probiotic to help with your overall health, it is advised you speak with a naturopath first, as some over-the-counter probiotics may not serve you if the strains provided are not in the correct ratio for your personal needs (or may not be the right strains for you at all!). Another important thing to be mindful of is the testing processes involved in ensuring you are getting what you pay for. A good quality probiotic will have numbers and letters after the name of each bacteria on the bottle, keep your eye out for this. An easy way to keep on top of the health of your bacteria is to eat a good variety of inulin rich foods, fermented food and drinks and prebiotic foods. A list of foods can be found here. Alcohol and sugar are yeast and other nasty bacteria’s favourite meal, so keep these to a minimum in your diet. Feed your friends and starve your enemies. Fecal transplants can be performed, where healthy bacteria are transferred into a sick person to cure deadly and antibiotic resistant infections. I won’t go into the detail here, it might put you off, but it is cool to know this is an option if things get nasty for you! In a nutshell, your bacteria are essential for health. Be kind to the ones that support you and avoid the nasties that keep the other guys happy. Probiotics are a good idea, I suggest one course a year for general health however if you have taken antibiotics you should be on a course immediately after to rectify the damage caused. You should also consider probiotics as treatment for colds, flu’s and all the health concerns discussed above. Take good care of you and your hitchhikers, Big love x

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