by Dr. Mercola
Your gastrointestinal tract is home to the largest part of your body’s immune system, protecting you against foreign invaders by producing acids and housing colonies of beneficial bacteria that act as a defensive army fighting to protect you from pathogens that find their way inside your body.
There are about 100 trillion microorganisms living in your gut. That’s 10 times more than the total number of cells in your body (about 10 trillion). These tiny creatures make up between three to five pounds of your body weight!
Your body receives help breaking down foods into their component parts from the organisms that live in your gut (intestinal flora). These bacteria, yeasts and fungi can produce beneficial waste products as they feast on your digesting food, such as B and K vitamins that your body needs. They also function to break down some foods that your body cannot absorb by itself; they change carbs into simple sugars and proteins into the component amino acids.
But when you eat too many grains, sugars and processed foods, these foods serve as fertilizer for the bad bacteria and yeast and will cause them to rapidly multiply. One of the best things you can do for your health, including your digestive health, is eliminate sugars and processed foods as much as possible. In fact, millions of people currently suffer from yeast overgrowth and a host of maladies related to the rapid spread of the bad bacteria in your intestines. And most conventional doctors will not be able to identify the cause of your symptoms if you suffer from bad bacteria or yeast overgrowth.
Estimates are that as many as 80 million people, mostly women, are currently suffering from harmful yeast overgrowth. Symptoms of this yeast overgrowth include: Irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, PMS, cancer, vaginitis, asthma, fibromyalgia, weight gain, food allergies chronic fatigue, yeast infections and depression.
As you can see the list is long and varied, and the symptoms mimic those caused by many other diseases. So the key to good intestinal health, especially in your small intestine, is keeping an optimum balance of the helpful and harmful microorganisms. This is why probiotics (“for life”) supplements are so important; they increase the ratio of “good” bacteria in your gut, and why antibiotics (against life) can interfere with the delicate balance in your gut.
In fact, contrary to what you might have heard about probiotics not surviving in the highly acidic wash of your stomach, the helpful bacteria like acidophilus thrive in an acidic environment and not only survive the stomach environment, but acidophilus will actually also create lactic acid to maintain a more acidic condition in your small intestine. Some examples of health problems that you may face if your gut microorganisms stay out of balance for long periods of time include bad breath, foul gas, toxemia, candida yeast overrun, chronic fatigue, brain fogginess, lowered immunity and impaired digestion and absorption.
This is why it pays dividends to eat some fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, black garlic, miso, natto, kefir, lassi and tempeh.
If you are unable to find quality fermented foods, supplementing with a high quality probiotic product will also serve the function of multiplying the “good” bacteria found in your digestive tract. When searching for probiotic supplements, be sure to buy the highest quality you can find, because when it comes to feeding your beneficial bacteria, not all products are created equally.j
© Dr. Mercola. www.mercola.com