The human body is such a complex and amazing system meticulously designed to see us through all of life’s daily challenges. And did you know that you share your body with at least 100 trillion other organisms, with these bacterial cells living in your skin, nose, mouth and most residing in your digestive system, particularly in your large intestine.
At one time, our digestive system was considered a “simple” body system that comprised of a single long tube for our food to pass through, processed, and then excreted. Now, we have the term gut “microbiome” that refers to specific organisms living in your intestines— both good and bad.
And while both types of bacteria have its own set of functions, what happens when the bad outweighs the good bacteria?
1. Upset Stomach and Abnormal Bowels
Signs that you might have too much bad bacteria in your gut include stomach disturbances such as heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and gas. Take note that a balanced gut should have less difficulty in processing food and eliminating waste.
2. Constant Fatigue and Sleep Disturbances
An unhealthy gut can contribute to sleep disturbances like poor sleep or insomnia, and thus lead to chronic fatigue. The majority of serotonin, a hormone that affects sleep and mood, is produced in the gut. So an unbalanced gut flora can impair your ability to sleep well, reduce alertness and cause you to feel lethargic.
3. Unintentional weight Changes
Losing or gaining weight without any changes to your exercise routine or diet might be a sign of unbalanced gut flora. An unhealthy gut can actually impair the body’s ability to regulate sugar, absorb nutrient and store fat.
Weight loss might be caused by SIBO or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, meanwhile, weight gain can be caused by the urge to overeat due to reduced nutrient absorption or insulin resistance.
4. Skin Irritations
Skin conditions such as eczema can be related to a damaged gut. Inflammation in the gut caused by food allergies or a poor diet can cause increased “leaking” of certain proteins out in your body and irritating the skin and cause certain skin conditions.
How To Get Rid Of Bad Bacteria Overgrowth and Re-Balance Your Gut Flora
1. Get Enough sleep
Not getting enough quality of sleep can have a critical impact on your gut health, which can further contribute to more sleep problems. So consider getting at least 7 – 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
2. Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water have a beneficial effect on the intestines’ mucosal lining as well as reducing bad gut bacteria and re-balancing your gut flora. Make sure to drink at least 6 – 8 glasses of water every day to promote good gut health.
3. Eat Well
What you eat have a huge effect on the composition of your gut microbiome, usually within just a few hours of meal. Go with a diet that is high in whole foods and plant-based fibers such as lush vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds, nuts and beans that do wonders for your gut flora.
Consider adding fermented foods on your diet as well. Kefir, miso, tempeh, yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi are great fermented foods that are a good source of probiotics. Although the quality of such foods can vary, its benefits on your gut microbiome and flora are well-studied.
In addition, you will need to void highly processed and sugary foods, animal fats and proteins, and anything containing GMOs, artificial sweeteners, pesticides and emulsifiers that reduce your good bacteria and provide for the bad ones.
4. Take Probiotics or Prebiotic
Adding a probiotic or prebiotic supplement to your diet can have a great way to improve your gut health. Prebiotics tend to provide “food” that is meant to encourage the growth of good bacteria in your gut, whereas probiotics are the live good bacteria themselves.
Take note that people suffering from bacterial overgrowths, like SIBO, should not take any probiotics.
Furthermore, understand that not all probiotic supplements are of high quality and actually offer benefit. It is best that you consult with your doctor or healthcare provider when choosing a prebiotic or probiotic supplement in order to ensure the best health benefit.
5. Exercise Regularly
Among its great benefits, regular exercise can help foster a community of good bacteria in the gut. Find something that you can enjoy which helps you move— whether it be walking weight lifting, yoga, or Pilates— and do it regularly.
6. Reduce Stress
Your good bacteria in the gut can take a direct hit because of chronic stress, which in turn create an environment where the bad bacteria can thrive. And although you cannot entirely eliminate stress, you can reduce it with strategies and tactics such as meditation and deep breathing.
7. Avoid Unnecessary Antibiotics and Medications
Most types of medications, like NSAIDs, steroids, hormone replacers, birth control, and antacids, are harmful to your good gut bacteria. So, if this can’t be avoided, find a natural alternative when possible.
Antibiotics, both as a medicine or in food, tend to indiscriminately wipe out the good guys with bad ones, so you should take them is only necessary and consider supplementing with probiotic with it in order to help maintain healthy and balanced gut flora.