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Good or Bad? How Bacteria Affects Your Gut

Good or Bad? How Bacteria Affects Your Gut
Good or Bad? How Bacteria Affects Your Gut

Having frequent problems related to your digestive system is usually an indication of an imbalance between the good and the bad bacteria in your gut, a condition known as dysbacteriosis.

Good bacteria produce many byproducts that strengthen your intestinal lining. If there aren’t sufficient quantities of good bacteria in the gut, the intestinal lining is more susceptible to injury and inflammation which causes breaks or gaps through which harmful substances may pass into your blood stream. On the other hand, overgrowth of bad bacteria can result in weakening of the gut membrane.

Where do good bacteria come from? We get our first dose of good bacteria as we slid through the birth canal during delivery. The second dose of good bacteria comes from the colostrum in our mother’s milk at the time of our first feeding.

Bad bacteria may exist in our body without causing any trouble as along as they are suppressed by good bacteria. Factors that contribute to a decline in the numbers of good bacteria include frequent use of antibiotics, over-the-counter antacids, pain killers, laxatives, and mouth washes; drinking chlorinated water which destroys both good and bad bacteria, consuming too much sugar which bad bacteria thrive on.

One of the best ways to restore the population of good bacteria is to have fermented foods which contain lactic-acid producing bacteria such as yogurt, cheese, pickled vegetables, and meat products. These foods not only provide good bacteria, but also create an acidic environment that supports good bacteria already present in your gut while preventing the growth of bad bacteria.

For those who find it difficult to eat naturally fermented foods on a regular basis, taking a probiotic supplement may be a good alternative. Probiotic supplements are convenient because they do not require meal planning or cooking. It is a good idea to purchase a supplement that contains multiple strains of good bacteria.

Common signs of imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut include chronic constipation, excessive bloating and gas, chronic diarrhea, chronic halitosis (bad breath), intolerance to dairy products, anemia, and menstrual complaints. Contact your doctor or a gastroenterologist if you suspect your symptoms may be caused by an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut.

Greater Houston Gastroenterology provides specialized services and treatments for a wide range of gastrointestinal conditions in The Woodlands, Sugar Land, and Spring, Texas. Call us today for an appointment.

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