Did you know you have about 10 trillion cells in your gut? That’s 10x the number of cells found in your whole body. The gut…it is an often forgotten about organ that actually should be the number one on our list. Everything starts and ends with the gut. The gut has “good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria. The recommended amount of good is about 85%, while 15% is bad. I distinctly remember a conversation with a patient where I asked about his eating habits…he looked at me and in a very harsh tone said, what does that have to do with anything? Unfortunately, in America, that’s the problem. People think that they can stop at McDonald’s, feed their kid a cookie and Coke and then wonder why their kids are getting sick all the time??? The key to a healthy body, is a healthy gut.
There are multiple reasons the gut plays such an important role in immune function but the largest is that it is the first line defense for most bacteria that we ingest. Think about it- if your body had the highest functioning, best shape bacteria in the gut, it could stop the bad bacteria before it ever got any further. Eating sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and other synthetic compounds decrease the guts ability to fight these infections. A neurologist even suggested that a child’s likelihood of vaccine injury or reactions is increased if their gut is in bad condition.
So what can we do?
First off- eating right is the beginning. I will say it over, and over, and over, again. You can’t complain if you are making the right choices. No one is perfect, no one needs to be perfect. But a healthy lifestyle starts and ends with what we eat. Eating high quality, organic fruits and veggies; grass feed protiens, and quality complex carbs is the beginning. Sugar, high glycemic index foods like white potato and rice, high fructose corn syrup, food dyes all of these should be on the occasional, not everyday list of foods.
Second- take a quality probiotic. Today even King Soopers and Safeway have an isle of supplements and herbs. I would recommend heading to somewhere with a department that can walk you through what is a good place to start. I am loving the liquid form I found a few weeks ago at sprouts. It has 50 billion cultures and was $10 for 30 days. Great price! Best part about it- my husband will take it! If you know him; it has to taste like dessert, so that’s a win-win for everyone! I also like Jarro Dophilus- they have a baby/kid powder that I just add to E’s food or breast milk and an adult capsule that I take everyday. On a side note: you’ll see that each probiotic has anywhere from 1 billion to 100 billion cultures in each capsule- all that means is the level of strains and different kinds of good bacteria it provides. Generally the higher the number the better.
Thirdly- this goes back to our overuse of antibiotics. If I want to be famous for something- it’s for advocating against antibiotics unless absolutely necessary. I recently saw a news clip about a new “super-bug” that has already killed 2 people in California. This is the problem- we overuse antibiotics and then we can’t treat disease when it really is needed. One of the awful side effects to antibiotics is that is kills the natural good bacteria and flora in the gut making you more susceptible to virus, bacteria and disease. For someone with something like IBS or celiacs who already has a compromised gut this can mean a whole slew of new sickness and disease. Please please please evaluate whether or not the antibiotic is really necessary. If it is- use it. If not- wait it out and try some other homeopathic and natural remedies. It’s ok to be sick- it’s our bodies natural way of developing immunity for life. If you do take an antibiotic make sure that you are taking a quality probiotic to help your gut restore it’s natural good bacteria and keep you from getting something else.
Probiotics are a wonderful supplement that can help keep us and our families in tip top shape to fit germs in our environment. I would recommend everyone from infant through adult be taking them everyday.