Gut Bacteria: The “Good Guys”

For many years, bacteria has earned a bad reputation but recent scientific research is showing us we need to look differently at our relationship to these tiny “good guys”, especially those that live in our gut.

Did you know that we have more bacterial cells living on us and within us than actual human cells? This surprising and little known fact emphasizes the critical role that microbes play in our overall health. What may be more surprising to learn is the fact that the key to your overall health may be found in your GI tract, and in how your gut and these microbes interact.

The gut contains a vast and diverse amount of microbes, also known as the “microbiome”. The microbiome is made up of more than 500 different species, comprising over 3 pounds of bacteria. However, not all bacteria are created equal. Some “good” microbes contribute to our health while others promote disease. Because of this, recent research is pointing to the fact that the health and balance of these bacteria are directly related to the health of the gut and therefore the entire body.


In a healthy gut, good bacteria help break down food, absorb nutrients, and filter out toxins. According to Dan Peterson, assistant of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, also explains that “certain cells in the lining of the gut spend their lives excreting massive quantities of antibodies into the gut”.

Conversely, when the gut is out of balance and has too much bad bacteria, this environment lends itself to inflammation, toxicity, and eventually disease. Many common conditions and serious diseases start with and thrive in an unhealthy gut. Just to name a few: arthritis, IBS, chronic fatigue, dementia, and cancer. Junk food, antibiotics, and stress are just some of the things that can cause bad bacteria to flourish and knock the body off balance.

The good news is that you have the power to heal your body and change your own microbiome by “feeding” the good bacteria and “starving” the bad through common sense diet and lifestyle changes. Dr. Mark Hyman recommends a 4-step strategy to bringing your gut and your body back into balance:

-REMOVE: bad bugs, drugs and food allergens.

-REPLACE: needed enzymes, fiber and prebiotic

-REINOCULATE with good bacteria (probiotics)

-REPAIR the gut lining with omega 3 fatty acids, zinc, glutamine and other healing nutrients.

The gut has a very long memory. If as a child it was necessary for you to go on antibiotics over and over, the depletion of good bacteria could still be an issue today. If you just recently cleaned up your diet but ate fast/junk food for many years, your gut may not have recovered from that damage. If you get sick often even though you are doing all the “right things”, it could be because your gut is out of balance and thus your immune system is not getting the strength it needs from a healthy and balanced gut biome.

Follow Dr. Hyman’s strategy, get good sleep, and get your gut biome tested. There are quality tests out there that are affordable and easy to do. Reach out to me at for additional information.


The Gut: Your Body’s 2nd Brain

The Gut: Your Body’s 2nd Brain

We often assume that the brain is the only organ sending control messages to the body, but recent research suggests that your gut may have just as much to say when it comes to the overall health and wellness of your entire body.

Gut health is a topic that has gained increasing momentum in the health and wellness community over the last decade because we now know that gut health may start in, but ultimately extends far beyond, the gastrointestinal tract.

At the core of gut health is the “gut microbiome” which is the ecosystem of microorganisms living in the small and large intestines. Author Simon Cheng refers to the microbiome as “a ‘bacteria Thunderdome’, in which good and bad bacteria are in there, battling it out.” When in balance, these microorganisms keep the body regulated and healthy. However, when the pathogenic bacteria (the bad guys) outweigh the probiotic bacteria (the good guys), this leads to an environment in which the body can no longer process food properly to extract the necessary nutrition for all of its many functions. In short, Cheng explains that without a healthy microbiome, “a healthy diet will not nourish you if you don’t have sufficient good bacteria.”

To explain the far reaching impact that gut health has on the body at large, Ty Bollinger writes about the effects of an unbalanced microbiome and the many disorders and illnesses that were previously thought to have very little, if any, link to gut health: depression, allergies, autism, weight gain, and compromised immunity. This is because these microorganisms are responsible for much more than just digesting food. They are responsible for regulating hormones, protecting your immune system, balancing your mood, producing vitamins, and ridding the body of toxins. Furthermore, because most of these disorders are not typically associated with gut health, the root cause may be overlooked or treated by pharmaceuticals when the real remedy may be food itself.

One of the newest areas of research is how gut health plays a role in mood and behavior. Simon Cheng explains that serotonin, “an anti-depressant neurotransmitter” is not made by the brain but “is in fact mostly produced by the gut.” In this sense, your gut has an important role when it comes to emotion and the way that external messages are processed, hence the expression “gut feeling.” But, if your gut does not have a healthy and balanced microbiome, then your body’s interpretation of outside stimuli may be incorrect.

The good news is that improving your gut health is rather simple. Think of it as increasing the good guys and limiting the bad guys. First, increase the good guys by adding a probiotic supplement to your diet and consuming prebiotic foods with your meals. Some delicious options for prebiotic foods are beans, broccoli, yams, sauerkraut and potatoes. Second, limit the bad guys by eliminating toxins in your food as well as your environment. Toxins include, but are not limited to, soaps, lotions, medication, processed foods, some animal proteins, refined sugars, and even the air we breathe. These items feed the bad bacteria living in your intestines and perpetuate poor health. While these changes to your routine don’t seem like much, they will impact your longevity and overall quality of life in big ways!