How healthy is your gut?

The incidence of gastrointestinal complaints and allergy-linked gut permeability is on the rise in developed nations. Experts believe it’s largely due to the highly processed American diet, our modern lifestyles, and reduced physical activity. But could it be something more?

Think about when you were growing up. I imagine many of you, grew playing games in the yard, drinking out of the garden hose, getting dirty. Back then, people didn’t worry so much about dirt – it was part of life. You got dirty and then you cleaned up.

Fast-forward to today where we’ve became obsessed with cleanliness. We stopped touching dirt – and we made sure we didn’t eat it. Kids todayspend far more time in front of computers than they do digging in the ground.

If you do happen to get dirty – or end up with dirt-covered food, there’s antibacterial soaps and sanitizing hand gels to remove grime and bacteria.  While all this may sound like progress this obsession cleanliness has negatively impacted our gut health which diminishes our immune system and puts our overall health in jeopardy.

A healthy microbiome relies on a proper balance between beneficial bacteria and potentially pathogenic bacteria, as well as the integrity of your gut lining. When your microbiome is out of balance or loses its diversity, or your gut lining becomes compromised, it can impact many processes in your body and increase your risk of chronic disease.

Below is a list of the top offenders to your gut health:

 1. Antibiotics:  Most antibiotics can alter your gut microbial balance. Whether you’re taking antibiotics right now, just finished a course last week or took them years ago, the well-being of your microbiome may be compromised.
Included are the antibiotics hidden in food, especially factory-farmed meats and conventional dairy products. 

2. Heartburn pills:  One of the most overprescribed drugs in the US, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) taken for heartburn can alter your gut flora. A much healthy option to relieve heartburn is organic apple cider vinegar. 

3. Fluoridated and chlorinated water:  The chlorine in chlorinated tap water can potentially destroy both the bad bacteria and the good, friendly bacteria in your gut. The same is true for fluoride. 

4. Processed and refined sugar: One of the fastest ways to create an imbalance – and feed the bad guys – is to eat too much sugar and non-fiber carbohydrates. Few things fertilize and speed up the growth of pathogenic microbes faster than sugars. 

5. Processed, refined foods:  Processed foods, including pasteurized milk, can harm your good bacteria. Eating the typical Western diet of processed foods produces a profoundly different microbiome than one high in vegetables and fiber.  

6. Bioengineered foods, pesticides and other agricultural chemicals:  Certain genetically engineered foods and even some non-GMO foods that are not organic, like wheat, can contain glyphosate, an agricultural herbicide that’s been shown to target and destroy good gut bacteria. Conventionally raised animals are typically fed bioengineered grains, such as GE corn.

7. NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil)  Certain popular over-the-counter painkillers can damage cell membranes and your gut lining, and harm healthy gut flora.

8. Stress:  Stress affects your gut in a number of ways including hindering the production of enzymes and absorption of nutrients, and reducing oxygen levels and blood flow. Plus, it can impact the functioning of your entire GI tract, including your gut flora. 

9. Pollution:  Airborne particulate matter from car exhaust, home furnaces, and industry, as well as livestock emissions travel from your lungs to your intestines, and can alter your gut bacteria and your intestinal barrier. It can contaminate the food and water supply, leading to further injury of your gut bacteria.

Now that you know what can destroy or upset the balance of your microbiome and the integrity of your gut lining, you can start to restore your gut health and support your health and well-being.  A good probiotic is a great start.  To learn more check out Probio PCCTM  - members always receive wholesale pricing.