Hooray for intestinal bacteria, you finally made the front page!

Posted on March 12, 2010


I think people in other parts of the world might roll their eyes regularly at what we consider “health news.” All you doctors & nurses out there, we appreciate what you do! so don’t feel like this a dig on you because it’s not – it’s just really funny when we do scientific studies on things that other cultures or healthcare philosophies have understood for some time now.

It’s like we need to see it for ourselves, with our own lab rats, for it to be “real science” for us.

Take this article from Time. Anyone practicing naturopathy, integrative medicine, Eastern medicine, and other similar practices has known for a long time just how critical intestinal bacteria or “gut flora” is to overall well-being, weight, energy, and so much more. People practicing these types of healthcare also know just how imbalanced the flora becomes due to many things in the Western lifestyle – antibiotics, The Pill, diet, stress all alter the make-up of the intestinal flora.

Gut flora is made up of both good/helpful & bad/damaging-if-overgrown bacteria that do all kinds of things to help the body function (or make it nearly impossible to function if imbalanced). Gut flora assists in absorbing nutrients for use in the body, sending out the proper amounts of chemicals that allow the body to run a cycle called the Krebs Cycle, which gives the body much needed by-products of water & ATP (aka energy), sending signals to the body to crave certain foods & not others (like sugary foods!) as well as assist in helping the body to assimilate & expel what is delivered to the stomach (meaning, it helps organize the food so it gets connected where it’s supposed to & then gets expelled through the intestines).

Think this isn’t a big deal? I had to re-balance my gut a few years ago due to several chronic health issues, some minor, some not so minor, and the recovery was challenging indeed because of the severe cravings that the bad flora was giving me as it was dying off. I fought a Candida overgrowth, with my naturopath, that gave me some fabulously large sugar cravings while it was dying off – since the Candida feeds on sugar, it makes you crave what it needs to survive as you’re killing it, so the mental fortitude it took to keep sugar, excessive fruit,  & simple carbs at bay was intense. Then, I needed to re-balance my stomachs’ pH which made me feel as if I was tipsy anytime I had a grain of some sort & fought fatigue & dehydration as the pH of my body was becoming more alkaline. Point being, your gut flora is no small potatoes.

The Time article outlines how having imbalanced gut flora really does play a role in a persons’ weight – the study noted in the article showed how obese people have different gut floras than those who are of a normal weight. So how do you know if you have a gut imbalance? Why get yourself to a naturopath of course! Self-diagnosis may seem effective & simple, by just reading a list of symptoms online, but knowing exactly where the problem lies & what supplements, foods, or treatments your body needs to re-balance & heal is not that easy. What you want to look for is an integrative physician near you, or a chiropractor who is trained in naturopathic care, applied kinesiology or Eastern Medicine. Think booking a visit for something that may or may not be covered by insurance is just too much right now?

That’s what I thought, until I realized I’d be spending more & suffering more if I continued down the Western Medicine front. Getting to the root (or in this case, the intestines of it all) makes a MAJOR DIFFERENCE in the road to optimal health. It’s worth more money than you’ll have to spend.

And if you’re not taking probiotics & digestive enzymes, then you’ve got something really easy you can start with! Go to your local health food store & talk to them about probiotics & enzymes – they make a vital difference by assisting your body to breakdown, assimilate & expel food as it comes in. This can help things like gas or bloating, body fat & lean muscle tissue ratios, energy levels, frequency of sickness or colds, and much more.

So congratulations to intestinal bacteria – they’ve known for centuries just how important they are – but now they are finally getting their press. Maybe this will help more people realize that weight loss, fitness, energy levels & mood are more complex than just calories in/calories out & mental fortitude to pass by the doughnut counter (although that’s a vital step too!)