Keep the balance
In our bodies there is a constant battle going on between good and bad bacteria. Common disorders, like colic, constipation and diarrhea, are often a sign that the bad bacteria have the upper hand. This is why it is so important to keep a good balance in your body.
Only a few percentages of the bacteria in our bodies are harmful ones, pathogens. When the balance is disrupted sometimes the bad bacteria take advantage of the situation and cause harm to our bodies.
We spend a lot of time trying to get rid of bad bacteria, while it is more important to take care of the good ones. Actually, most bacteria are good bacteria and do not cause harm. On the contrary, they work as safeguards and protect us.
A second safeguard in our bodies is our epithelial lining that is like a skin on the inside. The main task of our epithelial lining is to differentiate between what should be absorbed and what should not. A well-functioning epithelial lining is semi permeable and lets certain things, like nutrients, vitamins and water through but stops unwanted things, like toxins and pathogens, from entering into our body and blood system. A well-balanced microbiota makes the epithelial lining stronger, tighter and better performing. Leaky gut is a condition that occurs when the epithelial lining losses its capacity to differentiate between good and bad. A third safeguard is our immune system and 80 percent of our immune defense is located in the gut. A balanced microbiota is important for a well-functioning immune system.
Out of balance
If bad bacteria for some reason start to exceed it may lead to dysbiosis. Too many bad bacteria, or lack of good bacteria, cause problems like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, stomach pain and leaky gut. In addition, it may also disrupt the function of the immune system, that can result in inflammation or allergies, like eczema and asthma. New research indicates that there is a connection between an unbalanced microbiota and diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Studies are even suggesting that these conditions can be prevented by taking better care of the microbiota.
Like in all aspects of life, balance is important and as Hippocrates said more than 2,000 years ago “All disease begins in the gut”.
The fact that our lifestyle has changed dramatically over the last 50 years has definitely left its marks. Modern ways of living with increased urbanization and altered eating habits have resulted in an imbalance of our microbiota.
Our microbiota is negatively affected by the following:
- Usage of antibiotics and other drugs – antibiotics do not only kill pathogens, they also kill our good bacteria.
- Obsessive hygiene – showering several times a day, using germ killing soap and detergents are depleting our microbiota.
- Birth by Caesarean section – babies born by C-section don’t pass through the birth canal and are therefore not exposed to the desirable variety of good bacteria from their mother.
- Poor eating habits – fast food, processed food, coffee and alcohol. It may taste good, but unfortunately your gut bacteria do not thrive on junk food, they need fibers, fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Stressful living and lack of sleep – both stress and too few hours in bed may lead to changes in composition and reduction of diversity.
- Excessive exercising – while your workout at the gym is beneficial for your general well-being, professional athletes are often exercising at a level that harms their microbiota and puts their immune system under stress, making them more susceptible to infections.