Gut Bugs:Winning the Bacteria Battle

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Winning the Bacteria Battle

Ever wonder what that rumbling in your tummy really means? Some say that it’s hunger growling for more food. But it could be the battle cry of bacteria as they fight it out for life or death in your digestive tract.

Yes, there’s a lot more action going on in your stomach than you probably realize. About 100 trillion microbes reside in your belly. Some of these are “good” bacteria- the kind that keep house by helping you digest food, utilize vitamins such as vitamin B12, boost your immunity, even protect you from the common cold. These beneficial bacteria are the ones you want living in your body.

But you share a common enemy- “bad” bacteria which constantly try to weaken the defenses, leading to such illnesses as autoimmune disorder, depression, allergies or Crohn’s Disease.

So how can you win the war?

1) Support the troops

Winning the Bacteria Battle

Intestinal bacteria thrive on prebiotics, high-fiber foods such as artichokes, bananas, barley, flax seed and onions. These nutrients are essential for preventing irritable bowel syndrome, aiding calcium absorption, and decreasing diarrhea caused by antibiotics.

2) Recruit more soldiers

Winning the Bacteria Battle

You can add to the number of good bugs by ingesting them in the form of probiotics, live microorganisms which are found in certain food products. Not all probiotics are the same, though; there are different strains to meet different health needs.  For example, Lactobacillus casei, which is found in some yogurts, has been proven to prevent ear infections and gastrointestinal infections in children. For irritable bowels, Bifidobacterium infantis has been proven helpful.

3) Maintain your defenses

Antibiotics might be good at killing infections, but they also kill off your beneficial bacteria. Doctors are hesitant to prescribe antibiotics for that reason, as a correlation exists between high antibiotic usage and weakened immune systems. In fact, Stanford University recently reported that taking two rounds of antibiotics within six months of each other may result in a deficiency in beneficial bacteria. Heartburn medicine has also been found to interfere with healthy microorganism production.

If you must take antibiotics, just make a point of supplementing the ratio of good bugs by taking probiotic pills, eating a healthy diet of greens and legumes and completing your antibiotic prescription, so that you won’t need to repeat it again.


O Magazine