Every day, our bodies are exposed to thousands of bacteria and germs that are invisibly handled by our Immune System. While this system functions with amazing accuracy, there may be times when bad bacteria can overgrow and create an infection within the body. Did you know there are more than 400 different kinds of bacteria that live together as neighbors in our gastrointestinal tract? Like most things in life, balance is the key, and the bacteria in the colon are no different. The “flora” in a healthy colon should consist of at least 85% lactobacilli (“friendly”) and 15% coliform (“bad”) bacteria. The body depends on the “friendly” bacteria to assist in the digestion of proteins, to manufacture B vitamins, and to produce antibacterial substances.
Tiny Organisms that Act like an Army for Us
Over 85% of our Immune System is contained within our Digestive System. The microscopic good bacteria help to keep waste and fungus from sticking to the intestines. A poor ratio of good-to-bad bacteria in the colon can result in intestinal ailments, retention of toxins, constipation, and susceptibility to infection.
Your stock of good bacteria may be decreased due to:
- Taking antibiotics, steroids and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
- poor nutrition
- birth control pills
- working with chemicals
Although antibiotics are great for healing bacterial infection, they are especially harmful to intestinal flora. Antibiotics can depress your good bacteria for weeks or months after the drug is completed, often leading to yeast overgrowth, chronic infections, poor digestion, fatigue or allergies.
How do we know our intestinal tract is out of balance?
There are some common obvious warning signs – frequent gas, bloating, indigestion and yeast infections – or you may be one of those people who get sick every time a “bug” comes around. But it may be surprising to learn that the exterior of the body also reflects the state of one’s colon! A lack of good bacterial balance can result in:
- Poor skin, like acne or eczema
- Dull hair
- Lackluster eyes
- Excessive wrinkles
Maintaining friendly intestinal bacteria is a great defense against disease; when they are diminished, the other functions of the Immune System must pick up the slack.