Did you know we have 100 trillion microorganisms living in our gut?
That’s 10 times more species in our intestines than total cells in our bodies!
Bad Bacteria Versus Good Bacteria
It’s a constant fight between the good guys and the bad guys that live inside our intestines – and we want the good guys to win!
Bacteria make up most of our gut flora – up to 1,000 different species of bacteria live in our digestive tracts. The ecosystem of our gut houses bad guys, like parasites and yeast, and good guys like Streptococcus, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium – also known as probiotics.
By now, many people have heard about probiotics or friendly bacteria. It’s also becoming more well-known that our gut is key to a healthy immune system. And poor gut health, caused by an overgrowth of bad bacteria, is often the reason we suffer from things like allergies, headaches, obesity, IBS, constipation, autism, ADHD, heartburn, bloating, reflux, acne, arthritis, depression and more.
Chronic Illness Linked to Bad Gut Flora
Most doctors have been taught that the cause of asthma stems from our lungs, acne from our skin and arthritis from our joints. But, although it seems like the location of these issues seems to fit, the root of the cause is almost always in our bellies.
Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D., one of my favorite functional medicine practitioners, has helped thousands of patients overcome chronic illness simply by treating the imbalances in their guts. For example, he resolved a six year old girl’s severe behavioral problems and depression in less than 10 days just by getting rid of her bacterial yeast overgrowth. He helped a three year old autistic boy who couldn’t talk get rid of a parasite called Giardia in his gut, and he started speaking again. Dr. Hyman says,
“Normalizing gut function is one of the most important things I do for patients, and it’s so simple. The ‘side effects’ of treating the gut are quite extraordinary. My patients find relief from allergies, acne, arthritis, headaches, autoimmune disease, depression, attention deficit, and more—often after years or decades of suffering.”
The well-researched links between gut bacteria and chronic illness are growing everyday.
Where Bad Bacteria Comes From
Our Standard American Diet (SAD) is one of the top reasons we suffer from disease today. Our toxic build up, increased use of vaccinations and overuse of antibiotics have also really complicated things for our gut and overall health.
I believe that if we all ate similarly to what Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Nutritarian diet suggests, we’d all be way better off.
That is, a diet mostly consisting of fruit, veggies, nuts, beans and seeds. He uses the acronym GBOMBS, which stands for greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries and seeds.
In Fuhrman’s opinion, we wouldn’t even need to supplement with probiotics, or many other things, if we ate this way. That’s because our gut would create enough friendly bacteria to fight off the bad guys.
For many of us, this diet style can be very challenging – especially when you consider the choices lining our typical grocery markets. The best thing you can do is try your hardest to eat a majority of GBOMBS and definitely limit sugar, processed foods, and animal fats and proteins.
We are used to meat being the main part of our meal, but it only feeds the bad bugs in our gut -making them stronger. Instead, try to think of the meat as the garnish for the meal and the veggies as the main part.
Dr. Fuhrman likes to tell people to put a big sign on your refrigerator that reminds you “The salad is the main dish.”
8 Ways Probiotics Help Your Kids
1. Boost Immunity
Our guts are responsible for 80% of our immune system. When your children have a healthy gut flora – filled with good bacteria that create healthy fats and reduce inflammation – their immune systems will be much stronger. When their immune system is functioning properly, they’ll be able to fight off colds, flu, infections and many other illnesses. If women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant take probiotics, the immune protection of their milk will be enhanced.
2. Absorb More Nutrients
Probiotics inhibit the growth of bad bacteria and pathogens by fighting for nutrients. They help us break down the food we eat, allowing us to absorb nutrients more effectively. They also create B vitamins and potassium, which are important for cellular health.
3. Make for Happy Poops
One largely studied issue that can be resolved from probiotics is diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel, gas, bloating, etc. These issues all stem from imbalances in our digestive system. When you give your child probiotics, you’re helping to normalize his gut flora and minimize these types of intestinal issues.
4. Treat Autism/ADHD
Almost all children who fall on the autism spectrum or that have been diagnosed with ADHD, have intestinal issues, major inflammation, toxicity, nutrient deficiencies and an altered immune system. A recent study found a dramatic difference in the gut flora of autistic children compared to that of healthy children. Bad bacteria produce toxins, metabolic by-products and inflammation in the gut that actually negatively affect the brain!
Watch this short clip of Dr. Hyman sharing his inspiring story of his three year old patient’s recovery.
5. Calm Fussy or Colicky Babies
I’ve been there. You’re trying everything you can to calm your poor child who looks like he’s trying so hard to fart. It’s painful! But, according to Italian researchers, your infant will experience less fussiness from colic, acid reflux and constipation if given probiotics during the first three months of life. (source)
6. Promote Healthy Skin
My son Milo has eczema and had some bad flare ups in his first few months of life. I gave him Flora Boost (probiotic) and it helped a lot. It may seem strange that your skin and the bacteria in your gut are related. But a 2008 study, for instance, shows that children born with a limited amount of good bacteria in their intestines are more likely to develop eczema – a rash affecting about 20% of infants today.
Giving your child more beneficial bacteria helps prevent eczema and other allergy related flare ups. Remember, bad bugs produce fats that promote common issues like allergies, asthma and eczema. And good bugs fight the bad ones!
7. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity is a huge issue in America and it just keeps getting worse. Bad bugs create toxins that promote inflammation and insulin resistance which leads to weight gain.
8. Prevent Cavities
Our mouths, nose and throats are at the beginning of our digestive system. Our mouths are home to billions of bacteria. It’s the bad bacteria that cause bad breath and tooth decay. Probiotics help provide an army of good bacteria to ward off the bad and prevent your children from getting cavities. Bonus – they’ll help keep your breath smelling fresh!
Where to Get Probiotics
You can eat fermented foods that offer natural probiotics. Like plain yogurt, sauerkraut, keifer and kombucha tea. Or, there are many probiotic supplements to choose from.
Natural Healthy Concepts carries a great selection of quality probiotics. Be careful about getting them from any ‘ol drug store because the cheaply made ones have additives, preservative and food dyes. Always read the labels before you buy supplements – just as you should with your food.
5 Steps to Kill Hidden Bad Bugs in Your Gut that Make You Sick - Dr. Mark Hyman, MD
27 Probiotic Benefits for Children – Green Med Info
Why Take Probiotics? Here’s 10 Reasons! – Natural Healthy Concepts Blog
Chew Your Way to Probiotic Health – Natural Healthy Concepts Blog
Will Probiotics During Pregnancy Help My Baby? – Natural Healthy Concepts Blog