Check For Food Intolerances
If you have symptoms such as cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, rashes, nausea, fatigue, and acid reflux, you may be suffering from a food intolerance. You can try eliminating common trigger foods to see if your symptoms improve. If you are able to identify a food or foods that are contributing to your symptoms, you may see a positive change in your digestive health by changing your eating habits.
How Are Probiotics Regulated In The United States
Government regulation of probiotics in the United States is complex. Depending on a probiotic productâs intended use, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration might regulate it as a dietary supplement, a food ingredient, or a drug.
Many probiotics are sold as dietary supplements, which donât require FDA approval before they are marketed. Dietary supplement labels may make claims about how the product affects the structure or function of the body without FDA approval, but they arenât allowed to make health claims, such as saying the supplement lowers your risk of getting a disease, without the FDAâs consent.
If a probiotic is going to be marketed as a drug for treatment of a disease or disorder, it has to meet stricter requirements. It must be proven safe and effective for its intended use through clinical trials and be approved by the FDA before it can be sold.
How Do Antibiotics Damage Your Gut Health
Antibiotics are prescribed to nearly half the UK population every year for common conditions and in hospitals to treat and prevent serious infections. Here are the most common applications for antibiotics:
|urinary tract, bladder and kidney infections||skin and wound infections|
Unfortunately, antibiotics dont stop at bad bacteria and they dont treat viral infections, which are often nearly impossible to distinguish from bacterial ones. Instead, antibiotics kill good bacteria too, and thats bad because good bacteria are often helping your body fight the infection.
Many people also experience mild-to-severe antibiotic side effects, especially if their immune health is already compromised, like hospital patients. More seriously, antibiotics can leave room for extremely harmful bacteria such as E.coli, C.diff and Salmonella infections that may be so severe that hospitalization is required.
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Bacterial Infection In Stomach
Bacterial infection in stomach as the name suggests is caused by bacteria that may enter your stomach due to the intake of contaminated food and water. The bacteria known to cause infection in the stomach are:
Following are the common symptoms
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting and feeling of nausea
- Blood in the stools
Should Children Take Probiotics While On Antibiotics
Another well-known approach to prevent or relieve diarrhea from antibiotics is taking a probiotic. Research suggests there may be some preventive benefits to taking probiotics when starting an antibiotic. However, Dr. Gurram cautions not to take all the research at face value. For instance:
- There are inconsistencies in the research about the number of probiotic bacteria needed to restore gut flora and which probiotic is best.
- Probiotics are considered nutritional supplements and not regulated by the FDA. There is no guarantee the product will have the dose or amount it claims to include.
- Many of the manufacturers of probiotics sponsor the research, which could lead to a conflict of interest.
“A probiotic may help prevent one episode of antibiotic-associated diarrhea in about 12 to 40 children who take it,” Dr. Gurram explains. “It’s just really difficult for a probiotic to restore the body’s microbiome because there are so many different strains of bacteria in the gut.”
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Can I Get Probiotics From Food
You can absolutely increase beneficial microbes in your body from the foods you eat. Certain foods have probiotics in them and can benefit the health of your microbiome.
These foods can be introduced into your diet at any point of the day. You may even be regularly eating them now and not realize that they contain probiotics. You will want to check the food label for live and active cultures. A few suggestions for just some of the probiotic-rich foods you can add to your diet and some times to try them include:
For breakfast, try:
Probiotic supplements may be combined with a prebiotic. Prebiotics are complex carbohydrates that feed the microorganisms in your gut. Basically, prebiotics are the food source for the good bacteria. They help feed the good bacteria and keep it healthy. Prebiotics include inulin, pectin and resistant starches.
When you have a supplement that combines a probiotic and prebiotic, its called a synbiotic.
How Antibiotics Impact Gut Health
Doctors figured out how to get rid of bad gut bacteria by creating antibiotics. Unfortunately, antibiotics also tend to kill some of the good bacteria in your gut. This throws off gut health and may allow unhealthy bacteria like C. difficile to grow out of control. C. difficile infections can cause severe diarrhea, gut tissue damage, or even death in extreme cases.
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The Gut Microbiome May Benefit Heart Health
Interestingly, the gut microbiome may even affect heart health .
A recent study in 1,500 people found that the gut microbiome played an important role in promoting good HDL cholesterol and triglycerides .
Certain unhealthy species in the gut microbiome may also contribute to heart disease by producing trimethylamine N-oxide .
TMAO is a chemical that contributes to blocked arteries, which may lead to heart attacks or stroke.
Certain bacteria within the microbiome convert choline and L-carnitine, both of which are nutrients found in red meat and other animal-based food sources, to TMAO, potentially increasing risk factors for heart disease .
However, other bacteria within the gut microbiome, particularly Lactobacilli, may help reduce cholesterol when taken as a probiotic .
Certain bacteria within the gut microbiome can produce chemicals that may block arteries and lead to heart disease. However, probiotics may help lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
Types Of Good Bacteria Lactobacillus Species
The most important and predominant good bacteria that live mainly in the human small intestine are lactic bacteria . Lactobacillus is a family of Gram-positive, facultative anaerobic, rod-shaped bacteria. This group of lactic acid bacteria is responsible for the production of lactase.
Lactase is an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates such as lactose and other sugars into lactic acid. Similarly, lactic acid helps to create an acidic environment in the gastrointestinal tract, which inhibits the development of many unwanted microorganisms.
In addition, lactic acid increases the absorption of minerals such as calcium, copper, magnesium and iron. Lactic bacteria are most abundant in sour milk products such as sour milk, yogurt and preservative-free kefir, which is recommended to consume regularly one glass a day.
These good bacteria protect the body from allergic reactions, ensure timely bowel movements, prevent dysbiosis, relieve constipation, treat diarrhea, help the body develop elements of the immune system and play an important role in creating a favorable environment for bifidobacteria to multiply.
Even more, lactic bacteria can inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the colon and mammary glands by preventing the body from being contaminated with pathogenic flora.
What does Gram-Positive Mean? Gram-positive bacteria, unlike Gram-negative bacteria retain the color of the crystal violet stain in the Gram stain.
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Not Eating A Diverse Range Of Foods
Generally, a rich and diverse gut flora is considered to be a healthy one .
A lack of diversity within the gut bacteria limits recovery from harmful influences, such as infection or antibiotics .
A diet consisting of a wide variety of whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, can lead to a more diverse gut flora. In fact, changing up your diet can alter your gut flora profile after only a few days .
This is because the food you eat provides nutrients that help bacteria grow. A diet rich in whole foods provides your gut with a variety of nutrients that help promote the growth of different types of bacteria, resulting in a more diverse gut flora.
Unfortunately, over the past 50 years, much of the diversity in the Western diet has been lost. Today, 75% of the worlds food supply comes from only 12 plants and five animal species .
Interestingly, studies show that those living in rural regions of Africa and South America have a more diverse gut flora than those living in the US and Europe .
Their diets are generally unaffected by the Western world and are rich in fiber and a variety of plant protein sources.
A diet lacking in a variety of different whole foods can result in a loss of gut flora diversity. This may have a number of negative health effects.
Uc Davis Health Expert Offers Advice For Keeping Your Digestive System Working Well
Gut health describes the function and balance of bacteria of the many parts of the gastrointestinal tract. Ideally, organs such as the esophagus, stomach and intestines all work together to allow us to eat and digest food without discomfort. But that’s not the case for the estimated 70 million people in the U.S. with digestive diseases.
Sooraj Tejaswi specializes in treating complex bile duct and pancreatic disease, as well as common conditions like heartburn, constipation, bloating and loose stools. Here, he answers questions about gut health and how to maintain it.
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Future Areas Of Research
The microbiome is a living dynamic environment where the relative abundance of species may fluctuate daily, weekly, and monthly depending on diet, medication, exercise, and a host of other environmental exposures. However, scientists are still in the early stages of understanding the microbiomes broad role in health and the extent of problems that can occur from an interruption in the normal interactions between the microbiome and its host.
Some current research topics:
- How the microbiome and their metabolites influence human health and disease.
- What factors influence the framework and balance of ones microbiome.
- The development of probiotics as a functional food and addressing regulatory issues.
Specific areas of interest:
- Factors that affect the microbiome of pregnant women, infants, and the pediatric population.
- Manipulating microbes to resist disease and respond better to treatments.
- Differences in the microbiome between healthy individuals and those with chronic disease such as diabetes, gastrointestinal diseases, obesity, cancers, and cardiovascular disease.
- Developing diagnostic biomarkers from the microbiome to identify diseases before they develop.
- Alteration of the microbiome through transplantation of microbes between individuals .
List Of Good Bacteria
Good bacteria, also called probiotics, are similar to bacteria that reside naturally in your body. Probiotics may be beneficial to your health, and they are available in yogurt or in various dietary supplements. Probiotics have also been formulated into suppositories and creams for specific uses. Although there is some clinical evidence that the different types of good bacteria can address certain medical conditions, you should not use probiotics or any other dietary supplement without first consulting your doctor.
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Where Are Bacteria Found In The Body
The quick answer is. everywhere, but in reality, bacteria in the body is concentrated in three places: the mouth, skin, and gut. It can be found in other places, but these are the most common, and the ones worth examining. Estimates actually put about 3/4 of our immune system activity in the gut and digestive tracts, which has recently refocused attention on the gastrointestinal system, particularly in relation to keeping us healthy. Not only that, it is strongly believed that the bacteria in your gut can even affect your metabolism, hormonal levels, and mood!
The Gut-Brain Connection
Oral Bacteria Bacteria in the mouth is largely as a result of what we eat . Bad oral bacteria commonly comes in the form of Streptococcus mutans, Porphyromonas gingivalis, and Tannerella forsythia, while the good varieties include S. sanguinis, Actinomyces naeslundii and Veillonella dispar. Having too many bad bacteria in the mouth can lead to gingivitis, plaque build-up and a range of other oral diseases, but having too few good bacteria is also dangerous. Again, as mentioned, a bacterial balance must be struck for optimal health.
Boy with Acne
Lack Of Regular Physical Activity
Physical activity is simply defined as any movement of the body that burns energy.
Walking, gardening, swimming and cycling are all examples of physical activity.
Being physically active has a number of health benefits, including weight loss, lower stress levels and a reduced risk of chronic disease .
Whats more, recent studies suggest that physical activity may also alter the gut bacteria, improving gut health .
Higher fitness levels have been associated with a greater abundance of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid thats important for overall health, and butyrate-producing bacteria .
One study found that professional rugby players had a more diverse gut flora and twice the number of bacterial families, compared to the control groups matched for body size, age and gender .
Moreover, athletes had higher levels of Akkermansia, a bacteria shown to play an important role in metabolic health and the prevention of obesity (
Similar results have been reported in women.
A study compared the gut flora of 19 physically active women to 21 non-active women .
Active women had a higher abundance of health-promoting bacteria, including Bifidobacterium and Akkermansia, suggesting that regular physical activity, even at low-to-moderate intensities, can be beneficial.
Regular physical activity promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, including Bifidobacterium and Akkermansia. These positive effects are not seen in individuals who are inactive.
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What Is The Microbiome
Picture a bustling city on a weekday morning, the sidewalks flooded with people rushing to get to work or to appointments. Now imagine this at a microscopic level and you have an idea of what the microbiome looks like inside our bodies, consisting of trillions of microorganisms of thousands of different species. These include not only bacteria but fungi, parasites, and viruses. In a healthy person, these bugs coexist peacefully, with the largest numbers found in the small and large intestines but also throughout the body. The microbiome is even labeled a supporting organ because it plays so many key roles in promoting the smooth daily operations of the human body.
Each person has an entirely unique network of microbiota that is originally determined by ones DNA. A person is first exposed to microorganisms as an infant, during delivery in the birth canal and through the mothers breast milk. Exactly which microorganisms the infant is exposed to depends solely on the species found in the mother. Later on, environmental exposures and diet can change ones microbiome to be either beneficial to health or place one at greater risk for disease.
Ecoli: Friend And Foe
E. coli has earned a bad name for itself. With good reason: E. coli is one of the most frequent causes of bacterial infections in humans. Enteritis, urinary tract infections, septicaemia and neonatal meningitis are just a few of this bacteriums gifts to mankind .
But the E. coli family is huge, with hundreds of members at present count. Most E. coli strains do not cause disease and naturally live in the gut. E. coli normally colonises an infants gut shortly after birth , adhering to the mucus layer of the colon. Its actually your most common facultative anaerobe . So if you get rid of E. coli, that leaves a big gap to fill.
Apart from opening up vast swathes of real estate in your gut and sending an open invitation to any microbe who might want to set up shop and proliferate, there are other reasons not to nuke E. coli. Commensal strains of the bacteria guard against potentially pathogenic invaders and significantly contribute to the development and training of the immune system in your gut .
E. coli also:
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Tips To Boost Your Gut Microbiome
Your gut microbiome is a vast community of trillions of bacteria and fungi that inhabit every nook and cranny of your gastrointestinal tract, and have a major influence on your metabolism, body weight, propensity to illness, immune system, appetite and mood. These microbes mostly live in your lower intestine and outnumber all the other cells in your body put together.
Conceptually, we should view these microbes as a newly discovered organ, weighing slightly more than our brains and nearly as vital. There are some organs we can live without, including our spleen, gall bladder, tonsils and appendix, but we wouldnt survive long without our gut microbes. Intriguingly, no two microbiomes are the same we are all unique. And more than ever, were finding out just how important these microbes are.
Read more about the microbiome:
According to research, the richer and more diverse the community of gut microbes are, the lower your risk of disease and allergies. This has been shown in animal tests and also in human studies comparing the microbes of people with and without particular diseases. Examples from recent work at Kings College London include studies of diabetes, obesity, allergy and inflammatory diseases like colitis and arthritis.
Meanwhile, there is mounting evidence that babies born via caesarean section miss out on some of the microbes they would obtain through a vaginal birth, which may make them more vulnerable to allergies and asthma.
Issues To Be Aware Of
If you’re considering trying probiotics, there are a few issues you need to be aware of.
Probiotics are generally classed as food rather than medicine, which means they don’t go through the rigorous testing medicines do.
Because of the way probiotics are regulated, we can’t always be sure that:
- the product actually contains the bacteria stated on the food label
- the product contains enough bacteria to have an effect
- the bacteria are able to survive long enough to reach your gut
There are many different types of probiotics that may have different effects on the body, and little is known about which types are best.
You may find a particular type of probiotic helps with one problem. But this doesn’t mean it’ll help other problems, or that other types of probiotic will work just as well.
And there’s likely to be a huge difference between the pharmaceutical-grade probiotics that show promise in clinical trials and the yoghurts and supplements sold in shops.
Page last reviewed: 27 November 2018 Next review due: 27 November 2021
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