Up to 100 trillion cells live in your gut creating us our own microbiome bacterial fingerprint, specific to us as individuals. We are just the host to this highly complex echo system. Our microbiome includes at least 1000 different species of known bacteria with more than three million genes. Of the bacteria living in our gut, some are considered probiotics (good bacteria) and others pathogens (bad bacteria). These microorganisms are involved in multiple functions that are critical to our overall health and well being. People often associate bacteria as being unhealthy, however, these bacteria are not all bad and play a key role in digesting the food we eat, and help with absorbing and synthesising nutrients.(1)
The more diversity of good bacteria in our gut, the better chance our bodies have to fight off and resist pathogens. As I stated in my previous gut health blog, your gastrointestinal tract acts as a protective barrier from the outside world keeping the good stuff in and bad stuff out. Our gut microbes play a major role in maintaining the integrity of our gut lining by assisting the barrier function.
Our bacteria are not just critical for the process of gut health, but many other important processes including our metabolism, skin function, immune system, brain functions and our mood. (Hence my emphasis on healing your gut to relieve you of majority of your health issues!)
Therefore a poor microbiome, can be linked to disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease and can course an onset of conditions such as food allergies, asthma, acne, arthritis, mild skin rashes, eczema and psoriasis to name a few. (2). These complex bacteria also live on the skin. A balanced microbiome on the skin equates to a healthy barrier function and in turn, healthy skin. An unbalanced microbiome on the skin leaves you with an altered/ impaired barrier function resulting in atopic skin conditions and the penetration of irritant allergens.
So if you are suffering from any of the above conditions, it may be time to consider nurturing your little buddies and re-establishing your gut terrain! So instead of just leaving you with the obvious tip of taking a daily probiotic (if you're not already taking one, then yes I recommend you should be!) I'll leave you a list of the ‘good bacteria killers’ that a lot of us are subject to daily without realising.
1. Overuse of antibiotics
Yep! Antibiotics are not picky. They kill off ALL the bacteria in our body. Even the friendly bacteria our body relies on for optimal health.
2. Refined sugar and GMO foods (genetically modified organisms)
Sugar and chemicals feed populations of microflora that can outgrow other populations creating an imbalance in our gut bacteria. We need balance in our microbiome for optimal health.
Not only is gluten an irritant to the gastrointestinal system, It requires an abundance of healthy bacteria to properly digest!
Stress can harm the good bacteria and overstimulate the immune system.
Regular medication such as, NSAIDS, analgesics and antidepressants, can also kill off good bacteria. (Ironic considering roughly 90% of our serotonin is made in the gut!?)
6. Over sanitising and using highly antibacterial body washes
This can strip our barrier function and these topical antibacterial chemicals can make their way into our bloodstream and kill off good bacteria.
7. Preservatives in cosmetics
Chemical preservatives like parabens and other formaldehyde donating preservatives that can often be added to our cosmetics, potentially make their way into our bloodstream and affect the ability of our gut flora to flourish.