What if we told you that you are carrying around roughly 3-5 pounds of bacteria in your gut? That’s a lot of bacteria. Our bodies are home to hundreds of species; some good, some bad, and some just along for the free ride. Together, the various species that live both in and on us, make up what is known as our microbiota – it is as individual to every one of us as our genetic makeup.
In healthy individuals, our 'good' bacteria (aka commensal) outweigh the bad and help keep things ticking along as they should. However, poor diet, stress, medications like antibiotics, the birth control pill, and certain anti-inflammatories, as well as lifestyle factors like smoking, can disrupt our intestinal flora, unfavourably tipping the balance.
When we think about our gut being unbalanced, we often think of things like bloating, diarrhea, and constipation, but you may be surprised to learn other health-related issues may point to an unhappy gut.
4 Unexpected Signs That Your Gut Flora Might Be Unbalanced
Trouble Losing Weight
Our gut microbes have been shown to give off various signaling chemicals and by-products that regulate things like our appetite, satiety, digestion, and energy metabolism.1
When we eat a poor quality diet of refined, processed foods, high in sugar, inflammatory fats, and lacking in fibre, we alter the populations of our gut microbiota. With the balance of 'bad' to 'good' shifted, the signals being sent out become altered. An unbalance in our gut microbes have been linked to inflammation, impaired glucose metabolism, poor absorption of nutrients, and obesity.2,3
To help nourish our gut bacteria it is important to eat a diet high in whole, unprocessed foods that is rich in colourful fruits and veggies, healthy fats (like olive oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, nuts, and seeds), lean protein, fermented foods and supplement like Bio-K+. With 50 billion bacteria per bottle, it helps to repopulate the gut with healthy lactobacillus bacteria restoring good balance.
Understanding why you may be suffering from a food allergy or sensitivity starts by understanding a little about how your gut works. Your gut is lined with millions of cells, known as enterocytes. These cells act as a barrier, keeping unwanted things out (like toxins, pathogens, and undigested food), and letting wanted things (like nutrients) in.
When our gut health becomes compromised, the 'barrier' function is weakened. Known as 'leaky gut syndrome', our gut is no longer able to keep the unwanted from entering. Large protein molecules can enter our bloodstream and can trigger an immune response, which may show up as a variety of symptoms that we related allergies too.
Our gut microbes play a significant role in keeping our gut healthy. Our enterocytes are fueled primarily by a short-chain fatty acid known as butyric acid; one of the by-products of healthy gut bacteria. Good gut bacteria also produce a variety of metabolites that promote barrier integrity, helping to prevent leaky-gut syndrome from occurring.6
If you have ever suffered from acne, you know that finding a solution for it can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Is it diet? Hormones? A sensitivity to an ingredient or food? One thing you may want to look to is your gut microbes.
Emotions like stress, anxiety, and depression, can impact our gut microbes (and vice versa) shifting the balance of bacteria. An unbalanced gut flora can lead to intestinal permeability, which can increase inflammation, oxidative stress, and blood sugar imbalances throughout the body; all of which are linked to acne.4 It’s known as the gut-brain-skin theory. Dermatologists first presented it over 80 years ago.5
To feed your skin (and your gut microbes), ditch the processed food, limit sugar, and fill your plate with lots of anti-inflammatory fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds. Restore balance in the gut with a daily dose of Bio-K+, and try swapping your morning coffee for green tea. Green tea has a ton of antioxidants, as well as a compound known as L-theanine, which has a calming effect on the body and mind.
Iron Deficient Anemia
Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, often affecting women, vegans/vegetarians, and endurance athletes the most. As the central molecule in our hemoglobin, iron carries oxygen from our lungs to all of our tissues. Without enough of it, we can feel tired, lethargic, unable to concentrate, and dizzy.
While it is important to ensure you are consuming enough iron in the diet to prevent anemia, it is also important to optimize your absorption of it. This is especially true if you follow a plant-based diet. While animal protein contains heme iron, a source that is readily absorbed by the body, vegetables contain non-heme iron which is absorbed at a lower rate.
As iron is vital to our health, our body triggers a mechanism to increase absorption if our stores become low (subsequently it shuts this down when we have sufficient amounts). Recent studies suggest that our ability to increase uptake of iron (when stores are low) may be thanks to our gut microbes.7,8
If you think you may be low in iron, or suffer from iron deficiency anemia, it is strongly advised to work with your healthcare practitioner to determine a protocol that is right for you.
From a diet perspective increasing your intake of iron-rich foods, along with vitamin C (known to improve iron absorption), optimizing gut health by consuming high-quality probiotic and fermented foods, and limiting coffee (known to interfere with iron absorption) is a good base to help you along your journey.
The more we learn about our gut microbes, the more we understand their role in keeping our entire body (not just our gut) healthy. Many lifestyle factors, like reducing stress, sleeping well, and exercising, along with consuming a good diet full of whole, unprocessed foods, and a daily probiotic can go a long way in helping improve your overall well-being.
Do you have questions on gut health or microbiota? Let us know in comments below! For more healthy inspirations, join our community. Click here to find the closest point of sale. Contact us or find us on Facebook and Instagram.
This article is for information purposes only. Always check with your healthcare provider first before stopping or starting any medications, or supplements.