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How can I increase the good bacteria in my gut?

Updated: Jan 7

Your gut—otherwise known as your digestive system or your gastrointestinal (GI) system— digests the foods you eat, absorbs nutrients from it and uses those nutrients to fuel and maintain your body.

If you can't seem to lose weight, suffer from an autoimmune disease or have allergies the real reason may be your gut is unhealthy (1). Poor gut health is believed to exert a wide range of effects on other systems of the body and contributes to conditions such as skin disorders, allergies, nervous system complaints and endocrine disorders (thyroid disease and diabetes) amongst other things (2). Your gastrointestinal tract is therefore viewed as one of the most important factors needed to obtain and maintain optimal health and vitality and the gut macrobiotic is essential for human health and 'normal' metabolism, physiology and functioning of your immune system (2-4).

So what is the gut microbiome/macrobiotia?

Simply put -- it's an ecosystem of microorganisms (composed of bacteria, viruses, archaea, protozoa and fungi) and their genetic material found in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract (6) and balanced composition is important for maintaining intestinal immunity. An imbalance of the gut microbiota is referred to as dysbiosis and has metabolic consequences (7). Interestingly, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity have been associated with gut dysbiosis (7-9). Gut microbiome diversity is therefore key and like any other organ, the microbiome has physiology and pathology, and the individual (and collective?) health might be damaged when its collective population structure is altered (10). The adult human GIT is estimated to contain 10(13) - 10 (14) viable microorganisms, which means there are more gastrointestinal microbes than eukaryotic cells found in the human body (11).

The association between the gut and the health of the body has been around for a long time. In fact, in 400 BCE, Hippocrates stated that, "death sits in the bowels..." and "... bad digestion is the root of all evil..." (11).

What factors have been found to negatively impact the gut microbiota?

Diseases that are increasingly affecting humans, such as allergies and inflammatory, metabolic and autoimmune disorders, all have at their core a failure to control misdirected immune responses against self, microbiota-derived or environmental antigens.

Several factors have been found to negatively impact your health and balance of the gut ecosystem. The most researched ones are:

  • antibiotics;

  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS);