Gut Health 101: Bacteria, Fungus + Parasites

Did you know the human body contains more bacterial cells in the gut that there are human cells in the entire body? Pretty crazy, right? The gut is not only important for a healthy digestive system, it's also crucial for immune function, nutrient absorption, and even neurotransmitter production! Read on about how important a healthy microbiome is, and what can happen when it gets out of balance.


BACTERIA

It is crucial for the gut to have a healthy balance of bacteria. However, most of us do not consume enough foods which contain natural probiotics (or bacteria). We are also exposed to so many toxins in our environment and food supply, making it an important topic to address. Fermented foods such as: kimchi, kefir, kombucha, sauerkaut, and yogurt can help ease digestive symptoms, but don't in fact change the microbiome. We recommend a high quality probiotic in order to effectively shift the gut back into a healthy bacterial balance. We're especially fond of spore based probiotics, you can check out our favorite quality probiotics here


FUNGUS

Yes, it's not fun, but VERY common for people to have an excess of fungus in their body. Most commonly, people have heard of experiencing candida (fungus) overgrowth. While one may just think of this as a yeast infection, however, an overgrowth of fungus can cause all sorts of symptoms including: fatigue, sweet cravings, bad breath, white coated tongue, brain fog, urinary tract infections, hormone imbalance, joint pain, chronic allergies/sinus infections, and digestive problems. WOW! 

So what causes this to happen? Many things can lead to an overgrowth of fungus, but common ones we see in the office include: diet high in sugar and carbohydrates, antibiotic use, oral contraceptives (birth control pill), oral steroid use, diabetes, and weakened immune system. Fastest way to kick candida to the curb? Change your diet! Cut out the processed sugars, carbohydrates, grains and starches (think white foods!) Many people notice with this simple shift, that their symptoms significantly decrease. There is also much that can be done on an individual basis with herbal supplements to help the gut heal from an excess of fungus. Make sure to contact your personal health care provider to get on a regimen specific for you.


PARASITES

Parasites are usually acquired from eating contaminated food or water, and can be very common with international travel. It's important to be especially careful when traveling if you have a weakened gut or immune system, as you would be more susceptible.  Parasites commonly cause symptoms such as: diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, chills, and stomach pain. If you've recently traveled or eaten something and felt these symptoms, it's possible that you may have a parasitic infection. And remember, parasites can lie latent in the system for a long time! There are lots of herbal supplements that are fabulous anti-parasitics, but we advise against taking those unless prescribed by a health care professional. However, here are some common anti-parasitic foods to try in the meantime:

  • garlic
  • onion
  • ginger
  • oregano
  • coconut oil
  • papaya juice

In addition, we have found ionic foot detoxification baths to be very beneficial for cleansing parasites out of the system. To learn more about a foot detox, click here!

I hope these tips help you have a healthier gut and system! Here's to a healthy gut this month!

Dr. Abby Kramer, DC