Your digestive system is home to an amazing ecosystem; a parallel world of micro-organisms known as your micro-biome or gut flora.
Before you were born your body was free from microbes but at the moment of birth, a massive invasion of bacteria entered your gastrointestinal tract, populating your body with various types of microbes. Now you have possibly thousands of micro species living in your gut. It’s a microbial-world that has a vital role. Without them, you would struggle to survive.
In a healthy gut, there are all sorts of bacterial microbes.
There are good guys and there are bad guys. These microbes live in a state of balance. The good guys keep the bad guys in line. You don’t even know they are there….well at least until something starts to mess it up. That’s when the natural pecking order gets out of balance.
Did you realise you had so many friends on the inside?
I didn’t. For 40 years I’d neglected their good work. My body gave me plenty of warning signs, however. Remember, I had a stomach ache for 20 years!
What’s causing this?
All sorts of things disrupt this balance but it’s mainly our modern lifestyle choices that are too blame. Poor diet, need I say, processed food and sugar are huge players, as is, the overuse of antibiotics. These things upset the gut and weaken our immune system.
This is when the bad guys start to outnumber and overpopulate!
Once the normal equilibrium of the colon is disturbed, its microbes begin to travel into the small intestine or stomach for a look around. Trouble is they like it there. They hang around and get in the way. They begin to hamper digestion. Soon enough, normal harmony in the gut is lost.
These little critters shouldn’t be outside the colon.
They are complete foreigners to the small intestine and stomach. Here they compete for nutrients and overload the intestinal tract with waste products. They produce toxic gas too. Basically, these cheeky critters steal and eat our food and then they poo and fart in our stomach. (Gross!). The big problem is that these toxins are then absorbed into the blood stream and begin to cause your immune system to go into overdrive.
No wonder we can feel bloated, nauseous and unwell after we eat!
These are symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored.
These are your bodies warning signs. Over time these microbes can cause disease. Really!
As you know, I didn’t get Ulcerative Colitis overnight. It took a slow 10 years. Parallel to gut symptoms, I developed a messy head, dermatitis and had trouble sleeping. It was all connected.
Zoom in and look closely at your digestive system.
Let’s look at your gut lining and how it can become permeable. Best known as leaky gut. I want you to imagine that the lining of your small intestine has small circular holes like a colander. Food of the same shape and size can slip through these holes but larger, odd shaped pieces can’t. The food that slips through continues its healthy digestive journey, nourishing the body.
What happens to the rest?
The rest (and, unfortunately, it’s actually most of the food in our modern diets) doesn’t slip through these holes at all. It stays in the small intestine. It probably gets a bit stinky. It begins to break down right there.
What’s worse, it becomes food for the bad guys and gives them all the encouragement they need to stick around. Why would they want to leave?
There is party food in their new house!
The food source most prized by this bad bacteria is sugar!
Now the body is extremely skilled at converting most of our modern Aussie diet into sugar. Let’s look at a standard day….
- Processed cereal for breakfast – carbohydrates, sugar, lactose (milk sugar)
- Sandwich for lunch – more carbohydrates,
- Bowl of pasta for dinner – massive amount of carbs.
High carbohydrate meals are in fact encouraging bad bacteria to proliferate.
So how do you get rid of the bad guys?
It’s quite simple; fuel your body with food it doesn’t turn to sugar and give your body a chance to re-populate good bacteria. Good bacteria is commonly known as probiotics.
If you deprive the microbial gatecrashers in your intestine of the sugar they love, they can’t thrive. They can’t even survive!
Nothing is fixed. You can kick out the bad guys!
That’s the beautiful thing about this mysterious inner microbial world. It’s never too late.
Simple dietary changes can have the good guys out number and kill off the bad guys at any time in your life. When the good bacteria is stable, your body can break down food and absorb nutrients properly again.
You may not be able to control your genetics but you do have control over your diet and lifestyle. Changing your diet is a perfect way to reboot your digestive system and give yourself an overall health boost in the process.