It’s been estimated that up to 60% of your body’s immune activity is inside your small intestine. Up to 500 species of bacteria, perhaps more, live in your digestive system, and the quality and quantity of each species is determined by many factors. Diet change, climate and lifestyle changes (like moving to a new area), as well as emotional and psychological stress can all have an effect on digestive bacteria.
You have probably heard about the benefits of the ‘good’ bacteria, often called probiotics, in your digestive system. When I first started to practice natural medicine in the 80s, probiotics were around but not very popular. Right now, probiotics are big news and it’s no surprise, given our increasingly unnatural lifestyles. Poor diet and lack of exercise set the scene for an imbalance in digestive bacteria, which is responsible for many important activities including the regulation of various aspects of your immune system, the production of multiple vitamins and assisting in detoxification.
Dysbiosis is a term referring to the overpopulation of ‘bad’ bacteria in a person’s digestive system, when the balance has been disturbed by any number of factors and that the bad bacteria have overpowered the beneficial bacteria. I would argue the major factors which account for dysbiosis include high levels of stress/chronic stress, poor or irregular diets, exposure to synthetic chemicals, oral contraceptives, pharmaceutical drugs and antibiotics. In our modern world of stress, antibiotics and processed foods we are put at an even higher risk. Antibiotics are a special case because they kill bacteria that are harming us, but also kill the good bacteria that keep the bad in check.
If conscious efforts are not made to monitor our lifestyles and make healthy decisions, we can easily land in digestive health trouble. Candida overgrowth is a popular example of dysbiosis. No candida treatment plan is complete unless the correct balance is restored, which can be achieved by these four actions:
- Stop feeding the bad bacteria, parasites and yeasts
- Reduce the population of the bad bacteria to help restore intestinal balance
- Repopulate the intestinal tract with beneficial bacteria and flora
- Maintain an appropriate diet and lifestyle to help prevent a re-occurrence
About the Author
Eric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 25 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specialises in candida yeast infections, as well as adrenal fatigue, and thyroid disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. Website: candidacrusher.com You can complete his online survey to determine if you have a yeast infection here, or link through to his many You Tube videos: www.yeastinfection.org Dr. Bakker’s Blog: www.ericbakker.com