Over the past decade, there has been more published research regarding the bacteria living in our body and their influence on our health. What we have discovered is that the bacteria in you – in your intestines and colons not only affects your digestive health but pretty much every corner of your body. The substances produced by bacteria can cause mood swings, brain fog, fatigue, weight gain, migraine, chronic diarrhea or constipation, chronic skin problems, allergy, autoimmune disease, frequent urinary or vaginal infection, and the list can go on and on.
The bacteria in you
What makes the bacteria so powerful is that we are completely out numbered. There are over 2 billion microbial genes vs 23,000 human genes, and bacteria multiple and mutate more frequently and efficiently than we do. The substances produced by bacteria can migrate in our blood stream and reach every part of our body. You may think that there are just the red blood cells, white blood cells, cholesterols or nutrients…etc. circulating in your body. Actually 40 percent of circulating molecules in our blood are substances metabolized and produced by the bacteria, and each substance can carry a different function. Image billions of bacteria producing billions of substances capable of reaching to every corner of your body. No wonder we can get sick in all possible ways if there is an imbalance of the gut flora.
Types of bacteria in you
Luckily most of bacteria are not the bad guys. Problem usually arises when there is an overgrowth of certain species. For example, it is normal to have a small amount candida albican in our gut, but if there is an overgrowth, it will cause symptoms. Problem can also arise when certain species reach to a place where they are not supposed to be. For example, it is normal to have Staphylococcus aureus on our skin, but if people have chronic eczema, and all those scratching due to the itchiness leads to open wounds, staph infection then can happen when bacteria gets to the deeper layers of the skin.
Benefits of bacteria
Bacteria can also provide great benefits to our body. They can keep the pathogens (the real bad buys) out by making the environment more challenging for them to grow. They can train the warriors, such as neutrophils or NK cells, in our immune system, by stimulating production, increasing potency and recruiting them to the site when help is needed. They can educate immune cells, such as TReg cells, and prevent intolerance to foods and environmental factors. They also can produce nutrients (B12, biotin, K…etc), facilitate nutrients absorption and keep the cells lining our GI track intact and healthy.
How we see bacteria
Our relationship with the bacteria is intricate. The paradigm shift in science has shifted from making wars with every bacteria to learning how to live in harmony with them: to learn to keep real bad guys out, to not turn some of them into bad guys and to keep our allies abundant.
To learn more about how to promote healthy gut flora in you, please Dr. Su’s other article, How to Make Your Gut Flora Robust and Healthy. Then, book an appointment with Dr. Su!