Gut bacteria
If you've done much reading in the natural health arena, you may have heard natural health experts talking about the importance of having a healthy balance of microflora in your digestive tract - or, in layman's terms - "good gut bacteria."

Since, as we mentioned a few weeks ago, your digestive system is one of the most important parts of your immune system, it stands to reason that the health of your gut has a lot to do with your overall health.

Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle is filled with unhealthy foods and habits, not to mention prescription drugs like antibiotics, which can really take a toll on the health of those ever-important bacteria whose job it is to help keep you alive and well.

In fact, there are more studies coming out all the time on the connection between your gut bacteria and just about every other aspect of your health.

While you may know that our motto here at New Holistic Living is "everything is connected," nowhere is this more true than in the digestive system. Just as an example, a recent study on mice tracked what happened when gut bacteria from depressed mice were transplanted into healthy, happy mice. The happy mice began showing signs of depression within hours!
This just goes to show that changing your gut bacteria literally can change your life!

But how do you know if your gut bacteria are healthy or not? And if they aren't, what can you do about it?

Keep reading to find out.

First of all, it's important to realize that a healthy system is a balanced system. While there are  both "good" and "bad" bacterial throughout our bodies, the goal is not to get rid of all the bad strains. The goal is to have a healthy balance, where the good bacteria (responsible for improving digestion, strengthening the immune system, and manufacturing the vitamins your body needs) keep the “bad” bacteria (the ones that can cause digestion nightmares, mental problems, skin conditions, and other health issues) in check.

With that in mind, here are 7 signs that your gut bacteria may be out of balance:

#1. Digestive Issues

This is probably the first thing you think about when you hear the words "unhealthy gut bacteria," although there is a lot more to it than this, as you will see below. If you regularly experience any of the following, you might have an unhealthy gut:
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn/acid reflux
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Irritable Bowel Disease (including Crohn’s and Ulcerative colitis)

#2: Mental Issues

As we mentioned above, the brain and the gut are closely connected. In fact, scientists have already discovered that gut bacteria actually produce neurotransmitters (it's not all in your head). They've also discovered an interesting trend: people with certain mental disorders also tend to have digestion issues.

If you experience any of these mental issues, your gut bacteria might be to blame:
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Brain fog or problems with memory or concentration
  • OCD
  • Autism

#3. Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

A healthy gut  plays a very important role when it comes to producing and synthesizing vitamins. This is why when your gut bacteria is out of balance, your body may have difficulty absorbing a number of essential vitamins and minerals such as:
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B12 and B7
  • Magnesium
You can get a test from your doctor to find out if you are deficient in any of these, and if so, you might have an imbalance in your gut bacteria that needs to be addressed.

#4: Use of Antibiotics

While there is no doubt that antibiotics have their place in medicine, when used incorrectly, or indiscriminately, they can create major issues for gut health. Unfortunately, our industrial food system does use them indiscriminately on the factory farmed animals that so many of us eat on a regular basis. Doctors also over-prescribe them all the time for things like viral infections, on which they have no impact anyway!

While antibiotics do kill bad bacteria, the bad part is that they also wipe out many of the good bacteria in our bodies that are essential for good health - and once gone, they often don't repopulate on their own. If you have ever taken an antibiotic for any reason, you are at risk of having imbalanced gut bacteria.

#5: Autoimmune Diseases

This is probably the most tragic of all the signs. Autoimmune diseases can be devastating for some people, as well as very difficult to manage. Doctors have been puzzled for decades over what causes them, but new research has recently begun to link these types of diseases to an unhealthy and imbalanced gut microflora. The following diseases may have their roots in an imbalanced gut:
  • Hashimoto’s
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

#6: Skin Problems

Many people think of skin problems as being caused by something the skin is directly exposed to. But in fact, for many skin problems, the cause actually goes much deeper. In fact, the cause may actually be an imbalanced gut. Watch out for these recurring skin conditions, which may be linked to unhealthy gut bacteria:
  • Acne
  • Rosacea
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema

#7: Chronic Stress

It's no secret that stress can cause health problems. If you've ever noticed that you get indigestion when you are feeling stressed, this is your body telling you that your stress is starting to take a toll on your digestive system. Unfortunately, stress is inevitable in today's modern fast-paced world. If you haven't taken steps to manage your stress, it is highly possible that you have a chronically unhealthy gut.

If you've experienced any of the above symptoms (or especially if you have several of them), it's quite likely that your gut bacteria are out of balance - and the "bad guys" are starting to take over.

Luckily, there are 4 simple things you can do balance your gut bacteria, and re-build a healthy digestive system.

Next week, we will discuss these in detail, and share how you can regain your health and sense of well-being just by correcting these imbalances.


P.S. Thanks to PaleoHacks for the great information!


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