Just as spiritual health is a journey requiring balancing of inner beauty, love, joy, creativity and inner peace with worldly interactions; so is physical health a journey of creating bacterial balance between the “good” and the “bad.” There are over one hundred trillion bacteria living in our guts with 400 to 500 different types, weighing in at approximately 4 lbs! Of this, 85 percent of the bacteria should be “good.”
Balanced flora is critical to our health and dysbiosis of bacteria, just like dysbiosis in life disrupts well being. Nature in its infinite wisdom is balance and the harmonious coexistence between the human host and intestinal microflora provide a window to nature’s soul. When we live in a state of dis-symbiosis, mal-homeostasis prevails, and eventually disease results. Fortunately, several healthy options for rebalancing gut flora and in turn, balancing life energy symbiotically, are widely available.
BACTERIAL DYSBIOSIS LINKED TO MOST MAJOR HEALTH CONCERNS
Balanced flora is essential. Good bacteria help provide the barrier function for our immune system, assist in digestion and absorption, make short chain fatty acids and synthesize vitamins B complex and K. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria are especially useful in controlling intestinal pH, reducing bad cholesterol and synthesizing enzymes. Some good bacteria help break down lactase; assisting those of us who are lactose intolerant. Research indicates that some bacteria even have anti-tumor properties, especially against colon cancer. Increasing “beneficial” bacteria is the easiest way to strengthen our systems ourselves to protect from illness and disease causing microbes.
Unfortunately, not all bacteria are beneficial. H pylori cause stomach ulcers and gastritis. Overgrowth of yeast, especially Candida albicans result in food allergies, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, indigestion, gas, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, colitis, neoplastic disease, depression, heightened premenstrual syndrome, vaginitis and chronic fatigue syndrome. Clostridium difficile and Enterobacter cloacae induce diarrhea. Yersinia enerocolitica is implicated in gastroenteritis. Klebsiella, Proteus, Pseudomonas and Citrobacter are all involved with various autoimmune diseases.
Luckily, health problems only arise if the bad bacteria “set up shop.” We all house a certain amount of bad bacteria, just as even the most spiritually enlightened person still has selfish thoughts. Fortunately, “good” bacteria prevent colonization of the “bad,” just as acts of selflessness speak louder than narcissistic thinking. We just have to make sure that the “good guys” significantly (by about 85 percent) outnumber the “bad ones.” A person seeking spiritual balance will never attain true transcendence as long as internal dysbiosis continues, which bacteria plays a large role in.
DO YOU HAVE BACTERIAL DYSBIOSIS?
There are several signs of imbalanced flora. Do fermented foods make you gassy? If so, it’s possible you have an overgrowth of the Candida albicans bacteria. Other yeast overgrowth signs include: vaginal yeast infections, athletes foot, jock itch, ringworm and nail fungus. Another possible indication is tongue thrush, a tongue with a white fuzzy coating, instead of a healthy pink coloration. Accompanying symptoms may include joint aches and pains, brain fog, fatigue, headaches, sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings and food sensitivities.
Certain lifestyle choices increase your risk for bacterial dysbiosis. Use of antibiotics, corticosteroids and birth control pills all kill intestinal bacteria—“good” and “bad”—making it more likely “bad” bacteria and fungi will recolonize. If you have been on any course of antibiotics (literally means “against life”) without replenishing “beneficial” bacteria, your system has likely been taken over by “bad” bacteria and yeast. Sugar and refined carbohydrate (think breads and pastas) ingestion feed “bad” bacteria, to the detriment of “friendly” bacteria. Stress, low levels of stomach acid, slow bowel transit time and poor ileoceal valve function are all digestive issues that increase dysbiosis.
Certain health conditions contribute to and are linked to bacterial imbalance: autoimmune diseases, breast cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, colon cancer, cystic acne, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis, steatorrhea and Vitamin B12 deficiency (common among vegetarians and vegans).
RECREATING BACTERIAL SYMBIOSIS
Luckily, attaining bacterial balance is easier than reaching spiritual balance, though they are interrelated. There are several important steps for rebalancing flora: First, eliminate what “bad” bacteria feed upon (sugar and refined carbohydrates). Second, use antibacterial herbs (not antibiotic pharmaceutical drugs) to kill off “bad” bacteria, such as: Oregon grape root, grapefruit seed extract, garlic, thyme and wormwood. Third, take a high dose multiple strain probiotic supplement for at least one month. Finally, eat prebiotic foods (foods that feed beneficial bacterial), such as: Jerusalem artichoke, chickory, onions, garlic, leaks, bananas, peas, legumes, eggplant, asparagus and mushrooms. Eat more cultured and fermented foods, such as: kim chi, miso, kombucha, tempeh, saurkraut, non pasteurized yogurt and kefir. These foods contain beneficial bacterial strains. Eat a diet high in fiber which supports good digestion and elimination. If stomach acid is low, supplementing with HCl acid may be useful.
If we cannot create a symbiotic relationship within our body, how can we expect to create symbiosis with the outside world and our inner consciousness? How can we create harmony of the mind, the body and the spirit, if the body is in a state of chaotic dsybiosis? If bacterial dysbiosis promotes a disease state within each of us, how can we heal the planet? Bacterial dysbiosis prevents internal peace and completion, which threatens our ability to foster a symbiotic relationship to the universe. We need to nurture interdependence inside and out to allow for more awareness and compassion.