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Gut Feeling: Some Bacteria Need to Survive



Americans fill 300 million antibiotic prescriptions every year - one for every man, woman and child.

Antibiotics have undoubtedly saved many lives, including my son at 6 years of age, and have significantly reduced suffering for millions of others.

However, this column is about the other critically important part of the story about antibiotics that does not seem to be reaching the masses, and could be jeopardizing the American people's health - maybe even yours or your loved one's health.

The very word "antibiotic" means "against life."  Antibiotics kill harmful and beneficial bacteria.  How often do you hear people talking "around the kitchen table," about the good, essential to life bacteria in our gut, where 100 trillion plus bugs live - a greater number of bacteria than all the cells of the body - 100 to 500 bacterial species.

When the balance between the "good" (about 85%) and the "bad" bacteria and yeast (about 10-15%) is disrupted, a condition can develop called "dysbiosis" - which is almost always caused by heavy use of antibiotics.  If left untreated, it can result in very serious, and tragic health consequences.

There are many things you can to improve your levels of friendly flora (bacteria) in your gut.  Nutrition makes a huge difference in the body's population of gut bacteria.  Adding soluble fiber to your diet helps to grow friendly bacteria; reducing or eliminating sugar and other simple carbohydrates, which grows unfriendly bugs, is very helpful.  Eating: tempeh (fermented soy), sauerkraut, cultured foods like organic, unsweetened yogurt or kefir that contain live cultures, identified on the label, such as: L. acidophilus, or B. Bifidobacterium, contribute greatly to gut health.

For best results with treating or preventing dysbiosis, friendly flora supplements called "probiotics" are also available.  However, it is imperative to choose a brand where the probiotics have been assayed for: high levels of live, beneficial organisms and contains no contaminants. Very few brands meet this criteria. The absolute minimum dosage is 2.5 billion live organisms per day, and up to 20 billion for more serious conditions. 

Studies have shown that, amazingly, it takes approximately 18 months of supplementation with a high quality probiotic to replenish the flora after just one 7-day course of antibiotics.

P:robiotics, clinically and in research, are known to: significantly improve digestion, help increase tolerance to lactose, reduce blood cholesterol, enhance immune system, deactivate potential cancer-causing chemicals, enhance and balance estrogen, protect against food poisoning, and many other benefits


Dr. Dennis Godby, Doctor of Naturopathy, Sutter Medical Foundation.

He may be reached online or at his Sacramento Office (916) 446-2591.



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