How to fill your gut with bad bugs

As you’ll know if you have followed our emails for some time, we see a LOT of “bad bugs” in people stomach and intestine.

But the bad bugs can only survive and thrive in a weakened digestive system and most people, including doctors, do not consider this.

Stool testing provides a unique opportunity to see which little critters are hiding in the digestive system. These bad bugs include:

  • H. pylori
  • Parasites
  • Candida and other fungi and mold
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

Once they’ve entered your digestive system, these bugs can cause obvious symptoms like bloating, bad breath, heartburn, flatulence, constipation or diarrhea.

Or, they can cause subtle symptoms like skin problems, headaches, joint pain, fatigue and changes in your mood.

These symptoms will not go away unless you kill the bad bugs.

The bugs may not actually be the problem though…

It is assumed that killing the bad bugs is all you need to do, and in some people this might well be true.

But few people actually ask why the bugs are there in the first place and this is dangerous because unless you address these reasons, the bugs will come back even if you kill them.

I’ve seen this time after time when people assumed they just had to take a few herbs or antibiotics and solve the problem.

These folk felt well for a couple of months, only to regress and develop the same symptoms they had before they started.

I do not want this for you!

Here are the top three reasons why people end up with bad bugs causing havoc in their gut.

1. Low stomach acid

It has been shown that stomach acid levels decline with age. They do not necessarily decline in everyone, but in most, they do.

Stomach acid does two things: it helps you digest food and it serves as an acid bath to zap microbes that enter in food and water.

When stomach acid is low, it is much easier for bad bugs to get a foothold, dig in and thrive.

In fact, the scientific literature clearly shows that low stomach acid increases the chances of getting these bad bugs:

  • H. pylori
  • Candida
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
  • Clostridium difficile

One of the most shocking aspects here is that millions of people shut down their stomach acid on purpose by taking acid blocking or antacid medications!

If you are taking acid blocking meds like omeprazole, you are increasing your chances of developing the above infections.

In fact, in The H Pylori Diet, I cite studies that found taking acid blocking meds caused stomach Candida overgrowth in a matter of 1-2 days.

How do you test stomach acid level?

The short answer is that you can’t unless your doctor uses a test called the Heidelberg capsule test.

This test is medically recognized, but for some obscure reason (probably a combination of time and cost to the medical system), it is never used.

There are also some indirect test for stomach acid.

For example, in a stool test, if I see low pancreatic enzymes and poor fat digestion (a test marker called steatocrit), I immediately suspect low stomach acid.

Likewise, if a person has SIBO or Candida, they are almost certain to benefit from improving stomach acid levels, as these bugs like to grow when stomach acid is too low.

2. Stress

When we talk to our clients for the first time, we always ask whether their symptoms developed during or after a period of stress.

Since the Holmes and Rahe Social Readjustment Scale was designed in 1967, many researchers and psychologists have documented the impact of stress on health.

Mental and emotional stress plays havoc with your digestive system. Here is a brief list of problems it causes:

  • Reduces blood flow to your digestive organs
  • Changes the balance of your good bugs (the bacteria that help you)
  • Lowers your intestinal immune response
  • Dampens stomach acid, pancreatic enzyme bile secretion, which reduces digestion
  • Stress hormones encourage the growth of bad bugs like H. pylori, Salmonella and Candida
  • Stress hormones also make bad bugs more angry by changing their gene expression

In a nutshell, stress can cause digestive problems of all shapes and sizes.

You are far more likely to acquire an infection in your intestine, or develop symptoms from an existing one, when you are under stress.

3. Eating a poor diet

The sum total of microbes in your digestive system is called the microbiome. It is estimated that there are more microbes in your gut than there are human cells in your body.

These “good bugs” do a lot of cool things. They help you:

  • Digest food
  • Maintain strong immunity
  • Make vitamins
  • Fight bad bugs
  • Keep inflammation down

You have probably heard of these good bugs – they are things like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacter.

We test your good bug levels in stool samples, along with looking for the bad bugs.

If levels are too low, we can get them back up again.

The food you eat has a huge impact on your microbiome.

Eat the right foods and your microbiome will remain balanced, but eat the wrong foods and you will reduce your good bugs and encourage bad bugs to thrive.

The net result of this will be a lot of symptoms.

Here are some specific ways your diet can lead to a gut full of bad bugs:

  • Too much processed sugar and carbohydrate (encourages Candida overgrowth)
  • Excess alcohol intake (depletes good bugs)
  • Inadequate fibre (depletes good bugs as they LOVE fibre as a source of food)

When we assess clients’ food journals we are always looking for clues as to how diet is affecting their digestion.

Sometimes, dietary changes along can completely overcome chronic symptoms by feeding your good bugs at the expense of your bad ones.

How do you test your good bug levels?

Until fairly recently, it was virtually impossible to test your good bugs because there are too many of them to look at under a microscope and draw any meaningful conclusions!

Now, with DNA analysis, laboratories can pinpoint the main good bugs and quantify them.

Here is a snapshot of one of my client’s recent test results showing low Lactobacillus and excessively high levels of two other “good bugs” (the good guys can cause problems if they are too high, as well as too low).

It goes without saying that as soon as you reduce your good bugs, you run the risk of filling your gut with bad bugs.

How to fill your gut with bad bugs

We often blame bad bugs for our symptoms, but it’s very important to remember that we are often the authors of our misfortune.

By understanding WHY the bad bugs get into our system and cause problems, we can take steps to make sure that we don’t just get rid of them, but also keep them away.

So, if you want to fill your gut with bad bugs, you need to do three things:

  1. Allow your stomach acid level to decline.
  2. Live a stressful lifestyle.
  3. Eat a poor diet that disrupts all your gut bugs.

Sadly, medical treatments with antibiotics do not consider these important, underlying issues.

How to heal digestion, look better and feel younger

Healing your digestive system does not have to be complicated.

You can get help in changing your diet so you feed your good bugs more effectively, while making it much harder for the bad bugs to thrive.

You can take supplements that help your good bugs, such as fibres like psyllium, inulin and chicory (though I prefer to use whole foods – a raw carrot each day is a simple choice).

Probiotic supplements may also be helpful for a period of time.

You can support your stomach acidity by using betaine HCL supplements with meals, or even a little apple cider vinegar.

Finally you can get a comprehensive stool test done that looks for all the following imbalances:

  • Bad bugs (H. pylori, bacteria, parasites, Candida, viruses)
  • Good bug levels and balance
  • Bacterial enzymes that tell you whether certain bacteria are putting you at risk of hormone imbalances
  • Enzyme levels, which tell you about pancreatic function and indirectly give info on stomach acid level
  • Steatocrit, which also indirectly gives info on stomach acid level as well as how well you are digesting fat.
  • Gluten intolerance
  • Immune function
  • Inflammation levels in the digestive tract

It is a combination of these markers that gives you the answers as to why you are feeling bloated, achy, and tired, and why you have heartburn, constipation, loose stools and other common symptoms.

Once you know what is going on in your digestive system, you can quickly begin doing something about it, and we are with you every step of the way.

If you would like to discuss your health situation and requirements, we offer a detailed case review and consultation. Click here to learn more.

Alternatively, you can learn more about a stool test and consultation package here.