Get to Know Your Gut Bacteria

Get to Know Your Gut Bacteria

Gut bacteria. You know it's there, but do you really know what's there? There are hundreds of different bacteria strains found in the gut, but they all tend to fall in three major categories. Here's the good, the bad, and the ugly of bacteria in the gut.

The Good

"Good" or beneficial bacteria helps your body carry out many vital functions. To name just a few…

  • Support a healthy immune system
  • Synthesize Vitamins B and K
  • Break down food compounds that may be toxic
  • Digest complex carbohydrates
  • Keep the number of harmful bacteria from getting out of hand

Some of the more well known types of beneficial bacteria include Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Prevotella, and Firmicutes. Increase the numbers of beneficial bacteria in your gut by enjoying fermented foods, yogurt with live cultures, or greens powders that include probiotics.

The Bad

Perhaps unsurprisingly, "bad" or harmful bacteria can have negative effects on your body. If the number of harmful bacteria outweighs the beneficial, you may find yourself experiencing one or some of the following:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Bad breath
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Brain fog

Overwhelming amounts of harmful bacteria can lead to a state known as dysbiosis. The causes of dysbiosis vary. Certain medications (like antibiotics) can alter your balance, as can overuse of alcohol. 

Diet is also a big component of gut balance. Eating too much sugar can cause harmful bacteria to thrive, eventually tipping the balance and causing negative symptoms. Processed meats (such as deli or canned meats) can also lead to harmful bacterial balances. And depending on your body, you may find that some carbohydrates (particularly corn and oats) and some dairy may lead to dysbiosis. Every body is different, and different foods may affect your microbiome differently.

Knowing the specific strains of harmful bacteria isn't as important as knowing specific strains of helpful varieties (after all, you're not going to go find supplements to add bad bacteria to your gut). But in case you're curious, staphylococcus and clostridium perfringens are two actors that can cause a lot of havoc if they take over your microbiome.

The Ugly

Finally we have "the ugly." This realm of bacteria is generally not going to cause too many problems if you're healthy overall. However, if your health starts to slip these opportunistic microbes can start to cause some real issues.

One of the most famous bacteria in this category is E. coli. There are lots of different strains of this little guy. If you've ever had a bad case of food poisoning you may have him to thank. But there are other strains that can live quietly in your gut just waiting for an opportunity to make a move. 

The best way to neutralize this group of bacteria is to stay healthy. If your body stays well, opportunistic bacteria will never have a chance to strike. 

Back to blog