Gut Bacteria: The “Good Guys”

For many years, bacteria has earned a bad reputation but recent scientific research is showing us we need to look differently at our relationship to these tiny “good guys”, especially those that live in our gut.

Did you know that we have more bacterial cells living on us and within us than actual human cells? This surprising and little known fact emphasizes the critical role that microbes play in our overall health. What may be more surprising to learn is the fact that the key to your overall health may be found in your GI tract, and in how your gut and these microbes interact.

The gut contains a vast and diverse amount of microbes, also known as the “microbiome”. The microbiome is made up of more than 500 different species, comprising over 3 pounds of bacteria. However, not all bacteria are created equal. Some “good” microbes contribute to our health while others promote disease. Because of this, recent research is pointing to the fact that the health and balance of these bacteria are directly related to the health of the gut and therefore the entire body.


In a healthy gut, good bacteria help break down food, absorb nutrients, and filter out toxins. According to Dan Peterson, assistant of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, also explains that “certain cells in the lining of the gut spend their lives excreting massive quantities of antibodies into the gut”.

Conversely, when the gut is out of balance and has too much bad bacteria, this environment lends itself to inflammation, toxicity, and eventually disease. Many common conditions and serious diseases start with and thrive in an unhealthy gut. Just to name a few: arthritis, IBS, chronic fatigue, dementia, and cancer. Junk food, antibiotics, and stress are just some of the things that can cause bad bacteria to flourish and knock the body off balance.

The good news is that you have the power to heal your body and change your own microbiome by “feeding” the good bacteria and “starving” the bad through common sense diet and lifestyle changes. Dr. Mark Hyman recommends a 4-step strategy to bringing your gut and your body back into balance:

-REMOVE: bad bugs, drugs and food allergens.

-REPLACE: needed enzymes, fiber and prebiotic

-REINOCULATE with good bacteria (probiotics)

-REPAIR the gut lining with omega 3 fatty acids, zinc, glutamine and other healing nutrients.

The gut has a very long memory. If as a child it was necessary for you to go on antibiotics over and over, the depletion of good bacteria could still be an issue today. If you just recently cleaned up your diet but ate fast/junk food for many years, your gut may not have recovered from that damage. If you get sick often even though you are doing all the “right things”, it could be because your gut is out of balance and thus your immune system is not getting the strength it needs from a healthy and balanced gut biome.

Follow Dr. Hyman’s strategy, get good sleep, and get your gut biome tested. There are quality tests out there that are affordable and easy to do. Reach out to me at for additional information.

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