One of the most important factors that determines one’s intestinal health is diet. The typical Western diet – rich in meats, processed and refined foods and sugar – has an unhealthy, yet not totally understood, effect on the beneficial microbes of the gut. (1-3)
In one study, diet was responsible for changing 57% of the gut microbiology, where only 12% was determined to be genetic. (4) In addition, a high-fat processed food diet was shown to decrease the beneficial strain of bacteria, Bifidobacterium, which protects the gut lining.
In that same report, the researchers concluded that a Western diet (high in fat and sugar) causes dysbiosis, which affects the health and integrity of the intestinal environment, beneficial microbes, skin and associated lymphatics, as well as the integrity of the immune system. (4)
Studies suggest that diets rich in plant-based complex carbohydrates reduce the populations of certain pathogenic bacteria compared to high-fat or high-protein diets. (4) Complex carbohydrates also increase levels of beneficial Bifidobacterium spp., such as B. longum subspecies longum, B. breve and B. thetaiotaomicron.
Refined sugar may be the true disruptor of the intestinal microbial theatre, as a higher sugar diet was shown to increase pathogenic populations of certain bacteria, such as C. difficile, which is known to cause acute intestinal irritation. (4)
Vegetarian diets have been found to change the microbiome in humans for the better. High amounts of fiber from a plant-based vegetarian diet result in increased short-chain fatty acid production by good microbes that prevent the growth of potentially pathogenic bacteria, such as E. coli. (4)
In humans, high-fat Western-style diets fed to individuals for a period of over one month were shown to induce a 71% increase in cellular toxicity or endotoxins that are linked to irritation of the gut lining (dysbiosis) and related health concerns. (4)
These endotoxins were found in the cell membranes of cells in the digestive tract. When these cells reach the end of their short lifespan, the toxins are released into the intestinal tract, bloodstream and lymphatic vessels – putting the body at further risk. (4)
Intestinal Microbes Govern Health
Intestinal irritation from altered intestinal bacteria is linked to a host of intestinal-based concerns. Studies have also linked weight concerns and blood sugar issues to microbial disturbances. (4) Alterations in the microbiology can cause a migration of bacteria away from their normal sites, triggering an overzealous immune response, as we see in conditions like SIBO and candida. (4)
Prebiotics and Probiotics
According to the research, probiotic and prebiotic treatments may be an approach to tackling intestinal irritation and disturbed microbiology and, in turn, the health concerns they are associated with. In one study with genetically overweight mice, the ingestion of prebiotic fibers increased Firmicutes and decreased Bacteroidetes, which is the microbial profile found in lean mice. They also saw an increase in beneficial strains Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus. (4)
In addition, certain strains of Lactobacilli have been linked to healthy weight loss. >>> Read more on this here
>>> Read part 1 of this series on SIBO & Candida here: 2 Minute SIBO Therapy Rediscovered
>>> Read part 2 of this series on SIBO & Candida here: SIBO Starts In Your Stomach