The Importance of Intestinal Tract Health
A Balancing Act
The gastrointestinal (G.I.) tract, or gut, is quite literally the core of a person’s being. At its simplest, keeping the gut healthy is a question of balance – not only of pH levels, but of colonies of microflora (bacteria) as well. In fact, the human gut is an environment of continual interplay between populations of good and bad microflora. It is where trillions of bacteria live, grow and die with changes occurring on a minute-to-minute basis. And that bacteria is either supporting your good health, or opposing it.
Colonies of “beneficial” bacteria populate the gut to work as an ongoing immune barrier to disease and ill health, while colonies of “pathogenic” bacteria surge and ebb in response to factors such as diet, hydration level, and daily stress – among other factors – which contribute to ill health.
The arduous task of keeping good bacteria alive and well, as part of thriving colonies within the G.I. tract, comes down to the management of a very delicate balance. Successful maintenance of that delicate balance assures that harmful bacteria will be overcome by helpful strains of bacteria, and will be crowded out to eventually perish.
But ensuring that happens demands an ongoing process of address with the many variables that help encourage the survival of harmful bacteria in the first place: Poor food choices, insufficient hydration, stress, lack of sleep, and the use of antibiotics or frequent use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, known as NSAIDs.
It then becomes a regular practice of adopting measures that discourage the proliferation of gut-disruptive pathogenic bacteria that enjoy exponential growth at the hands of a reckless lifestyle, and encourage the colonization of intestinal flora that protects your good health.
Playground as Teacher
Think of gastrointestinal balance of good-to-bad bacteria as a stance in the middle of a playground teeter-totter. In order to strike balance, some counter-balance is forged to keep one side from hitting bottom.
For this relationship to work, both sides must be poised and balanced, or neither side works.
But for anyone who has attempted this, it is clear that the management of small changes in this point of balance requires constant attention, along with minute adjustments and fixes that make balance a relatively simple affair.
The moment those fixes are ignored, balance skews quickly and easily in one direction or the other, and anything from imbalance to chaos to total failure ensues. At that point, restoring balance back to a center point becomes a much greater challenge.
And so it is in the realm of gut health:
Allowing the balance of microbial stasis to go beyond a point of a quick simple fix is called gut dysbiosis – a condition in which alterations in the development or composition of bacterial colonies is disturbed in some way to either activate healthy immune response, or alter its effectiveness.