How's Your Inner Ecosystem?

We have spent the past week or two talking about body ecology in class. This relates to the levels of friendly and unfriendly bacteria that reside in our digestive tracts. Everyone has a different body ecology that depends on a variety of factors, such as the ecology your mother passed onto you at birth, the environment you live in, the foods you eat, and more.

Friendly bacteria strengthen our immune system, help us defend against bad bacteria and pathogens, and keep our inner ecosystem in balance. However, things such as stress, food chemicals or additives, environmental pollutants, and medicine use (especially antibiotics and hormones) can disrupt this balanced ecosystem. This leads to a weakened body where unfriendly bacteria begin to rapidly multiply.

When we have too much unfriendly bacteria inside of us, we can begin to experience symptoms like headaches, rashes, food allergies, and more. When we have frequent or long-term antibiotic use, regular use of the birth control pill, regular use of cortisone-type drugs, or a poor diet, we are prone to yeast overgrowth inside the body (sometimes referred to as Candida). Symptoms of yeast overgrowth include the following:

  • Food allergies or intolerances
  • Skin rashes
  • Digestive distress
  • Chronic constipation
  • Recurrent headaches
  • Recurrent yeast infections in women
  • Chemical and environmental sensitivities
  • Poor memory or mental fuzziness
  • Prostate problems in men
  • Cravings for sweets, breads or alcohol
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Recurrent skin fungus such as jock itch or ringworm
  • Toe or fingernail fungus or other problems

Symptoms of yeast overgrowth can begin to show up early on, and if identified correctly, you can make appropriate changes to fight the yeast and restore the friendly bacteria balance inside of you. However, if you let them persist, your body can become an environment where more serious disease could begin to take over.

Probiotics are friendly bacteria that can help restore our inner balance. They help white blood cells fight disease, control putrefactive bacteria in the intestines, provide nutrients for building the blood, assist with digestion, help prevent diarrhea and constipation, manufacture B-vitamins, and contribute to healthy bowel elimination.

If you suspect you may have a yeast overgrowth based on some of the symptoms listed above, I suggest doing more research. For someone with too much yeast, diet should include foods such as non-starchy vegetables; lemons, limes, currants and cranberries (other fruits contain too much sugar); freshly-pressed, organic, unrefined seeds oils; olive oil and coconut oil; grass-fed beef and poultry; fish; pastured eggs; raw almonds; flax, sunflower, caraway and pumpkin seeds; and gluten-free grains such as quinoa, millet and amaranth. There are also certain foods that will feed the yeast, and should therefore be excluded from the diet until the yeast is under control. These are foods such as breads and flour products; dairy products; alcohol; citric acid; legumes, beans and peanuts; sugars; and anything processed.

Exercise is also very important, as it helps relieve stress and stimulate the mind. Echinacea, dandelion root tea, and other teas will help strengthen your immunity, which can be down as a result of too much yeast. Finally, encourage your liver to cleanse with things like herbs, probiotics, acupuncture and exercise.