Most people do not think about gut health. In fact, the majority of people don’t know what gut health is. Gut health, or gastrointestinal health, is just as important as any moving part of the body and affects more than we know.
With our fast paced, drive through society; sometimes we ignore messages from our body. “…Gastrointestinal health can be the root cause for many other health issues including brain and mental health.”  Nursing gut issues and restoring gut health can build a stronger immune system, fight infection faster, and help us live a healthier life.
What is a healthy gut?
A healthy gut has a balance of both healthy and unhealthy bacteria. The microorganisms contained in your gut are known as intestinal flora. This balance is very important in the digestion of foods and overall health.
What causes an unhealthy gut?
Unhealthy gut can be caused by improper diet, an abundance of yeast in the gut, parasites, a colonoscopy, diarrhea, some drug therapies, chronic stress, chronic infections and even colonics. 
What are symptoms of an unhealthy gut?
Unhealthy gut symptoms can be as obvious as abdominal pain, bloating after meals, acid reflux, gas, diarrhea, or constipation. Celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and leaky gut are bowel-disorders that can be characterized by an unhealthy gut. Less known symptoms of an unhealthy gut can be depression, anxiety, irritability, internal inflammation, food sensitivities, type 2 diabetes, neurological disorders, excessive weight, eczema or psoriasis, heart failure, autoimmune conditions affecting the thyroid (Hashimoto’s) or joints (rheumatoid arthritis), autism spectrum disorder and more. 
Antibiotics use and gut health
Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria and are often over prescribed. Antibiotics can cause the bacteria in your gut (both good and bad), to be eliminated, leaving room for unhealthy bacteria to take over as time passes. This will lead to an unhealthy gut and can wreak havoc on a body.
According to the Center for Disease Control , Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed medications in nursing homes with up to 70% of long-term care facilities’ residents receiving an antibiotic every year. Antibiotic-related complications, such as diarrhea can lead to more hospitalization and deaths among people over 65. 
Antibiotics are often so over prescribed that many bacteria are becoming resistant. From the CDC, “Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.” 
Restoring Gut Health
The natural remedy to a scary antibiotic cycle and unhealthy gut is to restore your intestinal flora balance by eating certain foods, taking a probiotic, and eliminating foods may be causing issues.
- Carbohydrates from breads, cake, cereal, pasta, cookies, anything made with refined flour (white bleached flour, bleached flour, etc.), jams and preserves, soda, potato products (potato chips, mashed potatoes, french fries).
- Sugars including saccharine or aspartame. If you must use sugar, consider using honey or Stevia instead.
- Processed and genetically engineered foods.
- Foods containing oils such as soybean oil; sunflower oil; palm oil; canola; vegetable oil, etc. Instead use olive and coconut oils.
- Red meat. An occasional steak is not bad but regular consumption of red meat throws off your intestinal flora. Think no more than once or twice a week.
Adding in Fermented Foods, Fermentable Fibers, Soluble Fibers
- Starches like sweet potato, yam, yucca
- Onions and leeks assist gut bacteria to flourish
- Fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, kimchi
- Kefir which is found in the yogurt section
- Kombucha which is a fermented tea drink
- Flax and chia seeds
- Beans and legumes
- Oats and oat bran
Probiotic supplements are everywhere but not all supplements improve intestinal flora and gut health. Dr. David Williams said :
In my opinion, the best probiotic supplements will include at least these three most important strains:
- L. acidophilus—This is the most important strain of the Lactobacillus species and, it readily colonizes on the walls of the small intestine. It supports nutrient absorption and helps with the digestion of dairy foods.
- B. longum—Like L. acidophilus, B. longum is one of the most common bacteria found in the digestive tracts of adults, and it helps maintain the integrity of the gut wall. It is particularly active as a scavenger of toxins.
- B. bifidum—This strain, found in both the small and large intestine, is critical for the healthy digestion of dairy products. This is especially important as you grow older and your natural ability to digest dairy declines. B. bifidum also is important for its ability to break down complex carbohydrates, fat, and protein into small components that the body can use more efficiently.
Secondarily, I like:
- L. fermentum—This Lactobacillus strain helps neutralize some of the byproducts of digestion and promote a healthy level of gut bacteria.
- L. rhamnosus—Known as the premier “travel probiotic,” this strain can help prevent occasional traveler’s diarrhea.
Consider these probiotics:
Ultimate Flora Extra Care Probiotic Supplement Vegetable Capsules – 30 Ct $20
Hyper-Biotics Pro-15 Recommend Probiotic Supplement – 60 Ct $25
Lactic Acid Yeast Wafers
The above might not be enough depending on your current gut health. Dr David Williams explains:
“Lactic acid yeast is a modified form of brewer’s yeast that works in your intestines to produce significant amounts of lactic acid. The additional acid stops the growth of harmful bacteria while allowing good gut bacteria to flourish. It works rather quickly, and when followed up with a probiotic supplement, the results can be amazing. I suggest chewing one lactic acid yeast wafer with each meal. In most cases, the product will only be needed for five to seven days.”
Dr. David recommends these Lactic Acid Wafers 100ct $20
Fecal Microbiota Transplant is where fecal matter from a healthy person with a healthy gut flora and is transplanted into someone who is in need of healthy gut flora.  Fecal transplantation is currently not routinely performed for indications other than recurrent C. difficile colitis.  This procedure is often done through a colonoscopy.
As someone who once had Irritable Bowel Syndrome, I’ve cancelled many plans and suffered through stomach/bowel pain that were often intolerable. Since I’ve learned to balance intestinal flora and care more for my gut health, my IBS has not been an issue. It’s clear gut health is important and so many things we do in our pursuit of daily life seem to counteract a healthy intestinal flora.