10 STARTLING Things That Promote An Unhealthy Gut Microbiome

The world is waking up to the fact that our gut health is essential for regulating mental well-being, weight control, skincare, and gastrointestinal issues. While following a healthy gut diet plan, getting a microbiome testing kit, and taking personalized probiotics can help fight off bad bacteria, these steps are just the beginning. There’s more to maintaining a healthy gut microbiome than feeding it beneficial bacteria. It’s also about saving your good bacteria from things that may damage them.

As humans, we live a life of convenience. Our fast-paced lives mean we are always short on time. Therefore, we live a world of to-go containers, zapped meals, and medications. While convenient for our day-to-day lives, these conveniences inconveniently cause an unhealthy gut. Let’s take a look at 10 things you’d never expect to cause poor gut health!

What Causes Poor Gut Health?

For the 60 to 70 million people suffering from gastrointestinal disorders, most of these cases didn’t happen overnight [1]. Poor gut health is typically an amalgamation of a lifetime’s worth of decisions.

Unfortunately, our lifestyles are set up to make us into more productive human beings, not healthier human beings. With fast-food restaurants on every corner, artificial ingredients added to “healthy foods,” and pesticides tainting our crops, our system is destined for failure.

Thankfully, the world is catching onto many of these issues. Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in organic foods and follow a healthy gut diet plan.

That is why the Thryve Gut Health Program is broken into three distinct phases:

How Thryve Gut Health Program Helps Good Bacteria
The three steps to reclaiming your health
  • Microbiome Testing – Determine Which Gut Bacteria You Have
  • Personalized Probiotics – Formulate Supplement Based on Gut Health Test
  • Healthy Gut Diet Plan – Prebiotics for Probiotics Recommendations and Nutritional Content

Knowing your gut bacteria, diversifying your intestinal flora, and changing your poor diet are all the first steps towards improving the gut flora throughout your gastrointestinal tract. The next steps are identifying other lesser-known factors that have a considerable impact on live bacteria in your gut microbiome…and, ultimately, your overall health.

10 Unexpected Things That Compromise Balance of Bacteria 

To achieve optimal gut health, there are little changes you need to make in your everyday life. Unfortunately, some of these changes will be inconvenient. These tips are more than tips to overcome a poor diet. Items on this list and the effects they have on your digestive system might cause you to start replacing items around your house. 

This list is by no means a reason to throw everything out! It’s to create food for thought. However, a tag sale might not be a bad thing….

When these items do run its course in your household, and it’s time to replace them, perhaps you might make a different decision. Every little step you take toward good gut health is one step closer to a quality life. Here are some everyday items that, in the long term, might cause bacterial overgrowth. An uneven balance of bacteria might trigger immune responses and, inevitably, compromise your overall health.

10 things that compromise Balance of Bacteria
Didn’t think these would do harm, huh?

Antibiotics

Don’t get us wrong! There is a place in this world for antibiotics. We need them…just not as much as they’re being prescribed. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 47 million unnecessary antibiotics are prescribed each year [2].

The problem with prescribing too many antibiotics is that antibiotics can’t kill viruses, viruses are tricky. Viruses sort of work like our immune system in that they plan ways to survive. Research shows that viruses can infiltrate and influence good bacteria to fight off immune responses [3]. When antibiotics wipe out the gut bacteria, all that’s left is a virus that can cause a number of health conditions.

The other tricky with antibiotics is actually why our CEO, Richard Lin, found Thryve in the first place. Richard needed a round of antibiotics, and these meds did their job. Antibiotics wipe out harmful bacteria…and beneficial bacteria too.

As a result of this empty nest, the evil birds flocked in first. They stuck their claim and wouldn’t let the good birds in. Opportunistic bacteria winning the war landed Richard in the hospital for months in a quest to heal his gastrointestinal distress. Finally, Richard discovered probiotics and reclaimed his gut health from the damage of antibiotics.

Recent research suggests taking probiotic supplements for gut health regularly may lower the need for antibiotic use [4]:

“Given the potential public health risks of widespread antibiotic misuse, innovative strategies for addressing this problem are urgently needed. “This publication is proof-of-concept that taking probiotics on a regular basis deserves consideration as a way to reduce the over-prescription of antibiotics.”

– Prof. Daniel Merenstein MD, Georgetown University School of Medicine

If you are prescribed antibiotics, please have an open discussion with your doctor. In the case where your doctor says antibiotics are a must, please supplement with probiotics.

Bottled Water

Humans have a plastic issue. We rely on this synthetic material for everything. From food storage to carrying our groceries to building our cars, plastic rules the world. It’s also starting to rule our bodies.

While all forms of plastic are a cause for concern, there’s one we should be worried about the most worried about is Bisphenol A (BPA). Research indicates that BPA mimics estrogen in our bodies [5].

While estrogen is essential for humans to function correctly, many people (namely men) don’t need any added exposure. Perhaps, this is part of the reason for the rise in infertility?

The problem with BPA is that these synthetic ingredients can leach into foods, water and permeate through our skin. One study found that 72% of 455 common household containers (including hypodermic syringes and food processor containers) released an alarming number of estrogen-like compounds into the drinks, medications, and foods they held [6].

Cell Phones

Cell phones are more than just a means of communication. They’re also a way to avoid talking to strangers while waiting for a bus. However, these convenient devices may pose a gut health threat.

The world is preparing to go 5G, but there is a growing concern for the effects that electromagnetic fields (EMFs) have on our bodies.

In 2011, 77% of Americans owned smartphones. Today 95% do [7]. This increase only means there’s more EMFs floating around. And while we’re making this big step to 5G, we still don’t know the long-term effects of cell phones. However, preliminary reports are frightening.

One study found the EMFs found in our everyday electronic devices actually stimulate our intestinal flora. In particular, EMFs facilitate the growth of Escherichia coli (E.Coli) [8].

When there are too much of the gut bacteria, E.Coli, in the system, you may exhibit symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD), or Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Dental Work

Open wide! Our dental health may be having an adverse effect on our gut health. Anything you introduce to your mouth is going to enter your system, including the materials used in your dental procedures.

The greatest cause of concern for your gut health lies in your fillings. Most silver fillings are a combo of:

  • Copper
  • Silver
  • Mercury

These heavy metals are three of 23 heavy metals that “in small amounts, they are required for maintaining good health, but in larger amounts, they can become toxic or dangerous [9].”

One study about the effects of heavy metals on the microbiome found that these toxins can alter gut flora [10]. This study focused on arsenic, arsenic, cadmium, and nickel. While these heavy metals aren’t used to craft dental fillings, those three are also named as the 23 heavy metals that “that are of concern for us because of residential or occupational exposure.” You are the company you keep.

Every time we chew, it wears away at our filling. Therefore, these heavy metals are continually entering our system. That’s why research suggests if you have more than eight fillings, you may have elevated levels of mercury in your blood [11].

Gluten Free” Foods

We’ve already become well-acquainted with the horror stories of gluten. Not only is there a rise in Celiac Disease, but gluten has become one of the top food intolerances across the nation. Sadly, our food practices are starting to impede on organic foods and gluten-free foods incorporated in a healthy diet.

One study examined 22 genetically gluten-free grains for gluten. All contained some traces of gluten. In fact, 32% had so much gluten; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wouldn’t classify the product as gluten-free [12].

As the study concluded, “Gluten contamination of inherently gluten-free grains, seeds, and flours not labeled gluten-free is a legitimate concern.” No, really! People who are making health-conscious decisions are only perpetuating their food allergies.

The reason for these alarming stats is cross-contamination. Therefore, gluten is in our environment and is being blown about with the wind and dispersed by birds and insects.

Furthermore, gluten-free manufacturers are operating in gluten-tainted facilities. The particles are still in the warehouse and are carried over to the new batch of products.

It’s the same concept as companies that manufacture goods in the same warehouse as “peanuts, soy, etc.” They put a warning label on their foods because their goods might still spark immune responses caused by food allergies.

Indoor Air Pollution

Sick of your co-workers? Well, they’re making you sick. In fact, the whole workplace is. Our office is a breeding ground for illness. For one, you’re in close-quarters eight hours per day for five days per week. With poor ventilation in many office buildings, we sit amongst stagnant air and germs.

On top of human bacteria, we are then exposed to chemicals. There’s heavy-duty cleaning supplies, chemicals from copy machines, and the overuse of hand sanitizer always in use in closed office spaces. Our lungs must filter germs, synthetic chemicals, and human-made fragrances all day long. That’s a lot of indoor pollution to filter through.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranked indoor pollution as one of the top five environmental risks to public health [13]. Seeing as we spend 90% of our day indoors, our gut health is under constant attack and may need the extra strength of probiotics.

Cosmetics

Our skin also has bacteria that help protect us from viruses and other pathogens. Unfortunately, we paint all over these healthy bacteria with lotions, makeup, and bronzers every day. We are snuffing out our natural bacteria with synthetic ingredients that actually do more harm to our skin (and overall health) than good.

The average woman has 515 synthetic cosmetic ingredients in her beauty routine. These ingredients permeate through our skin and enter the microbiome through the gut-skin-axis. Here, a litany of gut health issues can occur.

For instance, one of the most common artificial ingredients in cosmetics is a form of parabens. These gelatinous-like particles give our cosmetics viscosity. Unfortunately, these molecules also mimic estrogen. Therefore, our cosmetics are also throwing off our hormone levels.

Then there’s triclosan, which is used in everything from toothpastes to cookware to hand soap. This additive is useful in destroying harmful bacteria. However, it also accumulates in the gut microbiome and has shown to destroy gut bugs conducive to a healthy lifestyle in vertebrates [14].

Stress

Stress is killing us, literally. It is a primary culprit in so many of our health problems, including mental wellness and gastrointestinal disorders. Yet, we accept stress as part of being human. We need to change that mindset.

Research suggests stress triggers our immune cells to go wild [15]. They want to know what is causing us to feel so stressed. Our immune cells’ first response is to start inflammation.

Inflammation kills off the bad guys, anti-inflammatories take care of the inflammation, and all is well.

With stress, the flame keeps getting relit. Eventually, inflammation starts to burn the cells along our gut lining. In turn, this causes toxins from our intestines to enter our bloodstream.

Stress is literally eating us up inside, and it creates conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).

Teflon Pans

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is not biodegradable and has a half-life in humans of three years [16]. PFOA is the main ingredient in most of our cooking ware, namely non-stick skillets and Teflon pans. With each stir-fry, we’re eating more teflon.

PFOA can also be found in:

  • Computer Parts
  • Coffee Cups
  • Clothing
  • Car Parts
  • Flooring

Unfortunately for us, research shows that PFOA disrupts immune cells. Seeing as a majority of our immune cells are made in the digestive tract, PFOA negatively impacts our gut health. In fact, research links this immune disruptor to ulcerative colitis [17].

Furthermore, Stockholm University’s Unit for Biochemical Toxicology released a report saying, they couldn’t pinpoint a low-enough dose of PFOA that didn’t have an impact on immune cells [18].

Canned Tuna

Tuna is a great way to get a lot of protein…and mercury. When you are buying tuna, please be careful about which type you are buying. White or albacore tuna has three times the mercury level (0.32 parts per million of mercury) as compared to light tuna (0.12 parts per million of mercury) [15].

If you are going to buy light tuna, look on the label for words such as “gourmet” or “torno.” That means the tuna was made with yellowfin, which has even higher mercury levels!

If you are using canned fish in your healthy gut diet plan, opt for canned salmon. It has much lower mercury levels. Plus, salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Those who follow the typical SAD are low on these crucial fats.

Fix Your Life At First Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

Gut issues develop over time. Listen to your body. When you notice your physical health start to change, that means something is going on. Use those moments to assess what you’re doing that might be causing gut problems. 

At Thryve, we give you a starting point on your journey towards fixing your gut health. We send you a microbiome testing kit to help you determine the actual gut flora that’s causing digestive distress and health concerns. 

We can let you know which foods are the favorites of the bad bacteria in your gut microbiome. That way, you can ditch those foods to get a healthy balance of bacteria back in your system. Furthermore, we let you know which prebiotic-rich foods the probiotic bacteria you’re lacking enjoy. Our program also suggests hundreds of recipes with these prebiotic foods to ensure the growth of these good guys.

Lastly, you can opt into a probiotic recommendation tailored to your gut. The key to a healthy body is bacterial diversity. Getting this probiotic is the last step in experiencing all the Thryve Gut Health Program’s health benefits. 

After you get your food sensitivities and bacteria imbalance under control, you will have a solid foundation towards your wellness goals. That’s when you can start making little changes, like the ones we suggested here. 

You can even begin with just one change today. After all, it was a culmination of decisions that caused gut problems in the first. It’ll be a culmination of healthy choices to fix it!

Thryve Probiotics Gut Health

Resources

[1] “Digestive Diseases Statistics for the United States.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 Nov. 2014, www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/digestive-diseases.

[2] “CDC Newsroom.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0503-unnecessary-prescriptions.html.

[3] University of Exeter. “Viruses Cooperate to Overcome Immune Defenses of Bacteria.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 19 July 2018, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180719142007.htm.

[4] ISAPPscience. “Scientific Analysis Shows Probiotic Use Is Associated with Fewer Antibiotic Prescriptions.” EurekAlert!, www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-09/isaf-sas091418.php.

[5] Bittner, G. D., Yang, C. Z., & Stoner, M. A. (2014). Estrogenic chemicals often leach from BPA-free plastic products that are replacements for BPA-containing polycarbonate products. Environmental health : a global access science source13(1), 41. doi:10.1186/1476-069X-13-41.

[6] Gao, H., Yang, B. J., Li, N., Feng, L. M., Shi, X. Y., Zhao, W. H., & Liu, S. J. (2015). Bisphenol A and hormone-associated cancers: current progress and perspectives. Medicine94(1), e211. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000000211.

[7] “Demographics of Mobile Device Ownership and Adoption in the United States.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, 5 Feb. 2018, www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/.

[8] “Evaluation of the Effect of Radiofrequency Radiation Emitted From Wi-Fi Router and Mobile Phone Simulator on the Antibacterial Susceptibility of Pathogenic Bacteria Listeria Monocytogenes and Escherichia Coli.” SAGE Journals, journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1559325816688527.

[9] Jaishankar, M., Tseten, T., Anbalagan, N., Mathew, B. B., & Beeregowda, K. N. (2014). Toxicity, mechanism and health effects of some heavy metals. Interdisciplinary toxicology7(2), 60–72. doi:10.2478/intox-2014-0009

[10] Richardson, Joshua B., et al. “Exposure to Toxic Metals Triggers Unique Responses from the Rat Gut Microbiota.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 26 Apr. 2018, www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-24931-w.

[11] “Have More than Eight Dental Fillings? It Could Increase the Mercury Levels in Your Blood.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 27 Sept. 2016, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160927143042.htm.

[12] Thompson, Tricia, et al. “Gluten Contamination of Grains, Seeds, and Flours in the United States: a Pilot Study.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20497786.

[13] “Why Indoor Air Quality Is Important to Schools.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 25 Oct. 2018, www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/why-indoor-air-quality-important-schools.

[14] Gaulke, C. A., Barton, C. L., Proffitt, S., Tanguay, R. L., & Sharpton, T. J. (2016). Triclosan Exposure Is Associated with Rapid Restructuring of the Microbiome in Adult Zebrafish. PloS one11(5), e0154632. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0154632.

[15] Maydych V. (2019). The Interplay Between Stress, Inflammation, and Emotional Attention: Relevance for Depression. Frontiers in neuroscience13, 384. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2019.00384.

[16] Steenland, K., Fletcher, T., & Savitz, D. A. (2010). Epidemiologic evidence on the health effects of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Environmental health perspectives118(8), 1100–1108. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.0901827.

[17] Steenland, K., Kugathasan, S., & Barr, D. B. (2018). PFOA and ulcerative colitis. Environmental research165, 317–321. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2018.05.007.

[18] Qazi MR, Xia Z, Bogdanska J, et al. The atrophy and changes in the cellular compositions of the thymus and spleen observed in mice subjected to short-term exposure to perfluorooctanesulfonate are high-dose phenomena mediated in part by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha (PPARalpha). Toxicology. 2009;260(1-3):68-76. doi:10.1016/j.tox.2009.03.009.