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How You Can Use Your Body's Bacteria for Better Health

Many scientists have begun to argue that the trend of using antibacterial soap and other antibacterial products may actually cause diseases like eczema, irritable bowel syndrome and even diabetes.

What's more, the solution may be to feed patients bacteria.

Probiotics, which are pills containing bacteria, have resulted in complete elimination of eczema in 80 percent of the patients treated with it. Probiotics have also been used to treat irritable bowel disease, acne and premenstrual syndrome. In one recent study, infants given a probiotic were, after two years, 25 percent less likely to develop eczema.

From 50 trillion to 100 trillion bacteria live in your digestive system, where they have a complex relationship with digestion and health. Antibacterial products can disrupt the balance that protects you from allergies and malfunctioning immune responses.

Wired April 26, 2007

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

Most people don't realize the trillions of bacteria in your gut outnumber the cells of your body by a factor of 10 to 1. This is one of the reasons they are such a major influence on your health. And one reason you should be staying far away from antibacterial soaps and cleaners is that they kill the good bacteria our bodies so desperately need to fight diseases.

That's why an increasing number of health professionals are recommending a high-quality probiotic to rebalance your intestinal bacteria.

In fact, some scientists suspect the disappearance of H. pylori, the bacteria responsible for peptic ulcers, may contribute to the obesity epidemic, as it regulates the production of leptin and ghrelin.

Because the nutritional origin of many diseases we face is connected to a lack of balance in our intestinal bacteria, one of the first suggestions I make to a new patient is for him or her to start taking a good probiotic.

Optimizing your diet is certainly beneficial, but frequently that alone won't be enough to replenish the good bacteria that are eradicated after you take an antibiotic or eat sugar -- which is another good reason to reduce, with the plan of eliminating, grains and sugars from your daily diet, too.

Total health begins in the gut, folks.

If your GI tract isn't functioning very well, it's guaranteed your overall health will be compromised. Although I am not a big fan of nutritional supplementation, probiotics are the exception. I don't believe you need to take them constantly throughout your entire life, but one to three months is usually beneficial for just about everyone.

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