Assessment of intestinal ecology through stool culture techniques which include comprehensive bacteriology and yeast cultures to identify the presence of beneficial flora, imbalanced flora, and dysbiotic flora, is an important step in identifying imbalances in intestinal microflora.
A good balance of beneficial microflora has been known to be associated with health benefits since the turn of the century. At that time Metchnikoff drew attention to the adverse effects of dysbiotic (ie. “bad”) gut microflora on the host and suggested that ingestion of fermented milks ameliorated what he called “autointoxication”. He proposed that the consumption of large quantities of Lactobacillus species would reduce the number of toxin-producing bacteria and result in better health and increased lifespan.
Over the past 90 plus years there has been extensive scientific research demonstrating that a good balance of Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria and beneficial E. coli bacteria are important to the functional health of the gut, and as a consequence, to the whole organism. The benefits identified include inhibition of microbial pathogens, prevention and treatment of antibiotic associated diarrhea, prevention of travelers’ diarrhea, reduction of lactose intolerance symptoms, reduction in serum cholesterol levels, enhancement of the immune system, and inhibition of the proliferation of Candida albicans (ie. Yeast). Research has shown that improved biological value of food can be achieved through the activity of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria which have been reported to produce folic acid, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, biotin and vitamin K.
In a healthy balanced state of intestinal flora, the beneficial bacteria make up a significant proportion of the total microflora. However, in many individuals we see an imbalance of beneficial bacteria and an overgrowth of non-beneficial or even pathogenic microorganisms (dysbiosis). This can be due to a variety of factors including: daily exposure to chemicals in our drinking water that are toxic to friendly bacteria; the use of antibiotics; chronic consumption of highly processed foods (low in fiber, high in sugar) and high stress levels. Patients may present with chronic symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome, autoimmune diseases (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis), fatigue, chronic headaches, and allergies to a variety of foods.
Infection with yeast species can cause a variety of symptoms, both intra- and extra- gastrointestinal, and may escape suspicion as a pathogenic agent in many cases. Controversy remains as to the relationship between Candida infection and episodes of recurrent diarrhea. However, episodes of yeast infection after short-term and long-term antibiotic use have been identified in patients with both gastrointestinal and vaginal symptoms. There is some evidence linking yeast infections with more chronic extra-gastrointestinal conditions. Studies suggest that the production of antibodies against Candida Albicans may contribute to eczema in young adults. Other studies have identified the potential role of candidiasis in chronic fatigue syndrome.
Talk to your health care provider about having a Microbiology test today!
**Description courtesy of Doctor’s Data Inc