Do You Have a Stinking Gut? (And Why You Should Want One)

Katie Wells Avatar

Reading Time: 5 minutes

This post contains affiliate links.

Read my affiliate policy.

Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » Do You Have a Stinking Gut? (And Why You Should Want One)

Hippocrates was once quoted for saying “all disease begins in the gut.” Time is proving Hippocrates to be a pretty smart guy, and science is even now linking poor gut health with a myriad of health problems.

From eczema to poor immune health, it seems that our gut health influences much more than we previously realized. If all disease beings in the health, it is logical to realize that perhaps optimal health begins here as well.

Stinking Gut?

Ever had a “gut” feeling? There may be more to it than your realize. It is now estimated that over 3/4 of our immune system resides in our intestinal tract, with over 500 species of bacteria present.

Overall, there are ten times the number of bacteria in the body as actual human cells, and this colonization of bacteria (good or bad) can weigh up to three pounds. With such a large concentration of bacteria in our bodies, it is logical that we depend rather heavily on them for health.

Traditional diets around the world have typically included raw and fermented foods teeming with bacteria, including many beneficial strains. From yogurt, to kefir, to sauerkraut, to fermented fish, cultures around the world are not afraid of a little bacteria.

In our modern society, we’ve effectively managed to pasteurize, irradiate, and process out any naturally occurring beneficial bacteria while at the same time feeding harmful bacteria with a feast of processed starches and sugars.

On top of that, we sanitize our children from the moment they are born, afraid to ever let them encounter bacteria, good or bad, which are necessary for immune development. Besides the fact that research has found that antibacterial soap is no more beneficial than regular soap and water and might be harmful, raising our kids with Lysol in hand may not even let their digestive systems develop properly.

It has now been found that babies are born with a completely sterile digestive system, since in utero, they don’t need gut bacteria for the breakdown of food as all nourishment comes from mom. During the rather messy birth process, the baby’s digestive system begins to colonize bacteria based on the mother’s existing bacteria (good or bad!).

The baby’s bacteria further develops during breastfeeding thanks to certain strains of immune boosting beneficial bacteria found only in breastmilk. Since the baby depends on the birth process and on breastmilk for this balance of bacteria, it makes sense that babies born naturally and then breastfed have lower rates of eczema, allergies, and illness.

Babies born by cesarean or who are formula fed are not doomed from the start, but it is good for parents to be aware of this need for probiotic bacteria and consider supplementation and natural sources.

After the infant stage, toddlers naturally supplement probiotics by putting everything, dirt included, into their mouths. If given the proper resources, these beneficial bacteria grow and flourish, boosting immunity and allowing proper breakdown of food.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the norm anymore. More often, the balance of good bacteria is altered by an abundance of starches/sugars/vegetable oils in the diet, or destroyed completely by antibiotic use or other pharmaceuticals. Lack of exposure to bacteria in environment and food further aggravate this problem.

In fact, in our Clorox cleaned world of processed foods, many of us might benefit from a good dose of healthy bacteria. The digestive tract as has almost as many nerve cells as the spinal cord, and research is increasingly linking digestive health to overall health.

Beneficial bacteria is necessary to properly digest food (especially starches) and to absorb nutrients. It plays a big role in overall immunity. With the rise of digestive problems like IBS, Crohn’s disease, Celiac Disease, colitis, allergies, etc., a good dose of beneficial bacteria certainly wouldn’t hurt.

The good news is that while outside sources are constantly working against our good bacteria these days, there are ways to boost good bacteria naturally, even for those of us not still nursing or fond of eating dirt.

An Ounce of Prevention…

Grandma said it and it still holds true. One of the best ways to keep beneficial bacteria from becoming depleted is to avoid the things that deplete it in the first place, including:

  • antibiotic use (especially if it can be avoided or natural alternatives can be used)
  • use of antibacterial soap
  • overuse of harsh cleaning chemicals to sanitize environment
  • consumption of processed and refined foods
  • consumption of sugars or excess of starches
  • any sources of stress on the body that can be avoided (lack of sleep, overexertion, etc.)

Building Up Good Bacteria in the Digestive System

Fortunately, even if you’ve depleted your beneficial bacteria by some of the methods above, there are ways to increase it and help balance the bacteria in your digestive system. Chances are, unless you already consume a lot of fermented foods, garden barefoot a lot and eat some dirt, your probiotic balance could use a boost.

Here are some tips for boosting your probiotic balance:

  • Don’t Eat Sugars/Grains/Excess Starches/Vegetable Oils– These foods deplete beneficial bacteria very quickly and can consequently suppress immunity and lead to a variety of health problems. There is no need to eat these foods, especially in processed form, so for the sake of your guts… avoid them!
  • Eat Lots of Real Foods- Eating foods like vegetables, proteins and fats will help support beneficial bacteria that feed on certain types of fiber in foods like veggies. They will also support the body in culturing additional good bacteria, as will…
  • Consume Fermented Foods and Drinks– Foods like Sauerkraut, Kimichi, Fermented Salsa, Fermented Veggies, Natural Yogurt, Kefir, Naturally Aged Cheeses, etc. are natural sources of Probiotics and eating a variety of these will help get in all the beneficial strains of bacteria. Cultured drinks like kombucha and water or milk kefir also provide probiotics.
  • Use natural soap and water instead of antibacterial– Antibacterial soap kills bacteria, good or bad, and some suggest that overuse of antibacterial soap may be contributing to the rise in resistant strains of bacteria like MRSA. Use a quality natural soap and warm water to clean hands.
  • Start Gardening– Believe it or not, the benefits of dirt that ring true for kids are still beneficial to adults. If you aren’t fond of mud pies, take up gardening. It is a way to get your vitamin D and probiotics in while producing your own food… a win-win!
  • Don’t Overuse Antibiotics– There are certainly cases when it is best to use antibiotics, but for mild illnesses that can be left to run their course or treated naturally, consider skipping the antibiotics, which will deplete all gut bacteria, including the beneficial strains. If you do need to take antibiotics, make sure to take a high quality probiotic at the same time and for a while afterward to help replenish bacteria. Also, colloidal silver, which is a great antibacterial for topical uses, may not be the best choice to be taken internally.
  • Take A Probiotic Supplement– Many of us need more help in the probiotic department than simple dietary changes can provide. That being said, supplementing probiotics without a change in diet and lifestyle is just a waste of money! If you are already eating real foods including fermented foods/drinks and using other ways to replenish your bacteria, consider supplementing probiotics, at least for a while. This is also an important recommendation if you are currently using or recently have used antibiotics. Children with eczema, allergies, digestive disturbances or those who were formula fed can often benefit from probiotics as well.
  • Try to GAPS/SCD diet– These diets are specifically focused on healing and rebuilding a digestive system that has been harmed over time. If you have specific or acute symptoms, one of these diets may be the fastest/best way to help your body recover.

What do you think? Do you get enough good bacteria? Ever realize your guts did so much work? Tell me below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


45 responses to “Do You Have a Stinking Gut? (And Why You Should Want One)”

  1. Jessi Avatar

    Hi Wellness Mama! I know youve recommended soil based probiotics in the past. Do you recommend those for children? I cleared my eczema up using soil based probiotics for myself about a year ago and it never came back. My 2 year old daughter suffers from moderate eczema and I thought it was possible that soil based probtioics may help her like they helped me but can’t seem to find any information about the safety of it in children.

    1. Katie Wells Avatar

      Unfortunately, Prescript Assist, the one I used to recommend changed the formulation and I no longer recommend it. I found a spore based on that i now personally use and recommend and use with my kids called Just Thrive.

  2. Joseph W. Motacek Avatar
    Joseph W. Motacek

    It’s nice to find someone else that has been studying and knows about the Human Microbiome. It’s incredible how important this is to our lives, and how a disturbed or damaged microbiome is associated with so many different disease conditions.

    For those with disease conditions, I suggest they start by studying the human microbiome. When they have a really good background in this, then they should move on to studying a microbiome transplant. It’s like the ultimate probiotic. They work.

    Another thing : I have read in my research that “probiotics don’t attach to the intestinal wall”. It has something to do with the processing or manufacturing process. So, we only get a temporary relief at best. Sorry, but this is from a medical researcher, and it honestly agrees with my personal experience. Also, taking a probiotic with a handful of strains is pretty futile. We have to realize that we have millions of species of helpful bacteria living in our gut. The chances of our getting the right bacteria strains to relieve our symptoms are like one in a million, even if they could attach.

    So, what can we do ? Well the fact is, there are beneficial microbes on fresh, raw fruits, and fresh, raw vegetables, and nuts, and even raw honey. We are doing our microbiomes a favor by consuming these, with every meal, and avoiding processed foods. Planting blueberries, and apple trees, etc. etc. are good steps, along with a garden, with a variety of vegetables. Why a variety ? Well, different beneficial microbes can be associated with different vegetables. And don’t necessarily wash off all those good microbes either. (Of course, we need to avoid any fruit or vegetable that has been contaminated by animal feces.)

    Do your research, and nourish your microbiomes

    Treat your microbiome right ; eat fresh and AVOID antibiotics as much as you can. (they’re invaluable for lifesaving situations, but the truth is, we overuse them)

  3. RJ Avatar

    Hello Katie,

    I’m a male in his 40s; Have 2 boys 9 and 7. My wife as of now is skeptical about most of the natural and organic stuff- basically the antithesis if most women visiting your site.

    Me, I’m willing to try anything that can potentially break the cycle of us eating bad foods. I do want to try pribiotics- but as you’ve said- one needs to change lifestyle and diet first.

    I want us all to change, but it’s going to be a hard road since I’m the breadwinner and work a lot of long hours. Is there a place in your blogging or communication where one can track progress and exchange updates often?

    Sorry if this is misplaced. I know you’re doing a lot with your family and all. I just wanted some total beginner guidance/direction to start with.

    Thanks so much for all the great tips!

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      My heart goes out to you RJ… that is so tough. It is still not announced yet, but I’m working on building a free private membership part of where readers can privately and confidently share advice and information with each other. Hoping to be able to share about that in a month or so.

  4. Lewis Avatar

    Hello, just curious does our body produce natural probiotics or is it completely down to what we eat and or ingest?

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      The body does make some, especially if there is already a healthy balance of bacteria, but it does need prebiotics found in fresh vegetables, fruits and healthy starches to feed these beneficial bacteria.

      1. Joseph W. Motacek Avatar
        Joseph W. Motacek

        Was just doing some interesting research…….. When we ingest natural, fresh fruits they often have microbes on them, the good, helpful ones that we want. The same goes for natural, fresh vegetables, they also have good microbes on them. So, besides getting the good vitamins, we are also helping our microbiomes. Even raw honey has good microbes in it.

        Therefore, one of the things we can do, just like this article says, is to consume lot’s of fresh fruits and vegetables. The fresher the better. Any just maybe we shouldn’t try to wash off all of these good guys before we consume the food either.

        Growing our own garden, is another thing we can try to add. Growing fruit trees, and various berries too. Fresh is best !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *