Woman with hands on stomach painA healthy gut biome is filled with beneficial bacteria. They help you digest, crowd out and fight off invaders, and play an important role in what looks like every single aspect of our health: how much we weigh, our mood and personality, our heart health, and more (the list keeps growing).

But what happens when something’s wrong? “Bad” gut bacteria (and the viruses and fungi they allow in) are implicated in depression, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. But more directly, we’re figuring out which “bad” bacteria affect gastrointestinal health like Crohn’s and other inflammatory issues.

A new study has found that instead of keeping things healthy by competing, there are two bacteria and a fungus that work together to cause the inflammatory bowel condition Crohn’s: Escherichia coli, Serratia marcescens and the fungus Candida tropicalis.

How do pathogens get in, and how do you prevent it (or get them out)?

Up until recently it was thought we’re colonized at birth, with vaginal births delivering good bacteria, and cesareans and stays at some of the worse hospitals delivering bad bacteria. While that’s the primary source, it turns out there’s some colonization before birth, too!

From their, our diet, habits, and even the medications we take influence how our gut develops.

Just as you’d expect, fruits, veggies, and exercise help encourage the growth of good bacteria. So does a clean (but not sterile) home. Processed sugar feeds the bad bacteria, and antibiotics kill off the good stuff, leaving enough room for serious viral or fungal infections to take root.

And here’s another tip: when you shower, use a clean washcloth (no loofahs or sponges) every single time. It’s one of the best ways to prevent serious infections, like MRSA, and it will reduce body acne and other skin inflammation.

You can also support good bacteria by adding them into your diet. Probiotic supplements like Flora MGR (or even CandidAss’t to help crowd out fungi) and fermented foods refurbish good bacteria colonies. Good bacteria aren’t just important for your gut, they colonize your skin and (in women) vaginas, too.

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