Diet & Nutrition 5 MIN READ 83 VIEWS May 21, 2022

Bad Stomach Bacteria: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Written By HealthKart
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Bad stomach bacteria

Our intestines are home to microorganisms. Bacteria, yeast, fungi and viruses; all live in our gut, only to keep us active and alive. The right and optimum balance between the good and bad gut bacteria is vital to enhance your immune system function, regulate the digestive system, and combat symptoms of obesity and depression. In fact, the advantages of good gut health go far beyond the listed few. Once the fine balance between the good and bad stomach bacteria gets disturbed, the health outcomes can be disparaging. Read through to know what causes the bad gut bacteria to multiply and flourish. 

What Causes Bad Gut Bacteria to Grow?

The good and bad bacteria share a common space in the gut. While good bacteria are important for digestion and other body functions, bad bacteria are the food for good bacteria. But if the balance gets disturbed, the bad stomach bacteria outnumber the good ones. The main causes for this are:

1. Improper and Unbalanced Diet 

The gut flora gradually becomes unfavourable for the body if the diet perpetually misses out on whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The diverse range of foods acts as the food for the good stomach bacteria, which slowly begin to die due to poor nutrition.

2. Prolonged Antibiotic Use 

Antibiotics are a preferred line of treatment to treat a range of bacterial infections. But every single antibiotic treatment course brings about unfavourable changes to the gut flora, kills good as well as bad stomach bacteria causing imbalance

3. Lack of Prebiotics in the Diet 

Prebiotics are the specialised plant fibre that is food for good gut bacteria. If the diet is low in prebiotics, it affects the overall digestive health.

4. High Stress Levels 

Too much stress reduces blood flow and increases sensitivity in the gut area. This affects the gut bacteria negatively.

5. No Physical Exercise 

Regular physical exercise burns body fat and stimulates the growth of gut-friendly bacteria. Research shows that people with higher fitness levels have more butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid crucial for good health.

6. Alcohol Addiction 

Chronic alcohol consumption has a negative effect on gut bacteria. The highly toxic compounds in alcohol harm the gut flora.

7. Smoking Addiction 

Smoking affects every organ of the body. Research shows that giving up smoking significantly improves gut flora. 

8. Lack of Sleep 

Sleep is required to recoup and rejuvenate body organs. The circadian rhythm, or the body clock, monitors the production of hormones. If the body fails to follow its natural circadian rhythm, it has a harmful effect on gut bacteria.

Symptoms of Unhealthy Gut

Once the tricky balance between the good and the bad stomach bacteria gets disturbed, the most common symptoms that surface are:

1. Upset Stomach 

Bad stomach bacteria will interfere with the stomach’s ability to digest food and eliminate waste. Symptoms like bloating, gas, heartburn, and either constipation or diarrhoea are therefore common. 

2. Increased Craving for Sugary Foods 

Bad stomach bacteria breed upon processed food and refined sugars. So, when the number of bad gut bacteria rises, the craving for sugary foods also increases. This further damages the gut flora.

3. Unexplained Weight Changes 

The bad stomach bacteria hinder the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the food, leading to weight loss. On the contrary, as the intake of refined sugar and processed food increases, this may lead to unintentional weight gain.

4. Sleep Disturbances 

Serotonin, the body’s sleep hormone, is produced in the gut. An imbalanced gut flora affects hormone production which impairs the ability to sleep well. The lack of sleep leads to constant fatigue and mood irritability. 

5. Poor Immunity and Autoimmune Conditions 

Unhealthy gut increases systemic inflammation which affects the immune system, which may contribute to an increase in autoimmune conditions.

6. Food Allergies and Food Intolerance 

Due to impaired digestion, the body begins to resist certain foods, leading to increased episodes of food allergies. 

7. Loss of Appetite and Uncomfortable Feeling of Fullness 

The hormones that make you feel hungry or full are secreted in the gut. Therefore, bad gut bacteria cause a significant reduction in appetite.

8. Abdominal Pain 

Symptoms like gas, bloating, and inflammation may raise the chances of abdominal pain.

9. Malnutrition 

Bad stomach bacteria disturb the proper functioning of the digestive system which causes malnutrition. 

How to Get Rid of Bad Bacteria in the Gut?

Gut health can be improved by changing the gut microbiome. This will in turn improve overall health. The ways to get rid of bad bacteria in the gut are:

1. Take Probiotics 

Probiotics are loaded with live bacteria and yeast that will increase the number of good bacteria in the gut immediately. Regular intake of probiotic supplements will change the composition from bad stomach bacteria to good.

2. Take Prebiotics  

Prebiotics are the plant-based fibre that act as the food for good stomach bacteria. A handful of prebiotic-rich foods like garlic, onion, and banana in the daily diet will help the gut-friendly bacteria.

3. Cut Down on Processed Food and Refined Sugar 

Bad stomach bacteria thrive on processed food and refined sugars. Therefore, a conscious effort to reduce intake of such foods can help reconstruct gut flora. 

4. Managing Stress 

Reducing stress is important for building a healthy gut flora as psychological stressors disrupt the proper functioning of the good gut bacteria.

5. Reduce Antibiotic Use 

Unless absolutely necessary, the use of antibiotics must be restricted to a minimum. 

6. Regular Exercise 

A regular exercise regimen acts as a potent workout for the gut. The gut bacteria get into action and work efficiently to digest foods and absorb nutrition.

7. Revamp Your Diet 

A diet rich in whole grain foods, fresh fruits, and vegetables will provide the required fibre and nutrients for the good bacteria to breed. This will also promote the growth of different types of gut-friendly bacteria, making the gut flora more diverse.

8. Get Adequate Sleep 

Unhealthy gut bacteria causes sleep disturbances and lack of sleep leads to unhealthy gut bacteria. Get adequate sleep to break this vicious cycle and help the good gut bacteria grow and multiply.

9. Stay Hydrated 

Adequate water intake benefits the mucosal lining of the intestines. This helps in balancing the good bacteria in the gut

10. Abstain from Smoking and Alcohol 

The toxic compounds that are a result of smoking and alcohol harm the body and bring about unwanted changes in gut bacteria.

Foods That Help Kill Bad Stomach Bacteria

A range of naturally occurring plants and herbs can help fight the bad bacteria in the gut. These are:

1. Garlic: Garlic is rich in allicin, a potent antimicrobial compound, which combats bad bacteria.

2. Oregano: Oregano is an excellent source of carvacrol, a compound that inhibits bacterial growth. It is also helpful against bacteria that trigger digestive discomfort. Oregano essential oil also protects the gut wall.

3. Green Tea: Polyphenols in green tea inhibit the growth of bad stomach bacteria.

4. High-Fibre Food: High fibre diet is food for good gut bacteria. Thus, a healthy diet makes good gut bacteria flourish.

5. Fermented Foods: Fermented foods are a good source of probiotics that boost gut health.


The gut bacteria play a crucial role in boosting overall health. A disruption to the gut flora is responsible for varied health conditions and autoimmune diseases. Thus, mindful eating and healthy lifestyle habits are important to cut down on the unwanted growth of bad stomach bacteria.

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