If you’ve been reading my eTips for a while now, you know that your gut is home to TRILLIONS of bacteria (a.k.a. your "microbiome").

The majority are beneficial, helping your body break down food... metabolize and absorb vitamins... and even shore up your immune system.

But lurking among those “good guys” are some bugs from the wrong side of the tracks.

And if anything disrupts the balance between good and evil, these rogue critters can take over, walloping you with everything from toilet troubles to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Now, I've told you before that antibiotics can wipe out the good with the bad in your microbiome, which can open the door for infectious bacteria like C. diff (a.k.a. “deadly diarrhea”) to walk right in and take over.

But according to a new study, antibiotics aren't the ONLY offenders that come in a pill bottle -- because OTHER prescription meds can wreak havoc on your gut flora, too!

In the study, European researchers tested over 1,000 prescription drugs to see what effect, if any, they had on 40 different strains of beneficial bacteria that normally reside in our guts.

And it turned out that 24 percent of the drugs put a damper on the growth of beneficial strains of bacteria!

But they weren’t all antibiotics. Nearly 30 percent of the NON-ANTIBIOTIC drugs also threw the balance of the gut flora off-kilter – ranging from painkillers to sleep meds to antipsychotics.

It’s like putting your belly bugs in peril EVERY TIME you fill a prescription!

What's more, the researchers noted that when non-antibiotic drugs threaten your microbiome, they can cause the SAME side effects as antibiotics, such as abdominal cramps and the desperate need to “go.”

Of course, the ideal way to guard your gut is to turn to nature -- rather than drugs -- for whatever ails you. But that’s not an option for everybody, I know.

So, if you must take any prescription med, do everything you can to protect the delicate balance of bacteria in your belly.

Start by taking these three simple steps:

1. Eat fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut, which can help beef up the good guys and keep pathogens from gaining a foothold.
2. If the sour tastes of those foods aren't your favorite, supplement your diet with probiotics from a trusted maker. Look for a brand with multiple strains and colony-forming units (CFUs) in the billions.
3. Eating a diet full of fiber... exercising regularly... and even drinking black or green tea can also help promote the growth of beneficial strains in your gut.

Just stay away from sugars (whether "natural" or artificial) and refined carbs -- because the sweet stuff makes harmful bacteria grow like gangbusters.

You won’t believe how much better you feel – and as I shared with you this morning, bulking up on probiotics and restoring the balance in your gut could even make your BRAIN work better!

And there’s no prescription med in the world that can do that.