The words, gut microbiome and dysbiosis, are practically household terms as research and information about the gut grows. Just the other day I overheard two women in a local coffee shop discussing tips on how to “get their gut balanced”. Despite increasing information there is also much confusion and oversimplification…the gut is complex! To help you stay well-informed let’s define – gut dysbiosis – and how it may apply to you.
Within your gastrointestinal tract lies trillions of microbes – bacteria, fungi, viruses, even parasites. This unique collection of microbes is known as your microflora…or your “inner garden”. As with most gardens, the climate, temperature, and soil all impact its well-being. The garden can easily shift out of balance compromising the health of the crop…not to mention becoming overrun with weeds if not well cared for. You can think of this as dysbiosis…an imbalance and/or an overgrowth of the weeds or “bad stuff”.
Three Ways Dysbiosis Can Impact Your Gut
- The most basic imbalance is too many unhealthy microbes in the gut. An overabundance of “bad” inflammatory bacteria, too much yeast (such as candida albicans), or an unwelcomed virus or parasite lead to dysbiosis. To treat this type of dysbiosis, medications, broad-spectrum anti-microbial herbs, lifestyle and dietary changes such as including fiber-rich foods, probiotics, and supplements are very effective. The key is identifying and appropriately correcting the imbalance with the correct intervention!
- Poor diversity or not enough microbes can be the culprit. It may not be as common as an overgrowth but lack of or under-abundance of bacteria…even the good…can be problematic! An under-abundance may indicate that the lining of the gut where the microflora lives may be compromised and needs repair. Improvement may be achieved with appropriate probiotics, prebiotics, gut lining supportive supplements (like glutamine), and healthy bacteria-friendly foods.
- Your bacteria settle in the wrong place. Microbes live all along the lining of your gastrointestinal tract…from mouth to anus. It is important they live and thrive where they belong… which is primarily in the large intestines (or colon). When they begin to overpopulate and take up residence in places where they don’t belong, such as the mouth or small intestines, that is when they begin to create problems. One of the most common disturbances is SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). SIBO occurs when the gastrointestinal microbiome has shifted and the growing and thriving bacteria migrate from the colon to the small intestines. Antibiotics, herbs, diet, lifestyle changes, and even ensuring optimal thyroid and hormonal balance are important for correcting this imbalance…and avoiding reoccurrence.
How does dysbiosis happen?
There are many different reasons why we harbor the microbes we do…and often, your “story” related to your life and health history can be valuable in understanding how or why the gut has been impacted. Birth history, childhood, food choices, antibiotics, medications (prescription and over the counter), life circumstances, stress, environmental toxins, and food poisoning…all can impact our microbiome.
Could YOU have dysbiosis?
Digestive struggle of any kind suggests an imbalance or dysbiosis of the microbes in the gut. If you have stomach upset after eating, indigestion, GERD (reflux), heartburn, slow digestion, or bloating, it is important to address dysbiosis. If you have bowel problems, like excessive gas, lower belly pains, constipation, or diarrhea – then dysbiosis is the prime suspect.
Dysbiosis can be the “root cause” of seemingly unrelated disorders
I work with gut dysbiosis daily in my practice. Many of my clients are surprised when I suggest dybiosis as a possible underlying cause when they are not complaining of problems they associate with their gut. As research grows, it is obvious how much the gut is involved with overall health and its influence on our body systems and disease process. Dysbiosis may be silent gut-wise, while still causing trouble in other areas of your body. That is why universally I am typically recommending a probiotic that fits the client’s unique needs as we begin to work on diet and lifestyle habits to promote a diverse, healthy, and a PEACEFUL gut.
Here are a few examples that could be linked to dysbiosis:
- Hormonal imbalance
- Autoimmune disease/disorder.
- Joint aches and pains
- Neurological and psychiatric disease
- Eczema, weight loss, and chronic fatigue
- Weight loss resistance
Basically, any inflammatory process can be traced back to the gut. To get to the root cause quickly, additional testing is often needed and valuable: Stool, breath, and urine testing – all of which can provide a snapshot of your personal microbiome. Results and information from testing offer a better “road map” on how to effectively address the dysbiosis with a highly personalized nutrition and lifestyle plan.
What to do if you suspect you have dysbiosis:
- Talk to your doctor for a referral to a good gastroenterologist who is willing to work with you. Also find a nutrition expert who is knowledgeable in gut health to partner with.
- If you suspect SIBO…ask to be tested by your MD with a specific 3 hr. lactulose breath test. (Did you know that it is estimated that 60-80% of IBS suffers have SIBO!)
- Take the FREE JBS Gut Assessment to see how healthy YOUR gut is.
- Check out my 6-month Gut Restoration Program which utilizing specific advanced testing to help get to the root cause by providing a roadmap toward restoring the gut to good health. A blood test is used to evaluate the gut barrier and stool culture to determine potential pathogens and balance of microbiome. In addition, a highly specialized, tailored, and progressive approach is taken which involves evidenced based protocols and guidelines as well as regular visits to keep you on track toward optimal health.
Take good care of your ‘Inner Garden’ so you can enjoy good health – the ultimate fruit of your labor!
Your Partner for a Peaceful Gut! 🙂
ps. Want to take a deep dive to learn more about your gut?
Check out my recorded Webinar: The Gut: The Gateway to Good Health
for Free until January 1st!