Dysbiosis – What is it?

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Dysbiosis (also called “dysbacteriosis”) is the term used to describe a microbial imbalance on or in the human body (an imbalance of “good” versus “bad” bacteria).

Although it is most common in the digestive tract and on the skin, it can also develop on just about any exposed surface or mucous membrane, which can include the lungs, nose, sinuses, ears, nails, eyes and vaginal area.

Here, we are taking a closer look at intestinal (or gut) dysbiosis specifically, where digestive function is normally affected.

Gut dysbiosis – an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the stomach

Toxic bowels and ill-health are often triggered by damage to good intestinal flora (friendly bacteria) and the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and parasites, such as Candida albicans (also known as “the yeast syndrome”).

Enzymes produced by such harmful micro-organisms can sometimes deactivate human digestive enzymes and convert human bile or elements of food into chemicals, which allows the development of diseases. In addition, certain by-products of bacterial enzyme activity, such as ammonia, can even possibly affect normal brain function. These by-products, when assimilated by the body, also need to be processed by the liver, placing it under further strain.

Gut or intestinal dysbiosis can be triggered by the spreading of pathogenic parasites, yeast and/or bacteria, which may in itself have any number of causes. In particular these are high levels of stress; illness and/or high fever; chemical exposure; poor diet; overuse of antibiotics, birth control pills and other medication.

Also, the presence of mercury in the body (for instance in dental amalgams) – it is believed that mercury can produce mutations in intestinal bacteria. These bacteria (either directly or indirectly) can lead to the development of small holes in the gut lining, which may in turn lead to dysbiosis and “leaky gut syndrome”.

Dysbiosis is often an underlying condition in people who are regularly sick (a vicious circle of illness leading to lower levels of good bacteria, in turn leading to a weakened immunity). However, it is commonly misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. It has also been connected with a wide variety of other ailments, such as inflammatory bowel disease (e.g. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), chronic fatigue syndrome, yeast infections and even rheumatoid arthritis.

Could you have dysbiosis?

If you are concerned that you might have an imbalance in your bowel flora, it is always best to consult a qualified health professional. However, if you are afflicted with this condition, you will most likely experience a combination of any or all of the following:

  • fatigue
  • flatulence
  • heartburn
  • burping
  • constipation
  • diarrhoea.
  • headaches
  • intestinal upsets
  • chronic stomach ache (especially after eating)
  • bloating
  • cramping
  • People with dysbiosis also often display a lot of the symptoms usually attributed to Candida albicans. This is because Candida is actually a form of dysbiosis – dysbiosis is simple a wider term, which reflects the fact that yeast organisms may not be the only intestinal “residents” causing these symptoms. In fact, intestinal bacteria or viruses can be the principal reason behind these symptoms, rather than harmful yeasts. Yet, the most severe dysbiosis cases are inclined to involve both yeast and harmful bacteria in the intestines.

How to deal with dysbiosis

While you have dysbiosis or after suffering with an intestinal condition, your body may be more vulnerable to other infections, both bacterial and viral. This is because the makeup of your gut is directly linked to your immune system. As such, addressing the dysbiosis is a good idea – in other words, trying to up your levels of friendly bacteria to help restore balance to your bowel flora.

Lifestyle and diet play a major role in controlling and trying to correct dysbiosis. For instance, avoiding foods and beverages that can inflame the gut or place a strain on the digestive system (including its enzyme reserves); as well as avoiding activities or other factors that can lead to a diminishing of the good bacteria in the body (such as the overuse of antibiotics, smoking, stress etc).

The other side of the coin is, of course, actively trying to do things that support healthy levels of good bacteria in the body. This might mean:

  • including more probiotic foods in your diet (such as natural bio-active yoghurt, fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha and kimchi)
  • and supplementing with probiotic bacteria.