What is Dysbiosis?
ByJoanne Aponte, ND •February 17, 2023
In our gut lives a zoo of bacteria and microorganisms. We call this the microbiome. Every person’s microbiome is unique like a fingerprint. Who we are as unique individuals has a lot do with the bugs that live In our gut. It is estimated that there are 10 times more bacterial cells in our body then there are human cells and there is approximately 3-4 pounds of bacteria in our guts alone!
When the makeup of bacteria in our gut is out of balance, this is called DYSBIOSIS. Dysbiosis usually means that you don’t have enough “good” bacteria or you don’t have enough variety of good bacteria. It can also mean that you have too much bad or inflammatory bacteria.
Having a healthy balance of micro-organisms in the gut is so important. Our gut bacteria help promote normal gut motility (i.e. healthy popping), they maintain immune balance and control inflammation. They help convert nutrients like B vitamins and Vitamin K from our food into usable forms and they help with mineral absorption. Our bacteria also help digest our food. We only have 17 of the enzymes needed to break down carbs and fiber, but our gut bacteria have as many as 60,000 of these enzymes!
The bacteria in our gut help metabolize chemicals from our environment, help control weight, manage blood sugar metabolism and maintain insulin sensitivity. The gut bacteria also make neurochemicals like serotonin to regulate our mood. Our gut bacteria do so many good things!!!
So when there is dysbiosis and you do not have enough good bacteria or enough variety of those good bacteria, we see a higher proportion of inflammatory “bad” bacteria. In other words, when there is not enough good stuff, it allows for the “not-so-good” stuff to overgrow. And these “Bad” bacteria release inflammatory chemicals called endotoxins which cause inflammation in the body and contribute to chronic diseases.
The other thing that happens when there is dysbiosis, is that the gut lining typically loses its integrity, and our gut barrier becomes “leaky”. This is called intestinal permeability. When this happens the metabolic byproducts of our gut microbes, called endotoxins , are able to sneak through the gut lining and cause damage and inflammation systemically.
Because of the inflammation and intestinal permeability that the “bad” gut bacteria cause, dysbiosis is linked not only to a variety of digestive symptoms but also to a long list of chronic health issues. This is why I specialize in gut health in my practice. Because by improving the gut microbiome we can prevent and improve so many chronic health issues.
Symptoms associated with Dysbiosis
- Abdominal pain/cramping, gas, bloating, food sensitivities, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, indigestion, belching and heartburn
- Systemic symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, brain fog, trouble concentrating, skin rashes, acne, joint and muscle aches, sinus congestion
- Dysbiosis can even mess up our hormones! Leading to more PMS and period problems. Click here to read more
Conditions Associated with Dysbiosis
- Autoimmune diseases such as Celiac disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and IBD
- Skin conditions like Psoriasis and Eczema
- Multiple metabolic conditions including Obesity, Diabetes, Fatty liver disease, chronic kidney disease and High cholesterol
- Eosinophilic Esophagitis, Restless Leg Syndrome, Interstitial cystitis, Asthma
- And there are others!!
If you have digestive symptoms or any of the above listed conditions, improving your gut health could be a game changer in improving your overall health. The saying goes “All health begins in the gut”. And modern research is proving this true!
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.