Is an imbalance in your gut bacteria playing with your health?
The digestive tract is full of harmless bacteria (microbiota) that live in in our gut.1 Those beneficial microbes assist with multiple body functions such as digestion, mood and immune system regulation, energy and vitamin production or detoxification of harmful substances.1,2
Dysbiosis is a condition of having imbalances in the microbial communities in or outside our body. However, some factors (see below ‘possible contributing factors to dysbiosis’) may contribute to shifting the balance towards non-beneficial/harmful bacteria.
Possible contributing factors to dysbiosis2
· Smoking/Lack of exercise/Antibiotic use/C-section birth/Polluted water/Medications/Low Stomach acid/ Stress/Infection/High carbohydrate/sugar diet/High Fat/ Alcohol intake/ Lack of fibre
Signs and symptoms of dysbiosis3,4,5
· Flatulence/Belching/Bloating/Loose stools/Constipation/IBS/Acid reflux/Nausea/Abdominal cramps/pain/Candida/Weight gain/Anxiety/Depression/low mood/Brain fog/ Fatigue/Autoimmune conditions/ Skin conditions/Allergies/Sinus congestion
Diet and lifestyle
· Avoid foods harmful bacteria thrive on. This include foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates9 such as biscuits, pastries, white pasta or white bread.
· Avoid/reduce alcohol consumption as it promotes the growth of harmful bacteria8.
· Reduce meat consumption as it can affect the composition of the microbiota6
· Increase fibre intake by eating fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds to support digestion and regular bowel movements and to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria9.
· Include prebiotics foods in diet which feed the health-benefiting bacteria6. These include leeks, asparagus, garlic and onions7.
· Include probiotics foods in diet which promote the growth of beneficial bacteria colonies9. These include: sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, natural live yogurt, miso and tempeh.
· Mindful eating and chewing your food to support digestion.
· Reduce stress which inhibits the growth of good bacteria9.
1. Healthline (2018) What causes dysbiosis and how is it treated? Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/digestive-health/dysbiosis#causes-and-risk-factors (Accessed: 15 May 2018)
2. Nagpal, R., Yadav, H. and Marotta, F. (2014) ‘Gut Microbiota: The Next-Gen Frontier in Preventive and Therapeutic Medicine?’ Front Med.1(15). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269734557_Gut_Microbiota_The_Next-Gen_Frontier_in_Preventive_and_Therapeutic_Medicine?_sg=0mRwZ3IXsQOr5qrPmaHcz6GlCMHywbmrs16NgJ-wSY4bmibDo_2y4LQPhKdpt5zEjIFyTk67fg
3. Kettle and Fire (2018) Gut Dysbiosis: The Digestive Condition You Need to Know About. Available at: https://blog.kettleandfire.com/gut-dysbiosis/ (Accessed: 5 June 2018).
4. Gottfried Institute (2018) Dysbiosis Decoded: Symptoms, Why You Get It, and Link to Autoimmunity, Breast Cancer, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Plus Other Common Conditions. Available at: http://www.saragottfriedmd.com/dysbiosis-symptoms-and-conditions (Accessed: 5 June 2018).
5. Gutdysbiosis.org (2018) Signs and Symptoms of Gut Dysbiosis. Available at: http://www.gutdysbiosis.org/signs-and-symptoms-of-gut-dysbiosis/ (Accessed: 5 June 2018).
6. Zhao, Y. and Yu, Y.B. (2016) ‘Intestinal microbiota and chronic constipation’, Springerplus, 5(1), pp.1130-1138. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4951383/ (Accessed: 5 June 2018).
7. Slavin, J. (2013) ‘Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits’, Nutrients, 5(4), pp.1417-1435. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705355/ (Accessed: 5 June 2018)
8. Patel, S., Behara, R., Swanson, G.R., Forsyth, C.B., Voigt, R.M. and Keshavarzian, A. (2015) ‘Alcohol and the Intestine’, Biomolecules, 5(4), pp.2573-2588. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4693248/ (Accessed: 5 June 2018).
9. Hawrelak, J.A. and Myers, S.P. (2004) ‘The causes of intestinal dysbiosis: a review’, Alternative Medicine Review, 9(2), pp.180-197. Available at: http://anaturalhealingcenter.com/documents/Thorne/articles/intestinal_dysbiosis9-2.pdf (Accessed: 5 June 2018).