Dysbiosis: what is it and how does it relate to IBS? This post is your ultimate guide on what dysbiosis is, what causes it and what you can do about it.
First Up: What is Dysbiosis?
Dysbiosis refers to an imbalance of healthy and unhealthy gut flora in your body. It can occur on the skin, in the digestive system, in the vagina, in the nose… it’s able to occur anywhere in and on the body.
What Problems Can Dysbiosis Cause?
Correcting dysbiosis is connected with the maintenance of general health and wellbeing. If you have dysbiosis, you’ll be susceptible to all kinds of compromises to your health.
These compromises include (but are not limited to):
- Increased risk of infection in/on the body e.g. SIBO, MRSA, Influenza, Recurrent UTI’s
- IBD e.g. Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis
- IBS symptoms e.g. constipation, diarrhoea, digestive pain and bloating
- Autoimmune conditions e.g. Hashimoto’s, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis
- Skin conditions e.g. acne, eczema
- Reproductive Issues e.g. PCOS, Endometriosis, Infertility
- Mental Health Conditions e.g. Autism, Anxiety, Depression
Correcting dysbiosis is a major part of managing the above issues and having dysbiosis will be a major contributor to any of the above.
What Can Cause Dysbiosis?
There are lots of ways in which dysbiosis can occur. It’s important to consider that some people are more susceptible than others to developing this imbalance.
Factors That Increase Dysbiosis Risk:
- C-section Birth
- The evidence shows that those who are born via c-section are colonised with the skin flora of their parents, rather than the vaginal microbes from the mother’s birth canal. This will impair a person’s immune health and allergy development as they grow up.
- General Parental Microbiome Health
- The health of the grandmother’s and mother’s microbiome can influence the gene expression of the child as they’re developing. This can set the scene for risks of dysbiosis and development of genetic health conditions later on.
- Being “Too Clean”
- Excessive use of antibacterial soaps and bleaches in the home can make the environment you live in “too sterile”. Exposure to lots of germs, particularly while you’re growing up, is essential for a healthy microbial balance.
There are certain aspects of health and lifestyle that have an established causal link with dysbiosis. What’s great about some of these causes is that they are totally within your power to change today!
Here is a list of some causative factors:
- Antibiotic Use
- A processed diet (food from packets and boxes)
- Increased stress levels/Traumatic events
- Nutrient deficiency
- Diet without fermented food/drinks
- Unfiltered tap water
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Certain medications
- High sugar diet
- High-fat diet
- Alcohol abuse
- Consuming foods you are intolerant to
How Can Dysbiosis Be Balanced?
That’s a complex one – everyone’s body is different. The cookie-cutter approach to gut restoration will not fit everyone!
One person may have Helicobacter pylori and have no symptoms, while another person will have the same microbe and it’s causing all kinds of problems! Genetics has a lot to do with it, as well as individual food intolerances.
Changes You Can Make
- Switch to a Whole Foods Diet
- Eating whole grains, fresh fruit, unprocessed meat and fresh vegetables will provide you with all of the health benefits, particularly the prebiotics you need for healthy gut flora!
- Reduce Sugar Consumption
- High-level sugar consumption can be a total gift for your bad gut bugs! Refined sugar feeds yeast. People with yeast infections crave sugar all the time, and it’s because the yeast in your body wants to keep growing and dominate even more!
- Moderate Your Saturated Fat Intake
- Saturated fats from animals shouldn’t be completely removed from your diet – just reduce them to a moderate level. This is important because high-fat diets such as the GAPS diet can go on to create issues such as SIBO by feeding fat-hungry bacteria and causing dysbiosis.
- Get a Water Filter for Chlorine
- In Australia, we all have chlorine added to our water supply. This is added to kill bacteria so we don’t get infections (this is decidedly a good thing). The issue is that we then drink this chlorine, which can have the same antibiotic effect on our gut. By filtering the chlorine out before consumption, we remove this everyday exposure to antibiotics and take the pressure off our digestion. I use the filter from Southern Cross Pottery – it’s plastic-free which reduces your exposure to hormone disrupters!
- Eat/Drink Fermented Everything!
- Kombucha, Sauerkraut, Kefir – take your pick! My top pick for beginners is water kefir.
What I Can Do To Help
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, or have some pre-disposing factors to dysbiosis, it’s time to book a FREE 15-Minute Gut Health Assessment with me!
We’ll look at where your symptoms are now, I’ll get to know you and understand how all of this impacts your everyday life. From there, we’ll start the very important work of rebuilding your gut microbiota and getting you back to getting on with enjoying life!
Nutritionist & Naturopath