Dysbiosis refers to a state of or within our bodies in which there exists an imbalance of microorganisms. It’s a fancy, science-y way of saying that something is out of balance. When in balance, the microorganisms that inhabit our bodies have a good effect on us. When they are out of balance, we usually don’t like the results.
What’s Gut Dysbiosis
This is especially the case with gut dysbiosis, also called intestinal or gastrointestinal dysbiosis. With this condition, the microorganisms that inhabit our intestines or gut are out of balance. These microorganisms, known as gut flora or gut microbiome, are various strains of bacteria, with a smattering of fungi and protozoa.
The gut microbiome is essential for digestion and a healthy immune system. If your gut is in a state of dysbiosis, you may suffer from digestive issues and other health problems.
Health Problems Caused by Gut Dysbiosis
Although gut dysbiosis has been linked to a slew of health problems, exactly what role it plays is not always clear. And more confusingly, many of the health conditions linked to dysbiosis are not all digestive issues, such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Metabolic syndrome
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Type 2 diabetes
- Atopic eczema
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Causes of Gut Dysbiosis
An imbalance of your gut microbiome signals a change in the population of the microbiota in your gut. Generally, when this happens, the beneficial microbes are overpowered by the unhelpful ones. A snowball effect occurs, as the smaller number of beneficial microbiota have a harder time keeping the “unfriendlies” from multiplying.
In addition, dysbiosis can happen when the location of the microorganisms in the intestines change, or how they are operating changes.
The following factors may also contribute to a state of dysbiosis:
- Antibiotic use (either medications or consumption of antibiotic-treated animal products)
- Unhealthy diet (lacking in fiber and nutrients or containing harmful substances)
- Alcohol abuse
- Secondary to a medical illness, such as chemotherapy for cancer
- High life stress levels
Improving Your Gut Health
Dysbiosis can theoretically be improved through better dietary and lifestyle habits, such as eating a balanced, nutritious diet and engaging in mind/body techniques for stress management.
The research on the relationship between gut dysbiosis and our health is still in preliminary stages, although it is rapidly expanding. Several treatment options have received some research support for improving a state of dysbiosis, including prebiotics and probiotics.
Currently, this area of medicine is in its preliminary stages. A definite answer to how to improve gut dysbiosis and how that will affect health disorders is to yet available. However, prebiotics and probiotics seem to be a promising area.