What is Dysbiosis: How Bacteria in Your Body Disrupts Your Health

Dysbiosis is a condition that affects many people, whether they are aware of it or not. Dysbiosis has been associated with diseases and illnesses such as IBS, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, Autism and Obesity. And though it is a common condition, its effect on the body is still largely misunderstood.

This article will be review what dysbiosis is, what its causes are and how it can be treated.

First, we will break down what dysbiosis is.

What is Dysbiosis?

Dysbiosis or dysbacteriosis is the imbalance of microbial communities within the body. This can manifest in higher occurrenceof certain bacteria, lack of occurence of bacteria and lack of diversity of bacteria. An imbalance may occur in any of the microbial sites of the body – including the skin, gut, vagina and nose.

Dysbiosis is commonly associated with GI related conditions such as SIBO, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis and more. Though dysbiosis is not only associated with the gut microbiome, it can also affect the other microbiomes of the body, including the skin, mouth and nose.

What causes dysbiosis?

There are some known factors in the causation of dysbiosis but not all factors are known or fully understood. Among the known factors that can lead to dysbiosis are changes in diet, antibiotic use and stress. Often dysbiosis is onset by some combination of these factors and predispositions may also play a role.

Studies have shown that exposure to disinfectants, household cleaners and other chemicals, specifically at young ages can lead to an increase risk of dysbiosis. Method of birth has also been identified as a predisposing factor in dysbiosis risk. Those born by c-section instead of being vaginally birthed present higher risk for dysbiosis and conditions associated with dysbiosis.

Who is at risk of dysbiosis?

Predisposition, lifestyle and environment can all put a person at a higher risk for dysbiosis. Children born by c-section present a higher risk, as well as children who have high exposure to disinfectants and antibiotics early in life. This is due to the high malleability of the microbiome at developmental stages of childhood.

For those who are older environment and health status can contribute to risk. Again, antibiotic use increases risk, as well as high stress and a compromised immune system. Those in hospital or long term health facilities are at a heightened risk for dysbiosis than those living independently, with fewer bacterial and viral exposures.

Symptoms and conditions of dysbiosis

Dysbiosis symptoms are dependent on the type and location of bacterial imbalance in the body. Dysbiosis can happen in anymicrobiome niche, which includes the gut microbiome, skin microbiome, oral microbiome and more. Symptoms can present from mild to severe and may be associated with other conditions beyond just dysbiosis.

Common symptoms of dysbiosis include:

  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Chest pain
  • Rash
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms for extended periods of time or chronically you should consult with your doctor.

Dysbiosis related conditions

When speaking about dysbiosis and its related conditions we are presented with a chicken and the egg situation. Is the microbiome in dysbiosis the cause of a inflammation or is the inflammation the cause of dysbiosis or perhaps it is a mix of cause and effect. In any case, researchers have identified a relationship between the following diseases/conditions and dysbiosis:

The connection between dysbiosis and these conditions has lead to new types of treatments including Fecal Microbiota Transplants (FMT) and other bacteria focused courses of treatment.

Healing gut dysbiosis

Dysbiosis can be a complicated condition to treat, but there are certain diets and treatments that have been shown to reduce symptoms of dysbiosis. Some people swear by the FODMAP diet, while others utilize the specific carb diet, whatever it is, diet can be an effective way to reduce bacterial imbalance.

Foods to eat:

  • Dark, leafy greens, like spinach and kale
  • Fish
  • Fresh meat (no processed meat)

Foods to avoid:

  • Dairy
  • High sugar foods Processed meats
  • Simple carbohydrates like corn, oats, or bread
  • Some fruits, such as bananas, apples, and grapes

There are also therapies available for dysbiosis, namely FMT.

Fecal microbiota transplants are increasingly being used for the treatment of dysbiosis. The treatment involves transplanting stool from a healthy donor into gut of person in dysbiosis. When transplanted the stool, which is a rich source of microbiota (that is, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses), is able to assist the weakened microbiome of the patient, and returning it to a more balanced and healthy state.