If you are struggling with gut health, there’s a good chance you’ve come across the term dysbiosis before. Your gut is filled with around 100 trillion bacteria, some good and some bad. When the ratio of gut bacteria is off, we call this dysbiosis, which can lead to a whole bunch of unfavorable symptoms. Today we are diving into what causes dysbiosis, signs and symptoms of gut imbalances, gut-healing foods and supplements, and so much more!
What is gut dysbiosis?
Dysbiosis is essentially a condition in which there is an imbalance of microorganisms in our gut. A healthy microbiome is balanced in the sense that it has the right ratio of beneficial bacteria to non-beneficial bacteria. When dysbiosis occurs, this ratio is skewed, resulting in too little beneficial bacteria compared to non-beneficial bacteria. Note that this quote on quote “non-beneficial” bacteria has their own essential roles too, but too much of it can outweigh the good.
Our gut microbiomes are essential for digestion, immune function, mood, and more. That being said, gut dysbiosis can be very problematic and manifest as many different symptoms reaching beyond digestion.
Signs and symptoms of a gut imbalance
Given that this imbalance is located in the gut, problems relating to digestion are often the first indicator of dysbiosis.
More commonly recognized symptoms of gut dysbiosis include:
- Gas and bloating
- Abdominal pain
- Odorous stools
- Burping and belching
- Increased cravings for sugar
There are other less commonly recognized symptoms of gut dysbiosis as they present in other parts of the body, seemingly unrelated to the gut. Symptoms include skin conditions like rashes, rosacea, hives, and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Aside from symptoms, many conditions actually stem from gut dysbiosis. These may include:
- Candida – Overgrowth of Yeast
- SIBO – Small bacterial overgrowth
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Metabolic syndrome
- Type 2 diabetes
Once the imbalance of bacteria is addressed through diet and lifestyle interventions, we often see these conditions resolve or see a relief/reduction in symptoms.
Gut healing foods we love
In treating gut dysbiosis, we take an individualized approach, evaluating one’s signs/symptoms, diet, and lifestyle alongside stool testing and blood work if necessary. While treatment methods vary from person to person, the foods we recommend incorporating in order to help heal the gut remain the same.
We look for foods that are anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense, and have pre/probiotics so that we can begin to create favorable conditions in the gut to promote healing.
Some gut healing foods we love here:
- Bone broth! (rich in L-glutamine, and collagen which help heal the gut lining)
- Salmon (rich in omega 3’s and is anti-inflammatory)
- Asparagus (great source of prebiotics)
- Root veggies – parsnips, carrots, and sweet potato (nutrient-dense and full of fiber)
- Chia and flax seeds (rich in omega 3’s and fiber, and is anti-inflammatory)
- Turmeric (anti-inflammatory)
- Ginger ( aids in digestion)
- Olive and Avocado Oil (anti-inflammatory)
- Leafy greens (anti-inflammatory
- Garlic and onion (anti-microbial properties)
- Oregano (anti-microbial properties)
In addition to food, there are some supplements we love to promote a balanced gut microbiome.
- Omega 3’s
Lifestyle factors that influence gut health
Gut health is not just a result of diet; rather it is largely dependent on lifestyle as well. For example, the gut is very sensitive to stress. Stress is not just a result of your day to day interactions and challenges, but the body can also interpret alcohol, poor sleep, lack of movement as stress.
While healing the gut, we cannot stress enough how critical it is to improve your sleep quality, manage stress, and engage in daily exercise. We find that they all go hand in hand. If you exercise you are likely to have decreased stress levels and, in turn, sleep better and vice versa. Figuring out a routine that works for you is key. This may look like doing a daily morning meditation or journal session, then going for a midday walk or doing a pilates flow, and lastly a nighttime routine that sets you up for a restful sleep.
The Bottom Line
Imbalances in the gut microbiome are more common than you might think, and in many cases are at the center of other conditions/diseases. In most cases, dysbiosis can be treated through a holistic approach, by assessing one’s diet, lifestyle, and mental state. When working with dysbiosis, we encourage rebalancing and healing the gut through powerful foods, herbs, and supplements alongside lifestyle changes to reduce stress.