Chances are, you’ve got it; and that’s why you’re reading this today. But don’t worry: Although the word itself sounds pretty intimidating—as is often the case with medical terminology—the jargon’s scarier than the reality.
Put simply, dysbiosis is just a fancy word for “imbalance.” So a gut in dysbiosis is simply an “off-balance” gut.
Your GI tract—or your microbiome—is home to a vast array of microbes. To oversimplify things, a balanced microbiome means your gut houses equal amounts of healthy and unhealthy microbes (or, even better, more healthy than unhealthy).
A gut in dysbiosis, on the other hand, has more bad microbes than good; and once that careful balance is disrupted, you open the door for a host of potential problems.
Once the scales are tipped in favor of the “bad” microbes, your gut becomes their breeding ground. As a result, the good microbes reduce in both number and strength; and that’s when your health starts declining.
At best, dysbiosis can make it difficult to reach your health goals (from losing weight to increasing your energy to fighting off cravings and just about anything in-between). At worst, it can lead to severe health problems both immediately and down the road.
Everything in “Moderation?” Common Causes of Bacterial Dysbiosis
Alright, let’s review: A healthy gut is a balanced gut. A gut in dysbiosis is out of balance, which causes a range of minor and major health problems. With me so far? Good. Then the next question’s probably obvious: What causes the scales to become unbalanced?
Unfortunately, a lot of things; and that’s why America (and much of the world) is experiencing an undiagnosed dysbiosis epidemic.
Here’s a look at some of the most common causes of dysbiosis:
- Diet – Someone’s gotta say it: A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates (read: fast food and microwavable insta-meals) doesn’t just make you fat. It destroys your gut. Don’t worry: We’ll talk more about what a gut-healthy diet looks like later.
- Alcohol – I know, this kind of falls into the “diet” category; but it’s such a big gut-killer that it deserves its own section. I’m all for enjoying a glass of wine from time to time but, I mean, those crazy Friday nights on the town aren’t doing your gut any favors.
- Antibiotics – Don’t get me wrong: Antibiotics have their place. But make no mistake: Even a single round of antibiotics can disrupt the careful balance in your gut for up to a full year after the round has run its course.
- Birth control – Anything that alters the natural hormone balance in your body can throw off what’s going on in your gut. Plus, there’s also the fact that many birth control options have more than just hormones in them, and these additives can be toxic to the microbiome.
- Proton pump inhibitors – Like antibiotics, PPIs absolutely have their place. The problem comes when what should generally be a short-term solution is turned into a long-term solution. By limiting your body’s ability to produce stomach acid, you’re also reducing your body’s ability to break down food and nutrients (as well as fight off a host of bad bacteria).
- Chronic stress – Stress—both high-grade and low—produces a hormone called cortisol. Like most things, cortisol is completely fine in moderation. But in large quantities, this hormone can cause chronic inflammation, disrupt pH balance, and lead to a host of gut-related issues.
- Environmental factors – Heavy metals in your food and water, aluminum in your deodorant, inhalation of fungus/mold in your house, and consistent exposure to manufactured chemicals in many household cleaning supplies is a leading cause of dysbiosis.
- Vaccines – Look, I know, I just pissed off half of you. I’m not looking to jump into the vaccine debate here, but let me just say this: Regardless of where you stand on vaccines, one thing is scientifically undeniable: The heavy metals in most vaccines wreak havoc on your gut.
So … I’m just gonna say what’s probably pretty obvious now: If you live in Western society and haven’t take consistent, proactive steps to health and protect your gut, you have a gut in dysbiosis.
That said, let me be clear: I’m not judging you, nor am I saying all of the above are bad. I love cake. I (really) love wine. And I even think antibiotics have their place. Everything in moderation, after all.
The problem is … Westernized culture doesn’t exactly pride itself on the concept of moderation. Antibiotics are prescribed as the go-to solution. Sugar-filled pastries and cereals are breakfast cornerstones. Alcohol is a social ritual. Stress and busyness are seen as a badge of honor, rather than the red flag they should be.
One might even go so far as to say we glorify and celebrate the very things that rot us from the inside out. Um, ew. There’s a visual for you.
All of that to say: Given the state of our diets and environments, is it really that surprising our nation’s in the middle of dysbiosis epidemic?
Alright, What Exactly Does Bacterial Dysbiosis Do?
I’m afraid we got things off on the wrong foot. I promise: This book isn’t all doom, gloom, and scare tactics. If that’s the impression you’re getting, it’s just that I really want you to understand how important this all is.
Gut health isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. In some cases, it really is a matter of life and death. And in most cases, it’s at least a matter of comfort and discomfort; of health and disease. And I think that’s worth understanding.
So before we get to the rainbows and sunshine (and I promise, they are coming), I want to take just a moment to paint a crystal-clear picture of the damage dysbiosis can cause. Because although all dysbiosis really means is “unbalanced,” well … Think of it this way:
At the end of the day, the only thing separating a tight rope walker from 100 feet of freefall followed by a very unpleasant “splat” is one thing: Balance. So let’s just say balance is kinda-sorta-super important. Cool? Cool.
So what happens when we don’t have that vital balance? Here’s a look at some common and severe health problems that have been linked to dysbiosis.
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Parkinson’s disease
- Heart disease
- Numerous skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and psoriasis
- Type 2 diabetes
- Breast cancer
- Chronic fatigue
- Diarrhea and constipation
- Obesity and excessive weight gain
- Poor immune health
- Autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto’s, arthritis, and lupus
- Anxiety and depression
And let’s be real: Was that a complete list of every condition, disorder, and disease linked to dysbiosis and poor gut health?
Absolutely not. But even if I were to write a comprehensive list, it’d be outdated by the end of the week with the rate at which science is discovering new links.
At the very least, I hope this meager list was eye-opening and that it’s made you realize that balancing your gut isn’t just a “should” for a happy, healthy, energetic life; it’s a “must.”
Because at the end of the day, your gut health is your responsibility. Too often, modern medicine’s approach is to treat the symptom of a problem rather than the root; and the root is often dysbiosis.
But, hey, don’t take my word for it. Hippocrates—the Father of Modern Medicine—knew long before the rest of us just how important the gut is in overall health and wellbeing.
“All disease,” he said, “Begins in the gut.”
So no matter what health challenges you’re facing—whether you’re looking to lose a few pounds or overcome a lifelong condition—know this: It starts with balancing your gut and overcoming bacterial dysbiosis.
Doing all of the research and label reading can be difficult if you have any questions about probiotics, prebiotics, antifungal supplements, diet, or dysbiosis – please contact us. We have done the hard part already and are here to help you out.
If you want to schedule a one on one consultation, we would be honored to help you reach your health goals. Just follow this link.
Wishing you the best health and the most happiness