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Gut Dysbiosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Updated on October 8, 2021
Written by
Emjay B
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There are colonies of good and bad bacteria in the gut. This is the normal gut microbiota composition.

The gut microbes found in your gut microbiome are typically harmless. They usually contribute to normal body processes.

A healthy balance must exist between good and bad bacteria in the gut. A shift in favor of the bad bacteria causes dysbiosis.

Gut Dysbiosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment 4

What is Gut Dysbiosis and Its Signs and Symptoms?

Gut dysbiosis occurs Gut dysbiosis occurs when a gut colony goes out of whack. When gut microbiome balance is disrupted, gut dysbiosis happens.

Some common symptoms related to gut dysbiosis are mild and temporary. These include:

  • Bad breath
  • Belching
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach

In most cases, mild symptoms won’t need treatment. However, these are not the only symptoms that one should look out for. Some people can have gut dysbiosis without digestive symptoms.

Most of the time, the signs and symptoms of dysbiosis do not show in the gut. Symptoms like the following also point toward gut dysbiosis:

  • Allergies
  • Autoimmune problems
  • Anxiety
  • Brain fog
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Skin issues 

Furthermore, some issues are harder to pin down. These include:

  • Intense carbohydrate and sugar cravings
  • Recurrent hives
  • Rosacea
  • Rashes 

Other gut dysbiosis symptoms that you should look out for include:

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  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Fatigue
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Joint pain
  • Nausea
  • Vaginal or rectal itching

What Causes Gut Dysbiosis?

An interruption in the normal balance of your gut microbiota can cause gut dysbiosis. In this case, the good gut bacteria are outnumbered by the bad. 

Different factors may cause gut dysbiosis. You must identify what caused the imbalance so it can be corrected.

Some factors that may cause gut dysbiosis are:

  • Significant dietary changes
  • A weakened immune system
  • Accidental consumption of chemicals such as pesticides
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Certain medications
  • Unprotected sex, exposing you to harmful bacteria

Medications that affect the gut flora include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antacids
  • Oral contraceptive pills
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Steroids

What Conditions are Linked with Gut Dysbiosis?

Gut Dysbiosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment 5

Gut dysbiosis has been linked to various health problems. It plays a role in the development of serious medical conditions.

It is said to affect the immune system and other organ systems. However, its specific role has yet to be fully identified.

Dysbiosis also leads to increased intestinal permeability. This triggers inflammation throughout the human body.

Some medical conditions closely linked with gut dysbiosis include:

  • Candida yeast infection
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Celiac disease
  • Colon Cancer
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Dementia
  • Diabetes
  • Eczema
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Leaky gut syndrome
  • Liver disease
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • Rectal Cancer
  • Ulcerative Colitis

What does gut dysbiosis lead to?

IBD is a common condition associated with dysbiosis. But there is more to gut dysbiosis than digestive-related conditions.

Gut dysbiosis may lead to Parkinson’s Disease and Huntington’s Disease. These are cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

Dysbiosis is also linked to neurological conditions such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Autism
  • Depression
  • Stroke 

Gut dysbiosis may cause metabolic diseases like diabetes. Other conditions include:

  • Obesity
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Cardiovascular disease (such as hypertension)

Is dysbiosis the same as leaky gut?

No, gut dysbiosis and leaky gut are not the same. However, if it is left untreated, it can lead to a leaky gut.

The intestinal wall normally has tight junctions. When the wall is compromised, hyper-permeability occurs.

Leaky gut is caused by increased intestinal permeability. This causes the following to leak into the bloodstream:

  • Bacteria
  • Toxins
  • Undigested food particles

The body recognizes these substances as “foreign.” It will trigger immune responses, launching an attack. This causes inflammation throughout the body.

At-home microbiome test kits are available if you want to learn about the status of your gut. Thryve’s Gut Health Program provides you a comprehensive picture of your gut microbiome.

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How do you cure gut dysbiosis?

Several factors cause gut dysbiosis. The best way to treat this is to take a holistic, comprehensive approach to address the signs and symptoms and go to the root of the problem.

There is no cookie-cutter treatment plan when dealing with gut dysbiosis. It should be tailored according to the needs of the patient, symptoms, and lifestyle.

There are many components of the gut dysbiosis treatment plan. Here are some of the most common ones:

Dietary Modification

Gut Dysbiosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment 6

Your diet plays a major role in the health of your gut. If your poor eating habits caused dysbiosis, a nutrition plan will work best for you. Eating the right kinds of food will help you achieve a healthy gut.

The right amounts of essential nutrients will keep bacterial balance in check. These nutrients include:

  • Beta-carotene
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamins B6 and B12
  • Zinc

Probiotics and prebiotics help, too.

Additionally, your doctor may ask you to:

  • Stop eating processed meats (canned, salted, and deli meat)
  • Avoid overeating carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread, oats, and corn
  • Eat apples, bananas, and grapes in moderation
  • Limit intake of dairy, including cheese and milk
  • Avoid foods high in sugar, such as maple and corn syrup

It is highly recommended that you include the following into your diet:

  • Almond milk
  • Carrots
  • Collard greens
  • Ginger
  • Green beans
  • Green tea
  • Kale
  • Mackerel
  • Non-processed meat
  • Okra
  • Pepper
  • Potatoes
  • Salmon
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Water

Lifestyle Changes

Excessive alcohol consumption and poor dental hygiene can cause gut dysbiosis. Moderate drinking and good oral health can help ensure the healthy balance of bacteria. Even the most minor effort will go a long way.

Sleep

Sleep is a critical factor in the treatment of gut dysbiosis. A research study showed that total sleep time and increased sleep efficiency have positive correlations with total microbiome diversity. This means that better sleep quality and longer sleeping hours are needed for a healthy gut microbiome.

Stress Management

Learning how to manage stress and anxiety is very crucial in healing gut dysbiosis. Try doing the following:

  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Yoga
  • Deep breathing exercises

Use of Medicines

Certain medications negatively impact gut health. This leads to dysbiosis in the intestinal microbiota.

In a 2020 multi-drug meta-analysis, it was revealed that 18 commonly used drug categories cause almost imperceptible damage to the gut microbiome. Antibiotics, laxatives, and proton pump inhibitors topped the list.

These drugs, especially antibiotics, affect the balance in the intestinal flora in various ways. Some of them cause a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth of bad bacteria. In contrast, others increase the production of fatty acids.

Dysbiosis Prevention Tips

Here are some tips on how to prevent intestinal dysbiosis and ensure good gut health:

  • Listen to what your body is telling you
  • Implement necessary lifestyle changes
  • Sleep right and eat right
  • Avoid foods that are not good for you
  • Say no to excessive alcohol consumption

If you want a healthy gut and a healthy body, seek treatment. Listen to medical advice and do your part - your body will reward you for your effort. 

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Emjay B
Content Contributor
Emjay is a content writer for Know Your DNA. As a Physical Therapist and a registered nurse, she has extensive medical knowledge and hands-on experience in patient care. After getting her nursing license, she pursued full-time writing focused on healthcare.
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