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Gut Dysbiosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Updated on: July 22, 2021
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There are colonies of good and bad bacteria in the gut. This is the normal gut microbiota composition. These gut microbes found in your gut microbiome are typically harmless. They usually positively affect your health. They contribute to the normal and natural processes of the human body. 

A balance must exist between good and bad bacteria in the gut microbiota for the body to remain healthy. Even the slightest shift of balance in favor of the bad bacteria causes dysbiosis.

Gut Dysbiosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment 1

What is gut dysbiosis and its signs and symptoms?

Gut dysbiosis occurs when one of the colonies in your gut microbiome goes out of whack. The normal balance is disrupted. When there’s an imbalance in your gut microbiome, gut dysbiosis may happen.

Some common symptoms related to gut dysbiosis, such as an upset stomach, bad breath, bloating, and nausea, may be mild and temporary. In most cases, they won’t need treatment. But if you’re experiencing severe symptoms, you need to talk to your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

For most people, gut dysbiosis is easy to diagnose because the signs and symptoms are very obvious. The common symptoms of dysbiosis are abdominal pain, belching, diarrhea, constipation, and gas bloating. However, these are not the only symptoms that one should look out for.

The truth is, even if dysbiosis starts in the gut microbiome, some people can have it without manifesting gastrointestinal tract-related 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, and rashes

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

  • chest pain
  • difficulty urinating
  • fatigue
  • having trouble concentrating
  • joint pain
  • nausea
  • vaginal or rectal itching

We reviewed the top 5 microbiome test kits for testing your gut health. Read Now.

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 have caused gut dysbiosis. You must identify what prompted the imbalance in your gut microbiome. This is so that it can be corrected immediately.

Some factors that may cause gut dysbiosis are:

  • Significant dietary changes. These include an increase in the intake of foods rich in sugar, protein, and food additives.
  • A weakened immune system due to your inability to manage stress and anxiety.
  • Accidental consumption of chemicals such as pesticides
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Poor dental hygiene allows bad gut bacteria to grow in your mouth.
  • Taking medications that affect the gut flora. These include antibiotics, antacids, oral contraceptive pills, over-the-counter pain relievers, and steroids.
  • Unprotected sex, exposing you to harmful bacteria

What Conditions are Linked with Gut Dysbiosis?

Gut Dysbiosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment 2

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

It is theorized that dysbiosis affects the immune system and other organ systems. However,  its specific role has yet to be fully identified. 

Furthermore, dysbiosis leads to increased intestinal permeability. This triggers inflammation throughout the human body.

Some medical conditions that are closely associated with gut dysbiosis include:

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

What does gut dysbiosis lead to?

Inflammatory bowel disease is one of the most common conditions associated with dysbiosis. However, there is more to gut dysbiosis than digestive-related conditions.

Gut dysbiosis plays a role in cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. These include Parkinson’s Disease and Huntington’s Disease. These are usually brought about by inflammation. Dysbiosis is linked to neurological conditions such as anxiety, autism, depression, and stroke

Additionally, gut dysbiosis may also lead to metabolic disease like diabetes. Other conditions include obesity, chronic kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease such as hypertension.

Is dysbiosis the same as leaky gut?

No, gut dysbiosis is not the same as leaky gut. However, gut microbiome dysbiosis, if left untreated, can eventually lead to a leaky gut.

Keep in mind that gut dysbiosis is an imbalance. This imbalance causes a disturbance in the normally tight junctions of the intestinal wall. When the intestinal wall is compromised, hyper-permeability occurs. 

Leaky gut is caused by increased intestinal permeability. Toxins, bacteria, and undigested food particles leak out into the bloodstream. The body recognizes these substances as “foreign” and will trigger immune responses. The immune system will launch an attack, causing 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.

How do you cure gut dysbiosis?

Several different 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 3

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

To ensure the prevention and treatment of microbial dysbiosis, you should be getting the right amounts of essential nutrients that keep bacterial balance in check. These nutrients include beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, Vitamins B6 and B12, and zinc. Probiotics and prebiotics help, too.

Additionally, your doctor may ask you to:

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

It is highly recommended that you incorporate 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 are believed to be some of the causes of gut dysbiosis. A lifestyle change is needed to ensure the healthy balance of beneficial bacteria and harmful gut bacteria. Remember that even the most minor effort will go a long way.


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 quality of sleep and having more sleeping hours lead to a healthy gut microbiome.

Stress Management

Learning how to manage stress and anxiety is very crucial in healing gut dysbiosis. Practicing mindfulness meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises can help a lot. 

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

To prevent intestinal dysbiosis and ensure good gut health, listen to what your body is telling you. Then, implement necessary lifestyle changes by sleeping right and eating right. Avoid foods that are not good for you and 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. 

The Ultimate Guide for a Healthy Gut. Read our 2021 Guide.

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