Understanding gut dysbiosis

We have billions of bacteria living in our digestive tract, tucked into the mucous membranes – a huge garden of microbes. We’ve evolved with these bacteria, which are essential to our health. We cannot live without them.

It is now understood that a healthy microbiome is important for nearly all aspects of our health. Many different disciplines – microbiology, neurobiology, immunology, nutritionists – now acknowledge the role of our microbes.

Gut bacteria ferment the food we eat and break down the connective fibres that we can’t digest. Bacteria produce even more nutrients during this process that help us. Some researchers believe that our microbiome should be considered a vital organ.

Gut microbes can impact mood, energy, weight, clear thinking, immunity, skin, joints and how well you feel overall. If the balance is off, we can feel off. This imbalance is called dysbiosis.

Why does dysbiosis happen?

While changes in gut flora can be rapid​1,2​, dysbiosis tends to develop over time due to a diet low in fruit and vegetables – prebiotic fibre for gut microbes. Species and numbers will reduce. Gut bacteria thrive on fibrous fruits, vegetables, grains and beans.

If you use a garden as an example, weeds can quickly take over if the main plants are removed or not thriving. The gut works the same way. Unfriendly microbes can quickly multiply if there isn’t enough competition to keep them out.

Some medicines, antibiotics, sweeteners, laxatives and preservatives/additives in processed food can deplete your healthy gut microbiome. Other factors that can cause damage to your gut microbiome are restrictive diets, stress, constipation/diarrhoea, and digestive tract infections.

How gut dysbiosis impacts your health and wellbeing

Quite often, gut dysbiosis shows up as digestive problems like bloating, gas, diarrhoea and constipation. However, it’s important to rule out any other conditions that can mimic gut dysbiosis, so check your symptoms with an experienced practitioner.

Dysbiosis can cause a range of problems, since we rely heavily on bacteria to produce some key vitamins, antioxidants, fatty acids and neurotransmitters. Microbes influence how sensitive we are to insulin, how we metabolise fat and respond to inflammation, and can impact our skin and immune system.

Regaining a healthy gut microbiome

Herbal medicine, dietary choices, and pre- and probiotics can be important in recolonising the gut with healthy bacteria.

Every time you eat, it’s an opportunity to nourish your healthy flora – feed them with a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, herbs and spices. Research shows us that the changes occur within days – every meal improves your microbiome.

Naturopaths or herbalists are able to prescribe individualised herbal formulas to improve your gut microbiome, which will, in turn, reduce inflammation, heal your intestine walls, and improve digestion.

Probiotics can be tailored to your specific circumstance.

Getting support for gut dysbiosis

To balance your gut microbiome, I will first test your microbiome using functional testing, microbiome mapping (GI Map), and if necessary, vaginal microbiome mapping. I’ll use herbal medicine, food and pre- and probiotics to restore your healthy gut microbiome and reduce uncomfortable symptoms.

If you’re experiencing vaginal symptoms, improving your overall microbiome can work very well to alleviate vaginal microbiome disturbances. Book here.

References

  1. 1.
    David LA, Maurice CF, Carmody RN, et al. Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Nature. Published online December 11, 2013:559-563. doi:10.1038/nature12820
  2. 2.
    Leeming ER, Johnson AJ, Spector TD, Le Roy CI. Effect of Diet on the Gut Microbiota: Rethinking Intervention Duration. Nutrients. Published online November 22, 2019:2862. doi:10.3390/nu11122862


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Simone Jeffries - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner (BHScN)

Simone Jeffries - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner (BHScN)

Simone is a passionate naturopath with a special interest and training in vulvovaginal and gut health, candida, urinary tract infections and menopausal changes.Simone is a qualified, experienced naturopath, Certified Wellness Coach and a SIBO practitioner, certified with the SIBO Doctor.Simone has a Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy) from Endeavour College of Natural Medicine in Sydney, Australia, and is a member of the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA).
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