How To Heal Gut Dysbiosis: Signs, Symptoms & Natural Treatments

Written by Clare Gibson  

Published on January 12 , 2024

If you're grappling with persistent digestive issues, you might have come across the term "dysbiosis." But what exactly is dysbiosis, and how can you reclaim your gut health? Let's dive into the science behind it and explore effective strategies to promote gut healing and get rid of the bloat for good.

What is Gut Dysbiosis and Why Does it Occur?

In essence, dysbiosis represents a disruption in the delicate balance of microorganisms residing within our digestive tracts. These microscopic denizens, collectively known as the gut microbiome, play a crucial role in our overall health, influencing not only digestion but also immune function, mood, and even cognitive performance. 

 

In a healthy gut, beneficial bacteria (think Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) hold sway, keeping detrimental organisms (Clostridium, E. coli) in check. However, various factors, like dietary indiscretions, antibiotic use, or stress, can tip the scales, leading to three main types of dysbiosis:

Types of Gut Dysbiosis

1. Loss of Good Guys: When the helpful microbes dwindle, the bad ones have more space to wreak havoc.

2. Overgrowth of Bad Guys: Those "not-so-friendly" bacteria multiply, overwhelming the good ones and creating a toxic environment.

3. Loss of Diversity: It's not just about numbers, but also variety! A healthy gut has a diverse population of microbes, each with its own unique job. When this diversity shrinks, it weakens the overall health of the ecosystem.

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Symptoms of Gut Dysbiosis

Identifying dysbiosis can be tricky, as symptoms vary from person to person. However, common indicators include

  • Gastrointestinal disturbances: Bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea,             constipation, & acid reflux.
  • Skin issues: Eczema, psoriasisacne, or rosacea.
  • Fatigue and brain fog: Difficulty concentrating, impaired memory, and a persistent sense of exhaustion.
  • Mood imbalances: Anxiety, depression, or irritability.
  • Immune dysregulation: Increased susceptibility to infections and autoimmune conditions.

If you find yourself battling these issues regularly, it's time to pay attention to your gut health.

How to Naturally Treat Gut Dysbiosis

These colourful phytochemicals found in fruits, vegetables, and spices are more than just antioxidants. They act as sophisticated modulators of the gut microbiome, wielding their potency against the bad guys while nurturing the good. Here's how:

 

a) Selective Antagonists: Polyphenols like resveratrol and curcumin can target specific signalling pathways in harmful bacteria, effectively slowing their growth and multiplication. Imagine them as snipers taking out the troublemakers without harming the innocent bystanders.

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b) Prebiotic Powerhouse: Certain polyphenols, like quercetin and ellagic acid, act as prebiotics, providing nourishment for beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacterium. Think of them as fertilizer, stimulating the growth of the good guys to strengthen their ranks and outcompete the bad.

 

c) Anti-inflammatory Shield: Dysbiosis often translates to gut inflammation. Polyphenols possess powerful anti-inflammatory properties, shielding both gut cells and beneficial bacteria from the damaging effects of toxins produced by harmful bacteria. This creates a calmer, more healing environment for the microbiome to thrive.

Here are some polyphenol-rich foods and supplements to add to your routine: 

  • Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are bursting with anthocyanins and ellagic acid.
  • Apples: Choose apple varieties like Gala and Fuji for their high quercetin content.
  • Dark Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale, and collard greens offer a potent mix of sulforaphane and quercetin.
  • Spices: Turmeric's curcumin and ginger's gingerols pack a double punch against harmful bacteria.
  • Chocolate: Opt for dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher) for its flavanols and gut-friendly fibre.
  • Supplements: Polyphenol-packed supplements like DAYLY Gut Health are great options for maximising your intake, whilst also supporting inflammation and gut healing. The product uses multiple types of polyphenols, maximising the microbiome restoration potential. It also tastes great which is a plus for supplements in this category. 

2. Eat more fibre

Fibre, the indigestible part of plant-based foods, acts as a prebiotic feast for your gut bacteria. Think of it as the fuel that keeps the good guys thriving and multiplying. Aim for 25-35 grams of fibre daily through:

  • Whole grains: Opt for brown rice, quinoa, and oats instead of refined grains.
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are fibre and protein powerhouses.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Aim for a rainbow of colours to maximise fibre intake.

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3. Say No to Sugar

Refined sugars act like candy for harmful bacteria, promoting their growth and tipping the scales towards dysbiosis. Ditch the sugary sodas, processed snacks, and excessive added sugars in your cooking. Opt for natural sweeteners like fruits and honey in moderation.

4. Stress Less

Chronic stress can trigger hormonal imbalances that disrupt the gut microbiome and alter microbial diversity. Implement stress-reduction techniques like meditation, yoga, or spending time in nature to create a calmer internal environment for your gut flora to flourish.

Can probiotics help heal dysbiosis? 

While probiotics have gained popularity for promoting gut health, they’re not the best solution for those dealing with dysbiosis, especially in cases of SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). Here’s why: 

  • Fueling the Fire: Adding more bacteria, even good ones, to a gut already overrun with bad ones can often just worsen symptoms, leaving you feeling uncomfortable and with more issues than you started. 
  • Targeting the Right Strain Matters: Different probiotic strains have different effects. Choosing the wrong one for your specific dysbiosis can be counterproductive if not done correctly. Not to mention most supermarket brands have too little bacteria to make a clinical difference anyway.
  • SIBO & probiotics: Up to 80% of IBS cases involve SIBO. In these cases, adding more bacteria, even probiotics, can exacerbate the overgrowth in the small intestine, causing more bloating and discomfort.

Understanding and addressing gut dysbiosis naturally involves a comprehensive approach to restoring balance to your gut microbiome and doesn’t happen overnight. By incorporating polyphenol-rich foods as sophisticated modulators, fueling your gut bacteria with fibre, eliminating excess sugars, and managing stress levels, you will be on your way to healing your gut and getting rid of the bloat, for good. 

References: 

 

Achufusi, T. G. O., Sharma, A., Zamora, E. A., & Manocha, D. (2020). Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth: Comprehensive Review of Diagnosis, Prevention, and Treatment Methods. Cureus12(6), e8860. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.8860

 

DeGruttola, A. K., Low, D., Mizoguchi, A., & Mizoguchi, E. (2016). Current Understanding of Dysbiosis in Disease in Human and Animal Models. Inflammatory bowel diseases22(5), 1137–1150. https://doi.org/10.1097/MIB.0000000000000750

 

Madison, A., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. (2019). Stress, depression, diet, and the gut microbiota: human-bacteria interactions at the core of psychoneuroimmunology and nutrition. Current opinion in behavioral sciences28, 105–110. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cobeha.2019.01.011

 

Molinari, R., Merendino, N., & Costantini, L. (2022). Polyphenols as modulators of pre-established gut microbiota dysbiosis: State-of-the-art. BioFactors (Oxford, England)48(2), 255–273. https://doi.org/10.1002/biof.1772

 

Satokari R. (2020). High Intake of Sugar and the Balance between Pro- and Anti-Inflammatory Gut Bacteria. Nutrients12(5), 1348. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12051348

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