Fermentation Dysbiosis: What is it and why does it occur?

Picture from realfoodryangosling.tumblr.com

Picture from realfoodryangosling.tumblr.com

Dysbiosis was coined in the early 20th century by a doctor named Eli Metchnikoss.  He created the word by combining the root word “dys” (abnormal, ill or diseased) and the word “symbiosis” (a beneficial relationship between 2 organisms).  So dysbiosis essentially means “2 organisms not living in harmony with one another”.  It was this word that he used to describe the imbalance of good and bad bacteria within the body, or the disharmonious relationship between the microbe and the host body.  Dysbiosis is usually seen in the intestinal tract, but can also be found on the skin, vagina, lungs, nose, sinuses, ears, nails or eyes.  And the way it expresses itself in each person can be very different.  One person may develop eczema, while another will show signs of irritable bowel syndrome, and another still will struggle with an autoimmune disease.

I really do believe this unfriendly relationship happening between our bodies and bacteria is the root cause of so many health problems today.  Unfortunately, most people are unaware of this potentially devastating disharmony and treat the symptom(s) rather than the larger, true issue of dysbiosis.  Although there are several types of dysbiosis, let’s take a closer look at fermentation dysbiosis and uncover it’s symptoms, causes and treatments.

So what exactly is fermentation dysbiosis and why does it occur?  It is an overpopulation of unfriendly bacteria in the gut because of the overconsumption of carbohydrate, sugar-rich food.  Foods like alcohol (beer & wine), refined foods, flour, grains, fruit and especially refined sugar, are fuel for the bad bacteria.  They feed on the sugars and produce a by-product, just like every living thing does.  It’s this by-product, this excrement, that is fermented in the gut, creating gas and a bloated belly, which can further irritate the digestive tract to create constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, headaches and an overall feeling of dis-ease.  If this behavior occurs repeatedly over time, chronic inflammation can occur and the disharmony can proliferate into more chronic issues such as candidiasis and leaky gut syndrome.

In addition to a poor diet, medications like NSAIDs (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs), antibiotics, oral contraceptives and antacids, as well as stress, can contribute to this imbalance.  They too are food for the bacteria to thrive on and weaken the immune system.  As well, foods that create a slower transit time, specifically high-fat and low fiber foods, are factors that can also play a part in this picture.

Thankfully, fermentation dysbiosis can usually be treated quite easily through diet change, although one may have to be quite strict, and this could prove difficult if you are experiencing intense cravings.  You should remove all refined foods, beer, wine, dairy, all sugars (refined, raw, honey, etc), grains and only consume low sugar fruits like berries.  Also increase intake of whole foods, lots of vegetables (plant fiber), limit meat consumption to a few times a week and supplement your diet with probiotic rich food like kimchi and sauerkraut.  To be extra vigilant, I would recommend consuming a probiotic pill daily to help support the body’s population of friendly bacteria.  Slippery elm tea is also very good at healing the digestive system.

In addition to these diet and supplemental changes, it is also very important to stop burdening the body with synthetic medications mentioned earlier.  Find other healthy, supportive options for yourself that will add to your well-being instead of subtract from it.  Also, exercise to combat any stress that could be contributing to this disharmony and to strengthen the immune system.  I am a big proponent of yoga, or anything that involves a combination of deep breathing, stretching and strengthening in a low-impact way.  I also love hiking, as it gets you outside and really benefits the body without stressing it out.

Your body can heal itself.  It is completely possible.  If you think you might be dealing with an imbalance of internal floral, try implementing some of the changes mentioned and see what happens.  It will be worth it, I promise!


  1. Digestive Wellness by Elizabeth Lipski
  2. Total Body Tune-up by Dr. Michael Murray


Testing the Transit Time of Your Foods and Why It Can Help You

Transit time refers to the amount of time it takes ingested foods to move through the digestive system, from the time it is taken into the mouth, to the time it is eliminated through our bowel movements.  Testing the transit time of our diet is beneficial because it gives us a clearer picture of  what is going on inside our bodies and helps us to understand the possible problems that may be occurring.  If we discover our food is eliminated in 12 hours or less, this could be an indication that we are not absorbing adequate nutrients from the food, which can result in deficiencies and malnourishment.  If the foods are taking more than 30 hours to be eliminated, this is an indication of constipation, which can result in an increase of bad bacteria in the gut, inflammation throughout the digestive system or the reabsorption of fecal matter back into the bloodstream.
In order to test our food’s transit time, we need to ingest a marker, or rather, something that will be visible in our stool once it is eliminated.  Some of these markers include corn kernels, sesame seeds, charcoal tablets, beetroot or chlorophyll.  The marker you choose will depend on the general color of your stool and/or your personal preference.  If your stool is generally lighter in color then the best markers will be the darker ones, such as charcoal, beetroot or chlorophyll.  If your stool tends to be darker in color than you will find better success with the corn kernels or sesame seeds.  Some people recommend swallowing the kernels and seeds whole so they will be more visible, however this may not be necessary or desired.
Average transit time is anywhere between 12-72 hours, although optimal transit time is between 14-30 hours.  Our transit times will be determined by the foods we’re eating and our overall health, and will vary accordingly.  If we are ingesting mostly low-fat, fiber rich foods like fruits and veggies, and consuming hydrating drinks like water and fresh juices, the transit times will be shorter.  On the contrary, if we are ingesting mostly high-fat, drying foods like well-done meats and dairy, and consuming dehydrating drinks like alcohol and coffee, we will notice the transit times to be longer.
Directions for the transit time test are as follows:
  • The transit time will be conducted 3 times in order to establish accuracy.
  • While conducting the test, be sure to record food, liquid, exercise and stress levels on the Transit Time Record Form provided below.
  • After your first bowel movement of the day, ingest a chosen marker as specified above and record the time the marker is taken.
  • Observe the following bowel movements until you see the marker.  Record the time when it is first visible.
  • You will ingest the marker two more times, however, you will move the time that you ingest it in order to determine a more accurate transit time.

Here is an example to help you:

  1. Subject A has first bowel movement of the day at 10 a.m.
  2. She ingests a beetroot marker immediately after.
  3. The following day, Subject A’s first bowel movement is at 10 a.m. again and she is able to observe the bright red coloring of the beetroot.  So this tells her the transit time of her food was no more than 24 hours.
  4. To get a more accurate transit time, Subject A will move the time she ingests the marker.
  5. The next time her bowel movement is clear of any previously ingested marker, she will ingest the marker again, only 4 hours later.
  6. Her stool was clear the following day at 10 a.m.  She ingests the marker at 2 p.m.  The following day her marker is visible with her 10 a.m. bowel movement.  This indicates a transit time of no more than 20 hours.
  7. Again, the marker will be moved even more to determine if the transit time is even shorter.
  8. Once a marker-free stool is observed, Subject A will ingest a new marker, however this time it will be taken 6-8 hours after the bowel movement.
  9. Subject A’s next clear bowel movement is at 10 a.m. the following day.  The marker is ingested at 6 p.m. that evening.
  10. The following day her first bowel movement is at 10 a.m. and the marker is not present.  She can now determine her average transit time is roughly 20 hours.

The Proper Way to Poop

We really do need to get over our taboo of potty talk.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  Our poop matters people!  So I’m doing my part by sharing some clever videos explaining why our potty posture might actually make a difference.  Enlightening to say the least.  Brilliant if you’re asking for my opinion.  Well done Squatty Potty!  (And I must add, I do know someone who has started squatting and it has helped so much.)

My belief is that health begins in the gut.

Listening to and understanding what our digestive systems are telling us, could hold the key to so many of our health issues today.

And I can tell you, the healthier my own bowels get, the better everything else is as well.

So let’s get to it, shall we?  Sitting versus squatting.  The modern world versus the traditional.  The last hundred years or so versus all of time before that.