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