Dysbacteriosis, also referred to as intestinal dysbiosis, is a condition of altered flora in the human intestinal tract. Holistic practitioners have known this for some time, but now the mainstream medical community is starting to take notice.
The Healthy Bacteria
Soon after we are born, are intestines are colonized by many different species of bacteria. We’ve always known that most of this bacteria is harmless. But now science has proven that much of it is extremely beneficial. And the list of probiotics benefits continue to grow.
This beneficial bacteria helps up to absorb vitamins and minerals. It helps to regulate our immune systems. But most important of all, it physically takes up space so that dangerous organisms can’t thrive. The most well known of these healthy bugs is lactobacillus acidophilus. A common ingredient in yogurt.
Causes of Dysbacteriosis
A state of dysbacteriosis occurs when our healthy bacteria are killed or suppressed. This has 2 main causes, they are improper diet and antibiotic use.
When you take an antibiotic, harmful bacteria is killed. But the healthy bacteria is killed off also. This leaves a power vacuum so to speak, now the bad guys can multiply unimpeded. Diets high in processed carbohydrates can cause yeast overgrowth, candida in particular.
These unhealthy diets also typically lack foods that support our beneficial bugs. Fermented dairy products are important because they supply a fair source of probiotic bacteria. And foods high in soluble fiber, such as glucomannan, act as a food source for the healthy bacteria, contributing to regularity is also a benefit.
It has also been suggested that foods containing man made ingredients such as artificial preservatives and sweeteners may be harmful to our natural flora. But there are many reasons why these foods should be avoided.
Symptoms of Dysbacteriosis
There are many possible symptoms of dysbacteriosis, and many of them are being debated, but here are a few.
- Weight Gain
- Vaginal Yeast Infections
- Dandruff and Fungal Toenails
- Fatigue and Tiredness
- Depression and Anxiety
- Frequent Sinus Infections
- Diabetes and Autoimmune Disorders
Before we can understand how to treat dysbacteriosis, we must only understand one very basic principal. Support the healthy bacteria, and slow the growth of the unfriendly organisms, mainly candida. There are many dangerous strains of bacteria such as C. diff, but candida is the most common offender.
Eat a whole foods diet. Avoid simple sugars and processed carbohydrates. These foods feed the yeast, as well as causing constipation and bloating. Meats are ok, but you should limit processed and cured meats such as bacon and sausage.
Certain dairy products are discouraged while on a dysbacteriosis, or dysbiosis diet. Milk and hard cheeses such as cheddar and Swiss can cause severe constipation and are not good for the gut flora.
But fermented dairy products are highly encouraged. These foods do not cause constipation, and are a good source of beneficial bacteria. A health food store quality brand would be best. Some examples are non sweetened yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, sour cream, and buttermilk.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, but only certain ones. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, yams, and beets should be avoided. The best fruits to eat are berries-all kinds. Grapefruit, lemons, kiwis, and Granny Smith Apples should also be included. Sugary, low fiber fruits such as watermelon should be avoided. Grains, beans, and lentils should also be avoided.
There are many herbs that have been shown to have anti-candida activity, these include oil of oregano, olive leaf extract, caprylic acid, garlic, and raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar.
Soluble fiber is very important for a few different reasons. It promotes regularity. But most importantly, it serves as a food source for the healthy bacteria, so it will multiply on it’s own. If you cannot tolerate psyllium, then consider glucomannan. The benefits of fiber are well documented.
The last and probably most important is a quality probiotic supplement. Even if you eat fermented foods, over 99% of the probiotic bacteria is killed by your stomach acid. A lot of quality supplements are shielded to release in the intestines. You will also get more species of live probiotics this way.
While these concepts are not currently being embraced by mainstream medicine, there are things we can do to get well. Investing in our health today is our own responsibility, and nobody else’s. After all, nobody is going to do it for us.