Gut Symbiosis versus Dysbiosis

Published 12/14/2013. Last updated 2/5/2014.

When the body and those pounds of non-human microbes living inside our guts (the gut microbiome), are in harmony, we are in SYMBIOSIS: a balanced, mutually beneficial relationship between us and those several hundred species of alien bugs. The gut, brain, and the rest of the body are in balance – in health, free from disease.
In return for a pleasant home, these friendly organisms in our guts (often referred to as our old friends) allow us to thrive by:
  • Absorbing and assimilating nutrients from the foods we eat
  • Producing important biological chemicals like serotonin and dopamine     (needed for brain function)
  •  Synthesizing vitamins
  •  Producing energy
  •  Protecting us from carcinogenic and otherwise harmful chemicals
  •  Detoxifying the body
  •  Inhibiting and killing off harmful bacteria and other nasty  bugs
  • Maintaining a healthy immune system
  •  Providing a protective coating on the bowel walls
  •  Promoting normal peristaltic action in the bowel to keep us regular
  • And much more

But when, as happens too often, the harmonious relationship between the body and the large colony of bacteria, yeasts, viruses, parasites, etc living in our guts becomes out of balance, we are in DYSBIOSIS: A disruption or skewing of the constant two-way communication between gut & body. Pathogenic bacteria, fungi or parasites can then easily proliferate, throwing the system out of balance. When the imbalance crosses a threshold, the body initiates disease (dis-ease) conditions. (Epidemic Answers, 2013) (Byron Body & Soul, 2009)

DYSBIOSIS RESULTS FROM MANY CAUSES (Hawrelak & Myers, 2004), INCLUDING :
  • Antibiotics – medications as well as antibiotics fed to animals we eat
  • A poor, nutrient deficient diet
  • Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically engineered (GE) foods
  • The body’s pH becoming too acidic
  • Infants born via C section birth
  • Infant formula instead of breast milk
  • Prolonged stress
  • Chronic illness
  • Birth control pills/ hormone replacement therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Other pharmaceuticals
  • Carcinogens in foods, the environment, cosmetics

 

A SAMPLING OF PROBLEMS DYSBIOSIS CAUSES OR HAS A ROLE IN (Diagnose-me.com, 2013)  (Morris, 2011)  (Wikipedia, 2013):
  • Digestive issues, including irritable bowel syndrome or disease (IBS   and IBD), Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, gut strictures, bloating, belching, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, bad breath, abdominal pain, indigestion, colic, lactose intolerance
  • Gum disease and tooth decay (See also SUPER IMMUNITY)
  • Cardiovascular (heart) disease and stroke
  • Obesity
  • Joint pain
  • Food and other allergies
  • All autoimmune and autoimmune-related disorders – over 80 of  them – including asthma, Addison’s disease, celiac disease, dermatomyositis, eczema, Graves disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis, pernicious anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, sprue, systemic lupus, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), Crohn’s disease,  Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, multiple chemical sensitivity and type I diabetes
  • Yeast infections, local and systemic (eg, Candida albicans)
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Low libido
  • ADD and ADHD
  • Impaired mental functioning/ brain fog
  • Sugar cravings (including alcohol)
  • Gluten cravings
  • Carbohydrate intolerance
  • Skin conditions – such as acne, psoriasis, eczema, erythema (pathological redness of the skin), allergic dermatitis (skin inflammation) and hives
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Nail fungus
  • Neurological diseases
  • Mental disorders – such as depression and anxiety; conditions along the autistic spectrum, including autism and Asperger syndrome; schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
  • Pulmonary diseases
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Colon and breast cancers

REFERENCES

Byron Body & Soul. (2009). Symbiosis or Disbiosis? See http://www.byronbodyandsoul.com/top/regular-columms/naturopathy-with-sue-kira/symbiosis-or-dysbiosis/p/123

Diagnose-me.com. (Nov. 1 2013). Bacterial Dysbiosis. See http://www.diagnose-me.com/symptoms-of/bacterial-dysbiosis.html

Epidemic Answers. (2013). Gut Dysbiosis. See http://www.epidemicanswers.org/epidemic/biological-dysfunction/gut-dysbiosis/

Hawrelak, J A & Myers, S P. (2004).  The Causes of Intestinal Dysbiosis: A Review.  Alternative Medicine Review. 9:2.

Morris, M. (2011) The Root of Health,  Dysbiosis. See http://www.therootofhealth.com/dysbiosis/

Wikipedia. (November 16 2013). Gut Flora.   See  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gut_flora

 

A version of this page content will appear in my forthcoming 2014 Oriental Medicine Journal article THE MICROBIOTA-GUT-BRAIN AXIS: The constant two-way communication between our guts and our brains.

© Copyright 2013-2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

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