Carol*, a patient of mine, was unable to enjoy spending time with her young children. She was having chronic abdominal pain and so much bloating she said she looked pregnant half the time and it all got in the way of her being fully present with her kids. She would often have to lay on her bed until the pain went down, and she was feeling more tired than ever before in her life.
It turned out that Carol had dysbiosis. This is when the microbiome of your intestines becomes out of balance and the unfriendly bacteria and yeast begin to grow stronger and more numerous.
When the microbiome in your gut is in proper balance, your digestion runs smoothly and you don't really have to think about it much. Your friendly bacteria do the right thing and behave well for you. But if the bacterial balance shifts towards too many unfriendly bacteria, viruses, yeast, or even parasites, you begin to notice there is a problem down there. It's like they are having a wild party and leaving a terrible mess!
Because there are so many different causes of dysbiosis, it is actually a common problem. Poor diet, stress, heartburn medications, and antibiotic use are just some of the reasons people end up with dysbiosis. You are probably familiar with how antibiotics can cause diarrhea. This is because the antibiotic wiped out most all of the bacteria, both good and bad. However, not all the bacteria are completely wiped out. The strongest of unfriendly bacteria are sometimes left behind. They may repopulate faster than the friendly bacteria and take over the real estate, causing mayhem. Yeast can take advantage like this too, especially when your diet is feeding them what they love (sugar). All kinds of digestive problems can result from too many bad bacteria and yeast, such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, pain, irregularity, and heart burn.
If the unfriendly bacteria continue to dominate the gut, they can actually damage the lining of the intestines. As a result of this damage, problems can arise such as leaky gut syndrome, autoimmune diseases, and weight gain. Some not-so-obvious symptoms of an imbalanced microbiome stem from inflammation in the gut that changes your brain's neurotransmitter levels, leading to anxiety, depression, and fatigue. When this happens, you know your gut has turned against you!
Luckily for Carol, she had not been having dysbiosis for too long. After using some herbal medicine to reduce the number of unfriendly bacteria, as well as following a special diet to prevent their regrowth, she was feeling better and regaining her energy to play with her children. Following a microbiome-friendly diet is all she needs to do now to feel great for the long-term. She says she has never felt healthier and is able to live her full life again.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy
Dr. Melissa DeForest: I am a Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in digestive disorders. My goal is to educate, inspire, and empower others to lead a life they love.
Disclaimer: All information presented here is for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise, supplement, or diet routine.