Symptoms that are telling you to rebalance your gut microbiome?

Symptoms that are telling you to rebalance your gut microbiome?

Symptoms that are telling you to rebalance your gut microbiome?

The gut microbiome is a collection of trillions of cells made up of a collection of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.[1] While this doesn’t sound appealing, I can assure you it is supposed to be there. Ideally, it is the healthy balance of these bugs that will give us optimal health. However, what happens when their microbes get 'out of balance, meaning we have too much of one species? Or, we would have a foreigner invade and colonise our gut, such as E. coli and Klebsiella. Without getting our poop tested, how do we know we need our microbiome balanced? The following is a collection of symptoms you maybe be experiencing, which could indicate you need your gut bugs balanced.

1. You have a disease of your bowel or intestine.

Most diseases of the bowel can be linked back to your microbes being out of balance, for example, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is strongly linked to the balance of your microbiome.[2] Even bowel cancer has been linked with microbes such as Fusobacterium nucleatum, Escherichia coli or Bacteroides fragilis.[3] Even chronic liver diseases have been associated with dysbiosis for the microbes in your bowel.[4] So virtually all diseases of the bowel link back to the composition of the microbiome.

2. You have bloating

Bloating occurs for numerous reasons and one of the reasons could be your microbiome. Microbes that live in the gut often make gas as part of their normal lifecycle. Some gas is completely normal and healthy. However, when you have excessive gas or your gas is on the smelly side, it is time to give your microbiome a tune-up.

3. Your digestion is poor

Digestion is a complex process involving many organs, stomach acids, digestive enzymes and mechanical churning that all do their part to help digestion. Your microbiome is a key player here also. The microbiome helps break down nutrients and feed your body with things such as short-chain fatty acids. Naturally, if your microbiome is out of whack, your ability to digest food is compromised. The specific symptoms include loss of appetite, mild pain and discomfort and possibly bloating.

4. You have recently taken antibiotics

Antibiotics have saved millions of lives[5] and continue to do so. However, every drug has a side effect, antibiotics upset the gut microbiome. Antibiotics work by killing bacteria, which can be harmful to human health, but they do not discriminate. They kill all kinds of bacteria, including the good bugs. If you are currently taking antibiotics, you must continue to take them as directed by your doctor but be aware that they do affect your microbiome.

5. You are taking oral contraception (i.e., ‘The Pill’)

The oral contraceptive pill (OCP) has been taken by women not wanting to fall pregnant for decades. The OCP is used by millions of women worldwide in nearly every country on the planet. Unfortunately, although it is extremely effective in reducing unwanted pregnancies, it has some unwanted side effects. One of them is its ability to disrupt the microbiome. While its effect is not as large as antibiotic use, it still disturbs the balance of the microbiome all the same.[6]

6. You have constipation or diarrhoea

Constipation or diarrhea are classic signs of problems with your microbiome. E Coli is one of the classic microbes that can cause diarrhea.[7] We don’t need to go into too many details here but the consistency of e coli diarrhea is a Bristol Stool Chart 7 and is very watery as the body attempts to flush this little bugger down the toilet where it belongs. On the other end of the Bristol stool chart is constipation. People who suffer from constipation often have a lower level of Actinobacteria, including Bifidobacteria.[8] If you are too watery, too solid or simply have no regular bowel movements, it might be time for you to improve your gut microbiome.

7. You have been stressed lately

The microbiome has a huge impact on a person's stress levels and vice versa. Even short-term stress can harm the gut microbiome.[9] So if you have been through a stressful period, even if it was short-term, you may need to rebalance your microbiome.

8. Eating ‘bad’ food.

Most of us know what ‘bad’ food is, refined and processed foods are what we are talking about. If it is bad for your body, it is also bad for your microbiome. If you have not been eating a balanced wholefood diet lately or you have just completed your weekend of binge eating food your tastebuds desired that might be less than ideal, you may benefit from rebalancing your microbiome. In a recent study, it was found that eating unhealthy leads to more pathogenic (i.e.; nasty) microbes in your gut.[10]

The take-home message

There are numerous forces in life pushing your microbiome out of balance. Daily Stress, junk food consumption, and some medications can push your microbiome out of balance. It is almost impossible to get through life without experiencing some force that makes a mess of your microbiome. On top of that, most diseases of the gut and even constipation and diarrhea are linked to an out-of-balance microbiome. So, if you experience one or more of the above symptoms, it might be time to balance your microbiome.


References

[1] Sorboni SG, Moghaddam HS, Jafarzadeh-Esfehani R, Soleimanpour S. A Comprehensive Review on the Role of the Gut Microbiome in Human Neurological Disorders. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2022 Jan 19;35(1):e0033820. doi: 10.1128/CMR.00338-20. Epub 2022 Jan 5.

[2] Mars RAT, Yang Y, Ward T, et al.. Longitudinal multi-omics reveals Subset-Specific mechanisms underlying irritable bowel syndrome. Cell 2020;183:1137–40. 10.1016/j.cell.2020.10.040

[3] Tilg H, Adolph TE, Gerner RR, et al.. The intestinal microbiota in colorectal cancer. Cancer Cell 2018;33:954–64. 10.1016/j.ccell.2018.03.004

[4] Trebicka J, Macnaughtan J, Schnabl B, et al.. The microbiota in cirrhosis and its role in hepatic decompensation. J Hepatol 2021;75 Suppl 1:S67–81. 10.1016/j.jhep.2020.11.013

[5] Ventola CL. The antibiotic resistance crisis: part 1: causes and threats. P T. 2015 Apr;40(4):277-83.

[6] Mihajlovic J, Leutner M, Hausmann B, Kohl G, Schwarz J, Röver H, Stimakovits N, Wolf P, Maruszczak K, Bastian M, Kautzky-Willer A, Berry D. Combined hormonal contraceptives are associated with minor changes in composition and diversity in the gut microbiota of healthy women. Environ Microbiol. 2021 Jun;23(6):3037-3047. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.15517.

[7] Evans DJ Jr., Evans DG. Escherichia Coli in Diarrheal Disease. In: Baron S, editor. Medical Microbiology. 4th edition. Galveston (TX): University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; 1996. Chapter 25.

[8] Ohkusa T, Koido S, Nishikawa Y, Sato N. Gut Microbiota and Chronic Constipation: A Review and Update. Front Med (Lausanne). 2019 Feb 12;6:19. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2019.00019.

[9] Foster JA, Rinaman L, Cryan JF. Stress & the gut-brain axis: Regulation by the microbiome. Neurobiol Stress. 2017 Mar 19;7:124-136. doi: 10.1016/j.ynstr.2017.03.001.

[10] Zhang S, Zeng B, Chen Y, Yang M, Kong F, Wei L, Li F, Zhao J, Li Y. Gut microbiota in healthy and unhealthy long-living people. Gene. 2021 May 5;779:145510. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2021.145510. Epub 2021 Feb 16.