It was standing room only at Dr. Gaetano Morello’s Gut Health 3.0: Clinical Insights into the Development of Dysbiosis & Integrative Strategies lecture at Expo West 2019. In his presentation he covered many topics surrounding the gut, and I managed to learn a thing or two about the gut and its influence on disease in the body and our overall health.
Morello is regarded as an authority on natural medicine and is a naturopathic physician treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia ME, and Lyme disease at the Complex Chronic Diseases Program at BC Women’s Hospital in Vancouver.
I learned that the human body has an estimated 100 trillion bacteria, so there are more bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract than there are cells in the entire body! These ‘good’ bacteria colonies in the stomach and small intestines co-exist to prevent any one specific strain from taking over. They form the body’s microbiome and keep our immune systems in top fighting shape.
We inherit our gut flora from our mothers at birth swallowing them as we exit the birth canal and breastfeeding continues the transfer process. On averages it takes three years for a baby’s immune system to fully develop.
What is dysbiosis?
When a bacteria imbalance develops, called dysbiosis, both the good and the bad bacteria are compromised leading to a whole host of issues. Our diet and environment affect our microbiome as does stress, poor dental hygiene and antibiotics. Fortunately for some, the body can correct the imbalance on its own with a simple change in diet, but for others, medical intervention may be necessary.
Common causes of dysbiosis
One of the most common causes of dysbiosis is overuse of antibiotics. Many people are over-prescribed antibiotics during their journey of a gluten intolerance/sensitivity diagnosis, which can take seven to 11 years on average.
Antibiotics are introduced to kill off the bad bacteria, but they end up killing off the good ones too and weaken the immune system and its capacity to fight off infection leading to an increased recovery time from a common cold or sinus infection.
Before I learned about probiotics my gut was in a sad state of disrepair due to overuse of antibiotics. I had this sinus infection that never went away because half way through my antibiotics both my stomach and gut went on strike. I was exhausted, nauseated and wondering why I couldn’t kick a simple sinus infection. Neither my doctor nor my dietitian had a clue.
Around this same time, I attended a lecture where local gastroenterologist Dr. Cynthia Rudert talked about the importance of taking probiotics in conjunction with an antibiotic (and after) keeps the good bacteria alive. Imagine that. All I had to do was take a probiotic and I could finish my medicine and finally get rid of a sinus infection that had kept me down for more than six months.
Other causes of dysbiosis can be attributed to an overgrowth of yeast, chronic stress, an increase in hormone levels and leaky gut.
A doctor may prescribe medicines to control the bacteria overgrowth depending on its severity. But a change in diet that includes enough nutrients to keep the bacteria in balance may just do the trick. Dr. Morello recommended adding several supplements into the diet, such as GarlicRich, WellBetX Berberine, and Organic Oil of Oregano and prokinetics like chewable ginger promote mobility. Be sure to take a strong probiotic and increase vitamin B12 and iron intake as well.
Morello also shared a fact I had long suspected: that over time, the body develops an immune response to probiotics and makes antibodies that get rid of it while also getting rid of the bad bacteria. This is why I switch up probiotics every other month, to keep my gut on its toes and my immune system fully functioning.