What is dysbiosis? Can dysbiosis cause health problems?

July 11, 2023 2 min read

What is dysbiosis? Can dysbiosis cause health problems?

Dysbiosis refers to an imbalance in the composition and/or function of the gut microbiome, which is the collection of microorganisms that inhabit the human gastrointestinal tract. This imbalance can lead to changes in the gut environment that may cause or contribute to a variety of health problems.

There are many factors that can contribute to dysbiosis, including changes in diet, use of antibiotics or other medications, stress, and certain medical conditions. For example, a diet that is high in fat and low in fiber can promote the growth of bacteria that produce harmful byproducts, while antibiotics can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut, leading to an overgrowth of potentially harmful species. Similarly, chronic stress can cause changes in gut motility and secretion that can alter the gut environment and promote dysbiosis.

Research has shown that dysbiosis may be associated with a number of health problems. Gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and colorectal cancer have all been linked to dysbiosis. Inflammatory bowel disease, for example, has been associated with alterations in the gut microbiome, including a decrease in beneficial bacteria and an increase in potentially harmful species. Similarly, some studies have suggested that dysbiosis may be a contributing factor in the development of colorectal cancer.

In addition to gastrointestinal disorders, dysbiosis has also been linked to metabolic disorders such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. This is thought to occur because dysbiosis can lead to changes in the gut environment that promote inflammation and insulin resistance, both of which are associated with these conditions.

There is also growing evidence to suggest that dysbiosis may be involved in the development of neurological disorders such as anxiety and depression. The gut and the brain are connected through a complex network of nerves, hormones, and other signaling molecules, known as the gut-brain axis. Dysbiosis can disrupt this communication, leading to alterations in brain function and behavior. Some studies have even suggested that interventions aimed at restoring a healthy gut microbiome, such as probiotics, may be effective in treating these conditions.

Overall, dysbiosis is a complex condition that can be caused by a variety of factors and may contribute to a wide range of health problems. Restoring a healthy gut microbiome through interventions such as probiotics, prebiotics, and fecal microbiota transplantation may be an effective strategy for preventing or treating these conditions.


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  2. Belizário JE, Napolitano M. Human microbiomes and their roles in dysbiosis, common diseases, and novel therapeutic approaches. Front Microbiol. 2015;6:1050.
  3. Marchesi JR, Ravel J. The vocabulary of microbiome research: a proposal. Microbiome. 2015;3:31.
  4. Sanders ME, Merenstein DJ, Ouwehand AC, Reid G, Salminen S, Cabana MD, Paraskevakos G, Leyer G. Probiotic use in at-risk populations. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2016;56(6):680-6.
  5. Cryan JF, O'Mahony SM. The microbiome-gut-brain axis: from bowel to behavior. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2011 Mar;23(3):187-92.
  1. Tang WH, Kitai T, Hazen SL. Gut microbiota in cardiovascular health and disease. Circ Res. 2017 Apr 28;120(9):1183-1196. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.117.309715. PMID: 28450350; PMCID: PMC5466933.

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