In recent years, the term “gut dysbiosis” has gained popularity in both scientific and mainstream health discussions. With the explosion of gut friendly foods, everyone wants to improve gut health. But what exactly is gut dysbiosis, and why is it so crucial to our overall well-being? What role does it play in maintaining  energy levels and hormonal balance? This week I dove into the intricacies of gut health and explored how these imbalances in our gut microbiome can interweave into various aspects of our health. You guys have often heard me say that gut dysbiosis is implicated in almost every disease out there, so maintaining a healthy microbiota will play a key role in overall health and longevity.


Gut dysbiosis refers to an imbalance in the gut microbiota, the community of microorganisms living in our intestines. Our gut is home to trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes that play a vital role in digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function homeostasis. A healthy gut maintains a delicate balance between beneficial and harmful microorganisms. Dysbiosis occurs when this balance is disrupted, leading to an overgrowth of pathogenic (harmful) bacteria and a reduction in beneficial bacteria. There has been a lot of discussion around the ideal gut microbiome however that will depend on mode of birth, breastfeeding status, environmental influences and diet. The key thing to note is that your microbiome should keep your immune system in homeostasis, as 70% of our immune system lies in our gastrointestinal tract. When clients often ask me about an anti-cancer diet, my response to that is always have your stool checked once a year. That will give you your anti-cancer and anti-autoimmune therapy.


Causes of Gut Dysbiosis

Several factors can contribute to gut dysbiosis, but here are main ones are listed below.

1. Diet: High intake of processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy transfats can disrupt the gut microbiota.

2. Antibiotics: Overuse of antibiotics can kill beneficial bacteria, leading to an imbalance of opportunistic bacteria.

3. Stress: Chronic stress affects gut health through the gut-brain axis. Stress can also affect the secretion of Hydrochloric acid and pancreatic enzymes which results in bacterial overgrowth. When individuals are stressed, we often see a degrading of our mucosal lining which can impact health and create a leaky gut.

4. Lack of Fiber: A diet low in fibre can starve beneficial gut bacteria, reducing their populations. Fiber probably deserves a blog of its own as it is one of the nutrients in our  food that has the biggest impact on our gut composition.

5. Infections: Certain infections can alter the gut microbiota composition creating an overactive immune system. Anything from viral pathogens to parasites can cause changes in our gut microbiome and immune status.

6. Hormonal Fluctuations: Low hormonal levels can play a role in reducing levels of beneficial bacteria which can further exacerbate autoimmunity and poor detoxification.


Symptoms of Gut Dysbiosis

The symptoms of gut dysbiosis can be varied and may include:

  • Digestive issues such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, or constipation
  • Food intolerances
  • Fatigue and low energy levels
  • Skin problems like eczema, acne, psoriasis
  • Mood disturbances, including anxiety and depression
  • Hormonal perturbations
  • Epilepsy, seizures and other neuropsychiatric illnesses.


The Link Between Gut Dysbiosis and Energy Levels

One of the most significant ways gut dysbiosis can impact our health is through its effect on energy levels. Bacteria in our GI tracts are always talking to our mitochondria so its perturbations may affect energy levels in multiple ways. Here are a few key points to consider when you have gut dysbiosis.

1. Nutrient Absorption: A healthy gut microbiome is essential for the proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. Dysbiosis can lead to malabsorption, where the body struggles to extract essential nutrients from food, resulting in fatigue and low energy levels. Our gut microbiome are responsible in absorbing B vitamins and Vitamin K so a compromised gut can result in the deficiency of these vital vitamins.

2. Inflammation: Dysbiosis often triggers chronic inflammation. Inflammatory molecules, such as cytokines, can interfere with mitochondrial function—the powerhouses of our cells—leading to reduced energy production and increased fatigue. Inflammation in the gut can also have a profound effect on our immune system which is an energy hogging system. If your immune system is working overtime in the gut, there can be a downstream effect causing lethargy and fatigue.

3. Gut-Brain Axis: The gut and brain are intricately connected via the gut-brain axis. Dysbiosis can influence brain function and mental energy, contributing to feelings of tiredness and lethargy. There is a huge amount of studies in this field at the moment and research shows that the brain sends more signals into the gut than vice-versa. This can affect neurotransmitter function which can then affect sleep, serotonin production and GABA.


Gut Dysbiosis and Hormonal Imbalance

Hormones play a critical role in regulating various bodily functions, including metabolism, mood, and reproductive health. Gut dysbiosis can disrupt hormonal balance in several ways:

1. Estrogen Metabolism: The gut microbiota are involved in the metabolism of estrogen. Dysbiosis can lead to improper estrogen metabolism, resulting in either estrogen dominance or deficiency, both of which can cause symptoms such as mood swings, weight gain, and menstrual irregularities. We see gut dysbiosis in almost all hormonal and menstrual irregularities.

2. Cortisol Production: Chronic gut inflammation due to dysbiosis can affect the adrenal glands, leading to dysregulated cortisol production. Cortisol is a stress hormone that, when imbalanced, can contribute to adrenal dysfunction, a condition characterized by chronic tiredness and stress. Certain pathogenic bacteria in the gut i.e. pseudomonas can affect the adrenal glands causing adrenal dysfunction like symptoms.

3. Insulin Sensitivity: The gut microbiota influence insulin sensitivity. Dysbiosis can impair insulin signalling, leading to insulin resistance and metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which are often accompanied by energy crashes and hormonal imbalances.


Improving Gut Health for Better Energy and Hormonal Balance

Addressing gut dysbiosis involves making lifestyle and dietary changes to restore a healthy balance of gut microbiota. Here are some steps you can take:

1. Probiotics and Prebiotics: Incorporate probiotic-rich foods (like yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables) and prebiotic fibers (like garlic, onions, and bananas) into your diet to support beneficial bacteria. These not only help feed the microbiome, they help with detoxification of old hormones and toxins.

2. Healthy Diet: Focus on a nutrient-dense diet rich in whole foods, fiber, and healthy fats. Avoid excessive sugar and processed foods. Keeping your blood sugar balanced will play an exceptionally important role in hormone balance.

3. Stress Management: Practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, yoga, and adequate sleep to support gut health. Even small steps such as deep breathing and journalling can help the brain in times of anxiety.

4. Limit Antibiotic Use: Use antibiotics only when necessary and consider taking probiotics after a course of antibiotics to replenish beneficial bacteria.

5. Exercise: Regular physical activity can positively influence gut health and overall well-being.