Russell Mariani is a Health Educator and Digestive Wellness expert who has been in private practice since 1980. He is the co-founder with his wife Megan Moore of The Center for Functional Nutrition in South Hadley, Massachusetts. He is the author of the book, Principle Eating, The No Diet Way to Complete Health and several other health-related books and ebooks. He can be reached at 413-536-0275 and via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Intestinal Dysbiosis is the opposite of Intestinal Symbiosis. Intestinal Dysbiosis means that there is an overgrowth of opportunistic and pathological bacteria and other pathological and opportunistic organisms living in your digestive system.
It’s challenging to understand and imagine the number of organisms we are talking about here and the profound positive or negative influences they exert and produce, but let’s try.
We know that the human body is composed of at least 100 trillion cells. And that’s a pretty big number. But the number of bacterial (and other) organisms (from now on referred to as “bacteria”) that live inside the human digestive system (in the mouth, throat, stomach, small intestines and large intestines) are in the neighborhood of at least one thousand times a hundred trillion.
Now, that’s a REALLY big number!
This means that what we normally think of as the human body is only 10% of what we are actually composed of—if we simply determine our composition by the number of cells that we are composed of. We will save that interesting conversation for another time.
Simply understand that each and every one of these bacterial organisms that live inside our digestive system consume our food, digest our food and eliminate waste products.
Yes, just like we do.
There are over 500 different species of healthy bacteria discovered so far. These are called the “good bacteria” or probiotics. 500 is a conservative number. I have heard some experts say there are 2 to 3,000 probiotic species!
There are at least an equally large number of unhealthy bacteria that exist and that can find their way into our digestive systems. These are called the “bad bacteria” or dysbiotics.
The waste products generated by the good bacteria are good for us in general and really good for the normal functioning of our digestive system.
For example, the waste products of the good bacteria regulate the pH environment throughout our entire digestive system. When the pH environment is properly balanced and regulated we don’t experience any smelly or painful gas, bloating, cramping, distention or discomfort.
The waste products of the good bacteria include the production of our own endogenous and very powerful antibiotics! One of the most powerful antibiotics that exists is something called: acidophilin, which is produced by one of our most prolific and important probiotics called acidophilus. Acidophilus dominates the terrain inside the small intestines.
The waste products of the good bacteria include all of our B-vitamins and B-vitamins are critical components of the cells that make up our immune system.
Oh, and you have already heard or read that 80% of the antibody producing cells of our immune system are manufactured in glands that live in the lining of our small intestine (known as Peyer’s Patches) and these glands or patches are nourished by and protected by the waste products of the good bacteria in our gut.
And on and on and on.
The waste products of our good bacteria produce the environment that allows our digestive system to function normally.
We are supposed to have a “balance” in the microbiome or eco-system of our gut that is 80% good bacteria and 20% (or less) bad bacteria. This balance is critical not only to the normal functioning of our digestive and immune systems but for all the organs and systems and cells throughout the whole body.
As goes the health of our intestinal microbiome, so goes our health. Another way of saying this is: Everything is downstream of our intestinal microbiome.
So, no doubt you are already starting to imagine the hellish intestinal scenarios that start to play out when the “balance” of good bacteria to bad bacteria changes from the ideal 80-20 rule (80% good to 20% or less bad bacteria) to something else entirely.
Any other proportion, other than the ideal 80-20 is called Intestinal Dysbiosis. And if you think of the bad bacteria as “weeds” then when you have intestinal dysbiosis you basically have a condition where the weeds have taken over the garden within.
When the bad bacteria dominate the intestinal microbiome there are many problems.
The problems are caused by the waste products eliminated or released into the intestinal eco-system by these bad bacterial organisms.
The bad bacteria eat your food, digest your food and eliminate waste products. It is the waste products of the bad bacteria that are toxic to our digestive system and cause all the various intestinal symptoms, conditions and problems.
So, when you have intestinal dysbiosis, you have an overgrowth of bad bacteria and it is the waste products of these bad bacteria that cause all the symptoms of digestive distress, digestive disorder and digestive dis-ease.
The waste products of the bad bacteria are toxic and very insulting to the health and normal functioning of our intestinal microbiome, that then adversely affects all of the normal processes and procedures of our digestive system.
When we have intestinal dysbiosis the symptoms are many and seemingly endless: gas, bloating, cramping, distention, discomfort, abdominal pain, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, joint pain, mood disorders, insomnia, skin disorders, irritability, food cravings, binge eating or drinking, mental confusion, memory loss, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety…and many other debilitating symptoms and conditions.
Everything is downstream of the microbiome.
Intestinal Dysbiosis can cause a condition called: Intestinal Permeability or Leaky Gut. Leaky Gut Syndrome is a pervasive problem and can be the root cause of many conditions that do not get properly diagnosed and connected to the core gut issues.
When we have intestinal dysbiosis we do not digest and break down our food effectively; we don’t absorb and assimilate our nutrients effectively (resulting in weight loss or weight gain and many micronutrient deficiency disorders) and we certainly don’t eliminate effectively resulting in constipation and colonic inertia on the one hand and loose urgent, frequent and sometimes incontinent bowel movements on the other (and sometimes with blood and mucus).
The reason to eat a healthy diet is so that you are consciously and purposefully feeding and nourishing the growing populations of good bacteria in your gut. This is also the reason we consume probiotic supplements containing various strains of good bacteria. “Prebiotics” are foods and supplements that are conducive to the growth and health of the probiotics. Prebiotics are not Probiotics.
Sometimes the condition of intestinal dysbiosis becomes so persistent, pervasive and stubborn that it does not respond to a change in diet or the introduction of probiotics, other supplements or any other positive or complementary changes we make.
And this is where my book is extremely helpful as I describe a step by step process where we learn how to methodically displace and eliminate the populations of bad bacteria in the intestines and replace them with a healthy eco-system of good bacteria.
That process is described in detail in my book: Principle Eating: The No Diet Way to Complete Health.
This is a very important reason why people choose to work with me directly one on one. It is not easy to effectively address a condition of intestinal dysbiosis on your own especially if you have never attempted it before, no matter how good the explanation is in this book or other books.
So, if you suspect that this is your biggest health and/or intestinal problem, please contact me directly and let’s discuss your individual situation. My personal contact information will be found at the end of this article.
There is a solution.
Basically, the solution involves a comprehensive cleansing and reconditioning of the intestinal microbiome. To do this we use specialized therapeutic herbs alongside other complementary improvements in the other six root cause areas. This reconditioning process takes four to six weeks, typically. Most people report relief and improvement within the first seven to ten days.
Russell Mariani is an Author, Speaker and Pioneer in the field of Functional Medicine. He is the founder of The Center for Functional Nutrition (1980). The Center has been a virtual HealthCare Practice since 1999 and has guided health and healing to people all around the world. Russell is the author of the book, Principle Eating, The No Diet Way to Complete Health. For more information including booking Russell for his live webinar The Roots of Health or his private consultation services contact email@example.com or visit our website www.thecenterforfunctionalnutrition.net