Feeling sick and tired? You should listen to your gut: Candida 104

Gut dysbiosis is a fancy term which basically means if your digestion is broken. How does this happen, what are the symptoms, and how can we fix it?

What causes gut dysbiosis?

There are a number of possible causes of gut dysbiosis. If your digestion is not working properly for any reason, such as genetic factors, recent illness, stress, or anything else, it is possible that you have gut dysbiosis. This can either be the result of too little stomach acid in the stomach, or pancreatic insufficiency, which means your pancreas is not delivering the enzymes your body needs to break the food down.

Too little stomach acid

When your stomach is full of food, it releases stomach acid. The stomach acid breaks down the food into smaller pieces. Theoretically, you would have to chew your food properly, and the action of chewing combined with enzymes in your saliva, combined with the peristaltic action of the oesophagus moving the food into the stomach, should already have started the digestion process. (This is why it is so important to chew your food properly.) Then, in the stomach, the stomach acid gets to work, breaking the food down it to even smaller particles.

Your stomach is a holding cell, controlled by valves at each end. The top valve opens when you start to chew, getting ready to accept the food coming down your gullet. It then closes, so that the stomach acid in your stomach can't get out and affect your oesophagus, creating that uncomfortable sensation we call heartburn. Once the stomach acid level in your stomach reaches a certain level, it triggers the bottom valve to open, and the food is released into the intestinal tract.

However, if your body is not creating enough stomach acid, the bottom valve in your stomach will not receive the message to open. Your stomach contents has nowhere to go. Not only that, it's not being broken down into smaller particles, again because there's too little stomach acid. So it does what all food does when it has nowhere to go: it rots. Pretty soon, you have a mass of rotting, fermenting food in your stomach, not going anywhere. The fermenting of this food releases histamines and poisons into the stomach, which make their way into the bloodstream. The fermentation releases gas, which create a bloated, uncomfortable feeling, and can also distend your abdomen.

With all these histamines and poisons floating around your bloodstream, the body goes into high alert. It releases antibodies to fight these invaders. This triggers inflammation in your intestinal tract, which weakens your immune system. Not only that, but the antibodies are now occupied in fighting the invaders, leaving other bugs such as flu and colds free to run rampant through your body.

Another possible culprit behind gut dysbiosis is food intolerance of some kind. The most common food is gluten. Gluten protein is comprised of little, tiny hooks, called lectins. If these lectins are not properly broken down during the digestive process, and especially if the gut wall is inflamed because it's fighting off histamines, these items can make their way through the gut wall and into the bloodstream. The gut wall is not designed to be permeable in this fashion, so the holes made by the lectins don't easily close. Pretty soon, the intestinal walls become perforated like a sieve, leading to what is euphemistically called leaky gut syndrome. When you have leaky gut syndrome, lectins aren’t the only things that can get through. If your digestive system is not working properly, all sorts of poisons can escape from the digestive tract on their way to elimination, and find their way into your bloodstream instead.

This problem becomes especially challenging if you suffer from pancreatic insufficiency. Pancreatic insufficiency is a feature of certain genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis. But other factors can also cause it. For instance adrenal fatigue, which results from too much stress, can have a side-effect of using up all the available material in your body that would usually be used for creating hormones. Lacking these hormonal building blocks, other hormone-producing glands, such as the pancreas, are unable to do their jobs. If, for whatever reason, the pancreas is not signalled to release enzymes (or not able to), the food cannot be broken down in the digestive tract. So, like the stomach acid problem described above, it's sits and rots. The results are the same as before: fermentation and decay.

Finally, inflammation has a negative effect on the villi in the intestinal tract. “Villi” is the name of the small, finger-like projections from the walls of the intestines, most of which are little thicker than a hair. These tiny hair-like fibres oscillate, moving the food from one end of the tract to the other. However, when the gut wall is inflamed, the lining of the walls swells up to fill in the spaces between the villi, or the villi become damaged in some way, and then no longer project into the tract the way they should. As a result, they are unable to do their work. This means the food is not passed along the tract to be eliminated.

Over time, semi-digested food in the intestinal tract backs up. It can become hard and dry. This leads to constipation and bloating. But those are just the tip of the iceberg. Further problems include swelling and the gut dysbiosis we’ve described before.

Symptoms of gut dysbiosis include:

  • Bloating
  • Swelling
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Acne
  • Hives
  • Eczema
  • Concentration problems and ADD
  • Itching scalp and dandruff
  • Foul-smelling bowel movements
  • Hormonal disruptions
  • Weight gain
  • Weight loss
  • Malnutrition as a result of malabsorption
  • Failure to thrive
  • Fatigue and chronic fatigue challenges such as fibromyalgia
  • Hay fever and other seasonal allergies
  • Food intolerances and allergies
  • Mood swings
  • Immune disorders

Gut dysbiosis is also often blamed for what we call lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer. So it's vital to make sure that your gut is in excellent working condition. Dr Sanua specialises in gut health. Call him today on 011 463 1614 or email him on and get your gut feeling great.


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