Health Implications of an Unbalanced Gut Microbiota

November 03, 2021

Health Implications of an Unbalanced Gut Microbiota

An unbalanced gut microbiota has been linked to certain diseases and disorders.

Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

According to a study, Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, celiac disease, constipation, bloating, and diarrhea may be caused by an unhealthy digestive tract with an unbalanced microbiota.1

Metabolic Diseases

The gut microbiota is involved in the absorption of nutrients, harvesting of energy, processing of excess carbohydrates and production of metabolites. When the gut microbiota is unable to function optimally due to an imbalance, the risk of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity increases.1

Eczema

Some studies show that there is an association between low gut microbiota diversity and eczema. The gut microbiota composition of children with eczema had significantly lower beneficial bacteria diversity, specifically the Bacteroidetes phylum, when compared with children without eczema.1

Neurological Conditions

It has been well established that the gut and the brain is connected via the gut-brain axis. An imbalanced gut microbiota can lead to higher levels of inflammation in the body, which may affect the central nervous system and lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety.2

How To Ensure A Healthy Gut Microbiota

The good news is, there are ways to improve the gut flora to enhance its health. Here are some:

Start intake of prebiotics

Prebiotics are substances found in certain foods that, when taken, function as nutrients to feed the gut bacteria to encourage their growth and activities. Examples of food that contain prebiotics are corn, whole grains, banana, asparagus, garlic and onion. Hence, it is important to include them in your diet. Fortunately, prebiotics are available in the form of dietary supplements as well.3

Cut back on sugar intake

High sugar consumption has been associated with reduced levels of beneficial gut bacteria. It leads to a decrease in flora diversity and an increase in the pro-inflammatory pathogens. Hence, it is crucial to limit sugar intake especially from high glycemic sources such as soft drinks, candies and white rice.3

Only take antibiotics when you need them

Antibiotics work by killing microorganisms or limiting their growth. Their effects are not only limited to pathogens but can affect the beneficial gut bacteria too. Always discuss with your healthcare professionals before taking or stopping the use of antibiotics.3

Stress management

There are some ways to manage stress, such as exercising, sleeping, listening to music or playing games. You may also try meditations or yoga. Most importantly, try to get sufficient sleep of at least 8 hours of sleep every night, which may also reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases.

References

1. J. Bull, et al. "Part 1: The Human Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease" Integrative Medicine. 2014 Dec; 13(6): 17-22.

2. A. Foster, et al. “Gut-brain axis: how the microbiome influences anxiety and depression” Trends Neurosci 2013 May; 36(5):305-12

3. Gagliardi, et al. "Rebuilding the Gut Microbiota Ecosystem" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2018 Aug; 15(8): 1679.