Our bodies contain at least as many bacterial cells as human cells, yet the role of the bacterial cells in our health remains poorly understood. What we do know is that there are bad bacteria that can lead to infections and other health issues, as well as good ones that keep the bad ones in check. If the bad bacteria in your body overgrow and there aren't enough good ones to balance them, your body reaches a state called dysbiosis, which is behind a number of health issues that scientists are only beginning to understand.
"Medicine is really in the infancy of understanding dysbiosis and what causal role it may play in symptoms and disease processes," Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Bustle. "Many diseases that range from inflammatory bowel disease to colon cancer to C.difficile infection have been linked to dysbiosis. The leading hypothesis is that the altered composition of microbes has a cascading impact on the immune system and can also facilitate infection with other microorganisms such as C.difficile."
Even though dysbiosis originates in the gut, people can have it without having any noticeable digestive symptoms. "Often times, many of the symptoms of gut dysbiosis do not manifest in the gut at all," Caitlin Thompson, neurobiology researcher and founder of Entheozen, tells Bustle. "Brain fog, depression, anxiety, insomnia, skin issues, fatigue, allergies, and autoimmunity are all driven by gut dysbiosis."
To avoid dysbiosis, it's a good idea to take probiotics and eat probiotic-rich foods, especially when you're on antibiotics, and avoid unnecessary antibiotic use, naturopathic doctor Alissia Zenhausern tells Bustle. If you're experiencing it, the best way to treat it is to treat the root issue, which can include diabetes, poor diet, obesity, leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and celiac disease.
Here are some signs that you could be experiencing dysbiosis, according to experts.