Did You Know?

The gut is home to 80% of our immune system and produces approximately 95% of the body’s serotonin – a neurotransmitter responsible for maintaining mood balance, appetite, sleep, and memory.

Healthy Gut Microbiome Is Essential for Health

DYSBIOSIS – it’s a word we all need to learn. It’s the term used to describe an imbalance in gut bacteria, which contributes to a variety of unhealthy and disease-producing conditions. Anything that alters the balance of the gut microbiota – antibiotics, oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, acid-suppressing medications, and corticosteroids, can harm the intestinal ora we rely on for not just digestion, but overall health. Other factors that can diminish the quality of gut flora include gastrointestinal infections, surgery, chronic constipation, a diet high in sugars and refined carbohydrates, and stress, which often leads to inflammation.

Gut Inflammation

Gut inflammation can cause something commonly referred to as “leaky gut” which allows toxic particles to enter the bloodstream and these foreign invaders put more stress on the immune system as well.

Gut Health & Hormone Balance

The gut microbiome also has direct influence on hormone balance. Approximately 50% of the estrogen “couples” formed in the liver are excreted via the bile into the intestines. The successful journey of these couples through the intestine depends on healthy microflora. Specific gut bacteria produce an enzyme that helps metabolize estrogen and eliminate it from the body. If the microbiome is not functioning properly, estrogen metabolites are not carried out of the body efficiently and this can lead to symptoms and conditions associated with estrogen dominance.

Some of the common hormone disorders associated with estrogen imbalance include infertility, fibroids, endometriosis, PMS, and hypothyroidism.

The Gut-Brain Connection

In recent years the gut microbiota has become a major topic of research, and what scientists have learned has been astounding. The gut bacteria, often viewed as lowly little creatures, are actually quite sophisticated in their social interactions. In fact, they communicate with one another through electrical signalling and other mechanisms that very much resemble how neurons communicate in the head brain.

Studies show that the role of the gut brain is to monitor and integrate gut functions, but that’s not all. It also forms a link between the emotional and cognitive centres of our brain. Through a two-way communication network linking the brain and the gut, alterations in the makeup of gut microbiota can have significant effects on our health and well-being causing a broad range of diseases such as autoimmune and gastrointestinal disorders, inflammation-based illnesses, and mood or cognitive disorders including depression, memory problems, and learning disabilities.


Just as dysbiosis, gut imbalance has many causes. It also manifests in a variety of ways. The questionnaire on the right, adapted from the work of Dr. William Crook, MD, will help you determine what degree of dysbiosis you may have. For each “yes,” add the number of points to your total.

Dysbiosis Questionnaire

General History

10 Have you taken tetracyclines (e.g., Minocin) for acne for one month or longer?
10 Have you taken, or do you take, antibiotics for infections more than four times per year?
10 Have you taken birth control pills for more than two years?
5 Have you taken birth control pills for six months to two years?
10 Have you taken prednisone or other cortisone-like drugs (e.g., asthma medication)?
10 Does the smell of perfume, tobacco, or other odours or chemicals make you feel sick?
5 Do you crave sugars and breads?

______ Total Score


___ Vaginal discharge or irritation
___ Frequent bladder infections or incontinence
___ Premenstrual syndrome or fluid retention
___ Difficulty getting pregnant
___ Frequent infections (sinus, lung, colds, etc.)
___ Allergic to foods or environmental substances
___ Feel worse on rainy and snowy days, around molds or musty basements
___ Feelings of anxiety and/or irritability
___ Insomnia
___ Gas and bloating
___ Constipation or diarrhea
___ Bad breath
___ Difficulty concentrating (feel “spacey”)
___ Muscle weakness or painful joints
___ Nasal congestion
___ Irritation of, or pressure behind, the eyes
___ Frequent headaches
___ “Don’t feel well” without an explanation or diagnosis
___ Thyroid issues
___ Muscle aches or weakness

______ Total Score From All Sections

If you scored:

Under 50  You are considered to have mild dysbiosis.
50–90  You are considered to have moderate dysbiosis.
90–120  You are considered to have severe dysbiosis.

Diet and lifestyle Tips

There are three components to the treatment of rebalancing intestinal microflora:

  • Restore beneficial microflora
  • Make dietary changes to starve out harmful microbes that feed on sugars
  • Take a supplement that kills the harmful bacteria

Dietary Approaches to Dysbiosis

The objective of the moderate dysbiosis diet is to reduce the intake of refined carbohydrates and sugars, as these encourage the growth of harmful yeast and bacteria. Carefully follow this diet for an eight-to-ten week period.

Foods to Avoid

  • Sugars of all types, and foods that contain refined or simple sugars
  • Dried fruit
    (e.g., raisins, prunes, dates)
  • Fruit juices,
    both fresh and frozen
  • Yeasted breads, pastries, and other baked goods (alternatives include corn tortillas and burritos, crackers (no yeast) or rice cakes, sprouted breads, as well as yeast-free and sugar-free breads)
  • Alcoholic beverages, especially beer
  • Cow’s milk (use in moderation on cereal or in co ee; alternatives include almond milk and goat’s milk)
  • Antibiotics

I usually allow my patients one “cheat day” a week, during which they can indulge in dessert or a few ounces of an alcoholic beverage.

Support for Restoring Beneficial Microflora

Berberine, with its anti-microbial properties, is a very effective supplement for dysbiosis. Garlic supplements, grapefruit seed extract, peppermint, oregano oil, and olive leaf extract all kill the unfriendly microbes (take for six weeks).

The two most important friendly bacteria in our bodies are Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium bifidum. These bacteria are found in the fermented foods such as yogurt, miso, tempeh, kefir, sauerkraut, and fermented juices.

A high-quality lactobacilli and bifidobacteria supplement provides greater colonization of the friendly bacteria. Daily use of probiotics is recommended during and after adapting to a dysbiosis diet.
The dysbiosis cleanse program should be considered as part of your general health program to maintain a healthy balance of hormones for mental/emotional health.