Dysbiosis and Leaky Gut

Dysbiosis and Leaky Gut Affect Your Weight – See Why

Dysbiosis and Leaky Gut are two conditions of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract which can influence your weight loss journey. This article looks at what they are, how they are caused and what you can do to reduce their effects.

Dysbiosis – what is it?

At any point in time your GI tract comprises both good bacteria and bad bacteria or pathogens. It’s optimal when the good bacteria outnumber the bad ones allowing the immune system to work at it’s best.

People that eat a poor diet whether it be junk food, takeaways, processed or ultra-processed foods, or regularly consume high sugar foods like cake, biscuits and pastries change the good/bad bacteria balance in favour of the bad bacteria. Pathogens for example, love sugar!

When the bacterial balance is swayed in favour of the bad bacteria, the overall effect is termed dysbiosis (think dysfunctional).

In this scenario the immune function is compromised leaving the person open to more infection and disease.

Mood and sleep patterns can alter and to make matters worse the body ’harvests’ more calories from any given amount of food than would happen with a healthy gut.

This can lead to weight gain and cravings for poor food choices as the bad bacteria require more.

The poor diet can also to poor skin and skin infections like eczema and spots through communication via the gut-skin axis.

About Leaky Gut

The small intestine is designed to extract the nutrients the body requires as food transits through it on its way to the large intestine. To do this the small intestine has developed to be about 20-23 feet long in humans and it would stretch from your patio to the roof of a two story house!

The lining of the small intestine resembles a shag pile carpet with a brush border. The carpet is designed to have a large surface area to extract maximum nutrient. Each strand of the carpet (called villi) has small bristles dotted along it called microvilli.

If the surface area of the villi and microvilli were laid out on the ground they would cover a tennis court! The inside of the tube is covered with a slimy mucus designed to protect the carpet and prevent pathogens passing into the bloodstream.

The carpet gets a lot of wear and worn out parts are continually renewed and replenished. If the small intestine is unhealthy then the junctions between the shag pile can become loose or torn hence the absorption process is compromised and gut health can become compromised or ‘leaky’ This is also known as ‘impaired intestinal permeability.’

The real problem is undigested particles of food or toxins seeping through the intestine wall directly into the bloodstream. When this happens the immune system goes into a state of alarm.

The gaps in the small intestine can occur for a number of reasons: intolerance to gluten or dairy can cause it, so can too much alcohol. When the immune system detects something that shouldn’t be there, it starts to attack the unwanted visitor. This can result in violent sneezing, worsening of asthma, itchy skin, chronic acne, or chronic inflammation of many kinds ranging from obesity to depression.

Leaky Gut and Dysbiosis are generally reversible

A healthy microbiome helps prevent leaky gut and has also been shown to reverse the effects of leaky gut and dysbiosis as well.

The poor diet which is generally lacking good nutrient needs to be slowly modified into a nutrient dense diet with plenty of diverse fresh fruit and vegetables with quality meat and fish and legumes.

Care needs to be taken in the transition however as increasing fibre content too quickly can have adverse effects including diarrhoea. Be aware the transition process can take anything from 2 weeks to months.

See the graphic below for diseases that can result from these  conditions.

Dysbiosis and Leaky Gut