Dysbiosis Diet | What it Is and How it Works

The importance of gut bacteria on your health cannot be overstated, and this Dysbiosis Diet information can help get you on the right path to a healthy gut. So what exactly is gut or intestinal dysbiosis?

Dysbiosis Diet chart of good and bad bacteria

The gut microbiome is a complex ecosystem of trillions of bacteria that live in the digestive tract. Some are good and some are bad. These bacteria play a vital role in digestion, immunity, and overall health.

dysbiosis diet anti inflammatory foods

Gut dysbiosis is a condition in which the balance of bacteria in the gut is imbalanced. This can lead to a variety of health problems, including digestive issues, obesity, gut issues like inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome, and even mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

What Causes Gut Dysbiosis?

The human intestinal microbiota environment is highly complex. And scientists are only now just beginning to understand how it works. There is still much to be learned about it.

Scientific Studies of gut microbiome

But we have already learned that certain factors can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut, leading to an imbalance of the good and bad bacteria, leading to dysbiosis. A few of the known causes include:

  • Diet – A nutrient-dense diet high in prebiotics and probiotics will help maintain a proper gut balance. And a diet that is high in processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats can promote the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut. (See more about the dysbiosis diet specifics below.)
  • Antibiotic Use – Antibiotics can kill both good and bad bacteria in the gut. This can lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, which can cause a variety of health problems. Discuss antibiotic options with your healthcare provider.
  • Stress – Stress can have a negative impact on the gut microbiome, leading to dysbiosis.
  • Lack of Sleep – Sleep is essential for gut health. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut.
  • Medications – Some medications, such as steroids and chemotherapy, can damage the gut microbiome. You should discuss all of your medications with your doctor to see if some adjustments need to be made.
  • Age – As we age, the diversity of our gut microbiome decreases. This makes us more susceptible to gut dysbiosis. Yeah, there’s not much we can do about this factor. But eating a good dysbiosis diet will put the odds in your favor.

How Does A Dysbiosis Diet Help?

In a nutshell, a dysbiosis diet feeds the good bacteria in your gut, allowing them to grow and multiply. The good bacteria then produce short chain fatty acids as they metabolize their food source, which provides an energy source for other bacteria diversity.

It’s a win-win communal effort. You feed them. They feed you. But it’s not just about what you should eat to help out those good bacteria. It’s equally about what you shouldn’t eat. You don’t want to feed the bad bacteria at the same time. Keep reading to learn about specific foods to eat and avoid. (And get my free Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Eat and Avoid here.)

What Foods Are Good For Dysbiosis?

Let’s start with the good. Here’s a list of foods that will feed the helpful bacteria and encourage diversity in your microbiome. These are typically anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense, high-fiber foods.

Leafy greens for a dysbiosis diet
  • Dark Leafy Greens – Greens such as spinach, beet greens, and collard greens are full of sulforaphane. This compound reduces inflammation and fosters a healthy gut environment. (My anti-inflammatory salad is a good place to start.)
  • Cruciferous Vegetables – Broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts are dysbiosis diet powerhouses. The glucosinolate found in cruciferous veggies is metabolized by the good bacteria in the gut, resulting in an anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effect. It also helps form a healthy protective intestinal wall.
  • Bone Broth – Loaded with collagen, gelatine, and glycine, bone broth is one of the best gut-healers known. It is easy to digest and nourishes the intestinal lining. All of this help create a healthy and well-sealed intestinal lining. (Bone broth is super easy to make in your Instant Pot!)
  • Whole Grains – Whole grains are not fully digestible by humans. This is why they are good for your intestinal bacteria. The stuff left over from your own digestion provides the nutrients the good bacteria in your gut need to thrive.
  • High-Quality Protein – Proteins that can be digested by humans serve two purposes. One is to provide the amino acid building blocks for our own cells. The other is to provide food for the microbiota living in our guts. This encourages the proliferation of good bacteria, leading to a better balance between the good and the bad.

The MACs of a Dysbiosis Diet

These foods are called “MACs” (microbiota-accessible-carbohydrates) when it comes to your microbiome. MACs are essential for the growth and proliferation of healthy gut bacteria. The high-fiber content of these complex carbohydrate foods ensures your own body can only partially digest them.

This leaves the good stuff for the “happy” bacteria in your gut. And the more good stuff those bacteria have, the more they will thrive. Happy Bacteria = Happy Gut.

Microbiome health

What Foods Should You Avoid If You Have Dysbiosis?

You now know how to keep your good gut bacteria happy. What about the bad bacteria? We don’t want to feed those, now, do we? So what foods should you avoid? Read on.

Processed meats bad for dysbiosis diet
  • Processed Meats – The additives in processed meats (think bacon, lunch meat, hot dogs…) are well-known inflammation producers. This hinders the growth of the good bacteria, leaving more room for the bad.
  • Sugar – This one’s plain and simple. Sugar feeds the bad bacteria and you don’t want those growing and multiplying. Avoid sugary drinks, desserts, and breakfast cereals. (But a little nibble on very dark chocolate is just fine!)
  • Packaged Foods – Likewise, packaged foods contain all kinds of artificial and bad for you ingredients. Avoid them. Period.
  • Refined Oils – Oils like canola, vegetable, and sunflower are all refined and highly processed. These contain tons of trans-fats, which are known to cause inflammation. This affects the gut flora balance and can lead to leaky gut. And leaky gut can release all those bad bacteria into your blood stream.
  • Dairy – Dairy is another inflammation producer. It isn’t just the lactose that most adults can’t tolerate. It’s actually another protein called casein. As pointed out above, inflammation wreaks havoc on the gut microbiome balance. So avoid dairy when possible.

Check out my Inflammatory Foods Chart Here.

How Can I Help Gut Dysbiosis?

  • Eat a healthy diet: A diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as described above can help to improve gut health. (My no-bake oatmeal balls are a quick and easy snack.)
  • Avoid processed foods: Processed foods are high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and artificial ingredients. These can all damage the gut microbiome.
  • Get enough sleep: Sleep is essential for gut health. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Manage stress: Stress can have a negative impact on the gut microbiome. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, yoga, or meditation.
Woman doing Yoga for gut health
  • Take probiotics: Probiotics are live bacteria that are similar to the beneficial bacteria that naturally live in the gut. Probiotics can help to restore the balance of bacteria in the gut and improve gut health. I take this one daily.
  • Prebiotics: Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut. They can help to improve gut health by increasing the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut. These include garlic, onions, and oats, among others.

If you think you may have gut dysbiosis, talk to your doctor. They can help you to determine if you have gut dysbiosis and recommend treatment options. Following these dysbiotic diet guidelines can help.

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