7 Gut Disruptors

July 22nd, 2022 | Posted in Info

7 Gut Disruptors

A healthy gut microbiome supports digestion, immune function and general health by:

  • Breaking down food and increasing nutrient absorption
  • Producing anti-inflammatory compounds
  • Manufacturing nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin K
  • Manufacturing short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that support healthy immune function and gut barrier integrity
  • Protecting against an overgrowth of pathogens

Dysbiosis is the term given to a microbiome that is out of balance with too many bad bacteria relative to beneficial organisms.  Dysbiosis hinders the immune system and has numerous detrimental effects on health, including inflammation, illness, infections, cancer and autoimmune conditions.

The lining of the intestines is a selectively permeable barrier that allows nutrients into the bloodstream but stops toxins entering the bloodstream. Pathogenic organisms in the gut produce toxins, such as lipopolysaccharides, which inflame the gut lining and increase its permeability allowing toxins from the gut into the bloodstream. The immune system detects these invaders and mounts an inflammatory attack. This can lead to chronic inflammatory conditions.

Here are 7 gut disruptors that may increase the likelihood of dysbiosis and its consequences and are best avoided:


Antibiotics are designed to kill harmful microbes that cause illness. However, they are often broad spectrum, which means they kill a multitude of organisms in the microbiome, including beneficial ones. There are now harmful microbes that have become antibiotic resistant. This is a real and growing problem. Whilst antibiotics can be life saving, they need to be used with caution. Following a course of antibiotics it’s worth taking good quality probiotics to help restore some of the organisms that have been lost. Also see blog post Foods for Gut Health for ideas of what to eat to restore the health of the microbiome.


Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), beta-blockers, antidepressants and many other medications disrupt healthy microbial populations and cause dysbiosis. You may not be able to come off your medication but it’s worth taking extra steps to look after your microbiome.

Ultra-Processed Foods

These are foods that are heavily processed and usually contain long lists of ingredients that you would not have in your kitchen at home. They contain virtually no fibre or nutrients needed to keep the good microbes flourishing. They may also increase the bad gut microbes that lead to poorer health markers. Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London and specialist in the microbiome, suggests that processed food reduces the diversity of organisms in the gut microbiome, and that this in turn has negative consequences for health (1). A loss of microbial diversity is a signal of ill health in people with obesity and diabetes.

Low Fibre Diet

Mice fed a low-fibre diet over multiple generations experienced a decline in microbial diversity in the gut, which was reversible when fibre-rich foods were returned to the diet. But with each subsequent generation, there was a progressive loss of biodiversity which was difficult, if not impossible, to completely reverse.


Research suggests that obesity causes changes in the gut microbial populations. This can contribute to increased adiposity through greater energy harvest from food. Other research suggests that changes in microbial populations are driven by high fat, obesogenic diets. Whatever the cause there are increases in gut bacteria associated with adverse health outcomes in those with obesity (2).

Artificial Sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners have a negative effect on the gut microbiome. They also upset blood sugar levels, insulin and appetite.

Non Organic Foods

Pesticides are used on non-organic crops to kill pests and diseases. They may destroy beneficial bacteria in the gut when these foods are eaten.

Read the blog posts Food for Gut Health and Lifestyle Factors and Gut Health for some ideas as to what to eat and how to live to promote gut health.


1. https://joinzoe.com/whitepapers/dietary-inflammation

2. 2015 Jan; 7(1): 17–44. The Impact of Diet and Lifestyle on Gut Microbiota and Human Health. Conlon MA, Bird AR.