The GI Map test covers a lot of different areas to assess your gastrointestinal health, and the GI Map test opportunistic bacteria section is one of the most important.
People are often relieved to see that they don’t have serious pathogenic infections listed on page one of the report. However, high levels of opportunistic bacteria are a sign of dysbiosis and can cause a wide range of digestive symptoms.
Opportunistic bacteria are even considered normal in the stool at low levels, and for most people will not cause symptoms. However, high levels of these bacteria can cause diarrhea, constipation, inflammation, pain and even systemic inflammation that can cause joint pain and skin problems.
Some of these bacteria are also associated with mood and cognitive disorders.
GI Map Test Opportunistic Bacteria And Dysbiosis?
There are two main types of dysbiosis, and both can cause digestive symptoms and affect your overall health.
- Undergrowth dysbiosis - not enough of the beneficial bacteria, this includes Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Roseburia, Akkermansia and Faecalbacterium prausnitzi
- Overgrowth dysbiosis - this is too much of the opportunistic bacteria and this is the type that will usually cause the most symptoms.
Overgrowth and excessive colonization by opportunistic bacteria may occur when the commensal bacteria are impaired by poor diet, antibiotic use, parasitic infection, food poisoning, high stress or a weakened immune system.
When intestinal permeability is present (see zonulin), these microbes can escape the lumen of the gut and can cause systemic infections.
For many people it is this overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria that is the main cause of their symptoms.
What Symptoms Does Dysbiosis Cause?
Many people can have mild dysbiosis without realizing it, it’s only when things get really out of balance due to diet, stress, or infections that symptoms may manifest.
Physical Symptoms of Dysbiosis
Gut dysbiosis can also affect your emotional/mental health
Identifying Opportunistic Bacteria With The GI Map Test
Common group of gram-positive bacteria in the Firmicutes phylum. Some strains are used as probiotics. High levels may result from reduced digestive function, SIBO, or constipation.
Also Read: SIBO Guide(to help you eliminate IBS)
Most people should have the Bacillus species present and it is only an issue at high levels.
Enterococcus faecalis & Enterococcus faecium
Gram-positive species in the Firmicutes phylum. High levels may result from reduced stomach acid, PPI use, compromised digestive function, SIBO or constipation. High natural resistance to some antibiotics, which may result in overgrowth.
Gram-negative group in the Proteobacteria phylum. Morganella is a high histamine producer. High levels may indicate increased intestinal inflammatory activity. High levels may cause diarrhea, and may also be associated with SIBO.
This bacteria is a problem for people with histamine intolerance or MCAS
Pseudomonas spp. & Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Gram-negative bacteria in the Proteobacteria phylum. High levels may indicate increased intestinal inflammatory activity and may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools. Some strains of P. aeroginosa may produce lipopolysaccharide toxins that can damage cells.
Pseudomonas also produces a lot of biofilms which need to be addressed as part of a successful treatment plan.
Staphylococcus spp. & Staphylococcus aureus
Gram-positive bacteria in the Firmicutes phylum. High levels may result from reduced digestive capacity, and intestinal inflammatory activity. Some strains may produce toxins and contribute to loose stools or diarrhea. Another major LPS producer
Gram-positive bacteria in the Firmicutes phylum. Streptococcus spp. colonize skin and mucous membranes throughout the body; High levels in the intestine may result from low stomach acid, PPI use, reduced digestive capacity, SIBO or constipation; Elevated levels may also be indicative of intestinal inflammatory activity, and may cause loose stools.
A genus of Gram-negative sulfate reducing bacteria. The bacteria produce hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a metabolite which can influence cell signaling and reduce oxidative stress at low concentrations and pose toxicity at higher concentrations.
Everyone will have this present but you do not want to have high levels, are common cause of foul smelling gas
Family of bacteria-like microbes that produce methane. Facilitates carbohydrate fermentation and short-chain fatty acid production by beneficial bacteria. High levels are linked to chronic constipation, as well as some types of SIBO and IBS. Low levels may indicate reduced production of short-chain fatty acids and may be associated with inflammation.
Citrobacter spp. & Citrobacter freundii.
Gram-negative bacteria in the Proteobacteria phylum. High levels may indicate increased intestinal inflammatory activity.
Also associated with SIBO
Klebsiella spp. & Klebsiella pneumoniae
Gram-negative bacteria in the Proteobacteria phylum. Common residents of the oral cavity and respiratory tract. May cause diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, and bloating; Common after long-term antibiotic use; May release histamine in the gut; High levels may indicate increased intestinal inflammatory activity.
Associated with Ankylosing Spondylitis
Mycobacterium avium subsp. Paratuberculosis
Bacterial species in the Actinobacteria phylum. Higher levels have been associated with Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Not commonly seen on the GI Map test
Proteus spp. & Proteus mirabilis
Gram-negative bacteria in the Proteobacteria phylum. High levels may indicate increased intestinal inflammatory activity; May contribute to loose stools or diarrhea; Pets or wild animals can be a source.
Genus of gram-negative bacteria in the Fusobacteria phylum. Commonly found in the oral cavity, and may also be found in the intestine. Associated with inflammatory processes, as well as autoimmune conditions such as systemic sclerosis.
Commonly found at low levels on the GI Map test
Gram-negative species in the Bacteroidetes phylum. Associated with rheumatoid arthritis. High levels may result from reduced digestive capacity, or a high-starch diet.
Common to see low levels and this is usually not a problem.
Treatment Options For Dysbiosis
It’s important when assessing the GI Map test to not just look at each individual marker in isolation, you need to look at the test as a whole and also take into account each person’s signs and symptoms.
While supplements can help, and are often needed to get things back into a balanced state, the most important thing to focus on first is diet and lifestyle changes.
If you have an overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria a short term low FODMAP diet is often needed, this is usually for around 3-4 weeks and once symptoms such as gas, bloating and constipation/ diarrhea improve then it is time to start adding foods back into the diet.
The low FODMAP diet, or any restrictive diet should only be for as short a time as possible, this is because a wide variety of foods is important for the microbiome.
Sleep and Stress
Poor sleep leads to physical and emotional stress on the body, plus stress from work, relationships, or past trauma can also affect gut health.
Also Read: 12 Tips to Sleep Better
Many people with dysbiosis, find that their diet gets more and more limited, and this can be stressful, especially in social situations.
Mindfulness meditation and breathing exercises such as box breathing or the 4-7-8 breathing technique can be really helpful in this situation.
An excellent program to help the gut-brain connection is called Nerva, this is a self-hypnosis program to help address the nervous system. Clinical trials have shown great success with this program, and I have heard a lot of positive feedback from clients.
Treatment should be an individualized approach, and there is not one set protocol that will address the gut microbiome imbalances.
I also believe that it is not a good idea to prescribe too many supplements, otherwise you don’t know what is helping, or if someone has side effects it is hard to know what is causing them.
Start with 4-5 supplements and address things in the right order. This will depend on your results but if Helicobacter pylori is present this should often be treated first, or if there is a lack of enzymes or a lot of inflammation/ low SIgA this may need to be addressed before tackling the high levels of opportunistic bacteria.
Also Read: Tips to Test and Balance SIgA
Treatment is not just about “killing” unwanted bacteria, I always recommend emphasizing improving the beneficial levels of bacteria with diet and prebiotics as part of a treatment plan.
GI Map Test Opportunistic Bacteria Summary
The GI Map test is mainly focused on identifying problems in the large intestine, it can give clues as to whether SIBO is an issue but some people may need a specific SIBO test or another option is the Food Marble device for measuring SIBO.
*clients can schedule a consultation to get a 15% discount link for Food Marble and you will also be connected to my account so I can review your results.
I always recommend working with an experienced practitioner to help you assess the GI Map results, this can save money and time in the long run by not wasting money on ineffective supplements or not focusing on the most important things first.