At Body in Harmony, we discuss “The Gut” and digestion frequently. It’s not a coincidence that we have a sign in our office that states “All disease begins in the gut” (Hippocrates). In numerous previous articles, we have discussed that gut health is typically at the root of autoimmune disorders, for example.
What does this mean for you, the reader? How do you know if you have a healthy or unhealthy gut? Today let’s look specifically at what intestinal health looks like, and how you might improve yours. A healthy gut equals a healthy life, and who doesn’t want that?
We live in an era where unfortunately; many patients and physicians alike accept that disorders of the gut are a normal part of life. Many physicians will treat symptoms only, without investigating the causes of the problem. Can you relate to any of the following symptoms?
- Food sensitivities
While it might sound shocking to some, the truth is that constant and repetitive intestinal problems are not a normal part of life! They should never be considered as such, and if any physician has ever told you to go home and take an antacid or a laxative, this article is FOR YOU.
First, let us look at a couple of topics that are discussed widely in our office and in the holistic health world at large: the microbiome, and the gut barrier.
The microbiome is defined as a “community of microbes”. In short, the microbiome is the billions of bacteria living in your digestive systems. Most of these bacteria are beneficial and essential for boosting immunity, breaking down food and absorption of nutrients, and even controlling hormone levels and communicating with our brain.
However, the microbiome can become imbalanced when pathogenic bacteria are allowed to proliferate. This results in not only too many bad bacteria, but also inhibits the growth of the good bacteria.
Your intestines are lined by a single layer of epithelial cells, linked together by TJ proteins (tight junction). The TJ proteins determine what is allowed to pass from your intestines into your bloodstream. There is a very delicate balance, wherein the TJ proteins allow small particles of essential nutrients into the bloodstream, without allowing in larger particles such as food that isn’t completely digested, pathogens, or toxins.
The term “Leaky Gut” is used to describe a malfunction in those TJ proteins. Many of our patients have experienced leaky gut, which is caused by a multitude of reasons:
- Genetic predisposition
- Poor diet containing seed oils, processed sugars, GMO’s, food additives, preservatives, dyes, etc.
- Gluten consumption
- Toxin exposures – may include drugs or alcohol; pesticides in food and water; NSAID medications or antibiotics; fluoride
- Imbalance of the Microbiome – too many ‘bad’ bacteria and not enough ‘good’ bacteria
- Chronic infections – Lyme disease and its common co-infections, for example, inflame the lining of the gut, making it more susceptible to damage
- Chronic Stress – Chronic stress weakens your immune system, making the proliferation of harmful pathogens that damage the gut lining more likely. Chronic stress also contributes to inflammation of the gut lining.
So, what happens when you develop leaky gut? The impacts are wide-ranging:
- Food sensitivities/allergies and environmental allergies – When undigested particles of food or environmental allergens are released into the bloodstream, the immune system must defend against what it sees as “foreign invaders”. Allergy symptoms are the result of this immune attack.
- Autoimmune diseases – Very closely related to food sensitivities, the immune attack your body mounts can often attack your own body tissues through a process called “molecular mimicry”. In these situations, the undigested proteins your body is attacking very closely resemble those in your own bodily tissues, so in the process of the attack, the immune system attacks your body and the foreign invaders simultaneously.
- Inflammatory bowel disease – Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease and IBS are very closely linked to leaky gut.
- Nutrient malabsorption – Undigested food particles result in the inability to absorb the nutrients you are consuming. Many functional medicine practitioners will prescribe supplements to their patients with leaky gut to fill gaps that their diet alone can’t fill, which is particularly true when your body is unable to absorb everything you eat.
- Depression – Leaky gut may trigger the release of an inflammatory cascade, which is linked to depression and suicide tendencies.
- Autism Spectrum Disorder – Microbiome deficiencies, particularly in the first year of life, may be connected to autism. This theory is supported by numerous studies now and is commonly accepted in modern science.
Strategies to Heal Your Gut
You hear it all the time, but it bears repeating because it’s so true: Processed foods are killing us! Foods high in seed oils and processed sugars, GMO ingredients, colorings, fillers, and preservatives have no place in a healthy diet. Part of a dietary strategy includes determining what foods you are sensitive to, as well as including nutritious foods that promote healing. At Body in Harmony, we can help you learn what works best for you! Not all diets work for every person, and we can help you design a way of eating that supports your unique health! Contact us today if you would like to learn more about how the food you eat impacts your health.
Our bodies are brilliantly designed to heal themselves, and that includes your gut lining. But true healing is nearly impossible to achieve when your spine is mis-aligned, leading your central nervous system to be unable to properly communicate. If you have been struggling with gut health for a long time and feel like nothing else has worked, perhaps it’s time to consider making sure your central nervous system, which controls your entire body, is working in harmony with itself. To learn more, contact us today to schedule a consultation.
The effects of chronic stress are wide-ranging, and we have discussed those effects in previous articles. But as it relates to gut health, we have all likely experienced the effects of sudden stress on our digestion…nervousness or sudden tragedy bringing on a sudden case of diarrhea for example. But imagine how impactful and damaging stress can be to the gut when it goes on continuously? Techniques to control stress such as breathing exercises, time in nature, or social support can go a long way toward reducing stress to the gut.
At Body in Harmony, we are highly trained in designing a supplement protocol that not only fills gaps, but promotes healing at the gut level. For the month of November, we are pleased to feature the following gut-healing supplements at a 10% discount:
- Standard Process Lactic Acid Yeast – Nutritional support to improve the health of the colon. Helpful for patients with gas, bloating, constipation, gut inflammation, yeast infections, or antibiotic use.
- Standard Process Okra Pepsin E3 – Nutritional support for those with diarrhea, constipation, ulcerative colitis, gastritis, ulcers, gout and more. Promotes optimal intestinal cleansing, repair, and nutrient absorption.
- Standard Process ProSynbiotic – Supportive for patients experiencing gas, bloating, constipation, antibiotic use, yeast infections, gut inflammation and more. Optimizes a healthy intestinal environment.
At Body in Harmony, we believe gut health is the very foundation of good health. Contact us today if you would like to explore ways to improve your health from the foundation up!