Is Something Wrong With Your Inside?
It is likely that you suffer from (or have suffered from) some type of digestive disorder–irritable bowel, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, reflux, gas, and things too gross to mention in print.
You are not alone. Over 100 million North Americans have digestive problems. The number three and seven top selling drugs are for digestive problems costing us billions and billions of dollars. There are more than 200 over-the-counter remedies for digestive disorders, many of which – most unfortunately – can create additional digestive problems. Visits for intestinal disorders are among the most common to primary care physicians.
And that’s not even the worst news!
Most of us do not recognize or know that digestive problems wreak havoc over your entire body leading to allergies, arthritis, autoimmune disease, rashes, acne, chronic fatigue, mood disorders, autism, dementia, cancer and more.
So having a healthy gut means more to you than just not being annoyed by a little bloating or heartburn! It is central to your entire health. It is connected to everything that happens in your body. That’s why I almost always start helping people treat chronic health problems by fixing their gut. Let me explain why your gut is so important.
Good gut health
The health of your gut determines what nutrients are absorbed and what toxins, allergens and microbes are kept out, and therefore it is directly linked to the health of the total organism. Intestinal health could be defined as the optimal digestion, absorption and assimilation of food. But that is a big job that depends on many other factors. For example, the bugs in your gut are like a rain forest – a diverse and interdependent ecosystem. They must be in balance for you to be healthy.
There are five hundred species and 3 pounds of bacteria in your gut; it’s a huge chemical factory that helps you digest your food, produces vitamins, helps regulate hormones, excrete toxins and produce healing compounds that keep your gut healthy. Too many of the wrong ones like parasites, yeasts or bad bacteria, or not enough of the good ones like lactobacillus or bifidobacteria can lead to serious damage to your health.
Your entire immune system (and your body) is protected from the toxic environment in your the gut by a layer only one cell thick. This thin layer covers a surface area the size of a tennis court—yet it’s basically containing a sewer. If that barrier is damaged, you will get sick and create an overactive immune system, producing inflammation throughout the body.
And then there is your second brain, your gut nervous system. Your gut, in fact, contains more neurotransmitters than your brain. It is highly wired back to your brain and messages travel back and forth. When those messages altered for any reason in any direction – from the brain to the gut or the gut to the brain – your health will suffer.
Then, of course, your gut has to get rid of all the toxins produced as a byproduct of your metabolism that your liver dumps in through the bile, and if things get backed up, you will become toxic.
And in the midst of all of this, your gut must break down all the food you eat into its individual components, separate out all the vitamins and minerals and shuttle everything across that one cell thick layer into your bloodstream for you to stay healthy.
Why your gut may be in trouble
Even in a perfect world, our gut has a hard time keeping things balanced. But in our world there are many things that knock our digestive system off balance.
What are they?
- Our low fiber, high sugar, processed food, nutrient poor, high calorie diet that makes all the wrong bacteria and yeast grow in the gut leading to a damaged ecosystem.
- Overuse of medications that damage the gut or block normal digestive function – things like anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, acid blocking drugs, and steroids.
- Chronic low-grade infections or gut imbalances with overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, yeast overgrowth, parasites, or even more serious gut infections.
- Toxins damage the gut such as mercury and mold toxins.
- Lack of adequate digestive enzyme function – which can come from acid blocking medication use or zinc deficiency.
- Even stress can alter the gut nervous system causing a leaky gut and changing the normal bacteria in the gut.
It is so important to understand that many diseases that seem totally unrelated to the gut, such as eczema, psoriasis, or arthritis, are actually caused by gut problems. But by focusing on the gut you can get better.
So how do you keep your gut healthy?
Eat whole unprocessed foods with plenty of fiber: vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Eat real food, mostly plants, as Michael Pollan author of the Omnivore’s Dilemma so simply put it.
If you think you have food sensitivities try an elimination diet. Cut out gluten, dairy, yeast, corn, soy and eggs for a week or two and see how your gut feels and what happens to your other symptoms.
Treat any infections or overgrowth of bugs like parasites, small bowel bacteria, or yeasts.
Take digestive enzymes with your food.
Take probiotics, healthy bacteria for your ecosystem.
Take extra omega 3 fat supplements which help cool inflammation in the gut.
Use gut-healing nutrients such as glutamine and zinc.
If you want to be healthy, you have to get your gut working properly. Contact me today!