Good Health Begins with Good Digestion
“All Disease Begin in the Gut.”
This was said over 2,000 years ago and it rings true today. A simple article search for ‘gut function and health’ supports this. This week we’re talking GUT. I’ll emphasize just how CRITICAL an optimally functioning digestive tract is for health and disease prevention. If you suffer from any disease or experience unwanted digestive symptoms then I encourage you to read on and TAKE ACTION. I am passionate about gut health and have seen pretty cool change for those ready and willing to do the work.
The most effective clinical outcomes across all diseases come from restoring normal gut functioning. Our gut consists of everything between the mouth and the anus and its functions are mind blowing. Most of our neurotransmitters are produced in the gut, it houses 2/3 of immune tissues, and contains 10 times more cells then the rest of the body combined, to name a few.
There are several key functional roles that the gut plays in our physiology and when these become dysfunctional, the foundation for disease is laid. —
Digestion/absorption - This is our body’s ability to break down food and absorb nutrients. Impairments stem from not chewing, low stomach acid, insufficient pancreatic enzymes and bile, and GI tissue damage.
Intestinal permeability - An intact intestinal barrier is critical to normal physiological function and prevention of diseases (1). Gut mucosa contacts the external world on a daily basis and is taxed with this stress more than our immune systems see in a lifetime! Increased gut permeability is implicated in the genesis of several disorders (2). In fact, the autoimmune process CAN BE ARRESTED by re-establishing intestinal barrier function (3).
Gut microbiota - Containing over 100 trillion species, the microbiome contains 100 times the number of genes of the human genome and has the metabolic capacity of the human liver (4). Changes in the microbiota are implicated in diseases such as allergy, asthma, IBD, obesity, and others (5). It’s composition can shape a healthy immune system or predispose it to disease.
Immune modulation and inflammation - Our gut acts as the ’front line’ defense to the outside environment. 50-70% of your immune system and immune producing cells live within the GI tract. As we move away from farms and become more sterile, our microbial exposure is lessened and immune systems stunted. Kids growing up in homes without a dishwasher actually have lower rates of allergy as compared hand washing homes (6). Their immune systems are not being challenged enough.
Nervous system - The gut’s nervous system controls food movement, blood flow, nutrient absorption, secretion, immunity, and inflammation. Exposure to stress changes the gut-brain axis and ultimately leads to a bunch of GI disorders like IBD, IBS, ulcer, GERD, and others (7).
You can see that the gut plays a foundational role for health and when there is dysfunction within the GI tract, there is greater risk for a variety of disease and pathology. As a patient of mine, I utilize stool analysis as a tool to recognize patterns within the gut. These labs assess markers of digestion and absorption, immune and inflammation, the microbione, and presence of leaky gut. With this, a customized treatment plan is developed to restore gut function.