What do depression, anxiety, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, eczema, asthma, allergies, IBS, and frequent infections have in common? Two words: the gut.
Your gut is more than just your stomach. The human gastrointestinal tract (GI) includes your mouth, esophagus, stomach, intestines, and rectum. The bacterial cells living within the GI tract outnumber the rest of the body’s cells by 10 times. And, the genes affected by the bacteria residing within the GI tract outnumber the rest of the body’s genes by more than 100 times!
These human digestive-tract microorganisms (meaning tiny living cells) are called the gut microbiome. Researchers have conducted extensive studies on the human gut microbiome and its role in both health and disease, establishing its involvement in human metabolism, nutrition, physiology, and immune function. Imbalance of the normal gut microbiota has been linked with gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease & ulcerative colitis) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and wider systemic manifestations of disease such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and allergies. The great news is that it is possible to restore the GI bacteria to its healthy composition from the dysbiotic (bad bacteria) states seen in IBS, IBD, obesity, type 2 diabetes, allergies, skin disorders, mood disorders, hormonal imbalance, cancer, and autoimmune conditions. (Integrative Medicine, A Clinician’s Journal Dec 2014)
Infants are born with a virtually sterile GI tract. When they travel through the mother’s birth canal, they get exposed to bacteria which is normal and healthy. C-section babies do not have that advantage. What babies are fed their first year of life, ie. breast milk vs. formula, makes an impact on the gut bacteria for life. Other factors that influence this early development are the administration of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill the bad bacteria (ear infections) but also the beneficial “good” bacteria in the gut. It is estimated that in adults that it can take up to four years to repopulate the gut with appropriate bacteria after one round of antibiotics! That’s a long time!
As we continue in life, other factors contribute to the health of our gut microbiota. The major influence is our diet. Processed foods and sugars and low intake of vegetables and fruits decrease the “good guy” bacteria and without the defense of them, “bad” bacteria, viruses, fungus (yeast), and parasites can grow. Some people also have food allergies or sensitivities, unknown to them, and this can cause intestinal inflammation which in turn causes intestinal hyperpermeability, commonly known as “leaky gut.”
The lining of the intestines have tiny holes (called tight junctions) in them that tiny digested food particles pass through into our blood, and that is how we get nutrients. When inflamed, these tight junctions become enlarged and larger food particles and toxins that were never supposed to get into the blood pass into our blood vessels. This sets off an entire cascade of events in our immune system because the body thinks these larger particles are foreign invaders. Symptoms such as allergies, asthma, skin rashes or hives, poor moods, and fatigue can manifest. Leaky gut also increases the risk of developing an autoimmune disorder such as lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis and many more.
Since 70-80% of our immune system is dependent on proper gut microbiota and balance, it is important to treat. This is important not only so we don’t get colds, influenza, etcetera, but also so we do not develop cancer. And, 80-90% of our serotonin (our “feel-good” brain chemical) is also produced in the gut when the microbiome is healthy. Is your low mood or anxiety caused from a bad belly?
At Julian Healthcare, I have seen miraculous results in lives by helping people get their guts healthy. Interestingly, a person does not have to experience the first GI-related complaint (abdominal pain, constipation, bloating) to have disordered gut microbiota and/or leaky gut. By taking a thorough history (listening intently to your story) and possibly performing testing, I can help you identify and treat the root cause of what is keeping you from being your best self!
If you’re ready to get started, call our office to make an appointment for us to discuss your best path to move forward.