All disease starts in the gut
Often times we think of stomach pains, bloating, constipation or diarrhea when we think of “gut problems.” But, did you know that “gut problems” can disguise themselves as pain, brain fog, the inability to lose weight, anxiety, psoriasis, autoimmune disease, cancer, heart disease, and even Parkinson’s, MS, and Alzheimer’s (just to name a few). As Hippocrates once said, “All disease starts in the gut.”
Inflammation and disease
It is estimated that 25 million to 50 million Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases and more than 50 % of the world is suffering from chronic disease. This may be hard to believe, but 75-90% of all disease is linked to inflammation. Inflammation, which is the body’s normal physiological defense and repair process, can start with acute inflammation in a local area and then can become systemic. And when there is chronic inflammation, often times you lose tolerance. For example, when someone presents with pain that keeps shifting around, one injury to the next, or they have had it for more than six months, it is an immune system problem. They have lost the ability to tolerate inflammation. Seventy percent of our immune system is in our gut! So, that may just be slightly important for our immune system, wouldn’t you say?
So, whether you are dealing with chronic inflammation, autoimmune disease, chronic disease, chronic pain, a neurodegenerative disease, or gas and bloating, all of this would be indicative of a need to heal your gut.
Why the gut?
Let’s start with the fact that your gut, our second brain, through its bacteria, produces 75% of our neurotransmitters, chemical messengers, like serotonin, dopamine and GABA. Additionally, as mentioned before, it houses 2/3 of our immune system. The gut components contain 10 times more cells than the rest of the body combined and house a genome 100-150 times larger than the human genome! And last but not least, the gut has a metabolic activity greater than the liver.
How can you rebuild your gut when things go wrong?
In functional medicine, we use a 5 R Framework for Gut Restoration. This can provide dramatic results in overall health.
1. Remove: First, it is important to remove inflammatory triggers including but not limited to:
· foods that you may be sensitive, intolerant, or allergic to and/or poor-quality processed foods
· medicines, chemicals
· toxins and environmental stressors
· pathogenic microflora (bacteria, fungi, parasites), infections such as candida, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)
Some common ways to approach this which would be unique to each individual could be an elimination diet, botanical antimicrobials, or potentially antibiotics and antifungal medications.
2. Replace: Then you want to replace or support digestion with what may be lacking such as digestive enzymes for proper digestion and absorption of foods.
Other nutrients for support may include hydrochloric acid, pancreatic enzymes, bile salts, and adequate fiber intake to support GI function.
3. Reinoculate: The goal then is to reinoculate with good bacteria such as pre and probiotics and fermented foods to achieve a more desirable balance to the intestinal microbiome.
4. Repair: The goal is then to begin to repair the damage of the GI mucosa, otherwise known as the gut lining with well-researched nutrient support with supplements such as L-glutamine, zinc, quercetin, B complex, antioxidants, licorice, phytonutrient anti-inflammatories such as curcumin, EPA, DHA and many more. These nutrients can help to heal and regenerate the gut.
5. Rebalance: Last, but definitely not least is to rebalance lifestyle factors like improving food habits, scheduling relaxation and reducing stress, measuring heart rate variability and using mind-body practices such as yoga, meditation, prayer, breathing, or centering practices.
As you can see, the gut is extremely important in overall health and preventing chronic disease. Just remember, as the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates once said, “All disease starts in the gut.” Now it’s time to heal yours.
If you are not sure where to start, please reach out to schedule a full functional medicine evaluation.