All disease begins in the gut. Hippocrates
It’s often said that disease found anywhere in the body is a manifestation of an unhealthy gut. This makes sense if one is to consider the many important functions the gut has, such as the maintenance of a healthy immune response, hormone and neurotransmitter production, nutrient absorption and detoxification support via waste removal.
The gut is often referred to as the ‘second brain’ because of its ability to influence emotional health and vice versa. Like ‘butterflies’ when you’re nervous or feeling anxious after a sugar binge. This is because the brain and gut are derived from the same tissue, and therefore use many of the same chemical messengers to perform their respective functions. In fact, 90% of serotonin, the ‘happy neurotransmitter’, is produced in the gut!
- Poor diet – refined sugar, processed foods, food sensitivities, etc.
- Toxins – pesticide residues, food additives, BPA in food storage containers, etc.
- Some medications – antibiotics, acid blockers, NSAIDs
- Stress – difficult relationships, work pressures, financial concerns, etc.
- Gastrointestinal infections – parasites, candida overgrowth, H. pylori, etc.
With time, the above factors can compromise the integrity of the gut lining, causing nutrient malabsorption, and intestinal permeability or ‘leaky gut’ – a condition that leads to an overactive immune system commonly associated with autoimmune processes such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Other health conditions, such as eczema, autism and depression have also been linked to a compromised intestinal barrier.
- Rectal itching
- Iron deficiency
- B12 deficiency
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Attention disorders
The first step is to improve, reduce or eliminate the previously listed factors, as well as any other factors unique to your lifestyle that contribute to poor gut health. Once this has been sorted out, digestive function needs to be optimized and the gut lining healed with appropriate nutrition and supplementation. The final step is to re-inoculate the gut with beneficial flora – for just as a garden flourishes with healthy microbes in the soil, so does the body with healthy gut flora.
Take care of your gut, and it will take care of the rest of you!