I have been having issues with my hormones which has a knock on effect on my gut ‘functionality’. Through my studies I have been trying to find some answers to lead me out of this misery …
No matter what I do (exercise, eat healthy and portion controlled etc) I am finding it impossible to shed the middle fat or the muffin top or visceral fat – whichever way takes your fancy to name it…yekes!
Functional Medicine has been helpful and providing me with answers….
Just an important disclaimer. I am not a doctor neither a nutritional therapist (yep!). People are allowed to different views, use different approaches and no one know your body better than you. A treatment can work for some and not for others; remember, we are all different, with different metabolism, values and core beliefs.
So back to my long research….
The Functional Medicine believes that a variety of illnesses can occur when the protective functions of the gut are compromised. Intestinal permeability causes the immune system to go into overdrive; mounting an unnecessary response against things like gluten, bad bacteria and undigested foods which have passed through these permeable holes in the gut lining. One of the first indications of leaky gut is the rise of food intolerances. If left unhealed, this can lead to immune abnormalities and eventually autoimmune conditions and other health issues. Some of these include inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, eczema, psoriasis, depression, migraine headaches, muscle pain and fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, type 1 diabetes, Graves’ disease, colitis, thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, scleroderma, Crohn’s disease and Addison’s disease to name a few. It’s only in recent years that scientists are beginning to discover the vital importance of the link between diet, gut bacteria and the immune system. Scientific evidence now shows that the types of food that you eat will directly determine the levels of certain bacteria in your gut. Changing your diet will change the kind of bacteria that you have; which will either support the strengthening of your immune system, or deplete its defensive capabilities. Conclusions drawn from the current research all reveal that a healthy immune system is the result of a diet that supports healthy gut function: one that emphasises whole, unprocessed foods and one that helps to repopulate the gut with good bacteria.
There are more than 200 over-the-counter (OTC) 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 recognise or know (including most of your doctors) 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.
Your gut system is central to your entire health. It is connected to everything that happens in your body. That’s why Functional Medicine almost always start helping people treat chronic health problems by fixing their gut. Later you are told how to find out if you have a problem with your gut and how to create a healthy digestive system. First 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
Well, to fully understand your health, one of the essential places to get to know and understand is your gut and what is happening inside it. The phrase gut feeling is thrown about when we talk about our intuition and emotions but this saying could be truer than we imagine. Because all of the systems within your body work closely together to maintain optimal health, when one system is unbalanced it can trigger a domino effect; causing problems in other areas of your body and creating a cascade of chronic health complications. This is particularly true of the gut and its impact on immune health. Your gut health and immune system are inextricably linked. Did you know that approximately 70% to 80% of your immune tissue is located within your digestive system? The gut is often the first entry point for exposure to pathogens (bad bacteria and virus’ that can cause disease); therefore your gut immune system needs to be thriving and healthy in order to avoid illness. 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 bifid bacteria 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.
The digestive system comprises of cells, proteins, tissues and organs which work together in a complex way to defend the body against harmful bacteria, infectious diseases and toxins. In fact the gut mucosa connects with the largest population of immune cells in the body. These are also known as gastrointestinal immune cells; which come from the lymphoid branch of the immune system. Their aim is to secrete lymphocyte cells which attack harmful invaders. These lymphatic cells also form bundles known as ‘Peyer’s Patches’ which work together to protect the mucous membranes of the small intestines from infection. They do this by releasing specific white blood cells known as T-cells and B-cells to defend the inside of the digestive tract from infection, as well as the damage that they cause to the intestinal walls.
Aside from containing specialised immune cells, the particular strains of friendly gut flora that reside within your intestines are also critical for overall immunity. These guys act as mighty warriors for the immune system, and are dependable allies for immune cells; helping them to enhance their “natural killer” effectiveness and boosting their overall defense of the intestinal walls to prevent pathogens and infections being absorbed. This is one critical reason why maintaining a healthy balance of good bacteria in the gut is so important. Without them, your immune system cannot do its job effectively, and in essence it is defenceless.
Many diseases that seem totally unrelated to the gut, such as eczema or psoriasis or arthritis, are actually caused by gut problems. By focusing on your gut you can get better.
And…guess what? 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 by product 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.
- 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 mould toxins.
- Lack of adequate digestive enzyme function – which can come from acid blocking medication use or zinc deficiency.
- Stress can alter the gut nervous system causing a leaky gut and changing the normal bacteria in the gut.
How to get gut health
- 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.
Healthy leaving! x