Gut Health is where Health Begins
About a hundred million Americans suffer from some form of digestive problem. Our digestive system works 24/7 to transform the food we eat into molecules our bodies can use. Dysfunction in this system can wreak havoc throughout the body. It has been linked to allergies, asthma, eczema, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and chronic fatigue among numerous other health issues. More than 40% of people worldwide have functional gastrointestinal disorders, with women reporting greater prevalence than men. “Functional” GI disorders can be difficult to diagnose with traditional testing.
What is Leaky Gut?
A common functional GI disorder is Leaky Gut or Intestinal Permeability. Leaky Gut occurs when cells in the lining of the GI tract, which are tightly sealed together in a healthy gut, become loose in genetically susceptible individuals, due to chronic exposure to nutrient-depleted and synthetic foods. Over time these leaky junctions lead to a trajectory of a plethora of allergy spectrum disorders like asthma, hives, eczema, rhinitis, headaches as well as autoimmunities like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Therapeutically beneficial healthy fats including medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), omega-3 sources, and butyric-acid and vitamin A–rich ghee, and bone broth (rich in L-glutamine) help heal intestinal hyperpermeability.
Deficiency of the enzyme diamine oxidase [DAO] in our gut lining, which is responsible for breaking down histamine, causes histamine levels to rise. This frequently results in chronic allergies, eczema, as well as irritable bowel disease. Replacing DAO, if you are deficient in that enzyme, provides significant interim relief. Systematic, structured dietary interventions help restore gut health to minimize long-term dependence on exogenous enzymes.
The Microbiome is important
We have far more bacterial DNA in our body than our own DNA. The balance of the microbiome in our gut relates to sensitivity and susceptibility to gut symptoms. Supporting a healthy and balanced intestinal microbial community is essential for the integrity of the immune system. The disruption of the ecosystem in our gut is linked to obesity, Parkinson’s disease, constipation, and susceptibility to numerous psychiatric disorders. A Functional Medicine approach to improve gut health includes nutritional interventions that reduce the fermentation of carbohydrates in the gut to help address bacterial and fungal overgrowth, as well as an elimination diet that removes trigger foods to potentially reduce inflammation. Meal spacing and intermittent fasting can help alleviate slow bowel motility.
Treating Leaky Gut
Personalized therapeutic interventions that focus on modifiable lifestyle factors optimize immune system function while supporting gut health. Such lifestyle modifications can include the following:
- Therapeutic food plans
- Multi-strain probiotic supplementation
- Restorative sleep
- Movement and exercise plans
- Reduction of dietary triggers and toxic exposures
- Stress management or transformation
The Gut-Brain connection
Neurogastroenterology, which is a subspecialty of gastroenterology that overlaps with neurology, encompasses the study of the brain, the gut, and their interactions. The bidirectional communication along the gut-brain axis involves endocrine, immune, autonomic (sympathetic and parasympathetic), central (CNS), and enteric nervous systems (ENS). In addition to neurotransmitters, peptide hormones released from the gut also contribute to bidirectional gut-brain communication through binding receptors on immune cells and vagus nerve terminals. The evidence tying depression with gut permeability and microbiota composition is piling up. Simply put, the gut and brain are strongly connected!
What about IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a complex syndrome with many underlying subtypes. It can present as constipation or diarrhea predominantly or associated with pain/cramp with bowel movements. Bile acid dysfunctions, SIBO, SIFO, food intolerance, nutritional deficiency and stress are a few known precipitating factors. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and Small intestinal fungal overgrowth (SIFO) are associated with higher prevalence of papulopustular rosacea, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Bile acids promote intestinal motility. Bile acid blockers ( medication or lifestyle ) can help with diarrhea. Swedish bitters, bitter greens, ginger, and fennel seeds help with promoting intestinal motility. Hence can help with constipation. Low Vitamin D3 levels are associated with higher severity of abdominal pain and distension, flatulence, and overall GI symptoms. D3 supplementation modulates interleukin-6 which is an inflammatory marker. Hence relieving the pain associated with IBS. Targeted treatment leads to the best outcomes
The relationship between gastrointestinal dysfunction, nutrition, and chronic disease is multifaceted, compelling, and complex. At Heal n Cure, we have the foundational background, insights, and the capability for in-depth clinical analysis to confidently treat patients with comorbidities fueled by gastrointestinal dysfunction.
To learn more about the treatment, schedule a free 15-minute consultation with our Wellness Coordinator or call our office (847) 686-4444