Research in the past two decades has revealed that gut health is critical to overall health. An unhealthy gut contributes to a wide range of diseases including; Irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, obesity, depression, diabetes, arthritis, autism spectrum disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome and autoimmune diseases. Supporting intestinal health and restoring the integrity of the gut barrier is one of the most important goals for total health and well being.
How does my gut health effect my overall health?
Gut flora and gut barrier are two factors that determine the health of our gut. Our gut is home to 100 trillion microorganisms. It is also responsible for our protection from infection, as it comprises more than 75% of our immune system.
99% of our serotonin is produced in our gut and is responsible for mood, sleep, appetite, digestion, memory as well as sexual desire & function!
So there you go our gut has an intimate relationship with our brain, hormone and immune systems.
What are the signs and symptoms of altered gut flora?
Signs and symptoms of digestive issues can be; bloating, pain, constipation and diarrhoea, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and food intolerances. Additional signs may be: altered mood and even psychological symptoms such as anxiety or depression.
What can affect gut micro flora?
Antibiotics - altering the micro flora.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) - affecting the gut lining.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like Nexium – lower stomach acid, reducing digestive ability, contributing to nutrient deficiencies
...and so the cycle of fatigue continues.
Poor dietary choices, such as; low fibre, high sugar diets, dietary toxins like wheat and industrial seed oils causing leaky gut.
Chronic stress and chronic infections are major contributing factors affecting the gut-brain-axis by altering our hormonal system.
Gastroenteritis, infections and travel bugs may be the catalyst to a cascade of varied symptoms.
Food intolerances may also be a factor, or a symptom. However many times, I have seen these rectified post integration of a thorough gut healing protocol.
Conditions that benefit from this treatment are Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), reflux, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), leaky gut (increased gut permeability) and dysbiosis. Additionally, conditions that may be supported by gut re-inoculation and dietary interventions are coeliac disease, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
The key is to reboot your gut by getting rid of the bad stuff and putting in the good stuff.
What can we do to help reduce gut symptoms?
1. Identify - Cause
The main aim is to identify the cause of your condition, to identify and remove the aggravating factors and help restore the integrity of your gut.
2. Remove - Aggravating factors
Food Intolerance specific protocols according to your presentation may include; FODMAPS, autoimmune specific protocols, histamine, oxalate, gluten, dairy, or a salicylate free diet. - all depending on your individual condition and symptom picture.
It is also important to identify any bacteria in the gut that may not be so beneficial. Bad bacteria may be pathogens which cause infection or make us sick. They may come from food, environmental toxins and further proliferate due to effects of stress on our body.
3. Reinoculate - with the Good Stuff!
Reinoculating the gut with beneficial probiotic bacteria at the correct dose for your condition is necessary, while additionally incorporating appropriate healing and anti-inflammatory and anti-parasitic herbs.
Consuming probiotics that have a wide range of positive effects, including reducing diarrhea, constipation and inflammation. Minimizing lactose intolerance while supporting the immune system and reducing anxiety and improving cognitive function.
For some or us, consuming fermented foods is enough to support a health gut. However if you have chronic and / or severe ongoing digestive issues you may need more support. - This can be due to a history of antibiotics, anti-inflammatory or antacid (PPI reflux drugs like Nexium) drugs that significantly compromise the digestive system by altering gut flora and reducing pH in the gut.
Being in pain does not need to be a fact of life. If pain, bloating and many of the above symptoms are something that you experience regularly, then it’s likely that you would benefit from a gut protocol. You don’t have to feel like this for the rest of your life. Give yourself time and permission to look after yourself!
A wholistic approach supporting both body and mind that suits you is crucial for overall health and healing.
Remember your gut can be the make or break of you. Take care of yourself. Mind, body & spirit.
HERE ARE SOME GREAT GUT HEALTH BOOKS TO READ
Gut by Giulia Enders
The Mind-Gut Connection by Emeran Mayer
Gut & Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell McBri
Christine Carley - Qualified Naturopath BHlthSc. (Nat) NHAA ECNH
Christine is a qualified naturopath supporting her clients with stress, anxiety, fatigue, and gut health. She has a strong commitment to those with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue and offers ongoing wholistic treatment plans. Facilitating mindfulness practice for 17 years.
This article provides general information and is not intended to constitute advice. All care is taken to ensure information is accurate and relevant. Please see your practitioner for personalised health treatments and advice.