As a naturopathic physician, my passion is in finding the root cause of disease. My profession is rooted in the belief that the body has the innate ability to heal itself if given the right environment. By working with patients to discover the underlying causes of disease, ND’s help patients come closer to a balanced and disease free life.
One discovery that I have made in my career is that there is very little healing that can occur without listening to and healing the gut. The GI tract is in fact the center of the body and has a direct correlation to our overall health. In my experience thus far, I have found that most patients with chronic diseases have some complaint in the GI tract. Patients often report gut concerns such as chronic constipation, diarrhea, gas, or bloating, but never connect them to their other chronic symptoms. With the inflammatory foods our nation is built on, it is not surprising that so many of us suffer from chronic GI concerns.
But the story doesn’t stop in the gut. What many people don’t know is the important role the GI tract plays in the rest of our body. For starters, the GI tract is the place where we digest and absorb many important nutrients. Every process in our body is aided by vitamin and mineral cofactors and without their proper absorption it is easy for these processes to stop working optimally.
Beyond vitamin and mineral absorption, the GI tract also houses 80 percent of our immune system. The healthy bacteria, or probiotics, that live in our GI tract, create the immune system. From birth, we are primed with this healthy bacteria as well as immunoglobins from our mothers that help to build up our immune systems. C-sections and formula feeding have been implicated in an increased risk for allergies and asthma, mostly due to the fact that these children’s immune systems are not fully established, as they would be during a vaginal birth and breastfeeding. Allergies, asthma, a decreased immune system, eczema and auto-immunity can have a direct correlation to the GI health for this reason.
The final piece of the puzzle is the understanding that many of our neurotransmitters are made in the gut. In fact, 95 percent of the serotonin in the body is made in the GI tract. Therefore, a healthy gut means a healthy mind and vise versa. The connection between the GI tract and the brain is undeniable and has been shown over and over again in research.
So what symptoms could you be suffering from that you might not know are connected to your gut? If any of the below rings true for you, I encourage you to visit your local Naturopathic Physician.
Below are few signs and symptoms that could in fact be related to your gut:
Joint and Muscle Pain
Inflammation can start in the GI tract. When the GI tract is inflamed, inflammatory cytokines can enter into the systemic body. Inflammation=pain. When inflammation is occurring in our gut, systemic inflammation in joints and muscles, increases. Many mineral deficiencies have also been implicated in muscle and joint pain, such as calcium and magnesium. These minerals create vasodilation, among other actions, which decreases pain and increases blood flow to muscles and joints. Mineral deficiencies are often created from dysfunction of absorption in the GI tract.
ADHD and Attention Issues
Did you know that 95% of your Serotonin is produced in your gut? Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, mood and appetite. Functioning with a healthy serotonin level will create better mind/body balance overall. Any imbalance in neurotransmitters could result in attention issues or hyperactivity. Yeast, or candida overgrowth as well as food sensitivities in the GI tract have also been shown to correlate with inattentiveness, hyperactivity and/or brain fog.
Anxiety and Depression
Your gut houses your second nervous system (or the enteric nervous system) housing over 30 neurotransmitters. It seems nearly impossible to disconnect the brain from the gut. It should also be mentioned that selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI) are often used to treat depression. So, in simple terms, finding ways to increase serotonin in the body will improve depression. Healing the GI tract is one important way to accomplish this.
A decrease in nutrient absorption itself can cause decreased overall energy production. If your gut is not properly absorbing the nutrients from the foods you are eating, it can decrease the activity of the endocrine system, such as the adrenals and thyroid, further leading to fatigue.
When there is chronic inflammation in the gut, the healthy bacteria (or probiotics) that normally live there can be killed off. These bacteria create our immune system. A deficiency in healthy bacteria can decrease immune response and cause recurrent illnesses. Antibiotics can also create a bigger problem by not only killing off the intended bacteria, but our good bacteria as well.
PMS and Hormonal Concerns
Once a hormone has been used in our system, it is excreted through the liver, into the GI tract and out of the body. If the GI tract isn’t working properly, your body can create a recirculation of hormones. This leads to excess, proliferative hormones, including estrogen. Too much pro-inflammatory estrogen can lead to endometriosis, cramping, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids and fibrocystic breasts.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call us today to set up a free 15 minute call with one of our Doctors.