Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Gut Health: The basics

    What a boring title, almost as exciting as feet.  I'll work on making my titles a bit more creative.   As someone who has had their fair share of health issues and as someone who has read extensively on healing I have come to the conclusion that a healthy gut is key to healing.  Wether it be healing from a cold or flu or from an autoimmune disease or even from cancer healing the gut should be the first focus or done in conjunction with treating whatever ails you.
    Why is healing the gut so important?  Scientist estimate between 70%-85% of the immune system is in the gut.  If the gut is not functioning properly or in the best of working order your immune system won't be running as good as it needs and your body won't be able to fight off the virus, infection or whatever.
    Lets first talk about what causes the lining of the gut to break down.  Many factors can and do but the most common and destructive are antibiotics.  Antibiotics wipe out all bacteria both good and bad.  This leaves the gut with an unbalanced amount of good guys versus bad guys.  This provides the perfect breading ground for yeast, parasites, viruses and bad bacteria to take over. This is also known as gut dybosis. Good bacteria are needed to create enzyme secretions that helps the body remove all of the waste from the body.  Beneficial bacteria also break down hormone secretions that discharged from the liver to the small intestine. For instance, if you lack the bacteria to break down estrogen and the intestinal permeability has been altered, now you are reabsorbing estrogens in their original state.  I know this to be true from first hand experience. At the age of 5 my daughter started showing signs of puberty, much too early for any girl.  We put her on a strict GAPS diet and healed her gut.  She will turn eleven next week with no signs of puberty on it way.                                                                                          
      Another cause of gut issues are dietary factors like alcohol, grains, dairy, food allergies and sensitivities.  While foods that contain grains, dairy or the occasional alcoholic drink may not bother some people, there's a growing percentage of people that do have a problem with these foods. Enzymes are needed for the body to properly break down, use and dispose of foods that we eat.  As we age our bodies decrease the amount of enzymes made.   When there is a constant onslaught of these foods that the body can't break down food allergies and sensitivities will appear.
    Other medications can cause the gut to work at less than optimal levels. These medications include over use of antacids, NSAIDs like aspirin, Excedrin, Advil and Tylenol.  These medications are bad because they inflame the intestinal lining and cause a widening of spaces between the cells.
    Other factors also include lifestyle factors like chronic stress, consistently not getting enough sleep, and over activity including working out too much.  In other words, self care is important and should be a priority in your life.
    Our bodies need a healthy mucosa to allow nutrients to pass the barrier while blocking the entry of toxins.  In a healthy small intestine the epithelium maintains tight cell walls. The mucosa is important because it contains components that neutralize any toxins that it comes in contact with.  It also helps  the small intestine absorb vitamins, minerals and enzymes that the body needs.
   Next week we will talk about what test to run to check gut function and what can be done to heal the gut.

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