When first meeting with a client for a physical condition, we talk about the importance of boosting and supporting the immune system, the center of which is the gut or microbiome, the cornerstone of digestive health.. Eighty percent of your immune system is found in the the 25-foot channel that is your digestive system. The single layer of intestinal lining is the heart of the immune system which provides a barrier between external and internal environments. Here, our beneficial bacteria live and protect the blood against foreign substances and pathogenic microbes. Conditions from allergies to chronic disease all have their origins in the gut. When the sensitive gut lining becomes inflamed (drugs, radiation, stress, GMO foods) it can tear (Leaky Gut), changing the conditions and composition of bacteria. We are 10:1 more bacteria than human cells so if our smallest inhabitants aren’t happy, neither are we.
Instead of thinking of the gut as just the engine converting food into energy, it is more accurate to think of it as the immune/ neurological center in the body and, therefore, one of three brains. Research has focused on how the microbiome communicates with the Central Nervous System and thereby influences brain function, mood, and behavior. The heart is the second brain, with its own electrical circuitry, and the gray matter in your head is the third brain. Most people identify these brains as separate, but in reality, they all work together toward balance and vitality for the whole body.
There are many chronic health issues that are related to poor functioning digestive health that Naturopathic medicine can help including:
- Constipation, diarrhea,
- Digestive disorders (Indigestion, gas, bloating)
- Intestinal dysbiosis (gut microflora imbalances or intestinal candida overgrowth)
- Food allergies
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Acid reflux
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Pancreatic enzyme insufficiency
- Gall bladder disorders
- Liver disease, liver congestion
- Autoimmune diseases
- Eczema, skin conditions
- Migraines and headaches
- Weight gain or loss
- Joint pain, inflammation
- Mental-emotional fogginess
When the gut is balanced in a ratio of 85% good bacteria to 15% bad bacteria we are considered healthy. Most people are the reverse, 85% bad bacteria to 15% good, which is called Dysbiosis, and dysbiosis leads to leaky gut, which is the true underlying cause of any chronic disease condition. In leaky gut, the lining of the gut wall becomes inflamed and tears, allowing undigested proteins and food particles to enter the bloodstream where the body attacks these particles as foreign invaders and mounts antibodies against them (autoimmune reaction).
To manage and eventually heal these chronic health issues, we take the approach of healing the gut using the 4 R’s: Remove, Replace, Reinoculate, and Repair:
- Remove inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, sugar, and vegetable oils.
- Replace nutrients and minerals and enzymes that have gone missing,
- Reinoculate – with probiotics (beneficial bacteria) and fermented foods.
Research shows that depression, and mood or behavioral changes, can be traced to a shift in both the species and numbers of healthy gut bacteria. And the imbalance of our gut microbiome is directly linked to chronic illness, including obesity and inflammation
- Repair by eating healing foods – When we put clean food first: using traditional nutrient-dense foods, introduce live foods, juicing when necessary, fermenting foods and beverages, and eating pastured meats and eggs. To this diet we can add supplemental foods (coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, aloe), teas, tinctures, herbs, whey protein powders, spices (turmeric), whole-food vitamins, glutathione, homeopathic remedies, essential oil blends, and specific gut healing protocols using nature’s tools.