The gut is often thought of to digest food, churn it, and pass it out. But in Chinese Medicine it is thought that all disease can be started or should we say starts with the health of the digestive system...
80-90% of the immune system lives in the gut! This immune system is compose of billions of microbes and bacteria that fight off disease. The number one way to address a poor immune system and disease is to address gut health.
When you hear the term's "Gut Health" or "Gut Flora" many people jump to the conclusion that this occurs in the Stomach. The whole system of Gut Health includes the :Mouth, Stomach, Small Intestine and Large Intestine. Chinese Medicine adds in the functions of the Spleen and Liver when they have extensively researched to have a large impact on the transforming and transportation of food as well as detoxification.
There is an even more unknown function of the gut with is it's role in converting hormones! Many hormones released by signals from the body such as melatonin and thyroid hormones, have to first go to the gut where are converted into a functional form of use for the body.
If the gut impacts the immune system, and hormonal health, it is doing A LOT more than simply digesting food and nutrients and passing it out. A healthy gut will have the bacteria it needs to fight infection and the environment able to convert hormones.
When the gut is out of balance you name it… it can happen.
Does Your Gut Need Treatment?
Other than the obvious signs of abdominal bloating, weight gain, food allergies, candida, and gut related diseases such as IBS, Chron's, Colitis, Constipation ETC... here's a more in depth look to see if your gut needs attention, based on it's role it plays for immunity and metabolic function:
Allergies are a huge sign of a lowered immune system AKA poor gut health and often the lack of enough probiotics or good bacteria in the gut.
Frequent colds and flus is another
Skin rashes and acne are closely linked to the gut, but often forgotten about because the skin and gut are not the same organ.
Mental health, mood, and sleep are products of gut health, because the hormones that balance the brain need to convert in the gut.
Thyroid health, metabolism, and body temperature are regulated by gut health, due to hormones that need the right environment.
Digestive disorders are also a sign of bad gut health, because the good bacteria isn’t properly breaking down foods, or is breeding unhealthy organisms causing pains.
Bad breath or overgrowth of fungus and bacteria's on the body
Arthritis and pain is another huge symptom of gut health! If food is not being broken down properly, the extra particles will deposit in the joints. Foods inflaming the body will also cause systematic swelling and body pain.
The list is endless but as we take a look at gut health you can see how almost all symptoms are rooted in the gut.
But how does the gut go south? We are born with probiotic in our gut, and breast milk is a great way to continue feeding this. But what makes our bacteria die off so our immune systems become weak, or skin breaks out, hormones go out of control etc.
Antibiotics are the #1 killer of gut bacteria. If you were given antibiotics a lot as a child, or after a procedure, even if your mother took them breast-feeding these can kill off all the good bacteria while they are trying to kill the bacteria causing your illness. It is CRUCIAL any antibiotic taken is given with a probiotic for this reason. The end goal is hopefully to strengthen the immune system enough with proper diet that antibiotics aren’t needed, or use herbal medicine when the situation arises.
Another major source of antibiotics are in our food source. 80% of antibiotics in America are given to our livestock. Many people think organic food is for “hippies.” Reality is organic food is a way around eating antibiotics every meal. When buying meat, organic, grass-fed meats are ESSENTIAL to gut health!!
Excess use of pain killers or prescription medicines. Are proven to kill gut flora and certain ones taken long term can lead to gastric ulcers.
Excess sugar breeds poor gut health by giving the bad bacteria food to eat off of and survive.
Lotions, shampoos and soaps are another factor impacting the gut. What many people don’t realize is that the skin absorbs what is put on it, lotion doesn’t just sit on the skin and make us smell good. Small particles pass through the pores, and parabens and chemicals inside your products are now in your blood stream sent to kill good gut bacteria.
Chronic stress and poor diet
Exposure to chemicals, medications, and toxins in food, cosmetics, products, packaging, and environmental
In Chinese medicine we have a whole school of thought that “all disease can be treated through the Spleen and Stomach” which are the two major organs we see in contributing to overall digestive health. As more research is done modern day, it is now confirming this school of thought.
One of the biggest ways to influence gut health positively is through feeding the healthy gut bacteria. This bacteria will strengthen the immune system, and allow for proper break down of foods. Here is a list of some ways you improve gut health:
Fiber (to feed probiotic)
Sprouted seeds and grains (to feed probiotic)
Fermented foods (contain probiotic)
Keifers such as goats milk (contain probiotic)
Want more check out this video! https://youtu.be/h_dR4rm_MJQ
What happens when gut health has been in poor health for too long?
The main physical problem when gut health is poor is the gut will start to have tears in the lining, these small tears allow for food and other particles to leak into the blood stream and start to react. Where normally gut is sealed, now the blood has foreign particles in its system and this creates endless amounts of reactions:
Often times the first sign of poor gut health is food allergies, because there is not enough gut flora to digest food.
These food allergies can become more severe if there is tearing in the gastric lining and now food begins to react in the blood where it's not supposed to be, causing inflammation that may present in numerous ways.
Autoimmune disorders are seen to be the biggest concern for poor gut health
Digestive disorders such as Chron's or Colitis develop
Ulcers can develop
Chronic eczema or psoriasis may form
Emotional/ Mood and sleep disorders
SEALING IT UP:
To address the chronic, long term impact of poor gut health we must do more than just eat probiotics. The #1 focus at this chronic stage is to heal the torn gut lining causing food reactions and intolerances. In order to do that supplementation and key foods are recommended:
Fats and Oils such as coconut
Apple Cider Vinegar
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Regular acupuncture sessions
While we work on healing the gut by supplementing, it is also VERY important to remove foods that damage the gut and cause inflammation. These include:
-wheat, corn, soy and diary
It is a lot of work bringing the gut back into balance. 1)The first step to doing this is to eliminate the triggers causing inflammation including foods, cosmetics, stress etc. 2) The second step is to support the gut with the nutrients it needs to create a balanced flora. 3) And the third is to stay with the program.
One does not develop gastric ulcers overnight, it’s developed from long term bad diet, stress, and exposure. Same goes for healing the gut, the body now needs to working through the process to improve gut flora, decrease inflammation, and heal the gastric organs. Being patient though the process and consistent will lead to a body that is less vulnerable to illness, more tolerable to foods, and overall balanced.
In practice I have found every patient to be different. There is a diet that will work for everyone, and not for weight loss only, but for healing the stomach. The biggest results I have had are when people add in probiotics and do so consistently, with that one change many people find their allergies, skin conditions, and mood to change.
Other people we need to dig deeper and really eliminate the source of inflammation before change happens which involves eliminating foods. Food elimination is inconvenient to do for many people, but essential to many people’s health, and long term well-being.
There are several Chinese herbal formulas created for digestive disorders that work excellent for treating the root problem of disease and creating a balanced gut. For each person the formula will vary as everyone is unique as to why their digestive system is out of balance. It is very interesting that many of the seasonal allergy and skin disorder formulas from thousands of years ago always address supporting a healthy digestive system! The Chinese had it right, and treating the gut can treat the root of all disease.
IF you have digestive disorders, allergies, skin problems, or think your gut needs a talking too book online today @ www.southmetroacu.com