Have you heard the joke about the fight between the different parts of the body? One day they were arguing over whose role was the most important. The heart said it was the most important because it was beating to keep the body going. The head said it was the most important because it controlled everything. The kidneys claimed they were the most important because they filter and remove waste from the body. Each organ continued to argue about whose role was the most important in keeping the body thriving and well. When the gut claimed that it was the most important, all the other organs laughed and shut the poor gut down. However within a few days of the gut being shut down, all the other systems within the body agreed that it indeed was the most important after all, because they were all affected when the gut wasn’t working properly. This little story illustrates how the gut is often very much underrated.
Why is our gut so important?
Our gut, also known as the gastrointestinal tract, actually plays a HUGE role in your overall health and well-being.
The 3 primary functions of the gut are:-
- Digestion of foods and conversion into vitamins
- Absorption of nutrients
- Prevention of toxins and pathogens from entering the body
If you aren’t digesting your food properly, this can lead to many problems, such as; a compromised immune system, viral and bacterial infections, nutrient malabsorption, fatigue, other body organs can also be affected such as your nervous system and skin, and lastly it can lead to gut (intestinal) dysbiosis.
What exactly is gut dysbiosis?
Gut dysbiosis is a condition in which the bacteria in your gut are out of balance, and pathogenic (bad) bacteria begin to dominate the good (beneficial) bacteria, creating symptoms of digestive distress.
What Causes Gut Dysbiosis?
There are a number of factors that can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria in our gut and lead to overgrowth of the less desirable species. These include;
- Birth control pill
- Diet, especially one that’s high in sugar and refined/ processed foods
- Gastrointestinal infections (traveller’s diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, food poisoning etc)
- Certain medications
Gut dysbiosis can lead to changes in the lining of the bowel that increases the permeability of the gut, resulting in leaky gut syndrome.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
The lining of the intestines is a barrier that should only allow properly digested fats, proteins, and starches to pass through and enter the bloodstream. However, it’s when our bodies are bombarded with antibiotics, medications, bacterial toxins, or even the pesticides sprayed on our food, the intestinal lining gets damaged and loses its integrity. This is when the door is open to let in the bacteria, viruses, parasites and even undigested food molecules through the walls of our gut lining! This causes the immune system to be over stimulated, inflammatory substances are released which weakens the intestinal wall further. We refer to this loss of integrity as ‘leaky gut syndrome.’
If your gut lining is badly damaged, inflammatory substances will leak through your gut wall, wreaking havoc on your health and causing some of the following symptoms.
Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Chronic joint and muscle pain
- Brain fog, poor memory and concentration
- Digestive issues; stomach pain, bloating, indigestion, diarrhoea, gas etc
- Mood swings
- Recurrent UTI’s and/ or thrush
- Skin rashes
- Poor libido
The agitated immune system can often become so unstable that it ends up attacking your own body, therefore producing autoimmune diseases.
Leaky gut syndrome is associated with the following conditions
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Celiac disease
- Skin problems; hives, eczema, acne and psoriasis
- Intestinal infections
- Pancreatic insufficiency
- Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
- Food allergies and sensitivities
- IBS and many more
So if you think you may be experiencing the symptoms of a leaky gut, it’s wise to address it promptly.
How to Soothe Your Gut & Eliminate Intestinal Distress
The first step is to identify and remove the source of the gut-lining irritation, rather than attempting to suppress it the irritation with drugs (the ‘Band-Aid’ approach). Start an elimination diet – remove common irritants such as; gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, chemical additives and preservatives found in food. Eliminating these common irritants may be able to provide surprisingly quick relief.
For more information and tips on how to soothe your gut please read the following blogs:
- Life After Gluten – How to Start Repairing Your Gut
- How the Food You Eat Directly Affects Your Mood (Gut-Brain Connection)
- How to Reduce Bloating and Improve Gut Health
- 5 Health Tips for Healing Leaky Gut
- Why you could be constipated + 14 tips on how to relieve constipation naturally