WHY WE MUST SUPPORT OUR GUT HEALTH
Did you know that gut dysbiosis or imbalance in gut bacteria can contribute to long term health problems like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Diabetes, Autoimmune conditions, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and many more?
There are so many factors that come into play when we are looking at gut health.
It is important to know what strains of beneficial bacteria are residing in our gut and if they are at acceptable or optimal levels in comparison to cohorts. It is vital to establish if there are any pathogenic bacteria that could be causing painful gastrointestinal symptoms. Then there is yeast and fungus and digestive function and the list goes on and on. But truly, it is a list that should be a priority when it comes to your overall health.
Have you heard of Leaky Gut also known as intestinal permeability? It’s not just a fad it’s a real problem for many people. Leaky gut is the name given to a condition that results in the breakdown of our gastrointestinal barrier. When this barrier gets breached due to smoking, medications, stress, viruses and other factors, it can allow pathogens and undigested food proteins to get into our blood stream. Once in the blood stream our immune system, which is on red alert, jumps on these foreign invaders and, in its wisdom, sets up an inflammatory immune response in order to protect us. But, in fact, what it can do is cause us immeasurable pain and destruction to our joints and other areas of the body.
People often perceive this pain to be from arthritis or old injuries but actually it is often due to the aggressive inflammatory response from our immune system. This can often be the cause of autoimmune disease. The immune system mistakenly attacks tissues that look similar to the proteins that enter the blood stream. For example, thyroid tissue has a comparable protein structure to gluten and dairy and thus when those food proteins enter the bloodstream, in those with leaky gut, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland by mistake. This can then lead to Autoimmune Hashimoto’s and Graves disease.
It has been shown in studies that inflammation in the gut can lead to inflammation in the brain. Research has shown that people with inflammatory bowel diseases have a significantly higher risk of a blood brain barrier breakdown.
What exactly does the blood brain barrier do? Well, it is a mechanism in our brain to prevent toxins and pathogens from crossing into the central nervous system and causing brain infections. It is therefore vital to protect the brain, gut and lung barriers, which have similar functions, through diet and lifestyle strategies.
Lets finish on the gut. The main way to support a healthy gut is by eating a wide variety of plant fibres. This supports the production of food for the good bacteria and prevents the bad bacteria from flourishing. If you find it difficult to eat and digest plant fibres then try adding some digestive enzymes to support the breakdown and allow your gut to thrive for optimal health.