Functional medicine goes by the principal that every body system is connected. Your endocrine (hormone) system, immune system and digestive system don’t operate independently of each other, they are all in support of each other. At the center of a body achieving optimum homeostasis, is a balanced and healthy digestive system.
When you have an unhealthy gut it doesn’t only affect you in the form of tummy pains, bloating or feeling ‘blocked up’. When the gut is sluggish and of ill health, your immune system is adversely affected also. 60-80% of our immune systems are located within the digestive system and an imbalance in our gut will cause immune concerns, auto-immune disease or a weakened immune system in general, leaving us more susceptible to illness and disease. (dis-ease).
An unbalanced guts can also be linked to hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema, rosacea, and other chronic health problems. There is also a higher rate of IBS, reflux (when pregnant), anxiety and chronic fatigue syndrome when a gut imbalance is found in women.
10 Signs You May Have an Unhealthy Gut:
1. Bloating, constipation, diarrhea
2. Allergies or sensitivity to food
3. Anger, mood swings
5. Mood swings, irritability
6. Eczema, rosacea,
8. Autoimmune disease
9. Fatigue, sluggishness, headaches
10. Poor concentration, erratic mind, ADD
What to do to improve the health of your digestive system
1. Sweep your system out
Using the elimination diet, I would recommend that you remove the most common distress or inflammatory foods that could be causing your digestive imbalance There are a list of ‘usual suspects’ in our diet that can cause slight to severe digestive imbalance.
The goal is to get rid of things that negatively affect the environment of the gut, such as inflammatory foods like wheat, lactose, sugar, and hydrolysed oils. Also remove irritants like alcohol, caffeine, or drugs which not only mess with the digestive system, but also through the nervous system and endocrine (hormone) system into disarray.
Foods such as eggs and corn are also best to be removed. In an elimination diet, remove all suspect foods and then after three weeks, reintroduce one food at a time every 3 days and note your body’s response.
Bacteria and parasites
As horrible as it sounds, many of us are walking around with infections in our digestive system, caused by bacteria, yeast or parasites. A qualified practicing Nutritionist or naturopath can do a full stool analysis to determine whether you have an imbalance in the bacteria in your gut or whether a yeast infection or a parasite is present. Medication, herbs, supplements or even antibiotics may be needed to remove bacteria or parasites form the gut.
2. Re-populate with the good stuff
Make sure you’re re-populating your gut with healthy enzymes and digestive acids that are needed to keep it functioning at optimum level. Things like kombucha, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods will assist in adding probiotics to the gut. Kefir and some fermented cheeses will also add highly beneficial bacteria to the digestive system.
It’s important to introduce nutrient support to properly repair your digestive system.
Leaky gut syndrome will also need to be healed if this is present. Leaky gut is when tight junctions in the gut, which control what passes through the lining of the small intestine, don’t work properly and so allow substances to pass through the gut and into the bloodstream. This is why it is so important to make sure you’re receiving key nutrients back to the diet such as omega-3 fish oils (blue ice cod liver oil is a favourite), L-glutamine , vitamin A, C, and E are also welcome additions to the diet to aid in the repair of the digestive system.
Bone broth is a super-healer of the gut and is very simple to make at home.
This process is being used to heal a vast array of gut and intestinal issues and support the healing of inflammatory diseases and all auto-immune diseases. If you believe you may be suffering from a poor or unhealthy digestive system, then give this process a try and see how you feel. The results may take a few weeks to see affect however it could just change your life.