Gut health can be related to many conditions. More and more information is out there regarding this. You may have heard the terms “Leaky Gut” or “Gut Healing.” If you have issues such as constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating or abdominal pain, making a gut connection isn’t a far stretch. But sometimes other symptoms can be related to gut health. For example, mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. The neurotransmitters needed for mood balance, like serotonin, greatly depend on the gut. Not only are neurotransmitters found there, but important cofactors (B vitamins, minerals, etc.) required to make them need to be absorbed in the intestines.
So if you have leaky gut, absorption issues, malnutrition and/or infections, this can negatively impact the body’s ability to even make the joy-inducing serotonin or the chill-feeling GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) neurotransmitters. Even symptoms like fatigue, body pain, brain fog and memory issues can have gut implications. I refer to these symptoms as “brain-based.” Since the gut and brain are intimately connected, it makes sense that if the gut is impaired the brain can be, too.
What is leaky gut?
Ideally the cells that line your intestines would be tight. When these are loose or leaky (i.e. leaky gut), this allows food and other particles to get into the bloodstream that lays beneath the intestinal lining. These particles are viewed as foreign to your body and it launches an attack. This can cause inflammation, autoimmunity, hormone imbalance to name a few. Bacteria, yeast and other invaders also have a direct link to your bloodstream. Some causes of leaky gut include gluten or food sensitivity, chemicals/pesticides, soft drinks, alcohol, sugar, processed foods, NSAIDS (like ibuprofen, advil, aleve) and stress. Just as the gut can be leaky, so can the brain. There is also a blood brain barrier. If the gut is leaky, so is the brain and vice versa. The body is all connected.
What are causes of leaky gut?
Identifying the issues causing poor gut condition is needed for long term health. Along with the potential causes listed above, infections or pathogens may be contributing. Common infections I see come up on specialized testing are H. pylori, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth or Fungal Overgrowth, parasites and candida. Most functional medicine providers are able to order these specialized tests and interpret them. These tests are usually much different than what is available in the conventional or primary care settings.
What are some treatment options?
Many companies have their own gut healing protocol. One that I recommend to patients is from Ortho Molecular. The combination of SBI protect and Glutashield has many gut healing ingredients rolled into two products. They are both powdered products that can be mixed together 2 times per day for 3 months. In addition, adding a probiotic can help repopulate the gut with good bacteria. Orthobiotic has the recommended Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains at the recommended dose, along with a beneficial yeast strain, S. boulardii. If someone has a lot of stomach issues with gas, bloating or pain, then the Megaspore product tends to be better tolerated than typical probiotics.
Since it can take time to diagnose and treat the underlying cause, I often recommend supplements to help alleviate symptoms. If you are interested in seeing these recommendations for gut support and healing or for symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, gas and bloating click here:
Hope this helps,
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