Digestive System Imbalance
Digestive System Imbalance: “All disease begins in the gut,” Hippocrates is quoted as saying around 400 BC. He is referred to as the father of modern medicine. More than 2,000 years later, it is now estimated that 60 million Americans are affected by digestive diseases. This includes chronic constipation, acid reflux, and irritable bowel.
Hippocrates began to categorize illnesses as acute, chronic, and epidemic. Could our digestive disorders, like leaky gut, be reaching epidemic proportions?
The body typically maintains a wonderfully selective barrier to metabolic wastes and microbial toxins in the intestines. All while allowing in the nutrients we need for good health.
Modern medicine, processed foods and daily stress are contributing to imbalances in our digestive system and the breaking down of the protective intestinal barrier. This creates a permeability in our gut that has given rise to a discouraging epidemic.
Antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), while very helpful for some health concerns, are major contributors to gut issues. Antibiotics kill infections, but they also destroy beneficial bacteria and promote growth of fungus. We now eat an absolutely astounding amount of sugar and flour products that feed such pathogens.
All of these changes compromise the intestinal barrier and allow absorption of serious toxic agents and chemicals. These enter the blood and affect our organs and brain. Nutrients that are not fully digested can also enter through the small intestine, giving rise to food sensitivities and allergies.
The body’s immune response will begin to tag some of these foods as foreign irritants. And thus begins the inflammatory immune response which further damages the gut lining. That’s why so many people are sensitive to dairy, gluten, eggs, and nuts and are complaining about arthritis related to inflammation.
Our liver can normally handle the daily amount of toxins life presents. But it can get overwhelmed by the additional toxins entering through the leaky gut walls. It becomes saturated and the lymphatic system begins to take on too heavy a burden.
We start to get bouts of either constipation or diarrhea, bloating, and gas. Fatigue, anxiety, and depression may start to arise. Unrelated symptoms will show up, such as colds and flu, skin rashes, brain fog, blood sugar and blood pressure issues, and weight gain.
Microbes begin to grow and develop and get forced into connective tissue around muscles and joints. Our immune and endocrine system gets over stressed. This contributes to genetic mutations and ultimately cancer. This can lead to problems such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, or diminished adrenal function.
Hippocrates also believed that bad digestion is the root of all evil. Élie Metchnikoff, who won the Nobel Prize in medicine for his work on immunity in 1908, said “Death begins in the colon.”
If your gut isn’t working right, then your body isn’t working right. This is reversible though. You can repair the accumulated damage.
It all starts with diet. One that eliminates flour, sweeteners, starches, bad vegetables oils, preservatives, and is low in carbohydrates. Generally a low inflammatory, high nutrient diet along with clinical grade probiotics and digestive enzymes is key.
You may also need to address overgrowth of detrimental gut bacteria, fungus, and yeast. Leaky gut and this intestinal dysbiosis , often go hand in hand. This will require more severe diet restrictions for a short period of time, along with support to tame down the overgrowth. In this case, probiotics can actually make things worse and may need to be eliminated.
Come on down to the pharmacy. I have handouts for you on diet and repair protocols, and we can talk about how to select effective probiotics.
by: Scott Porter, Pharm. D.
Scott is a functional medicine pharmacist at Sandpoint Super Drug. He emphasizes integrating diet, exercise, and nutrition with science-based medicine for optimal health and well-being.
“Over the past 25 years, I have been involved in an evolution of medicine. A philosophy that is transitioning from a science of treating disease to a science of health.
My vision is that we take charge of our own health and return to a focus on well-being. That we address the underlying causes of disease and look at ourselves as a whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms.
I believe in supporting our own unique expression of health and vitality, and addressing environmental and lifestyle factors that influence the emergence and progression of disease.”