How the gut affects the whole body
It’s been said for thousands of years that our health is in the gut and that most diseases begin in the gut. It’s not difficult to understand. When you consider that the gut is the one that receives processes food, allows nutrients to be absorbed into the body and gets rid of waste, then you understand that it plays a crucial role in health.
How the gut affects health
There is more to the gut than simply processing food. It is one of the many systems that are interconnected and support each other and it affects every system and every organ.
If you have skin problems that won’t respond to treatment, the problem is most likely linked to gut health. Even ancient healing modalities such as Chinese healing and Ayurveda used to map the face and analyse skin problems in relation to gut problems, often uncovering underlying digestive issues. Science has now confirmed that ancient knowledge.
The poor gut health affects the way your body retains nutrients and causes poor absorption of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, leading to unhealthy skin. A leaky gut can allow food substances to enter the bloodstream and irritate the skin which leads to problems like eczema.
Autoimmunity and sensitivity
The gut’s lining is built in such a way that only nutrients are absorbed and food particles are not. When the lining is damaged (in a condition known as leaky gut syndrome), it allows pathogens and food micro-particles to enter the blood stream. The body reacts by trying to destroy those food particles, in the same way it reacts to pathogens, leading to autoimmune reactions and food sensitivity. Some of the foods that affect the permeability of the gut lining are proteins called gluten (from wheat and other grains) and casein (from cow milk).
You may be wondering why your teeth, that used to be strong and white, have yellowed and have become weak or decayed despite regular brushing. Part of the problem lies in the gut. Some foods cause acids to rise up the esophagus and eat away at the white tooth enamel. The surface of the teeth becomes chipped and eventually you notice that the teeth have yellowed. Gut acid has destroyed tooth enamel and uncovered the underlying yellow layer. That same acid also leads to tooth decay.
The gut contains trillions of beneficial bacteria that destroy any bad microbes that enter it and keeps them under control. As long as the gut is healthy and has enough good bacteria, the few disease-causing microbes that enter will not cause disease. However, when the good bacteria have been destroyed by antibiotics and other factors, they cannot effectively destroy all the disease-causing yeasts, bacteria and viruses. The latter then multiply and you then suffer from constant infections.
Yeast infection is particularly hard to detect and will affect almost every system, leading to constant fatigue, brain fog, vaginitis and other symptoms. Bacterial infections will cause recurrent infections leading to diarrhea and other symptoms. Viruses will lead to frequent flu, colds and other infections. Once the gut microbiome is restored through the intake of healthy foods and probiotics, most symptoms disappear.
Have you noticed that when you are scared, shocked, startled, stressed, angry or anxious, you feel it in the belly either as a knot, butterflies, nausea, indigestion or constipation? That is because there is a strong connection between the gut and the mind. Thoughts of food can get digestive juices flowing while problems in the gut can lead to depression. Here is why.
The nervous system extends to the gut to form the enteric nervous system along the entire digestive tract from the esophagus to the anus. It consists of nerves, neurons and neurotransmitters that communicate with the brain. That is why the gut is known as the second brain. The brain and the gut also communicate through hormones.
Because of the discovery of the gut-brain connection, scientists are now looking for causes of depression, anxiety, stress, and neurodegenerative diseases by studying the gut of the patients. They are also looking for causes of Crohn’s disease, chronic pancreatitis, ulcerative colitis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) by looking at psychological problems.
The gut microbiome affects bone health in a number of ways. The gut microorganisms are closely linked to gene regulation which plays a role in the development of bone diseases such as osteoporosis. The microbes affect bone metabolism by regulating or changing bone immune status. A balanced microbiome encourages the balance between bone formation and resorption by stimulating osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Imbalance inhibits osteoblasts and osteoclasts leading to weaker bones. Imbalance alters the metabolism of hormones and that way affects bone density.
If you suffer from poor memory, slow thinking and brain fog, you may have imbalance in the gut microbiome that has led to yeast overgrowth which now affects brain function. There are also “bad” microbes that cause inflammation which may affect brain function leading to neurodegenerative diseases.
The beneficial bacteria in the gut affect how much fat you gain. One study compared 77 pairs of twins with one obese and one lean one in each pair. The scientists found that the obese twins had fewer beneficial gut bacteria than the lean twins. There are many other studies that have uncovered this link between gut bacteria and body fat.
The body produces a number of hormones such as leptin, ghrelin and peptide YY which affect appetite. Apparently, some gut bacteria control how and when these hormones are produced (through the gut-brain signals) and whether you feel full or hungry. Appetite is controlled when there is balance in the microbiome. Imbalance, affects the hormones and you feel hungry too often which leads to overeating and weight gain.
Then there is inflammation. Some bacteria that flourish in an unbalanced gut microbiome produce lipopolysaccharide (LPS) which causes inflammation when it passes into the bloodstream. Inflammation causes weight gain. This was proven in a study in which mice were given LPS and developed inflammation and gained weight.
The other link is through the digestion of fiber. Certain gut bacteria digest fiber and produce short-chain fatty acids such as propionate which reduces food intake and weight gain.
Heal the gut to improve health
Obviously, the gut determines the health of the whole body and the brain. It is therefore wise to heal it in order to get rid of mental health problems, sensitivity, autoimmune reactions, poor brain function, inflammation, skin sensitivity, digestive health problems and many other problems.