Widely considered to be the father of medicine, Hippocrates famously quoted, “All disease begins in the gut.” Today, integrative medical practitioners are delving in and discovering the truths behind this 2000-year-old proclamation.
Does all disease begin in the gut?
Even though the gut is responsible for a range of disorders, other factors such as genetics, poor lifestyle choices, and environmental factors contribute to poor health. However, by learning more about the things that wreak havoc on the gut, you can certainly live a more vibrant and healthy life.
Did you know your gut contains its own ecosystem?
Your body hosts thousands of different species of bacteria equating to a home for 100 trillion microorganisms, which make up our “microbiome,” an ecosystem that plays an important role in digestion, immunity, and even mood. Preserving the health of your ecosystem is vital for sustainable health.
Number One Enemy – Antibiotics
When it comes to antibiotics, less is better. Unfortunately, statistics show that over 266 million courses of antibiotics were dispensed in 2014. Even worse, it is likely that at least 30-50% were completely unnecessary. (www.cdc.gov, 2016)
Antibiotics are necessary when it comes to bacterial infections, yet common viral ailments like colds and flu often lead to unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions. But wait, it gets worse. The United States leads the world in antibiotic consumption for livestock. So, unless you buy certified organic milk, eggs, beef and chicken, you are unconsciously administering antibiotics into your system without even so much as swallowing the first pill.
What do antibiotics do to your gut?
Antibiotics work on bacterial diseases by killing the bacteria or stopping them from multiplying. The problem is that these medications have no sensors to differentiate between the “good” and the “bad,” which results in the destruction of essential “good” gut flora. Once this destructive process begins, your digestive system becomes disrupted (called dysbiosis) and soon you may begin to experience the following symptoms, to name a few:
- Joint pain
- Yeast infections
- Constipation or Diarrhea
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is a form of dysbiosis that creates gas, bloating and often abdominal pains after you eat. In addition, Candida or yeast overgrowth is another possible post antibiotic opportunistic infection, which means it may rapidly grow and multiply. And guess what its favorite food source is?
It’s no wonder that Candida runs rampant in our guts when you look at the combination of overuse of antibiotics and overconsumption of sugar. This overabundance of Candida has the ability to damage the lining of your intestinal walls – which brings us to leaky gut syndrome (LGS).
In LGS, the small intestine becomes inflamed and irritated and allows microbes, toxins, partially digested food, as well as other particles to spill over into the blood stream. This overload of “illegal aliens” causes your immune system to respond to try and keep you safe. However, there is often collateral damage and the immune system may start attacking its own tissues. In addition, it puts stress on your liver and lymphatic system. This may be the beginning of autoimmune disease.
There are steps you can take to restore your healthy bacteria to normal levels after a course of antibiotics.
Actions to get the dysbiosis under control include:
- Low carbohydrate diet
- Nutrient dense foods such as vegetables, nuts, seeds
- Cutting out sugar in its many forms
- Avoiding antibiotics unless absolutely necessary
Then you will want to work on restoring the good bacteria in your gut by:
- Eating fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha and tempeh
- Taking a multi-strain probiotic
- Prepare and drink bone broth (contains an amino acid called glutamine) or use micronutrients that help heal your gut
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, yeast overgrowth or leaky gut, make an appointment with me for a consultation and testing for an accurate diagnosis and action plan to identify and make your gut great again!