For some time now, our providers have stressed the importance of taking care of your gut to promote a healthier body. A lot of folks in health and wellness have been talking about it lately, too, but you may be a bit confused. Why is your gut so important to your overall health, and especially your immune system? Let’s start with some basics…
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE GUT?
We use the term “gut” to describe your entire gastrointestinal (GI) system, which starts in your mouth and ends at your rectum. That’s a lot of organs and digestive process that can go wrong!
Digestion literally begins in your mouth with chewing/grinding your food mixed with your saliva. From there, the other components of the digestive system include the esophagus, stomach, small intestines and large intestines. Then there are the accessory organs – the liver, pancreas and gallbladder. They all play an important role in breaking down food, absorbing the nutrients from food and supplements, and moving your waste along appropriately.
WHAT CAN POSSIBLY GO WRONG?
How often have you:
- Felt nauseous
- Battled constipation or diarrhea
- Experienced bloating and/or gas
- Suffered with abdominal pain
- Experienced indigestion / acid reflux / burping
While those are common symptoms, that doesn’t mean they are NORMAL. These symptoms are clues that something isn’t working right in your gut, and some of the more common issues are:
- Dysbiosis (imbalance of the microbiome, the “good” vs “bad” bacteria)
- SIBO (overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestines specifically)
- Infection (parasites, overgrowth of yeast, overgrowth of fungus, opportunistic bacteria)
- Food Sensitivities (commonly associated with “leaky gut”)
- Lack of Digestive Enzymes (removal of gallbladder and aging)
At Amy Brenner, MD & Associates we also know that other factors can influence how well your gut can do its job. If you have an autoimmune disease, for example, you are at a much higher risk for developing leaky gut due to the elevated antibodies weakening the mucosal barrier. If you have chronic stress – or acute episodes of severe stress – elevated cortisol will lower your Secretory IgA (SIgA) in your gut, compromising your ability to fight off any viral, bacterial or parasitic invaders. Did you know that 70% of your immune system SIgA resides in the intestines? A healthy body really does start in the gut!
LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE LIVER
The liver, although referred to as an “accessory organ,” has one of the most important jobs in the body. It regulates the balance of sex hormones, thyroid hormones, cortisol and other adrenal hormones. It transforms or removes any excess from the body. If the liver cannot do this properly, there is the risk of a cascade of imbalance in the body.
In addition to regulating hormones, the liver metabolizes and filters every substance you come in contact with, including products absorbed through your skin that enter your blood stream. Food, alcohol, prescription medications, nutritional supplements, personal care products – yes, everything. The liver is pretty black and white about these substances…everything will be interpreted as either a NUTRIENT or a TOXIN. When the liver encounters a toxin, it makes metabolizing and eliminating that toxin the #1 priority. Proper digestion will take a backseat when your liver is overburdened with toxins.
THE GOOD NEWS
It is very possible to get your gut on the right track! Our suggestions for that include:
- Schedule a consultation with the Wellness Coach to discuss options for protocols and testing, if desired
- Consider doing the 7 Day Liver/Metabolic Detox 1-3 times annually
- If you’re not a fan of the detox kit, we have introduced a new “Love Your Gut Detox Bundle” that you may pair with a clean-eating program for the best results. The bundle includes (capsules, no shakes):
o PhytoCore – supports liver detoxification
o Caprylic Acid – supports a healthy GI tract
o Calcium-D-Glucarate – supports detox and cellular function
We offer a couple of functional medicine tests to evaluate gut and overall health:
- Test your gut’s (and your overall) immune health using our salivary Secretory IgA (SIga) kit. Our program includes the cost of the test kit and a one-hour follow-up with the Wellness Coach to focus on gut healing.
- A comprehensive stool test can determine the health of your GI tract by evaluating the four pillars of gut health: infection, inflammation, insufficiency and imbalance. The collection is done in the convenience of your home and shipped to our third-party lab. This program includes an appointment with a Medical Provider and the Wellness Coach.
Ask your provider if either of these programs might be a good option for you.