Digestion & Gut Dysbiosis
Digestion & Gut Dysbiosis Therapy
It is estimated that over 30 million people in the U.S, predominantly women, suffer from the multiple effects of an imbalance in the gastrointestinal system.
Have you heard the joke about the fight between the different parts of the body? They were arguing one day over who was the most important. The head said it was the most important because it controlled everything. The heart said it was because, after all, its beating kept the body going. Each organ argued on about its special contribution in keeping the body alive…and when they got to the gut they laughed uproariously when the gut proclaimed it was the most important. With that the gut shut down and within a few days all the other body systems agreed, it was the most important!
This little story illustrates how the gut—also called the gastrointestinal tract or the digestive system – is often underrated. But it plays a huge part in your health and well being. When you are not digesting food properly, all kinds of problems can arise: nutrients may not be ingested leading to low energy levels; your immune system can become compromised, leading to viral and bacterial infections; other bodily systems can be affected from the skin to your nervous system; and lastly poor digestion can lead to toxic bacteria infesting your intestinal tract, a condition called gut dysbiosis. Digestion usually becomes compromised by the medical system itself, improper eating, hormones, psychology, and lifestyle habits.
The gastrointestinal tract in the average man is about 25 feet long, and includes all of the body’s “plumbing” system that begins with the mouth and continues down the throat, winds through the small intestine, into the large intestine and the cecum (attached to the appendix), colon and rectum, and finally to the anus as solid waste exits the body. This entire system is also known as the shortened term GI Tract, or simply the Gut.
The gut has three primary functions:
- Digestion of foods and conversion into vitamins
- Absorption of nutrients
- Prevention of toxins and pathogens from entering the body
When the Gut Is Healthy
Approximately 500 species of bacteria, as well as many species of yeast and other organisms, live in the human gastrointestinal tract and make up the “gut flora.” These “friendly” bacteria are vital for good digestion and the health of the intestines in general, and mostly have names beginning with “Lactobacillus” or “Bifidobacteria,” which denotes the class of bacteria they belong to. You may have noticed food products like yogurt and acidophilus milk that contain these bacteria. It is becoming more common for them to be added, just as vitamins and minerals are frequently added to breakfast cereals, for example.
When the gut flora is in a healthy balance it is called “orthobiosis,” which is a term introduced in the early 1900s by the great microbiologist Elie Metchnikoff. When our gut is out of balance we are said to have “dysbiosis.” Metchnikoff thought dysbiosis so concerning that he coined the expression “Death begins in the GUT!”
What Can Go Wrong?
Not all of the hundreds of species of organisms that make up the gut flora are “friendly.” There are also a number of organisms that don’t provide the body with any benefits, or do so only when their numbers are kept low by competing friendly bacteria. Such microorganisms include coliform bacteria (E.coli, etc.), yeasts/fungus, parasites, and bacteroides.
Illness can occur when the amount of friendly bacteria is reduced and the other organisms are able to increase their numbers and become the majority. There are a number of factors that can disrupt the balance of organisms in the intestines and lead to overgrowth of the less desirable species. The most important factors are:
- Antibiotic use (abuse)
- Use of the birth control pill
- Use of other hormones, especially immunosuppressants like steroids
- Diet, especially one high in sugar
Conditions often caused by dysbiosis include Irritable Bowel Syndrome, acne, food allergies, Chronic Fatigue and depression. But you can help repopulate the good bacteria by eating foods that contain natural, healthy bacterias, including yogurt and acidophilus milk. You also can take an acidophilus supplement and something called Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), which is a plant-based supplement that serves as a “super food” for these good bacteria.
Gut dysbiosis can lead to changes in the lining of the bowel that increases the permeability of the intestine, resulting in leaky gut syndrome.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
The lining of the intestines is a barrier that normally only allows properly digested fats, proteins, and starches to pass through and enter the bloodstream. When this lining gets battered by things like aspirin, bacterial toxins, or even the pesticides sprayed on our food, the lining loses its integrity. This is when the door is open to let in the bacteria, viruses, parasites—and even undigested food molecules! These will activate the immune system and often hyperstimulate it so that it squirts out inflammatory substances called cytokines and act to weaken the intestinal wall. We refer to this loss of integrity as “the leaky gut syndrome.” The agitated immune system may also become so unstable as to attack your own body, producing autoimmune diseases.
Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome / Intestinal Permeability
Symptoms include abdominal pain, asthma, chronic joint pain, chronic muscle pain, confusion, fuzzy or foggy thinking, gas, indigestion, mood swings, nervousness, poor immunity, recurrent vaginal infections, skin rashes, diarrhea, bed-wetting, recurrent bladder infections, poor memory, shortness of breath, constipation, bloating, aggressive behavior, anxiety, poor libido, fatigue, and just feeling “toxic”.
Leaky gut syndrome is associated with the following conditions:
- Bloating and weight gain
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Environmental illness
- Inflammatory joint disease / arthritis
- Intestinal infections
- Pancreatic insufficiency
- Ulcerative colitis
- Food allergies and sensitivities
- Liver dysfunction
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Irritable bowel syndrome
When the natural yeast or fungi found in the body grows out of control, it can result in a condition called Candidiasis, an infection caused by a species of Candida fungi, especially Candida albicans. These fungi are found almost everywhere in the environment, and some may live harmlessly along with the abundant “native” species of bacteria that normally colonize the mouth, gastrointestinal tract and vagina. The growth of Candida is usually controlled by the presence of the native bacteria and by the body’s immune defenses. If the population of native bacteria is decreased, especially by antibiotics, or if the immune defenses are weakened by illness malnutrition, or certain medications (corticosteroids or anticancer drugs), Candida fungi can multiply enough to cause symptoms by spewing many toxins into the bloodstream and liver. It can affect many different parts of the body, causing either localized infections or overwhelming illness, depending on the patient and his or her underlying health.
Candidiasis can usually be found in exposed and most part of the body, such as the mouth and throat (called thrush), the vagina (usually called a yeast infection), and in the case of children, as diaper rash. Candidiasis can overwhelm the whole body, and in some people can result in not only stomach distress such as bloating and gas, but also in fatigue, depression, anxiety, skin eruptions, and immune system malfunction.
How to Soothe Your Gut Distress
We have treated patients with Gut Dysbiosis, Leaky Gut, Candidiasis and other gastrointestinal issues, and it truly is rewarding to see their lives improve! Recovery usually takes between three and six months to reach maximum improvement. However, all along the way people note improved stamina, slimming bodies, better mental and emotional functioning, fewer muscle aches, a renewed appreciation of life, and many more improvements. A first step is a comprehensive stool analysis performed at Doctor’s Data, Inc. a globally respected lab that performs specialized testing.