The gut microbiome has revolutionized the understanding of the digestive tract in health and disease.
The integrity of the gut is paramount to overall optimum health. Healthy gut flora has been shown to influence immune system development, mood and behavior, brain development as well as body weight, insulin production, metabolism and inflammation.
However, poor diets or diets high in carbohydrates and saturated fats have been shown to shift the gut microbiome to a proinflammatory state.
Digestive troubles such as bloating, diarrhea, IBS, stress, heartburn and stomach pain are symptoms of an unhealthy gut. Identifying inflammation in the gut can be life changing because it is a condition that can be addressed with diet modification, probiotics, enzymes, herbs and nutrients. When the small intestine is leaky, tiny holes in the intestinal lining allow undigested food to pass through. This triggers an immune response resulting in the release of antibodies and cytokines. Leaky gut also stresses the adrenal glands. It disrupts hormones in the body leading to symptoms of PMS, migraines, high and low cholesterol and blood sugar issues.
Leaky gut can contribute to weight gain, obesity, shifting of insulin levels and diabetes. This occurs in combination with an imbalance of healthy bacteria that live in the intestines. Having too few healthy bacteria, along with permeability in the intestinal lining results in inflammation. Gut dysbiosis slows down metabolism which can cause weight gain and other health issues.
Research has shown that leaky gut is involved in the development of autoimmunity. When holes in the intestinal lining develop the immune system begins to react to substances that it usually would not attack. In the case of Celiac Disease, the immune system begins attacking enzymes that help to repair intestinal cells. Other types of autoimmune conditions can result including, Lupus, Multiplesclerosis, Hashimoto’s and/or Rheumatoid arthritis. Other contributors include overuse of antibiotics, antacids, and anti-inflammatory drugs. Genetic research is helping us understand that, while the type of autoimmune condition that develops is genetically determined, it is the gut microbiome alteration that is getting the process started.