Most naturopaths, functional medicine doctors and even some conventional doctors believe and emphasize the fact that gut health or colon health is what determines your overall health. The actual cause of long-term inflammation lies inside the gut. Gut health also determines the quality of our immune system. With so much research going on with the gut microbiome, the importance of good gut bacteria has become largely popular.
Addressing gut health is and has always been the primal step in diagnosing and trying to heal inflammatory health issues and autoimmune conditions. The biggest problem with this is that many people resort to not getting consultation from the right functional medicine experts and starting a regimen of probiotics, prebiotics and other supplements that they read about online or because someone they know recommended it.
Gut health repair requires a personalized approach as every person has a different type of body constitution and digestive system. A certain type of regimen, diet, supplement or probiotic does not work for all. In order to know and heal the root cause, it is necessary to understand why your gut health is suffering in the first place. This could be due to various issues such as surgical procedures, problems with your gut’s nervous system, bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, medications and other conditions such as ulcers, hernias, leaky gut, stress and more. Therefore, even if there are regular gut healing practices that you can follow, such as increasing the gut flora, eating foods that do not cause immune reactions, avoiding sugar, dairy and gluten, the root causes of poor gut health need to diagnosed and addressed.
What Leads to Poor Gut Health?
Many patients complain of chronic constipation or diarrhea. While laxatives or anti-diarrheal medications may provide temporary relief, naturopathy doctors will place more importance in trying to find out the reason behind those conditions. This goes for any digestive complaint and not just constipation.
Different reasons why patients develop gut problems such as chronic diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux or bloating:
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) causes the person to carry unusually large population of bacteria in the small intestine. Digestive conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease may also lead to SIBO.
- People who have had a past brain injury, have a deteriorated activity of the Vagus nerve. Vagus nerve controls the communications between the gut and the brain. Constipation or diarrhea can be due to the slow down of the intestinal motility.
- Enteric nervous system is the system that governs the gut’s behavior. Conditions such as chronic inflammation of the gut from foods that cause the inflammation, intestinal infections, chronic stress, neurological degenerative conditions affect the enteric nervous system and lead to constipation or diarrhea.
- Dysautonomia is inherited or caused due to degenerative conditions. It can also be caused due to other conditions such as diabetes, celiac disease, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and others. This condition causes the digestive system to get confused and prevents the body to have regular bowel movements.
- Certain medications can affect motility of the intestines and cause diarrhea or constipation in the long run. Most people who have been taking medications for acute or chronic conditions such as heart problems or diabetes, see a significant change in their bowel habits after a prolonged use of those medications.
A general protocol for restoring gut health can benefit and heal one person but may be completely infective for the other, causing more imbalance and gut health problems. Like a conventional doctor, a functional doctor may also screen for other digestive diseases and conditions such as h. pylori infection that can lead to ulcers, leaky gut or intestinal permeability that happens due to damage to microvilli of small intestine, ulcerative colitis, IBS (inflammatory bowel disease), Celiac diseases and Crohn’s disease. Sometimes these conditions may be healed with changes in diet, alternative medicine treatments and supplements but sometimes a combined approach may need to be adopted where prescription medications will need to be administered followed by a more natural way of treatment.
Sometimes poor gut health is also caused by autoimmune conditions and therefore, it is vital to find out if the patient is suffering from those. Although it is said that autoimmune conditions cannot be completely cured, following a certain type of diet, doing a detox, taking certain supplements and natural foods along with other natural therapies can put the patient into remission for long periods. Thus, the autoimmune condition can be managed in the most effective way by addressing the root cause and without relying on prescription medications. Patients with gut autoimmunity need to understand however, that they may be subject to sudden flare ups. Patients with gut autoimmunity must be made aware about such unpredictability and should be advised to stay on their regimen constantly even if they have setbacks. Some people see results quickly than others and that is why, providing a personalized integrative treatment plan is the goal of doctors at the Gentle Wellness Center.
As mentioned in many traditional and ancient forms of medical sciences such as Ayurveda and ancient Chinese medicine, the digestive system is the backbone of other systems in the body. It indirectly regulates many other functions, including the neurological functions. The reason we see complicated health conditions in our society today is mostly because of a large percentage of people living in industrialized areas, consuming processed foods, having stressful lifestyles, lack of micronutrients and lack of adequate exercise. Naturopathic and functional medicine can provide excellent results when it comes to improving the gut microbiome and restoring gut health. Reach out to us to find out more.