Updated: Jun 12, 2019
With so many products promising 'gut health,' its easy to get lost in the marketing of it all.
What is referred to as 'poor gut health' can can actually be a viral infection, parasite, increased intestinal permeability, bacterial imbalance, low stomach acid or poor intestinal motility.
These problems can be caused by things like food poisoning, food allergies or sensitivities, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, poor diet, chronic stress, hormone imbalances or a wide range of other potential causes.
It can be a complex topic, but here are 3 common misunderstandings about 'gut health' - and what it takes to 'heal your gut' for good.
1. The Cause Doesn't Matter
While the pathways to disease may be very similar, cause still matters.
Many underlying conditions can cause or exacerbate a poor gut microbiome, two such conditions are small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and toxicity.
SIBO happens when there is a predominance of opportunistic (bad) bacteria in your intestinal tract. This imbalance causes problems like stomach pain and cramping, constipation, diarrhea and nausea.
'Toxicity' refers to the exposure to toxins (like heavy metals or black mold) that overwhelm your detoxification organs, when this happens toxins can become lodged in your organs and tissues, causing severe symptoms and increasing your risk of disease.
Exposure to a toxin like mold can imbalance your microbiome, cause a wide range of autoimmune diseases, and is frequently implicated in cases of chronic fatigue and respiratory issues.
While both toxicity and SIBO lead to an impaired gut, the path to a healthy microbiome will be different.
In the case of mold, testing will be done to confirm the diagnosis and determine the level of toxicity.
More than likely, supervised chelation will be done to remove the stored toxin.
Blood testing will also assess organ function and (most likely) a stool test will be ordered.
A stool test can see if opportunistic bacteria have taken advantage of your impaired digestion, if this is the case, you likely have a secondary infection.
If you have an infection, we will treat it naturally and effectively while strengthening your natural digestive function and supporting your detoxification organs.
Read more about Toxicity
In cases of SIBO, there are usually multiple causes, like an autoimmune disease (like Hashimoto's or ulcerative colitis), a poor diet, toxicity, stress, or food poisoning.
These causes will be treated to ensure that you can heal fully and completely. Underlying conditions, particularly ones that cause chronic inflammation will prevent even the most effective treatment from progress.
Assisting a Hashimoto's patient regain normal thyroid function, for example, will be key in strengthening their microbiome and treating their SIBO.
Effective treatment is based upon what kind of bacteria is present. Herbs and certain foods are given to strengthen 'good' bacteria.
Diet changes are made and foods are added to stimulate strong, natural digestion.
Read more about SIBO
2. Its As Simple As The Right Diet Or Pill
Conventional medicine relies heavily on the use of pharmaceutical medication to cover up symptoms. These medications rarely treat the underlying cause of the condition.
Substituting a supplement for a pharmaceutical pill is still an inadequate 'band-aid' approach.
Compromised gut health has ramifications throughout your body.
During proper treatment hormone levels are checked, food sensitivities removed from your diet, nutritional deficiencies are assessed and treated and underlying conditions are addressed alongside your digestive concerns.
Many digestive issues took years to develop - reversing them usually takes fundamentally changing your diet and lifestyle as well as receiving personalized treatment.
3. The Same Treatment Works For Everyone
Getting on a strict diet or taking a few supplements may reduce your symptoms but that is not the same as fixing your gut health.
If, as an example, heavy metal toxicity has impaired your intestinal permeability, an autoimmune protocol (AIP) or paleo diet may help, but those toxins are still in your body.
Getting toxins out of your body safely, then rebuilding your intestinal lining is the only way to permanently resolve your symptoms.
'Healing your gut' requires specificity of treatment as well as lifestyle changes.
No probiotic, no matter how powerful, will counteract a poor diet and no diet can counteract high levels of stress, a toxic work environment or other harmful factors.
Gut Health Is Complex
The consequences of an impaired microbiome can extend far beyond the gut and impact more than just your digestion.
To find the cause, and to determine the best way forward, testing should be done by a functional medicine practitioner.
A solid assessment can pull a patient out of years of the confusion and pain surrounding complex, chronic, undiagnosed, or 'mysterious' symptoms.
Often, compromised gut health provides the most obvious symptoms of a wide range underlying problems in the body. Treating the 'tip of the iceberg' will only leave you chasing symptoms.
The function of your body is not neatly segmented into 'digestion', 'mental' or 'hormonal' processes - everything is connected. A compromised gut affects the entire body.
Particularly if digestive problems have been long term, patients notice a range of improvements with the right treatment - like better sleep, weight loss, improved mood and increased energy.
If you would like to speak to me to ask questions about functional medicine, gut health or how I can help you, please schedule a Free 15 Minute Consultation or call or text my office at 913-728-5291.
If you think that you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information. Nor should you ever delay seeking medical advice or treatment due to the information contained on this Website.