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The Ins and Outs of your gut
Did you know that your gut fuels your entire body? It’s where nutrients come and go. Your gut lining is selectively permeably, only allowing important nutrients to move from the intestine to the rest of the body via the bloodstream. It should protect you from toxins, pathogens, and other unwanted particles in the digestive tract to be excreted. Any irritation to the gut lining can contribute to increased permeability, aka leaky gut, therefore compromising the tight control our intestinal cells should have as gatekeepers to our immune system.
What is Leaky Gut?
Intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut”, is an all-too-common condition, in which the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged by chronic inflammatory insults within the gut. This causes impaired regulation of what goes into the bloodstream. As a result, the gut no longer serves us as a gatekeeper of unwanted effects systemically. Leaky gut can allow undigested food particles, toxic waste products, and bacteria to “leak” through the intestines and flood the bloodstream. This can cause an autoimmune response in the body including inflammatory and allergic reactions such as:
- Irritable bowel
- Eczema and skin rashes
- Chronic fatigue
- Food sensitivities and allergies
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Neurological dysfunction such as brain fog, autism, ADHD, and anxiety
- and more
What causes Leaky Gut?
Leaky gut can be caused by medications including antibiotics, steroids, and/or over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin and acetaminophen, which can irritate the intestinal lining and damage protective mucus layers. This irritation can start or continue the inflammation cycle that leads to increased intestinal permeability.
In many cases, leaky gut is caused by your diet. Eating a diet high in inflammatory foods, such as processed meats, sugar, refined oils and processed foods causes immune activation in your intestinal tract leading to cell damage. This immune activation can also lead to food sensitivities, where even “healthy” foods may be treated by your body as foreign invaders that have to be fought off. The confused immune system reacts by releasing immunoglobulins known as antibodies, much like it would to a virus or bacteria. Foods that illicit that response produce two types of antibodies: 1) IgE (an immediate anaphylactic reaction, such as your classic peanut-style allergy), and 2) IgG (delayed response allergy), which causes less recognizable food sensitivities and intolerances.
Common food intolerances include (but are not limited to):
- Gluten and Grains
- Food Additives
At True You Medical, we test for both types of antibodies and treat accordingly – not just with diet modifications, but also interventions to repair the damaged intestines and calm the immune system, so that you can hopefully consume foods again that once were triggers.
Our goal is to heal the leaky gut, promote a healthy balance of the microbiome in the colon, ensure and optimize proper nutrient absorption in the small intestine, and support proper enzyme secretion from digestive organs. We’ll also assess the role of the enteric nervous system in the regularity of bowel function and stool formation.
What is Dysbiosis?
Did you know that there are more bacteria in our gut than cells in our body? Hence the importance of maintaining the gut flora, the microbiome.
Research in the field of the microbiome, the colony of bacteria in our guts, is growing vastly. What once was never considered has become a forefront in the treatment of not only gastrointestinal complications, but systemic and psychological symptoms as well. We are coming to find that a lot of our physiology is controlled by these microorganisms, especially our immune system. In fact, as much as 80% of our immune activity is within the gut. A healthy microbiome is diverse, with large populations of “beneficial bacteria”. Certain organisms serve us well when their numbers are within a certain window, and issues can arise when we have too many, or too little, of a certain species.
Dysbiosis is a condition of unbalanced gut flora and is one of the primary drivers of many digestive disorders, along with farther-reaching issues such as brain fog, anxiety, autoimmunity, and obesity. When bacteria metabolize different things that enter our digestive tract, they produce metabolites that exert effects within the intestines, and these metabolites can also be absorbed into the bloodstream to stimulate different effects throughout the entire body. These effects can range in severity, from a stomachache to the onset of rheumatoid arthritis. The effects can also be more downstream, for example how having a higher ratio of the family Bacteriodetes turns on obesity genes and increases appetite-stimulating hormones. Therefore, it’s critical to have not only healthy gut bacteria, but also in the correct ratios. This holds true for the fungus portion of the microbiome as well, as we can see quite a slew of issues when fungi such as candida become out of balance.
Gut dysbiosis may develop as a result of an unhealthy, inflammatory diet, food sensitivities, antibiotics, bacterial, yeast, or fungal overgrowth, poor bile flow, low stomach acid, chronic stress, anxiety, or a high toxic load.
How is Dysbiosis treated?
At True You Medical, we focus on identifying the root cause of any condition.
We utilize specialty testing that dives deeply into the origin of gut issues. Testing may include a breath test, stool test, urine, and/or blood test. We then customize the treatment based on the results of the testing. Depending upon what we find, our approach will include targeted dietary recommendations, and possibly herbal or prescription antimicrobials to kill the bad bacteria, along with strategies to effectively re-populate the gut with good bacteria.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder affecting the intestines. IBS involves problems with motility (movement of digested food through the intestines) and sensitivity (how the brain interprets signals from the intestinal nerves), leading to abdominal pain, bloating and gas, changes in bowel patterns, and other symptoms. IBS can linger for years on end and, even though it is debilitating, people are often told to just “live with it.” True You Medical has a different philosophy, getting to the root cause no matter how many decades tummy issues have been problematic.
Irritable bowel syndrome with constipation, also referred to as IBS-C, is a distressing condition that can significantly affect the quality of life of those affected. Constipation occurs when digested food moves slowly through the digestive tract. As a result, stool remains in the large intestine for prolonged periods of time. Since the large intestine is where we absorb water, the stool dehydrates here, causing it to become even more difficult to pass. Additionally, one is more prone to absorb toxins as the stool sits too long in the intestine.
Irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea, also referred to as IBS-D is equally, if not more distressing and can have a strong, negative impact on day-to-day life. People with IBS-D experience frequent abdominal pain and watery bowel movements and, on occasion, loss of bowel control. In fact, approximately 1 out of every 3 people with IBS-D have loss of bowel control or soiling. Again, testing for the root cause instead of giving anti-diarrhea medication is our goal.
Additional IBS symptoms may include fatigue, heartburn (GERD), weight changes, nutrient deficiencies, burping and more.
It starts with understanding the root cause, which is at the heart of our approach.
IBS can be triggered by a wide variety of things: Altered gut motility, food intolerances, stress, dysbiosis (including SIBO), parasitic infections, hormonal imbalances, candida, bile acid and liver dysfunction, nervous system dysfunction, medications and more. Through testing for each of these possible causes, we can take the appropriate steps, with natural, highly effective therapies to address the root causes.
Note: A large percentage of IBS diagnoses are actually caused by SIBO.
What is SIBO?
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, SIBO, is a type of dysbiosis (microbiome imbalance). Most of the microbiome, or “gut bugs”, should be in our large intestine, and SIBO occurs when bacteria inappropriately colonize the small intestine. Because of poor gut motility, the bacteria migrate upward rather than staying in the colon, or they get stuck in the small intestine when not stimulated to move downward to large intestine where they belong.
Symptoms may include:
- Excessive Burping
- Abdominal pain
- Bloating and/or uncomfortable fullness after eating
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and reflux
- Unintentional weight loss or weight gain for some people
- Malnutrition – especially low iron, low B12, and fat-soluble vitamins
At True You Medical, we’ll have you do a non-invasive SIBO Breath Test to measure the amount of hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide, and/or methane that you breathe out after drinking a lactulose solution. A rapid rise in any of these gases may indicate bacterial overgrowth in your small intestine.
Based on the gases we find, we will define a customized treatment protocol to remove the offending bacteria from the small intestine and repair the microbiome in the large intestine. We also retrain the bowels for proper motility and take preventative measures to combat the high potential of recurrence.