We just completed the creation of a course that outlines a functional nutrition approach to gut healing and, as part of a two-part series, we want to share with you some of what we have learned from content expert Dianne Rishikof, MS, RDN, LDN, IFNCP. Dianne wrote “Health Takes Guts” e-guide and, as a functional nutrition expert, she illuminates the path to healing the gut by offering ways to help identify possible gut problems and practical solutions to explore with your healthcare professional and registered dietitian.
Our gut contains an estimated 100 trillion microbes, which make up the microbiome. These microbes are mostly bacteria, but there are also some viruses and yeast. Ideally, the microbiome should have a very diverse population of microbes and most of the microbes should be beneficial, with pathogenic [bad] microbes kept to a minimum.
Gut health is important and may be the root cause and solution for many health troubles. Overall, there are three problems that can occur in the gut that may lead to further health issues. Let’s explore these further to understand how they can be caused and how they present in the human body.
Imbalanced gut microbiome is also known as Gut Dysbiosis. Gut Dysbiosis may occur from having more harmful microbes than beneficial ones, overgrowth of pathogens, not enough beneficial bacteria, and not enough diversity of microbes. Factors that can increase the chance of these effects in the gut microbiome include C-sections, formula feeding, antibiotic use, GI infections, poor diet, chronic stress, toxins, and low stomach acid. The major signs and symptoms of dysbiosis are bloating, distention, tiredness, diarrhea, constipation, urgency to use the bathroom, gassiness, pain, cramping, food intolerances and sensitivities, and a large number of illnesses.
The lining of the intestinal wall is one cell thick and determines what materials in the gut enter the body via the bloodstream. With proper intestinal permeability, this wall will let the appropriate things (such as vitamins and fully digested proteins) pass through and keep the harmful things out. When the intestinal wall has increased intestinal permeability (Leaky Gut), bacteria, undigested food, toxins, and waste may leak into the bloodstream and enter the body. Leaky Gut can be caused by a variety of factors, such as dysbiosis, infections, chronic stress, gluten, inflammation, medications, alcohol, smoking, chemotherapy and radiation, surgery, food sensitivities, high intensity exercise, and poor diet. Symptoms include fatigue, food sensitivities, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, joint pain, skin rashes, brain fog, concentration issues, anxiety and depression, and autoimmune diseases.
The response of the immune system to any threat, infection, or injury is inflammation. Healthy inflammation is a short-lived, targeted response. Chronic inflammation, which is more widespread throughout the body and continues for a long time, is unhealthy inflammation. Chronic inflammation may be caused by food sensitivities or pathogenic microbe overgrowth and there is sometimes serious and perpetual damage. Chronic inflammation can result in a wide variety of symptoms, diseases, and conditions, so speak to your healthcare professional and dietitian about any concerns you might have.
There is a relationship between the quality of the microbiome, the integrity of the intestinal lining, and the degree of inflammation – all three of these conditions can come together as a root cause of countless digestive and non-digestive ailments and diseases, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). Part two of our Gut Health series will explore some of these conditions and the functional nutrition approach to healing your gut.
It is important that you consult with a credentialed healthcare professional in identifying problems, causes, and solutions related to your personal gut health.
If you are a healthcare professional looking to offer our Nutrition and Gut Healing Course to your clients, please contact us.