Common Ailments You Might Not Realize Are Connected to Your Gut

The GI tract functions to breakdown and eliminate food, but the functions don’t end here. The food you are eating must be properly absorbed to be used for fuel. 80% of your immune system lives in your gut, 95% of our serotonin is made there, hormones and toxic substances are excreted through the GI tract, and so on and so on. In my experience, GI health can in fact be the center of overall health and optimal overall functioning. So, if the center of your health is housed in your gut, then the central focus of your health should be on ensuring that it is functioning properly.

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You may not realize that your gut is functioning inefficiently, because the symptoms you are experiencing feel unrelated to the GI tract. This often leads to medical professionals focusing solely on your symptoms and perhaps not on the underlying cause, which could be in fact be the GI tract, causing unnecessary medication and prolonged problems.

Below are few signs and symptoms that could in fact be related to your gut:

Joint and muscle pain Inflammation often starts in the GI tract. When the GI tract is inflamed, inflammatory cytokines are released there and can enter into the systemic body. Inflammation=pain. When inflammation is occurring in our gut, systemic inflammation in joints and muscles, increases. Many mineral deficiencies have also been implicated in muscle and joint pain, such as calcium and magnesium. These minerals create vasodilation, among other actions, which decreases pain and increases blood flow to muscles and joints. Mineral deficiencies are often created from dysfunction of absorption in the GI tract.

ADHD and attention issues Did you know that 95% of your Serotonin is produced in your gut? Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, mood and appetite. Functioning with a healthy serotonin level will create better mind/body balance overall. Any imbalance in neurotransmitters could result in attention issues or hyperactivity. Yeast, or candida overgrowth as well as food sensitivities in the GI tract have also been shown to correlate with inattentiveness, hyperactivity and/or brain fog.

Anxiety and depression Your gut houses your second nervous system (or the enteric nervous system) housing over 30 neurotransmitters. It seems nearly impossible to disconnect the brain from the gut. It should also be mentioned that selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI) are often used to treat depression. So, in simple terms, finding ways to increase serotonin in the body will improve depression. Healing the GI tract is one important way to accomplish this.

Fatigue A decrease in nutrient absorption itself can cause decreased overall energy production. If your gut is not properly absorbing the nutrients from the foods you are eating, it can decrease the activity of the endocrine system, such as the adrenals and thyroid, further leading to fatigue.

Recurrent Infections When there is chronic inflammation in the gut, the healthy bacteria (or probiotics) that normally live there can be killed off. These bacteria create our immune system. A deficiency in healthy bacteria can decrease immune response and cause recurrent illnesses. Antibiotics can also create a bigger problem by not only killing off the intended bacteria, but our good bacteria as well.

PMS and hormonal concerns Once a hormone has been used in our system, it is excreted through the liver, into the GI tract and out of the body. If the GI tract isn't working properly, your body can create a recirculation of hormones. This leads to excess, proliferative hormones, including estrogen. Too much estrogen can lead to endometriosis, cramping, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids and fibrocystic breasts. Probiotics (healthy bacteria) also create calcium-d-glucarate, a substance that binds estrogen in the GI tract and makes sure that it is excreted properly instead of being reabsorbed.

Although occasionally unavoidable, medications in some cases, can simply mask the symptoms you are experiencing temporarily. GI health, if there is in fact an underlying cause here, can be treated naturally for long term, lasting effects. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, I encourage you to visit your local Naturopathic Physician to determine if healing your GI tract could improve your symptoms.