Trust your gut: The GI Tracts role in overall health

As a naturopathic physician, my passion is in finding the root cause of disease. My profession is rooted in the belief that the body has the innate ability to heal itself if given the right environment. By working with patients to discover the underlying causes of disease, Naturopathic Doctors help patients come closer to a balanced and disease free life. One discovery that I have made in my career is that there is very little healing that can occur without listening to and healing the gut. The GI tract is, in fact, the center of the body and has a direct correlation to our overall health. In my experience, I have found that most patients with chronic diseases have some complaint in the GI tract. Patients often report gut concerns such as chronic constipation, diarrhea, gas, or bloating, but never connect them to their other chronic symptoms. With the inflammatory foods our nation is built on, it is not surprising that so many of us suffer from chronic GI concerns. But, the story does not stop in the gut.

Ask yourself, could your chronic symptoms be related to your GI Tract?

The Important Role the GI Tract Play in the Rest of our Body

Your GI tract is linked to your body emotionally, physically and physiologically.

For starters, the GI tract is the place where we digest and absorb many important nutrients. Your GI tract distinguishes the good from the bad. Every process in our body is aided by vitamin and mineral cofactors and without their proper absorption it is easy for these processes to stop working optimally. The GI tract also helps to regulate hormone metabolism, and an imbalanced GI tract can lead to hormone re-circulation and imbalances.

Beyond vitamin and mineral absorption, the GI tract also houses 80% of our immune system. The healthy bacteria (or probiotics) that live in our GI tract create the immune system. We are primed with this healthy bacteria as well as immunoglobins from our mothers, passed on to us during birth and through breastfeeding. These bacteria help to build up our immune systems and fight infections, while immunoglobulins give us immunity against certain illnesses. C-sections and formula feeding have been implicated in an increased risk for allergies, asthma, eczema, auto-immunity and more. This is due to the fact that the immune system is not as fully established, as it would be if a child were delivered vaginally or exposed to breastfeeding.

The final piece of the puzzle is the understanding that many of our neurotransmitters are made in the gut. In fact, 95 percent of the serotonin in the body is made in the GI tract. Therefore, a healthy gut means a healthy mind and vice-a-versa. The connection between the GI tract and the brain is undeniable and has been shown over and over again in research.

Perhaps you experience direct GI symptoms or perhaps you don’t, but it is a valid question to consider whether underlying GI inflammation could be a factor in your overall health.

Adding a high quality, multiple strain probiotic or considering digestive enzymes and adding nutrients, such as l-glutamine and demulcent herbs are just some of the tools Naturopathic Physicians utilize to help speed GI tract healing. Make an appointment today with your local Naturopath to determine if gut healing is right for you.