There has long been the suspicion that our gut may play a part in other broader areas of our health and this has now become a fast developing area of research and development. Many disciplines within medicine and health are considering the gut in the treatments and diagnosis. Connections are being made between the formation of the microorganisms in an individual’s gut and disease. These may include obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, neurodegenerative diseases and mental illness.
The gut ‘Microbiome’ has been found to have many functions including regulation of body weight, controlling our immune system and therefore allergies and autoimmune response. Read more about what the microbiome is and how it works here: Microbiome
In particular many inflammatory, autoimmune and endocrine diseases have all been linked to gut microbial imbalance (known as Dysbiosis). Antibodies to the Thyroid and Adrenal gland may be associated with Gut Dysbiosis. Obesity, metabolic syndrome, depression, sleep and satiety (the feeling of fullness) can all be related to an unhealthy gut biome.
The Endocrine System
Your gastrointestinal tract houses the largest population of endocrine cells in the body. This system has over 30 gut hormone genes, expressing bioactive peptides, which are the building blocks of our Hormones.
One particularly fascinating area is that of increased intestinal permeability or Leaky Gut. This is when larger substances are able to pass from inside the gastrointestinal tract through the cells lining the gut wall, into the rest of the body. This can lead to secondary immune responses and system toxicity.
Proposed causes of Leaky Gut are many but include:
Consuming an elemental diet together with Zinc supplements has been found to help some patients. Eliminating some of the causal factors such as alcohol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is important. NSAIDs are medicines widely used to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and bring down a high temperature e.g. Ibuprofen
Investigating your gut function and then treating and repopulating the gut with healthy organisms, changing the diet to a healthy one is paramount to improving health.
The 5R Framework for Restoring Digestive Health
The 5R Framework developed by the Institute of Functional Medicine is an approach to treatment of digestive conditions and gut dysbiosis.
- Remove – food allergens, moulds, parasites, environmental pollutants and stress.
- Replace – the digestive secretions which are functioning poorly eg pancreatic enzymes, bile acids, hydrochloric acid
- Reinnoculate – with Probiotics, Prebiotics and Synbiotics
- Repair – promote gut healing with key nutrients eg vitamins and Zinc.
- Rebalance – sleep, exercise, meditation, work life balance and stress reduction are vital.
The 5R Framework developed by the Institute of Functional Medicine.