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Digestion Starts With The Mouth

Digestion.  First let’s think of digestion as a process of breaking down food.  Where do you think that begins in our body?  If you didn’t read the title of this post, most people want to think of the stomach as the place where digestion begins however digestion starts in the mouth.  The stomach is an important organ for breaking down food however this process first begins in the mouth.  I want to share with you why it’s important to know this.

The reason for eating is to break down food to absorb the nutrients inside.  It’s very important.  When we put food into our mouth we are breaking down food in a couple of ways – mechanically and chemically.  Mechanically we break down food through physical chewing of our food with our teeth.  Chemically we break down food even further when it mixes with our saliva.  Saliva, secreted by the salivary glands, contains enzymes that work to begin the breakdown of food.  Even just the smell of food can generate saliva (thus some may challenge me that digestion begins even before food is put into your mouth).

The process of chewing your food is not one you should rush through.  As I have said, it breaks your food down from large particles into smaller particles.  This is important because it helps to make those particles more easily digested thus improving absorption of nutrients from the food particles.

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Chewing your foods thoroughly may be a simple way to improve your health.  Digestion itself requires a great amount of energy so it’s best to avoid making the job harder by forcing it to digest improperly chewed food.  Chewing your food so that its partially liquefied is the best way to start your digestion.  You should chew your food 30 times before swallowing!  Now you can probably understand why.

Why am I talking about this?  I want to challenge you to be more conscious about the way you eat.  Do you chew your foods down to liquefied mush?  Maybe you swallow large particles of food.  Could you slow down your eating instead of rushing through your meal?  Another advantage to chewing your food more, the longer it will take you to finish a meal  can ultimately help you to eat less.  You may or may not know that it generally takes about 20 minutes for your brain to signal to your stomach that you’re full.

Drink your solids and chew your liquids.

So the best way to feed is to eat in a non-distracted environment.  Don’t eat on the run.  Make a conscious effort to take smaller bites of food and chew your food slowly until it becomes liquefied and lost its texture.  Make sure to finish chewing and swallowing BEFORE you take another bite of food.  You may be surprised how you eat once you start paying attention to your habits.

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Ultimately taking these steps to chewing your food properly will help you enjoy your food, slow down your eating and really get the opportunity to taste all the flavors within your meal.

 

Happy Eating!

Optimizing Fertility

Whether you are trying to conceive or avoiding conception please read.  I say this because I believe optimizing fertility is synonymous with improving your health. With that said, optimizing one’s fertility IS beneficial and important for everyone.  The lifestyle you have right now can affect your fertility in the future.  As a provider working with people of reproductive age, I’m passionate about the health of parents prior to conception as it will influence the health of their unborn babies.

So first, what does this fertility word mean?  If you look at Wikipedia, it says fertility is the natural capability to produce offspring.  Simple right?  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  Most people would probably agree that a healthy individual of child bearing age is designed to be able to reproduce.  However, if there are problems with this, we need to look deeper into what is amiss.  Usually when our reproductive system isn’t working the way it’s designed to, it can be a sign of some level of ill wellbeing.  I have worked with men and women who had been trying unsuccessfully to have a child whom have gone on to having beautiful healthy babies once their health was in balance.  (This is ruling out any anatomical or structural malformations).

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First, I need to address the widespread use of birth control.  I know this topic all too well because I was put on the pill at an early age since I had very painful and debilitating cycles that kept me home from school.  Little did I know then that this wasn’t normal and hindsight I would have looked at what was causing such horrible symptoms instead of just artificially suppressing my entire reproductive system.  When women take artificial hormones in birth control, we are tricking the body into stopping ovulation (the release of an egg).  When we think of fertility – releasing an egg is absolutely 100% necessary for conception.  When women quit taking the pill, think of how a woman’s body must figure out how to start making its own hormones and get back to its natural rhythmic state to start releasing eggs again during her monthly cycle.  For some women, this doesn’t take long but for others it may take much longer.  For women coming off the pill I always recommend support with diet and supplementation to help the body detox and eliminate artificial hormones that may have accumulated in her body.

Optimizing your fertility is synonymous with improving your health.

Other things I look for in individuals besides hormonal imbalances include correcting any nutritional deficiencies, eliminating food sensitivities, and eliminating chemicals and toxins from the body.  One very important and possibly overlooked area to add is how I help coach individuals on tracking their cycle through the fertility awareness method (FAM) to optimize chances of conception.  Too many women have unnecessary stress and disappointment when trying to conceive because they are trying on the wrong days of the month!  When you track your cycles through FAM, you can get a lot of information regarding your body and can find what day you are ovulating.  This is important because once you ovulate – that egg is viable for approximately 24 hours, so you have a short window that you want to maximize.

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As you can see there is a lot to this subject and I don’t want to make things complicated.  Let’s review as this is generally a great place to start on your fertility journey.  First if you haven’t done so, get off birth control.  Allow your body to have real cycles with real hormones your body makes on its own, so you can begin to ovulate again.   Also, I recommend you track your cycles using the Fertility Awareness Method.  If your cycles include lots of pain, mood swings, heavy bleeding, etc. then there’s a chance your hormones are out of balance (Don’t hesitate to reach out to me and we can discuss further).

Next, eat a nutrient dense diet.  I cannot stress this enough.  I see too many individuals with major deficiencies and you need your nutrient stores built up – remember you are going to be building a little human being!  How can you build a strong house without a good solid foundation?  I am extremely passionate about this and I think I need to write a separate post on it.  This leads me to Pre-Natal supplements – not all pre-natals are created equal.  I find it is my duty to tell you that you should avoid any with folic acid in it.  This is the synthetic form of folate.  If you are an individual who has a genetic variation of their MTHFR gene then you will not have efficient enzyme activity to process folic acid completely.  Long story short – avoid synthetic vitamins and take the most biologically active forms so your body can process them more efficiently.  (For more information on MTHFR – visit Dr. Benjamin Lynch’s website: www.MTHFR.net)

Along with correcting nutrient deficiencies, I recommend reducing your exposure to toxins.  This means cleaning up the foods you eat, the water you drink, the air you breathe, and the things you put on your skin (deodorant, cosmetics, etc.).  Ladies, have you ever thought about your feminine hygiene products?  If you haven’t already done so switch to organic tampons and pads to reduce exposure to toxins that you so easily absorb.  Even better look for a menstrual cup!  It sounds intimidating at first, yes but do your research and you’ll see lots of women love them and it reduces your toxin exposure as well as your environmental footprint.  A few other things I don’t want to miss mentioning is the importance of a healthy nervous system and reducing your stress.  See a Chiropractor to check your spine and reduce any interference you may have in your nervous system to reduce the physical stress.  This will also make sure that the nerves and signals to your reproductive system are working optimally.  We live such busy lives and we need to remember to find ways to relax whether doing yoga, take a walk, meditate, or whatever it is that you do to re-energize, slow down and be present in the moment.

The topic on fertility alone can be a very emotional one.  I realize it sounds like fertility is all on the woman’s shoulders but that is NOT the case.  The male partner should be taking these steps too and getting their health to maximum potential.  I think of other cultures who prepare their people of reproductive age for conception.  Couples prepare themselves physically and spiritually for anticipation of inviting a child into their family.  According to the Tibetan Art of Parenting, “The environment at conception is important.”  I think we have lost that and I hope I can bring awareness to it and help couples prepare as much as they can.  An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure; please don’t wait to make changes.  If you’re planning on having a family now or even if it’s down the road – it’s never too early to make these changes.

To discuss you or your family’s health, email me at drstephanievw@gmail.com or call our office to make an appointment for a consultation at 920-243-7140.

 

In good health,

 

Dr. Stephanie

Gut-Brain Connection

Some say your gut is the ‘second brain’ but I would almost argue that it’s the ‘first brain.’  If your gut is compromised – everything else is too!

Have you ever had a ‘gut feeling?’  You’ve likely felt “butterflies in your stomach” at some point when you were nervous or excited or you’ve probably had a gut instinct sometime in your life.

Besides your brain, your gut is the only organ with its own nervous system.  The small intestine alone has as many neurons as your spinal cord.

There is a relationship between your gut and your psychology – you may have heard of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome.   There is a gut-brain connection.  Your gut is very important for making neurotransmitters.  What are neurotransmitters you ask? These are chemical messengers that our brain and body use to communicate information throughout your body. Your gut, in fact, contains more neurotransmitters than your brain.   This is an example of how the gut influences one’s mood and well-being.

There is mounting evidence that gut bacteria affect mood and behavior.  There are certain strains of gut bacteria that can secrete neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, GABA and tryptophan.  GABA is a neurotransmitter that is important for a healthy brain and nervous system.  It is also estimated that 90% of the body’s serotonin is made in the digestive tract!  Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a large role regarding mood, learning, appetite control, and sleep.  It is most well-known for its role in the brain where it plays a major part in mood, anxiety, and happiness.

The idea that our intestinal tracts shape our mental states is not a new one.  Medicine has a long history of blaming our guts for psychological disorders.  Latest research shows that the digestive tract and the CNS (central nervous system) have a two-way line of communication.  This communication is through the “gut-brain axis.”  The effects on the brain may involve signaling through the vagus nerve which anatomically connects the gut and the brain.

Does this make sense why your gut must be in balance for your brain to be in balance?  When things go awry in our guts, they can also go awry in our brains.

Up to 80% of people with irritable bowel syndrome experience increased anxiety and depression.

So where does one go from here?  It is crucial to clean up your diet if you have not done so already.  Eliminate any food sensitivities that you have.  I can test for these with a simple blood test.  Otherwise, start with eliminating the most common sensitivity foods.  The 5 most common food intolerances include: wheat (gluten), corn, soy, dairy, and eggs.  I would also like to mention to eliminate food dyes as there is a relationship between food dyes and behavior issues.  For some persons, the GAPS diet may be the place to start heal and seal up the gut, especially with leaky gut.  Incorporation of probiotics daily from food and supplementation is going to help flourish and inoculate your gut with a wide variety of good bacteria.  Read my post on the gut microbiome if you have not done so.  We are learning that certain strains of bacteria are better for certain conditions and you want to make sure to choose appropriate probiotics.  Have your micronutrients tested to see if you have any underlying deficiencies that are important for your health.  Certain pathways in your body require certain nutrients to work properly.  Do you know the status of your vitamin D, magnesium, B vitamins, etc.? We know how important Vitamin D is for our mood, along with a ton of other benefits for our bodies, however majority of clients I test are deficient in this crucial vitamin!

If we want to truly be healthy we first need to look to our gut.

To discuss you or your family’s health, email me at drstephanievw@gmail.com or call our office to make an appointment for a consultation at 920-243-7140.

 

In good health,

 

Dr. Stephanie

Why Fermented Cod Liver Oil?

Many people will cringe when they read the words, “fermented cod liver oil.”  You just did, didn’t you?  Don’t stop reading this because you think it sounds disgusting because it really is not bad and it has tremendous health benefits when incorporated into your daily routine!

Fermented cod liver oil (FCLO) is just that, cod livers that are fermented.  The process of fermentation is a natural preservation and this allows the fat soluble vitamins and beneficial oils to separate from the rest of the liver.  This is able to be done without damaging the fat-soluble vitamins.  This is unlike other methods of processing that use heat which is damaging to delicate nutrients.   Cool temperature fermentation allows the cod liver oil to maintain its Omega -3, Vitamin D and Vitamin A content.  Fermentation or enzymatic breakdown will help reduce food into their end usable forms thus help make the nutrients more absorbable to the body.

If you have been following some of my posts, you know that not all supplements are created equal.  This DEFINITELY is true of fish oils.  Why?  As I mentioned, the processing of these oils can damage all the nutrients as well as the oil.  You would never purposefully take rancid oil am I right?  No, you wouldn’t because this could cause the opposite effect on your body and be more harmful than beneficial.

I already mentioned that fermented cod liver oil contains your omega-3s, Vitamin D and Vitamin A.  Vitamins A and D are both necessary for many aspects of health.  Let’s face it, living in a northern state we are not getting enough Vitamin D, period.

As the Weston A. Price Foundation explains, Vitamins A and D need each other for proper absorption.

Vitamin D

At least 2,000 genes, or nearly 10 percent of your genes, have been identified that are directly influenced by Vitamin D.  I will write a future post on Vitamin D because there is SO much to be said about its impacts on our health from preventing the common cold/flu to detoxification to mood health, etc.

Vitamin A

We don’t hear as much about Vitamin A however this vitamin should not be overlooked.  Vitamin A is a little more difficult to obtain as our bodies need to convert beta-carotene, which is the inactive form to retinol (active form of Vitamin A).  I don’t want to make this more complicated than it is, but some people cannot do this conversion at all.  Vitamin A is found in significant amounts only in animal products like liver and grass-fed dairy.  Let’s be honest though, we don’t eat liver and other organ meats like our ancestors did.  This is another topic for discussion in the future!  Back to Vitamin A and to put it into perspective – 3 oz of beef liver contains about 27,000 IU of vitamin A.  To get the same amount from plant sources (however remember you need to be able to convert), you would need to eat 50 cups of cooked kale!  I’m a total foodie but that’s way too much to eat to get the same amount of Vitamin A.

Vitamin D and Vitamin A are essential for your immune system.  They work in tandem and are precursors to active hormones that regulate the expression of your genes. 

Since there are many studies regarding cod liver oil and its benefits with certain conditions, I am including a link to the Weston A. Price Foundation’s website so you can browse through it if you are interested:  https://www.westonaprice.org/?s=fermented+cod+liver+oil

I believe mother nature is more intelligent than us and provides us with nutrients in the proper proportions.  Fermented cod liver oil has a synergistic ratio of Vitamin A and Vitamin D that work in concert with one another along with your wonderful omega-3s.  My family takes fermented cod liver oil daily for a variety of reasons specially to help our immune system!  I trust one company that uses a cold process fermentation process as I know the cod liver oil is in its most natural state.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you want to try this superfood!

To discuss you or your family’s health or for more information about functional medicine and testing, email me at drstephanievw@gmail.com  or call our office to make an appointment for a consultation at 920-243-7140.

In good health,

Dr. Stephanie

Gut Microbiome

Let’s talk about your microbiome aka your gut bacteria.  Your body is a home to trillions of tiny creatures that are too small for the naked eye to see.  I once read the analogy of bacteria creating a garden in your gut.  I like this analogy because a garden is filled with all sorts of bugs.  It’s a symbiotic match made in heaven – they need us to survive and we benefit tremendously from them inhabiting our guts.  The health of the inner garden you are growing in your gut will be determined by what you are feeding it with the foods you eat.

Did you know that we are made up of more bacterial DNA than your own human DNA?  Another thing that I think reflects how very important our gut flora is and why we need to flourish our gut with lots of good ‘bugs.’

Did you know… Your gut contains a few POUNDS and over 500 species of bacteria?!

Most people are unaware that the bacteria in our gut plays a VERY large role in your health.  Therefore, it’s important to get your gut bacteria healthy – if your bacteria are sick, so are you!

Since a lot can be said on this topic, for this blog’s purpose we will keep things simple.

What are some of the roles that our gut bacteria do?

They help with digestion.  Our gut microbes jump in and lend a hand when our stomach or small intestine are unable to digest certain foods we eat.   With that said, you could think about the bacteria in our colons as a 2nd stomach or digestive enzyme system that help further breakdown food thus helping us to absorb nutrients that would have been missed.

Gut bacteria work with the immune system and help it grow and develop as well as help fight bacteria and other infections.

They keep other microorganisms in check.  A strong population of healthy bacteria will make it hard for bad bacteria and fungi (yeasts) to grow.

Gut bacteria thrive on what you feed them.  Feed or fertilize your inner garden with healthy whole, fresh foods so that they can thrive.  Back in the day, people had to preserve their foods by fermentation/pickling, etc. and what that did is produced lots of good bacteria to help preserve the food.  So instead of adding preservatives to the food like we do now, it’s a natural preservation technique and it works great along with the many health benefits that come along with it!  Many of us don’t preserve our foods that way anymore and unfortunately, we eat foods that are hindering our gut bacteria.  We will address this in a future post when I talk about sugar, GMOs, etc.

I first and foremost like to recommend eating foods to help get good bacteria into your body.  Anything that you can lacto-ferment is a great start!  Here is a short list I have put together:

  • Lacto-fermented foods
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Kvass
  • Yogurt (preferably made on your own). Commercial yogurts are typically full of sugars.

I prefer people make their foods at home if possible.  This gives you control of what you add and how you prefer the taste.  I don’t want to forget mentioning the enormous amounts of bacteria you will get!  Here is a link to Dr. Mercola’s post on Fermented Foods for additional information:  https://articles.mercola.com/fermented-foods.aspx

In addition to increasing the diet with probiotic-rich foods, it’s also usually a good idea to supplement with probiotics daily.  This is out of the norm that I feel a supplement is good in addition to dietary change however that’s how strongly I feel a gut full of healthy bacteria is for everyone!  Shopping for probiotics can be challenging because let’s face it, there are so many out there.  This is a good place to address this – Not all probiotics (or supplements in general) are created equal!  Please read that again.  If you need help with finding a probiotic that is right for you, I would be happy to help.  There are many different strains of bacteria and some strains are more effective at supporting the body in specific ways.

I would like to mention and address one last thing.  If you are starting to eat or supplement with probiotics for the first time, it’s best to start slow.  When you start putting in good bacteria into your gut – they’re going to start to kill any bad bacteria you may have.  When the bad bacteria die, they can release their own endotoxins.  This means you might feel some detox reactions when you start, making you feel a little crummy before you start to feel better.

To discuss you or your family’s health or for more information about functional medicine and testing, email me at drstephanievw@gmail.com or call our office to make an appointment for a consultation at 920-243-7140.

In good health,

Dr. Stephanie

Food Dyes

One of the most widely used and most DANGEROUS additives used – food dyes.

Food dyes are artificial chemicals added to foods to change and enhance their color.  These dyes are created synthetically from burning coal tar or from petroleum.  I’m sure most people wouldn’t intentionally eat or feed byproducts of petroleum to their family.  The issue here though is that it is hidden in a lot of our foods.

Food dyes have been controversial for some time.  Ironically enough, most have been banned because of their adverse effects on laboratory animals.  However, approved dyes used in our foods still pose health concerns.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) states that every year, food manufacturers pour 15 million pounds of artificial food dyes into U.S. foods.

I admit that when I was younger I never questioned how certain foods or drinks got their color, I mean most people don’t right?  Grocery stores, gas stations, etc. have shelves filled with foods that can sit for long periods of time without spoiling.  Have you ever wondered how that’s possible?  These foods are far from their original state.  They are highly processed and filled with additives and preservatives to give them a longer shelf life and make them look more appealing.

As a mother, it makes me sick that artificial food dyes are added to our foods (that are already nutritionally void) to target our children.  Look at “kid friendly” foods next time you’re shopping, a lot are brightly colored to get your child’s attention.  It’s hard for most children to resist rainbow colored candies, cereal, or brightly colored juices.  Now this leads me into food dyes and behavior.  Artificial food dyes have been linked to behavioral problems, various types of cancers and other problems.  Here is one study showing the link between food coloring and behavior:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7965420

In the European Union (EU), foods that contain artificial food dyes are required to carry a warning on the label saying: “Consumption may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”  This is not the case in the US, but can you imagine how that would influence a person’s decision to grab for such a “food.”

Research on dyes and behavior is still developing however I know parents who have noticed drastic behavioral changes with removal of artificial dyes from their child’s diet.

The phrase “taste the rainbow” is one I completely agree with however this needs to be with whole foods that are found in nature.  In other words, NOT foods that have been altered and processed to be such.

Tips moving forward to avoid food dyes:

  • Stick to real foods that are in their whole form
  • Buy organic whenever possible
  • Read your labels
  • Check Personal Care Products – toothpastes, mouthwash, makeups, etc., as these can contain artificial dyes as well
  • Use Natural Alternatives – buy dyes that are naturally derived or better yet make your own at home from food sources like these:
    • Red: Beets (juiced or powder)
    • Orange: Carrots (juiced)
    • Yellow: Turmeric
    • Green: Spinach (juice or whole leaves)
    • Blue: Red cabbage boiled + baking soda
    • Purple: Red cabbage boiled

Artificial food dyes do nothing to improve the nutritional value of a food rather they enhance the color of processed foods to make them more appealing (especially to our young children).  There is a lot more information out there than I have given you so I challenge you to research more of the harmful effects that food dyes pose on our health.  If you haven’t heard me say it before – you are your own health advocate – it’s important for you to do your research for you and your family’s health.

Food Sensitivities

You may not even realize it, but your gut may be damaged.  If your gut is damaged then large particles (such as undigested food proteins, yeast, toxins, waste etc.) are getting into your bloodstream.  This then leads to inflammation throughout your systems, ultimately affecting your whole body and causing a wide range of symptoms.

I briefly mentioned in a previous post that leaky gut progression starts with GI inflammation – leading to food intolerances, nutrient malabsorption, immune system issues and potentially auto-immunity (this is where the body starts attacking itself).    I think this is a good time to talk about food intolerances.

One important signal that your body may have a leaky gut is multiple food sensitivities/intolerances.  This leads me to describe the difference between a food sensitivity and a food allergy since they are not the same thing.  What they both have in common is that they are the immune system’s response to a foreign substance.  Exposure to what is normally a harmless substance causes the immune system to react as if the substance were harmful.

Allergy versus Sensitivity

An allergy is an immediate response of the immune system (IgE mediated) that results in an inflammatory response that can range from uncomfortable to dangerous.  When immediate food reaction occurs, symptoms after ingesting a particular food occur within 8 hours.  Symptoms come on fast and may include wheezing, coughing, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, anaphylaxis, etc.

What I want to focus on however are food sensitivities or intolerances because most people are unaware they have these.  A food sensitivity, unlike an allergy, is a delayed response (IgG mediated).  This is important to understand because symptoms after ingesting a food you are sensitive to can appear 3 days after the food is eaten!  This makes sense why it’s difficult to identify isn’t it?  Symptoms can include bloating, headache, itching, gastrointestinal discomfort, and other ailments.  Most people may be ill and have no idea that their symptoms are being triggered by the foods they are eating.

You can be eating ‘healthy’ foods that are making you sick without you even knowing it.

Can you understand why it is important to get your food sensitivities tested to see if your body is reacting to the foods you are eating?

I’m going to use my personal experience as an example.  I had my foods tested for sensitivities over a year and a half ago.  I already knew I was intolerant to gluten and dairy, as a lot of people unknowingly are, however I wanted to see what else was going on.  Dairy lit up like a Christmas tree (as I had suspected it would) along with other ‘healthy’ foods such as squash, codfish, blueberry, coconut, garlic, Brazil nuts, chia seeds, flaxseed, peppermint, vanilla, and more.   Some of the foods that I was sensitive to were some of my favorite foods, some I even ate almost daily – another reason I shouldn’t be surprised they were positive!  This is a prime example of why diversity in the diet is important.    After eliminating my trigger foods and adding specific supplements, I could give my immune system a rest and I started to gain more energy and get rid of some of my brain fog and fatigue I was experiencing at that time.

If you are constantly bombarding your body with food you are sensitive to – your immune system does not get a break.  Have you ever experienced this scenario?  When your ears are plugged however you didn’t even realize it until AFTER they ‘popped’ and suddenly you can hear clearly?   You were just living with less than clear hearing without even realizing it!  This is like people who live with daily headaches and think that it’s normal.  It is the greatest feeling when I see clients with daily headaches receive chiropractic care and report back that their headache dissipated for the first time in a long time.  It’s hard to imagine living with constant headaches, but think of how much LIFE you would feel once that’s gone?  I see some people who don’t even realize they’ve been feeling sick until they start experiencing how it feels to feel healthy!

Please don’t accept living life less than your best, you deserve more!

I cannot say it enough – the health of your gut is super important!  Whether I’m working with someone regarding hormones, nutrients, fatigue, auto-immunity, etc. it all funnels down into the integrity of their gut.

To discuss you or your family’s health or for more information about functional medicine and testing, email me at drstephanievw@gmail.com or call our office to make an appointment for a consultation at 920-243-7140.

In good health,

Dr. Stephanie

All Disease Begins in the Gut

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 As Hippocrates (known as the Father of Medicine) says, “All disease begins in the gut.”

As we mentioned in our last post, you don’t necessarily need to feel digestive issues when you have a leaky gut.  Leaky gut affects the WHOLE body ranging from your skin, to your thyroid, to your brain (mood), to your joints, etc.

Leaky gut progression starts with GI inflammation – leading to food intolerances, nutrient malabsorption, immune system issues and potentially auto-immunity (this is where the body starts attacking itself).

Unhealthy digestion is evident when any of the following conditions are present:  gas, bloating, acid reflux, loose stools or constipation, negative reaction to food, inflammation, skin disorders (eczema, dermatitis, hives, psoriasis, acne, rosacea, etc.), cracked fingernails, parasites, candida, food allergies, throat and nose issues (clearing throat, runny nose, etc.), nutrient deficiency, gallbladder diseases, autoimmune issues, and the list goes on.

GutSymptoms

I know I’m a broken record but are you seeing a trend here yet?  If your gut is off, other systems will be off as well.  This is important because most Americans are highly inflamed and have some level of leaky gut that is affecting their health and wellbeing.

Now that I think you have an understanding on the importance of your gut, an organ sometimes neglected and underrated, let’s get to what you’ve been waiting for.

What are some of the steps towards healing your leaky gut? I think the 4R program is a great place to start.  The 4R program offers four steps – remove, replace, reinoculate, and repair.

Remove – Eliminate the cause(s)

Leaky gut has a wide range of possible causes – this is not a one size fits all and is unique to every person

  • Remove inflammatory food triggers
    • This involves getting a food sensitivity test done to determine what foods you are intolerant to. Pay close attention to what I’m about to say as this is important to understand – there is a difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity.
  • Stress
    • Stress can impair your digestion and absorption
  • Pathogens
    • Bacterial and yeast overgrowth, viruses, fungi, parasites, and other toxic substances
      • There are tests available to help identify

Replace – Nourish gut lining with key nutrients

    • Digestive enzymes
    • Stomach acid

Reinoculate – Rebalance microbes and probiotics

  • Intestinal microflora are microorganisms that live in our gut and are helpful in aiding digestion and nutrient absorption.
    • Probiotics: supplements and foods

Repair – repair the lining of your gut

  • Healthy, anti-inflammatory diet of foods and supplements to reduce inflammation and support cell growth in the digestive tract

Stay tuned as we get into more details on the 4R program of healing your gut.

More on Leaky Gut

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Let’s talk more about leaky gut.  If you remember and go back to the screen door analogy, leaky gut occurs when your small intestine gets damaged and you start punching holes through your screen door – this is when particles can leak into the bloodstream.

A ‘leaky gut’ means that the permeable intestinal lining which is the gatekeeper of what comes in and what stays out is compromised.  This means that those tight knit junctions we talked about are not so tight anymore.  Large particles (such as undigested food proteins, yeast, toxins, waste etc.) are then able to get through into your bloodstream.  From there, it’s possible to spread throughout the body (where it shouldn’t be).

intestinalpermeability

There are many things that can influence this 1-cell layer thick barrier and cause it to become “leaky.”  Four main causes include:

  • poor diet
  • chronic stress
  • toxin overload
  • bacterial imbalance

I will address these further in future posts.

When this barrier is compromised – it’s easy to see why the immune system can be affected.  Did you know – up to 80% of the immune system resides in the gut?  Yes, that is correct!  How can your immune system work properly if the very place where most of it is housed is damaged?   Therefore, it’s super important to keep your gut barrier healthy.

Most people think of digestive issues when they think of leaky gut, which can be true, however symptoms can manifest as much more!

Symptoms of leaky gut you may not know include the following: seasonal allergies, chronic sinus congestion, asthma, autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, etc.), chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, headaches, mood issues (depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, mental fogginess), skin issues (acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis), food sensitivities/intolerances, and more!

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms you do not need to learn how to just “live with it.”  I would love to help you get on the right track towards increasing your health potential!

Do you understand what your gut actually is and how important it’s functions are? 

Leaky Gut 

Your gut is extremely important for maintaining your health and well being.  To fully understand the relationship, we first need to understand the complexities of the gut.  I promise other posts won’t be so complicated however it’s important to get this foundation before we dive in further.

I’m going to try and keep this as simple as possible, the gut (aka gastrointestinal tract) is a long tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus.  When we eat, food passes through the esophagus into the stomach.  The stomach empties into the small intestine where food is digested and absorbed into the blood stream.

Following the small intestine is the large intestine where water is absorbed and food is contained that has not been digested which ultimately makes its way through the sigmoid colon and rectum before being passed out as stool.   Are you following me yet?

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff!  The gut has such an important job of being the gatekeeper of what gets in and what stays out.  The lining of the intestines has finger-like projections called villi that increase the absorption of nutrients from food passing through.  To make things more complicated for you, each villus itself has dozens of microvilli to increase the surface area.

microvilli2

Now here’s something cool – if you haven’t noticed I’m a bit of a GEEK when it comes to this stuff – if you spread out the intestines, the surface area would cover 2 tennis courts!!  Sit and think about that for a second…that is amazing!

Let’s simplify things even more and think of your gut like a screen door.  A screen door has tiny holes that let air through but keeps bugs, critters and other things out – the same way that your gut allows certain nutrients and molecules in – however has tight knit junctions to keep other particles out.  Now what happens if I punch holes through my screen door?  Bugs and other things are going to get into my house that aren’t welcome.  Compare this to your gut, particles are going to get into your bloodstream that aren’t supposed to – we call this ‘Leaky Gut.’   To reiterate this, leaky gut occurs when your small intestine gets damaged and particles begin to leak into the bloodstream.   This is very important to understand because I’m going to refer back and forth to this!

Increased_intestinal_permeability

Stay tuned for my future posts where I will dive into more and more about the gut and it’s impacts on your health!