I'm starting to think that we all need to start our health journey inside our gastrointestinal tract (GI or GUT). More and more often during a DNA feedback session, clients' past and current health issues point towards this area as being the root cause of their symptoms.
If you feel nauseous after taking supplements, suffer from constipation or explosive diarrhea, heartburn, gas, sinus, allergies, brain fog, and joint pain then your symptoms could be stemming from an unhappy GUT.
Asking a practitioner or health coach to help you tackle your GUT health is a good place for you to start in becoming healthier and ensuring that you are absorbing your nutrients optimally.
We now know that many important functions in our body depend on a healthy GUT microbiome. Gastrointestinal issues may underlie chronic health problems that seem unrelated to digestive health such as autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, skin problems, heart disease, thyroid dysfunction and neurological problems, including mood.
Its starts in your mouth
Recently I was reminded that GUT health starts in your mouth, and ends with your anus. Not a topic (or a journey) that many of us like to think about but it is the quickest, cheapest and easiest way to determine whether your GI tract is contributing to your chronic health issues.
Research has shown that poor oral hygiene can cause chronic inflammation and oral dysbiosis that can then contribute to GUT dysbiosis. Using a biological dentist, removing silver and gold fillings, checking your jaw bone after root canal and wisdom teeth extractions and daily flossing can all improve the microbiome of your mouth, and therefore your GI tract too. In fact, flossing daily has been shown to add 10 years of health span to your life!
What you put into your mouth counts too. Many people who experience adverse reactions to food don’t realize that a specific food is causing symptoms. Food reactions are often overlooked as a contributor to chronic health issues. Adverse reactions to food can be broken down into three categories: allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities. Importantly, eating 'toxic foods' that are processed, refined, high in sugar, trans fats and chemicals will upset the ecosystem of your GUT.
A good test to check how you react to foods and whether it is allergy food that could be causing your GUT issue is:
The Bristol Stool Chart is a useful tool that encourages you to examine your poop to determine just how inflamed your GUT might be.
The role of your liver
When the flow of bile is stagnant or sluggish due to a slow phase 1 and/or 2 liver detox ability, then your GUT shifts towards a state of dysbiosis, where unfriendly flora dominate, and constipation is common. The toxins from bad bacteria then block detoxification pathways in the liver as well. With the resulting imbalance of flora and dysbiosis, excessive gas and bloating may be experienced after eating.
When the liver is under stress, individuals may find themselves more reactive to chemical exposures and seasonal pollen allergies may worsen, and food sensitivities may increase. The liver is responsible for breaking down excess histamine, and if it is sluggish, histamine may build up in the body resulting in an allergy flare up.
So your GUT microbiome does affect your liver. Too much of the wrong bacteria – can cause inflammation in the gut. This inflammation can result in a leaky GUT, a condition which allows larger molecules than normal into the circulation eventually results in inflammation in the liver because there is a direct route from the GI tract to the liver via the portal vein. This portal vein allows undesirable content in the gut to be deposited directly into the liver. Not good!
You can order The Leaky GUT test here:
Is there a genotype for GUT issues?
Genotyping my clients is my passion and although there is not (yet) specific genes linked to GI function, we do know enough to say that if you have high impact genetic variations in the key genes involved in inflammatory response together with having a predisposition towards sluggish or poor detoxification, you may very well be predisposed to GUT issues.
However, anyone can develop GUT health issues if exposed to gut stressors such as stress, inflammation, and imbalance in your gut and, very possibly, intestinal permeability or 'leaky gut'. Stressors include foods to which you are sensitive, intolerant, or allergic; imbalances between beneficial and harmful gut bacteria; the presence of harmful gut bacteria, yeasts, and fungi; gut infections and ongoing infections (even if they are elsewhere in your body); raised general inflammation in your body; medications; recreational drugs including alcohol and smoking; environmental toxins; toxic heavy metals; stress; and a lack of sleep.
Your other genome and brain
Research has concluded that there are around 500 different species of bugs in your GUT with a total weight of about 1.4kg, each with their own DNA and genome. The good bacteria in your GUT helps to keep you healthy so it's really important that you feed them and care for them!
A recent study showed that overweight people had more of the bad bacteria in their GUT than people who had a healthy BMI.
Other than your magnificent brain, your GUT is the only other organ with its own nervous system, generating neurotransmitters to help with mood, decision-making, and feelings. In fact, 80% of serotonin is made in your GUT which means if you have poor GUT health, you may very well feel unhappy too.
How do I fix it
In Functional Medicine, we use the 5Rs - remove, replace, reinoculate, repair and rebalance, to repair our GUT and improve our health.
I find this table helpful when coaching the 5R GUT programme:
Remove stressors: get rid of things that negatively affect the environment of the GI tract including allergic foods, parasites, and potentially problematic bacteria or yeast.
This might involve using an allergy “elimination diet” to find out what foods are causing GI symptoms or it may involve taking medications or herbs to eradicate a particular bug
Replace digestive secretions: add back things like digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and bile acids that are required for proper digestion and that may be compromised by diet, medications, diseases, ageing, or other factors.
Help beneficial bacteria flourish by ingesting probiotic foods or supplements that contain the “good” GI bacteria such as bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus species, and by consuming the high soluble ber foods that good bugs like to eat, called prebiotics.
Help the lining of the GI tract repair itself by supplying key nutrients that can often be in short supply in a compromised gut, such as zinc, antioxidants (e.g. vitamins A, C, and E), fish oil, and the amino acid glutamine.
It is important to pay attention to lifestyle choices. Sleep, exercise, and stress can all affect the GI tract. Balancing those activities is important to an optimal digestive tract.
You can visit our GUT SHOP to learn more about the products and tools available to get started. If you would like to start with some serious GUT work, we are available to coach you on the above. You can book your session here:
Based on the above, I now know that my gran was right when she said; "trust your GUT!" and then some.Written by:
CEO of MY DNA CHOICES
BA (Speech, Hearing & Lang Therapy) Hons | FMCHC | ReCODE Coach