A shockingly large number of Americans struggle with poor gut health: heartburn, stomach pain, gas, bloating, constipation, or loose stool. This is a common thread we see with our cancer patients.
For many, these problems have been so chronic as to seem normal. However, these symptoms are indicative of ongoing inflammation. As our patients know inflammation is the cause of all disease, our job is to figure out the cause. This gut inflammation leads to the destruction of the gut lining and is referred to as “leaky gut”.
We also see overgrowth of unfriendly microbes especially in those who have had antibiotics. Even one dose of antibiotics will create chaos to your microbiome. Remember the microbiome includes all of the good bacteria in the body. You have good bacteria in any tissue that touches the outside world (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, throat, lungs, gut, bladder, vaginal vault and skin). When you have an unhealthy gut, digestion and absorption of nutrients is suboptimal. The downstream effects of this include allergies, joint pain, fatigue, and brain fog (to name a few).
There is even evidence that gut dysfunction and microbiome imbalance may be related to Parkinson’s disease. There have been studies where they take the fecal matter from Parkinson’s patients and implant it into mice and they quickly develop Parkinson’s symptoms.
There are many studies that show that having the right bacteria in the gut is vitally important to our health. Most people have heard of probiotics, but the unfortunate thing is most do not make it through stomach acid. In fact, one of the jobs of stomach acid is to kill bacteria that come in on the food. At Journey to Wellness, we use a probiotic that is designed to get through the stomach acid.
Another contributing factor to poor gut health is the poor quality of the standard American diet, which tends to be high in refined carbs and low in vegetables. Naturopathic medicine emphasizes using food as medicine and cultivating good gut health instead of just covering up symptoms with medication like acid blockers and acid neutralizers like Tums and Rolaids. Even worse is immune-suppressive drugs for those with ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease. Just listening to the side effects of those commercials for these medications makes me cringe. Taking acid blockers, immune suppressants, or stool softeners for years is akin to putting duct tape over the “check engine” light on your dashboard.
The goal of naturopathic medicine is to optimize health and prevent future illness by addressing the root causes of disease. If you are struggling with your gut health, please call us today to make an appointment and be proactive in addressing the cause of your symptoms. You only get one body to experience your life. The only person in charge of your health is you. Our job is to help you to learn how to do that.
Cynthia Bye, ND, FABNO – Board certified in Naturopathic Oncology