I know we are still in our theme of Spring Cleaning. I’m going to stretch this topic to fit into Spring Cleaning a little bit. I have been getting a few referrals lately involving your adults that are struggling with many digestive issues.
What are digestive issues?
- Ulcerative colitis
- Stomach pain
If you are or have children that have been away at school, struggling with stomach/digestive issues it might be time to consider putting them through a Spring Cleaning once you get them home. Let me touch on this.
Almost all digestive/gut disorders share one or more underlying mechanisms (things that cause the issues):
- Overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine meaning Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth or SIBO. Lots of good stuff happens here. The small intestine is the longest section of the digestive tract and 90% of the food that we eat is broken down here for nutrient absorption. 80% of the water that we drink is also absorbed here. I talk a lot about bacteria and the need for it to be balanced. The large intestine does use bacteria to help with the breakdown of the remaining 10% that isn’t absorbed in the small intestine. The small intestine, however, utilizes very low levels of bacteria. If Bacteria from the large intestine migrates up into the small intestine, it leads to poor nutrient absorption. It can lead to IBS issues and even affect the lining of the stomach.
- Imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. We have trillions of bacteria in our body. Way more than the number of human cells that we have in our body. It has been said that we might exist for the bacteria instead of the other way around. For our bodies to operate properly, all of the different types of bacteria have jobs to do. When they become unbalanced, it upsets the working of the gut, leading to inflammation in the body, damage to the lining of the small intestine, increase in symptoms and eventually disease sets in.
- Leaky gut. This is when the lining of the small intestine become compromised and it is no longer keeping the large particles of food and toxins out of our blood stream. When this happens, our immune system is activated as it will recognize even the good food as an invader. Inflammation sets in and eventually disease is inevitable. Approximately 85% of Western population has some form of leaky gut.
- Chronic gut infections – The infection can be bacterial, fungal, or parasitic. They happen either from exposure or form due to imbalances in the bacteria in the body. When the balance is compromised, invaders move in and begin to flourish wreaking havoc, creating symptoms, inflammation and eventually disease sets in.
- Low stomach acid or digestive enzyme production – This is a result of age. We make less digestive enzymes as we get older. But it can also be a result of other digestive issues that a person might be experiencing. We need the stomach acid and the digestive enzymes to help break down the food for absorption.
- Food sensitivities or allergies – Sensitivities are different than allergies in that the bodies response can be delayed and they are not immediately threatening. The reaction can be delayed for several days and may result in gas and bloating, joint aches, headaches or migraines making it very hard to pinpoint the cause. Both allergies and sensitivities to food can create dysfunction in the gut. Food sensitivities can also create the dysfunction in the gut.
- Issues with communication between the gut and brain – When the gut/blood barrier is compromised, the blood/brain and gut/brain barrier is likely compromised as well. Symptoms like brain fog and headaches are common. Thinking can become foggy. Issues with concentration or memory, ADD/ADHD are also fueled when this barrier is crossed.
That was a lot of information I know but it is important to explain what is going on.
They are all significant issues and coupled together can be very impactful to your health or the health of your young adult.
Gut issues can contribute to depression and anxiety.
The majority of serotonin is actually made in the gut, not the brain and so any gut issues can impact serotonin levels. Melatonin is also made in the gut. And disruption of melatonin production means sleep cycle disruption. Because of the gut/brain/blood barrier connection, gut dysfunction can make focus and concentration difficult as well. All tough things to deal with when you are just trying to get your life started as a young adult.
Diet improvements can be impactful and, in most cases, can offer relief and improvement of most symptoms. I recommend a Paleo Diet program to start. For some, this may not be enough. If the dysfunction is significant enough, testing may be required to dig deeper down into the root cause. Supplements may be required to help support the body while it heals.
The bottom line is if you or your young adult are suffering with any digestive issues, it is better to tackle it now than later. As the dysfunction continues it begins to spiral creating issues in other areas and eventually chronic diseases like ulcerative colitis and other autoimmune diseases will set in. Much better to tackle it early to prevent the migration to serious disease.
All of your young adults are about to come home soon. If you can, help them to make those diet improvements while they are home over the summer, so they can feel a whole lot better before heading back to school in the fall. If you are interested in more information, email me at the following email and I will get you a copy of my Free Paleo Diet Cheat Sheet.
Have a great rest of your day.