Let’s Talk Dirty

By Debbie Haikal, the Common Sense R.N.

Death begins in the gut” according to Nobel Prize winner Dr. Eli Mitchnikoff.  It seems remarkable, but the little creatures living inside of you have been linked to everything from allergies, to arthritis, acne, candida, obesity, rashes, foggy brain, sinus issues, vaginal infections and more. All of these have some origin in gut dysfunction. Research supports growing clinical evidence linking gut flora, inflammation, and chronic illness.

Gut dysfunction is the ‘WHY ME of poor health.’ It explains a host of strange, unexplained symptoms and chronic ailments. Gut health is essential for vitality and a healthy immune system. More than 70% of your immune cells are located within the GI system. Autoimmune diseases like chronic fatigue, toxicities, hashimoto’s, and celiac disease cannot be addressed without looking at the GI association.

There are approximately 500 species and 3 pounds of bacteria in your gut which form a balanced chemical ecosystem for food digestion, hormone regulation, toxin elimination, and vitamin production keeping the gut and human body healthy. “Digestion is just not chemistry: it is also a sequence of events” says Dr. David Peterson of Wellness Alternatives. So much can go wrong with this complex balance. Some of  the offending changes occur due to drugs (like antibiotics, reflux meds, or birth control pills), everyday chemical exposures, acquiring a ‘bug’ via a pet or trip, inappropriate probiotics, a weakened immune system, an undetected food intolerance, or even high stress.

Many symptoms throughout the body can be resolved by treating the gut. Why are other providers not connecting the dots? Digestive imbalances are an underlying problem that wreck havoc in our bodies. It is not understood and often overlooked. Sometimes the symptoms don’t reflect the location (like acne: is it a skin problem or gut problem?). Addressing gut health can be difficult. There must be patient education, physicians need a lot of time to diagnose and form treatment plans, follow up care needs to be evaluated, and there must be patient compliance.

My personal experience was with IBS-type symptoms that altered my daily activities. I am happy these were easily and successfully eliminated by Dr. Peterson. Some of the most interesting medical recoveries I have seen the past 6 years have dealt with correcting gut flora. These patients seemed ‘crazy’ (they are not), have pain, can’t eat, exhibit foggy thinking, and yet no one knew how to help them until we started looking at gut dysfunction. The transformation in these patients was amazing.

So what can you do to see if you have a dirty little secret? Proper diagnosis is the first step. Request DNA stool testing to assess your gut health. Functional Medicine physicians like Dr. Peterson use these tests to evaluate gut health, diagnose, and treat imbalances. As Dr. Mark Hyman, author and leader in treatment of chronic diseases, is so fond of saying, “Your gut can keep you healthy or it could be making you sick and fat.”

Call Wellness Alternatives at 636-227-4949. Or visit online at stlwa.com.