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Gut Brain Dysfunction

The “Gut-Brain Axis”

The gut-brain axis (GBA) is the bidirectional communication between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system. Whether or not it started there, whatever is ailing you has by now likely wreaked havoc with your gastrointestinal tract, or gut. It is for that reason that it is often necessary to first “seal and heal” your gut before addressing other symptoms.

“Seal and Heal” Your Gut

The genes you inherit combined with various life stressors alter the balance of microbial powers within your gut (dysbiosis). This dysbiosis causes body and brain inflammation, which leads to imbalances in your hormones, neurotransmitters, immune cells and growth factors, resulting in your specific symptoms. Rather than focusing on your resulting symptoms, we advocate “sealing and healing” your gut while measuring your hormonal, neurotransmitter and immune imbalances, as it is better to treat the cause, rather than mask the symptoms.

Our General Approach to Health:
  • Test, don’t guess
  • Lifestyle modification
  • “Seal and Heal” your gut
  • Lower inflammation
  • Rebuild your adrenal glands
  • Support your neurotransmitters
  • Eliminate dietary toxins
  • Manage your stress

The “Gut-Brain Axis” and Diseases of Civilization (DOCs)

Diseases of Civilization (DOCs) – heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, depression, dementia, arthritis, pain, asthma, irritable bowel, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and many more – are on the rise.  This is in large part due to environmental changes, such as poor nutrition, environmental toxins, stress, sleep deprivation, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, allergens, hormonal imbalances and medications, causing increased total body inflammation. Studies have shown that the primary cause of this environmental associated inflammation may be dysfunction of the “gut-brain axis”.

How Your Gut Affects Your Brain

The enteric nervous system is a complex bundle of neurons that is tucked away in the lining of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon. Considered the gut’s brain, it has its own set of neurotransmitters for sending messages between nerve cells, and it has the ability to learn and remember. The brain and the enteric nervous system are connected by a long nerve “cable” known as the vagus nerve and are in constant communication through neurotransmitter feedback.

Research suggests that there is a direct connection between the gut and activities of the brain. Studies in humans show that negative emotions are often associated with the development of acute GI infections. Conversely, chronic GI inflammation produces effects on mood, such as symptoms of depression and fatigue. The use of probiotics and other measures helps maintain intestinal health, but may also help symptoms of some of the most common diseases of civilization.

Gut-Brain Balance

A healthy digestive system is full of beneficial bacteria. These bacteria make vitamins that are essential to our health, regulate the metabolism of cholesterol, detoxify poisons, and help to maintain a normal pH balance in the stomach. However, in a state of dysbiosis (an unhealthy imbalance of microbial powers), then “bad” bacteria, toxins in food, food allergens, yeast, and undigested food particles can lead to a series of neurological and immune system responses that interfere with healthy brain function.

A healthy microbiota contains a balanced composition of many classes of bacteria. In conditions of dysbiosis, there is an unnatural shift in the composition of the microbiota. The causes for this are not entirely clear, but likely include recent societal advances in developed countries. The result is non-specific inflammation, which may predispose certain genetically susceptible people to specific diseases of civilization. It is likely that the composition of your microbiota can shape a healthy immune response to life stressors, or increase your risk for diseases of civilization.

Nearly three quarters of your immune cells reside in the GI tract. When the brain is alerted to inflammation by the immune system, it releases stress hormones, thereby altering neurotransmitter levels. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Anxiety, obsessions, compulsions
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Anhedonia (loss of pleasure in previously enjoyable activities)
  • Inability to sleep or desire to sleep all the time
  • Poor memory
  • Impaired concentration and attention

Possible Causes of Dysbiosis:

  • Poor diet is a big contributor to brain-gut imbalances. A diet low in fiber and high in added sugars and preservatives can alter the environment in the gut, allowing the bad bacteria to take over.
  • Food allergies like Celiac disease (gluten intolerance) can cause inflammation and malabsorption of nutrients.
  • Medications such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, steroids, and acid blockers can all prevent the digestive system from doing its job properly.
  • Environmental toxins like heavy metals can damage normal function of the gut and prevent absorption of important nutrients.
  • Alcohol can damage the lining of the gut, allowing toxins to leak into the blood stream.
  • Excessive stress can cause damage to the intestinal lining as well, disrupting proper digestive function.

Symptoms of Gut-Brain Imbalance:

  • Bloating
  • Nausea after taking dietary supplements
  • Canker sores
  • Chronic heartburn
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or abdominal pain
  • IBS
  • Chronic yeast infections
  • Craving for sweets/carbohydrates
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hives
  • Psoriasis or eczema
  • Mood disorders like anxiety or depression
  • Behavioral disorders such as autism or ADD/ADHD

Testing for GI Dysfunction

If you are suffering from any of the symptoms above or believe yourself to be at risk of an imbalance, we recommend that you be tested for digestive dysfunction to help determine the cause of your symptoms.

  • H. Pylori testing can detect a common bacterial infection in your stomach and small intestine. H. Pylori tests consist of either a blood antibody test, stool sample, stomach biopsy, or urea breath test.
  • CBC (Complete Blood Count) testing can pinpoint abnormalities in white blood cells which can be an indication of infection.
  • Breath testing for small bacterial overgrowth can be used to diagnose lactose intolerance, Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease (inflammatory bowel disease), and IBS.
  • IgG Food Allergy testing detects antibodies produced by food allergies.
  • Digestive stool analysis can uncover problems with metabolic function, nutrient absorption, immune function, and digestive enzyme activity.
  • Intestinal permeability tests can detect leaky gut syndrome, which is linked to many physical and mental health issues.
  • Organic acids tests look for overgrowth of yeast and harmful intestinal bacteria.

Treatment for Digestive Dysfunction:

  • Remove yeast and other harmful organisms from your gut by eliminating the foods that they thrive on, including sugars and refined carbohydrates.
  • Eliminate common food allergens such as milk, soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and fish from the diet for 6 weeks, then reintroduce them slowly, one at a time, to uncover any food sensitivities you may have.
  • Repair leaky gut with nutrients that heal the intestinal lining, such as zinc, glutamine and essential fatty acids, such as Omega-3 and GLA.
  • Replace depleted digestive enzymes with daily supplements.
  • Replenish good bacteria with probiotics.
  • Repair inflammation in the gut caused by food allergies with daily quercitin, a plant-based flavonoid which has healing properties.

Following these simple steps may restore balance to your gut. Improving your digestive function can lead to increased mental clarity and a greatly improved sense of well-being and emotional balance.

Gut Brain Dysfunction Products

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  • Aller Food Allergy Test 96 Food Panel

    Aller Food Allergy Test 96 Food Panel

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  • Bacterial Overgrowth of the Small Intestine Test by Genova Diagnostics

    Bacterial Overgrowth of the Small Intestine Test by Genova Diagnostics

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  • Cyrex Array 2 Intestinal Permeability Screen

    Cyrex Array 2 Intestinal Permeability Screen

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  • Leaky Gut Repair Powder

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  • Super EPA

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  • Tri-Flora

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