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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.
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.
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”.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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