Many problems throughout the body can be secretly caused by problems in the gut. You could have a problem in almost any organ system and it may be that the gut wasn’t checked because it didn’t seem related. But problems in the stomach and intestines can have far-reaching effects that may often be overlooked. There are really four ways that this can happen.
- There is something being put into the gut that is outright hurting it. This can be a true food allergy, a bad toxin, a particularly bad food for the gut, or a bug (bacteria, virus, parasite, or fungus. If this happens, then inflammation can go throughout the body. If the gut gets inflamed, then the brain gets inflamed as well as everything else. If the body is unable to stop the infection or if the toxin from the environment keeps getting into the system, the body will be inflamed for long periods of time and this can lead to a sick state for the person. The inflammation can literally go anywhere so it is impossible to say where you will see it.
- There are bad bacteria in the gut that are not supposed to be there or too few good bacteria in the gut that should be there. These bacteria help with the creation of different nutrients. They help you digest different nutrients and fiber and, even help make a couple of the neurotransmitters so that your brain and mood stay ok. They also help keep control over the bad guys in the gut. Sometimes people can have a small amount of E. Coli in their gut, but if their other good bacteria are on the job, then the E. Coli won’t be a threat. These good guys can be put off by bad diet, too many bad bugs from the outside, or extensive antibiotic use. Antibiotics are necessary many times but can wipe out your good bugs. If there is a problem with your good bacteria then you don’t take in nutrients like you should, you’re more susceptible to infections in there, and your mood isn’t right because you can’t make neurotransmitters like you should be able to.
- Your stomach acid and digestive enzymes are not in order. If you aren’t digesting metals like iron then you can get anemia leading to fatigue and many other things. If you aren’t digesting protein then you can have trouble with neurotransmitters. If you aren’t digesting carbs you can have trouble with energy. And if you aren’t digesting fat then you can have trouble with weight loss, hormones, energy, and constipation.
- If your gut gets increased permeability (Popularly called ‘Leaky Gut’), then all of the above can get worse and become a self-perpetuating cycle. The gut has very small holes in its lining. These allow nutrients to get through. If the gut gets inflamed for one of these above reasons then the holes can get bigger. They get bigger until they’re too big. At this point, certain undigested foods and proteins that shouldn’t be allowed in start getting in through the bigger holes. This causes your immune system to have an “allergic reaction.” I use quotations because this isn’t a true allergy. Your body is only allergic to it because it’s getting through the gate. This is why sometimes a perfect diet is not enough because it has gotten to a point where the process self-perpetuates. This is also why people with ‘leaky gut’ can have a huge number of food allergies. The food gets through the big hole, inflammation happens, causing the holes to get bigger, causing normal food to get through the holes. So the above three problems might have been there but you fixed them. But how bad you’re feeling is still there because the gut has gotten so ‘leaky’ that it is maintaining that increased permeability.
As you can see, many things can go wrong with the gut. And many of those things can have multiple causes within themselves. Be sure to work with someone who understands the ins and outs of integrative nutrition for Gut Health and all of the ways that the gut can go wrong.