WE ARE ONLY AS HEALTHY AS THE FOOD WE CAN DIGEST
This means that if the gut isn’t functioning well (optimally) then it really doesn’t matter how good the food is that we eat. We will have deficiencies. This is why GUT Health is a major corner stone for optimal health.
- Endocrine system: depends on essential nutrients (healthy hormones) in order to function properly.
- Immune system: highly dependent on the gut for proper functioning.
- Nervous System: again, highly dependent on the gut for proper functioning. In fact, there are more nerve cells in the gut than in the brain
- Motility, secretion, nutrient delivery, microbial balance
- Neurotransmitters, stress, anxiety, mood, behavior
- Hypothalamus: gland in the brain which produces CRH
- Anterior Pituitary: gland in the brain which produces ACTH
- Adrenal Cortex: Endocrine gland (on the kidneys) which produces cortisol
So “at the end of the day” in relation to the gut, cortisol affects:
- How the colon moves
- What it absorbs
- How much and what kind of mucus it produces
- The microbiome and can slow down the entire system to enable the body to be able to deal with stress and what not
This stress response helps the human being to survive in a life threatening situation. The habitual stress response, say due to a relationship issue or unhappy job, can greatly impact gut health and overall health negatively.
Interesting side note: the stress response, as shown above, impacts gut health. The opposite is true. You can develop leaking gut which in term allows gut flora can affect the HPA axis in a negative way. Additionally, bad bacteria and fungus can affect all of the functions mentioned above. This becomes a vicious (aka VICIOUS) circle. Downward spiral. Perfect storm.
The Gut and Nervous System are INTIMATELY connected.
Insulin and Blood Sugar Management: a healthy GI track helps the blood sugar management system. An unhealthy GI tract can increase insulin insensitive. For the endurance athlete specifically, this can negatively impact burning fat for fuel. So sugar cravings go up and belly fact sticks around or becomes more prevalent.
Estrogen: Your gut flora can influence your levels of estrogen. Estrobolome, a gut bacteria, produces or breaks down estrogen. The liver breaks down estrogen (or deactivates) and sends it into the GI tract to “get rid of”. Unfriendly gut bacteria can reactivate inactive this estrogen. This can impact estrogen/progesterone balance. (Or affect testosterone levels). Also, the stomach produces estrogen-like molecules. Which increases appetite. It is so interesting in that when someone consumes BPA, which produces an estrogen like molecule, even in the presence of food, the appetite increases. So please avoid plastic produces that have BPA.
Progesterone / Testosterone: Hormonal balance is affected by Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) which is a toxin produced by unfriendly gut bacteria. LPS has more of an impact when LEAKY gut is present, as LPS crosses the gut barrier and can affect ovaries and decrease progesterone production. Which affects the ever important balance of estrogen to progesterone. LPS may also play a role in PCOS by increasing insulin and testosterone levels. Additionally, LSP has been shown to negatively impact the immune system and be a contributing factor to many autoimmune disorders.
Thyroid Gland: LPS may also affect Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Again, this goes back to the research on how unfriendly bacteria impact the immune system and the cascade affect of that. You can think of it like, the LPS causes the body’s immune system to attack itself.
Uterus / Endometriosis: Endometrial lesions (uterine cells growing elsewhere) interfere with the gut’s ability to keep waste products moving, contributing to SIBO and microbiome imbalance. It does this in that these lesions are sticky and cause parts of the bowel to stick together, to the abdominal wall or other organs.
Continue to Part 2 for the Basic Gut Health Protocol