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Gut Feeling

World Digestive Health Day

If you’ve got tummy troubles, you may be interested to know that it’s World Digestive Health Day today. But what if you don’t? It might be hard to believe, but the state of your gut affects EVERY aspect of your health, from weight loss and immunity to mood and skin health. Furthermore, if you’re trying to get pregnant, you need to know this, too, to safeguard your baby’s future.

There are a myriad of symptoms and conditions that are linked to digestive issues. Much of the problems arise from dysbiosis, which is where the levels of bacteria in the gut are out of balance. That might mean there are too many ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut or simply insufficient numbers of the protective, ‘good’ bacteria.

Ten Reasons To Take Care Of Your Gut

Hold that concept in mind while I run you through ten reasons you’ll want to take care of your gut – even if you don’t experience symptoms of digestive distress.

1. Hormone Balance

If you have any conditions linked to too much oestrogen, like endometriosis or fibroids, you should know that if you have dysbiosis, instead of getting rid of it, the body is likely to keep recirculating oestrogen tagged for detoxification. The more oestrogen in your system, the worse your gynae symptoms are likely to be.

In fact, if there is any hormone imbalance of any kind, the gut is a key piece of the jigsaw if you are looking for a solution. It’s worth noting, too, that if your gut is not good, menopause symptoms will be evil!

2. Obesity

An imbalanced gut is bad news if you’re trying to lose weight. Oestrogen is an obesogen, which means it can make you gain weight. If your gut bacteria are out of balance, you could absorb 15% more calories from your food.

3. Cravings

There’s also a growing amount of research that suggests your gut bacteria actually influence food cravings and metabolism, too.

4. Immunity

Listen up if you’re that person who is always ill or gets everything worse than everyone else. About 75% of your immunity is governed by your gut. If your digestive system is healthy, chances are you will be generally healthier, too.

5. Skin

Not happy with your skin? Eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, acne are just a few skin issues linked to poor gut health. Much of this is down to permeability of the gut (sometimes called ‘leaky gut’).  This is when your digestive tract is damaged and things that shouldn’t normally pass through are now able to, like bad bacteria, gluten proteins and other undigested food particles, causing widespread inflammation and a huge array of heath problems.

6. Allergies and Intolerances

Additionally, this is true for hay fever and food intolerance, too, for very similar reasons.

7. Mood

The state of your digestive system is important for regulating your mood and for your mental health. The gut is often referred to as the ‘second brain’. That’s because, embedded in your intestinal wall are 500 million neurons that make up your enteric nervous system (ENS). Your ENS plays an important role in the production of 30 different neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters, like serotonin, are chemicals responsible for regulating mood. At the very extreme end of the spectrum, an imbalance of bacteria in the gut has also been shown to be a factor in autism, ADHD and other brain conditions, such as epilepsy.

8. Autoimmunity

If you have any kind of autoimmune disease you will want to get your gut sorted out because, where you have one of these conditions, the door is open to any of the others. There are over 200 autoimmune conditions, but some of the most common include Hashimoto’s disease (underactive thyroid), rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, coeliac disease, type 1 diabetes, systemic lupus, pernicious anaemia, and so on.  There are a number of potential causes of autoimmune disease,  but “leaky gut” or intestinal permeability is considered a front-runner.

9. Bad Breath

Bad breath is typically linked to dysbiosis or bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. Candida, a yeast in the gut, is linked to athlete’s foot and thrush. Additionally, candida has a giant list of other possible symptoms. These include mysterious aches and pains, that feeling of being hung over when you’re not, depression, fatigue, anxiety and brain fog as well as a host of tummy issues.

10. Fertility

If baby making is on your mind, you need to know that the little person you grow will get your gut immunity. If you have a healthy and balanced gut environment, then they will too. As the mother, you are the gate keeper to your child’s health. That’s because, in pregnancy, you set your baby’s inflammatory set point. If your gut flora is out of balance, there’s a 15% increased risk of gestational diabetes and also a higher risk for group B strep.

 

What to do next

I wonder how many of those points resonated with you? Help is at hand if any of these are the case. Maybe you already know that I offer 1:1 nutritional therapy sessions where we can work together on sorting out any of the above. And I offer a free 30 minute call to discuss whether nutritional therapy is right for you.  Book your free call here: http://bit.ly/tnt-bookcall

I just want to leave you with one final thought now you know what you know about how gut affects everything about your health… If you’re in the cinema and you see smoke, you don’t wait till you spot the fire…

 

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I-B-S

IBS

As April is IBS Awareness month, let’s talk about it.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a problem I see so often in clinic. And it is problematic on many different levels. If you have been diagnosed with this condition, you may well have been suffering with it for years.  While a diagnosis can – at first– offer comfort in finally having a recognised problem, the satisfaction is short-lived because often that’s where all support ends. You’re left no further forward in actually fixing what the problem is. Or worse, they are told “it’s due to stress so learn to manage the stress” and then left to get on with it.

Stress

And yes, stress is an exacerbating factor for many people.  I see it as a “perfect storm” for many – one or more things has gone wrong with their digestive system and they may limp along for a while without many major symptoms – or at least nothing too disruptive to their lives.  And WHAM! A stressful event occurs and suddenly their IBS becomes a very debilitating condition causing some people to miss work; to start restricting foods to the point they are eating a very limited diet; and to avoid going out so they don’t need to be far from a toilet.

(would you believe that April is also Stress Awareness Month?)

What is IBS?

The difficulty begins because IBS is essentially meaningless; it’s a catch-all term used to encompass a huge variety of digestive issues. If you’re serious about getting to the bottom of the problem (no pun intended), get in touch. I’m happy to discuss your symptoms and help find a way forward. You can book a free IBS health check with me by clicking here http://bit.ly/tnt-bookcall.

In my experience, it’s likely to be one of the following five conditions.

 1 SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth)

Around 60% of people with IBS will have SIBO. Though you might have heard about good (and bad) bacteria in the gut, really what experts are talking about is the balance of bacteria in the large intestine: the colon. The small intestine shouldn’t have any bacteria.

Each day the body should perform a flush to sweep bacteria from the small intestine and into the large intestine. This flush is called the ‘migrating motor complex’. For a huge variety of reasons (historic food poisoning being the most common, but also low levels of stomach acid or adhesions play a role, among others) the bacteria are not swept away. The trouble is that these bacteria can ferment the food in your small intestine, causing gas, belching, bloating, pain and a variety of other symptoms, including constipation and/or loose stools, and even anxiety.

A breath test can establish which gases are present, and we can devise an action plan based on your results.

2 Lactose intolerance

This is when your body is not able to tolerate lactose, a type of sugar found naturally in milk and other dairy products. Essentially, bacteria in your intestine feed on these milk sugars, leading to a host of IBS symptoms, like bloating and gas, nausea, constipation or diarrhoea. It can go hand in hand with other digestive complaints, such as coeliac disease or increased intestinal permeability at a microscopic level (‘leaky gut’).  A simple at-home breath test can determine lactose intolerance.

3 Fructose malabsorption

The symptoms are very similar to lactose intolerance. Fructose (which is found in fruit, honey and many processed foods) is a sugar, which, like lactose, is digested in the small intestine. Some people cannot absorb fructose, and what is not absorbed is fermented by intestinal bacteria, causing bloating, cramping, gas and distension of the stomach. You might also experience brain fog and headaches. A breath test will detect this condition.

4 Dysbiosis

This is an imbalance in the levels of beneficial (good) and pathogenic (bad) bacteria in the large intestine or colon. This is now common due to overuse of antibiotics and alcohol, an increase in high sugar diets, and stress. Symptoms can vary from a sluggish bowel or diarrhoea, pain, bloating and flatulence, to chronic bad breath, joint pain, and fatigue and food sensitivities. Dysbiosis is also implicated in a variety of health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity. A stool test can help establish whether your gut bacteria are out of balance.  It can also show a host of other markers that might be useful in getting to the root of your digestive problems.

5 Yeast overgrowth

Where the gut environment becomes out of balance (due to dysbiosis), yeast can thrive. Diets high in sugar feed the yeast. Although if you think you might have a yeast overgrowth, it’s worth noting that long-term yeast problems can mean that the yeast cells are pathogenic or disease causing.  The yeast has switched its metabolism to also be able to digest protein and fat. Symptoms of yeast overgrowth include recurring thrush, gas or bloating, fatigue, bad breath, cravings for sweet foods, joint pain and brain fog. A stool test can establish the presence of candida or other yeast overgrowth.

 

Some people struggle with digestive problems for years. If you are ready to make fixing your gut health a priority, I would love to work with you. Please click the link here http://bit.ly/tnt-bookcall to book your free IBS health check now.