Your Gut Calls The Shot: Four ways your gut impacts your whole body

Wellness begins in the gut

The gut is the short name for the gastrointestinal tract, also known as the GI tract, which is part of the digestive system. The GI tract or gut is like a twisted tunnel made of a series of hollow organs separated from one another very purposefully. These organs include the mouth, Pharynx (throat), esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus. The health of each of these organs and what happens inside are crucial for your overall health.

Here are five ways your gut impacts your whole body

  1. Entryway of nutrients

Every function in the body is nutrients dependent, and the gut is the entryway for nutrients to nourish each cell. The famous saying “you are what you eat” is a little too simplified, considering that you can’t get much from your food unless you can properly digest it. So, you are not what you eat, but you are what you eat, digest, and absorb. Unfortunately, many things can interfere with this process that we often take for granted, thus affecting the availability of nutrients. Therefore, we need a healthy functioning gut and good nutrient-dense foods to maintain good health.

2. Exit path of toxins and waste

The gut is also the exit path of most toxins and waste. This includes toxins from outside the body and debris from all the metabolic processes in the body. The body constantly maintains the right level of hormones and neurotransmitters by breaking down and retaining certain by-products while also getting rid of others. For example, suppose the liver is not functioning optimally. Or we have an overgrowth of certain microbes in the small intestines, lack specific B vitamins or certain amino acids in our diet. In this case, that process will not work very well. This is an example of how we can end up with hormone imbalance because of gastrointestinal dysfunction.

Furthermore, having a daily bowel movement is crucial for a healthy gut and overall body, and most traditional societies worldwide understand this. I remember growing up, every time I told my mom that I wasn’t feeling well, her first question was to know when was my last bowel movement. Today we know that the longer toxins sit in our colon, the more likely they are to be reabsorbed and/or damage the colon and create disease. The challenge that we have is to be able to balance nutrients absorption with toxins excretion. Chronic diarrhea and constipation are symptoms of GI dysfunction that impact the whole body.

3. Home to 2/3 of the immune system

The gut plays a vital role in the complex mechanisms of immune regulation. It houses tens of trillions of microbes, along with a vast number of immune cells. The balance in the number and diversity of bacteria in your gut helps keep your immune system adequately primed and maintain proper intestinal permeability. You don’t want your immune system to be underactive, where it doesn’t react appropriately to pathogens or simmering viruses. But at the same time, you don’t wish to have a hyperactive immune system and over-reactive, as we so often see in the case of autoimmune disease, allergies, or chronic inflammatory dynamics. We’re looking for balance, and the health of our microbial friends in the gut is crucial for that balance.

Also, we are symbiotic with our microbial friends in the gut. They make vitamins like vitamin K2 that we don’t make otherwise. They make digestive enzymes that our pancreas and our brush border do not create. They generate short-chain fatty acids and help to neutralize and excrete toxins from the GI tract. So, as you can see, we are highly dependent on the thriving of our microbial partners.

4. Houses its own nervous system

We have an entire nervous system in our gut known as the enteric nervous system (ENS), also referred to as the enteric brain. It has more neurons than the spinal cord and is the primary generator of neurotransmitters used throughout the body. Have you noticed that sometimes when you sense fear, you feel it in your tummy and may even have diarrhea? I have experienced it many times 😊. When the brain perceives a reason to be stressed or in fear, we do indeed “feel” it in our gut and the rest of the body (goosebumps, shivering). Gut feelings are real!

The enteric nervous system (ENS) makes more than 90% of the body’s serotonin and 50% dopamine. This means that sound sleep, pain regulation, balanced mood, our ability to focus, control our muscles, learn new habits, and have good memory are highly influenced by our gut health. If you struggle with any of these things, make sure to assess and optimize your gut health. The gut and the brain are highly connected. Microbial imbalances and inflammation in the gut can all contribute to “neurological” issues such as anxiety and depression.

Final Thoughts

Hippocrates says centuries ago, “All disease begins in the gut”. Today scientists have confirmed and established that wellness also begins in the gut, as your gut plays a crucial role in your overall health. Suppose you often experience digestive distress such as acid reflux, bloating, excessive flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, or pain after eating. In that case, chances are your gut needs some help. Most people take over-the-counter medications to manage these symptoms. However, addressing the root causes will help you feel better and break-free from your need for drugs.

Over the years, I have work with other people in your situation to help them optimize their gut health using functional medicine principles. To find out how I can help you, please, book a FREE 15-minute discovery call with me HERE.


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