Our guts tell us a lot, and when we listen, 9 times out of 10, our guts are right! The microbiome provides a multitude of benefits to the host, such as shaping the immune system, protecting against pathogens, breaking down metabolites, and maintaining a healthy barrier2.
- “Listen to your gut”
- “Gut instinct”
- “Follow your gut”
- “Gut feeling”
It is Hippocrates who said “All disease begins in the gut.”
Our gut health is a very important piece to our overall wellness and quality of life and may be the key to prevention of chronic disease and symptom development. There are obvious signs of gut dysfunction or poor gut health like:
- Abdominal discomfort/pain
- Food intolerance
- Acid reflux or heartburn
But what about less obvious signs of poor gut health?
Poor gut health is linked to many chronic health conditions and less obvious symptoms. Because our gut plays such a huge role in our immune function, imbalances in our microbiome and permeability of our gastrointestinal mucosal membrane can throw our immune system in disarray leading to a variety of symptoms and diagnoses.
Let’s check it out!
- Autoimmune disease: The microbiome is a key regulator for the immune system, as it aims to maintain homeostasis by communicating with tissues and organs in a bidirectional manner. Our guts house 2/3rds of our immune system known as the GALT (gut associated lymphoid tissue). The GALT houses mesenteric lymph nodes and adaptive immune cells such as B and T lymphocytes as well as mast cells. It is in the GALT where these immune cells undergo initial priming and differentiation to promote mucosal barrier integrity and protective immunity for the entire host3. Autoimmune disease is characterized by an imbalance in the microbiome composition leading to a permeable mucosal lining, leaky gut, triggering the immune system to attack host tissue through various pathogenic mechanisms such as molecular mimicry and the development of immune complexes.
- Allergies Allergies to foods and the environment are associated with a dysregulated immune system and a permeable intestinal membrane I.e. leaky gut. Allergic reactions are stimulated by our immune system seeing a “foreign invader” and responding with large amounts of mast cells which bring histamine to the site. Histamine causes itching, swelling, and anxiety. A dysfunctional immune system will over-respond and cause large amounts of immune mediators to react resulting in exaccerbated reactions to environmental allergens, bug bites and foods. A large amount of mast cells reside in the GI tract.
- Frequent infections: The gut microbiome, and the bugs in our guts, regulate our immune responses. A deficient microbiome, overgrown microbiome or imbalanced microbiome leads to an impaired immune response I.e. a confused immune system that “misses” invaders allowing infections to occur. The immune system in a way has its “blinders” on.
- Chronic fatigue: A hyper-responsive immune system and leaky gut (permeable intestinal membrane) is a definite contributor to chronic fatigue. Your body is constantly fighting when the gut microbiome is out of balance activating our immune system and keeping your body in fight or flight. This leads to insomnia, increased stress, pain, and fatigue.
- Skin problems: The skin has its own microbiome that is greatly affected by the intestinal microbiome and the GALT. The skin also has its own membrane of defense made up of keratin, mucosae, a low pH, and sebum that contains beneficial microbes and antimicrobial molecules2. When the gastrointestinal mucosal lining becomes damaged by pathogens, foods, or toxins and allows these molecules to enter the bloodstream, I.e. leaky gut, this leads to host immune dysfunction. These molecules that escape through a leaky gut can directly interact with skin receptors and affect the skin microbiome leading to diagnoses like eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, acne, etc.
- Mental health changes: There is a growing body of research suggesting a connection between the gut and the brain. This connection is mediated by the enteric nervous system and the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is involved in the control of mood, immune response, digestion, and heart rate1. It runs from our brain stem, down our neck, our chest (heart), innervates the diaphragm and finally our GI tract. Inflammation in the gut stops messages from our vagus nerve leading to symptoms of vagus nerve impairment or blockage like anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Not to mention our neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin are synthesized in our GI tract. Imbalanced levels of these neurotransmitters, as well as decreased vitamin and mineral synthesis and absorption, can lead to mood disorders like anxiety and depression as well as bipolar disorder.
- Weight changes: This is all about inflammation. A leaky gut leads to system wide inflammation in the body which increases cortisol causing fluid retention and increased appetite leading to weight gain. This increase in cortisol further can lead to thyroid dysfunction and hormone dysregulation.
- Nutritional deficiencies: The bugs in our guts not only help us digest our food but they help us synthesize and absorb our vitamins and minerals like our B vitamins – thiamine, folate, biotin, riboflavin, and panthothenic acid – ferritin, fatty acids, and vitamin K to name a few4.
Wow! Our guts do A LOT!
We are more microbe than man! We have many different “microbiomes” from our skin, our nasal passages, our oral microbiome and our guts. Our gut is a master regulator of our immune system and any insult can lead to a dysregulation of our other microbiomes leading to disease and symptom development.
If you suffer from symptoms that could be related to the health of your gut schedule a FREE consult today to find out how we can help!
Gut Health Expert in Melbourne Beach, Florida
If you have gut health issues are playing a part in your current health and are looking to improve your health for the long term schedule a FREE consult here to discuss how we can help! We are located in Sunny Melbourne Beach, Florida.
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- Breit S, Kupferberg A, Rogler G, Hasler G. Vagus Nerve as Modulator of the Brain-Gut Axis in Psychiatric and Inflammatory Disorders. Front Psychiatry. 2018 Mar 13;9:44. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00044. PMID: 29593576; PMCID: PMC5859128.
- De Pessemier B, Grine L, Debaere M, Maes A, Paetzold B, Callewaert C. Gut-Skin Axis: Current Knowledge of the Interrelationship between Microbial Dysbiosis and Skin Conditions. Microorganisms. 2021 Feb 11;9(2):353. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9020353. PMID: 33670115; PMCID: PMC7916842.
- Mörbe, U.M., Jørgensen, P.B., Fenton, T.M. et al. Human gut-associated lymphoid tissues (GALT); diversity, structure, and function. Mucosal Immunol 14, 793–802 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41385-021-00389-4
- Morowitz MJ, Carlisle EM, Alverdy JC. Contributions of intestinal bacteria to nutrition and metabolism in the critically ill. Surg Clin North Am. 2011 Aug;91(4):771-85, viii. doi: 10.1016/j.suc.2011.05.001. PMID: 21787967; PMCID: PMC3144392.