The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, once said that all disease begins in the gut. Though his belief was born more than 2,000 years ago, many scientists support his theory to this day. In fact, researchers are still uncovering new links between intestinal health and certain types of diseases. While it’s true that not all afflictions originate in the GI tract, most health experts now agree that a leaky gut could be responsible for many types of chronic conditions. Let’s take a closer look at what that means.
The Importance of Gut Health
The human intestinal tract is home to as many as 500 unique species of bacteria. Many of these are considered “good” bacteria: they aid in digestion, process nutrients, and help your body fight off bacteria. Maintaining harmony among these bacteria is therefore critically important to a person’s overall wellness. When the balance is altered, it causes a condition called dysbiosis.
The condition can be as mild as an upset stomach which corrects itself, but in its more advanced form, it can produce chronic symptoms such as constipation, nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue. Overgrowth of a single bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, can cause conditions such as staph infections. This bacterial imbalance may also lead to leaky gut syndrome.
The Role of Gut Lining
When the ratio of good-to-bad gut bacteria is off-kilter, unwanted bacteria called endotoxins may leak through the intestinal lining and make their way into the bloodstream. The immune system registers the bacteria as foreign bodies and attacks them, causing chronic inflammation. It is suspected that this ongoing inflammatory reaction caused by intestinal permeability could be linked to serious illnesses, including fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes. Leaky gut is also suspected to be related to chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis, as well as allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, and gastric ulcers.
How to Promote a Healthier Gut
Unfortunately, achieving a balanced intestinal microbiome isn’t always as simple as maintaining a healthy diet. While limiting the intake of processed foods and alcohol could help (and delivers additional health benefits anyhow), there are other factors at play. Everything from the compounds in our tap water to antibiotics alters our gut bacteria, so many people need a more powerful solution for effectively restoring healthy gut flora.
If you suffer from symptoms suggestive of dysbiosis, including diarrhea, bloating, reflux, constipation, or other forms of stomach irritation, it’s a good idea to seek help from a functional medicine doctor. Professionals can assess your symptoms and may order a diagnostic test such as a hydrogen breath test, comprehensive digestive stool analysis, or organic acids test to check for bacterial imbalances.
In the meantime, there are solutions available for stimulating the development of healthy gut bacteria, such as taking probiotics and using bovine colostrum. Rich in gut-healing immunoglobulins, these solutions are simply mixed with water and consumed twice daily on an empty stomach. After continued use, colostrum has been proven to modulate immune function and fight off infectious processes.