Scientists have long studied the link between our genes and our health. Now, in a growing area of scientific research, they are studying the link between a healthy gut and the bacteria in our intestines, for virtually every disease that affects us. Keep reading to learn about some of the signs that indicate a diseased intestine that you should be treating and that you may be mistaking for something else.
The esophagus, intestines, mouth, and stomach are constituent parts of the gastrointestinal (GI) system, or intestine. The main tasks of the intestine are to process food, absorb nutrients, regulate the immune system, and balance the mix of GI bacteria.
As recently as a few years ago, scientists and others in the medical community had a somewhat limited perspective on the effects of the gut on our overall health. However, a proliferating amount of research has linked a diseased or troubled gut (eg, "Leaky Gut Syndrome") to a host of health problems, from allergies to rheumatoid arthritis.
Today, most experts within the medical community affirm the tremendous impact that a properly functioning gut has on our overall health and well-being. This consensus can be attributed to a more complete understanding of the human microbial system, or microbiome.
The University of Utah Genetic Sciences Learning Center describes the "micro-interactions" of microbes:
“Microbes interact in communities, and they respond to their environment. Like organisms in Earth's ecosystems, our microbial populations vary their changes in the environment… manipulating these interactions can help physicians understand and manage disease. "
10 signs of a diseased gut
Our intestines contain a disproportionately high number of microbes, and they are essential to fight disease-causing agents such as bacteria and viruses. As such, preserving intestinal health is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy mind and body.
1. Feeling anxious, discouraged, or depressed
It seems strange to link our gut with emotions. But did you know that 70 percent of your body's serotonin is in your gut? Low serotonin levels have been linked to unstable moods, depression, and physiological functions such as digestion (of course), eating, and sleeping.
2. Cravings for sugar-laden foods
Leptin and ghrelin are proteins that act similar to hormones that stabilize appetite - and our intestinal bacteria secrete many of them.
These proteins influence our food cravings, so if you eat a lot of sugar, the bacteria adapt to this unhealthy type of sustenance. As a result, your gut wants you to give it its daily dose of sugar. Correcting intestinal problems can kill the bacteria that cause sugar cravings.
3. Pre-diabetes or diabetes
In a study published in the journal Endocrinology Connections, three Russian scientists demonstrate a connection between the microbiota of the large intestine and the presence and potential development of type 2 diabetes.
Some intestinal bacteria elicit an immune response that "causes inflammation throughout the body, including the liver and fat cells that can affect overall metabolism and liver sensitivity."
4. Skin problems due to a diseased intestine
Skin rashes and chronic skin condition with eczema may suggest a problem in the gut, specifically an imbalance in bacteria. Leaky gut, a condition where food particles "escape" from the gut instead of being digested, can cause inflammation and suppress the immune system. Inflammation, of course, is most evident on the surface of the skin.
5. Digestive problems
Acute intestinal problems such as bloating, diarrhea and gas, can mean an imbalance in intestinal bacteria. Irregular bowel movements or gas can indicate low levels of acid in the stomach, adversely affecting your ability to break down food.
6. Autoimmune disease or suppressed immunity
Leaky gut and gluten intolerance are often cited as catalysts for autoimmune conditions. Intestinal problems can manifest themselves in acute and chronic medical conditions.
"There is growing evidence that increased intestinal permeability plays a pathogenic role in various autoimmune diseases, including celiac disease and type 1 diabetes.
7. Food allergies or increased sensitivity to food
Food intolerances (for example, lactose intolerance) are almost always the by-product of a leaky gut. Remember that a leaky gut does not digest all food properly. Instead of staying within the closed loop of the intestine, food leaves the intestines and enters the bloodstream.
When this food "escapes", the body interprets it as a threat and initiates an immune response. The development or worsening of food allergies and sudden sensitivity to certain foods may indicate a problem.
8. Bad breath
Halitosis is the medical term used to chronically describe bad breath. A microbial imbalance in the gut can be carried to other areas of the body, including the mouth. Disparities or fluctuations in the intestinal flora make the body increasingly susceptible to conditions that cause bad breath (for example, kidney disease or diabetes).
9. Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
Falling and falling asleep problems are indicators of some chemical imbalance in the brain. As mentioned, our gut stores and regulates serotonin - a neurotransmitter essential for inducing and regulating sleep patterns.
When serotonin is lacking or out of balance, it can lead to bouts of insomnia or trouble getting to sleep.
10. Fluctuating weight
Some gut bacteria promote weight loss, and not the good kind. Excess amounts of microbes within the small intestine, for example, can disrupt the absorption of fat, minerals, and vitamins.
The following meal plan provides options for 7 days of meals and snacks. The plan consists of nutrient-dense whole foods. A person should determine the appropriate portion sizes, according to their weight loss goals, activity levels, and individual requirements.