Acid reflux, indigestion, bloating, cramping, constipation or diarrhoea are all signs that something is wrong with the function of your gut. Many people put up with gut problems because they have lived with them for many years and to them, it normal. Left unchecked, chronic gut problems can lead to conditions like IBS, SIBO, Leaky Gut, malnutrition, vitamin B12 deficiency, fatigue, mood disorders and more. In my Beenleigh clinic, situated halfway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, the vast majority of people that I treat have gut problems. If you have anxiety, it is highly likely that you have a gut problem and if you have a gut problem you will likely have some degree of anxiety. Gut health is critical for overall well-being and a gut health test is a great way to get answers.
Your stomach acid is meant to be the hellfire that destroys all pathogens that enter the digestive tract. It also breaks down proteins that are later re-assembled to repair tissue, make neurotransmitters and hormones and act as enzymes.
However many people have poor quality stomach acid due to poor diet, eating too quickly, not properly chewing food and diluting the acid by drinking while eating. This can lead to heartburn, acid reflux or indigestion and the temptation to use antacids to treat the symptoms. Unfortunately the use of antacids and reflux medications in the long term only serve to increase the pH level of stomach acid making it even less effective at digesting.
Poor quality stomach acid can also lead to iron deficiency anemia, pernicious anemia (B12 deficiency), anxiety, gastritis, bloating, allergies, asthma, eczema, rosacea, osteoporosis and autoimmune conditions.This is why I always focus on gut health (and stomach) when I treat any condition. This is also why I recommend doing a gut health test.
Does what you eat affect your mood?
Neurotransmitters are signalling molecules that send messages between synapses and are made from proteins broken down to amino acids. Around 80% of neurotransmitters like serotonin, are made in the gut by your intestinal bacteria. Stress, poor diet, poor digestion and absorption and toxins can lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeast (SIBO) which can cause acid reflux, bloating, constipation and or diarrhoea. This can in turn can lead to increased intestinal permeability AKA leaky gut. When your gut health is out of balance so is your mood.
Neurotransmitter depletion can affect your mood and even lead to anxiety and depression, as well as affecting the quality and length of sleep.
When we are faced with a crossroads or major decision our friends might ask “what does your gut say?”. They will advise you to ‘go with your gut’. Indeed, when we feel nervous you may experience ‘butterflies in your tummy’ and if it all goes wrong it is said to be ‘gut wrenching’. So, is our gut trying to tell us something? The answer is yes and the reason is because the gut and the brain are connected and is another reason for the importance of optimal gut health.
Gut Health and the Gut Brain Axis
The central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the enteric nervous system (gut) are connected by a bidirectional communication system called the Gut Brain Axis. This axis links both the cognitive and emotional centers of the brain to intestinal functions. Studies have shown that the microbes within the gut and the brain are connected via neural, humoral, endocrine and immune links.
Microbiome and gut health
The Microbiome is a huge collection of microbes such as bacteria, viruses and fungi that live in our digestive tract. There are 100 trillion individual microbes with an estimated 3.3 million genes in the microbiome genome. The human genome on the other hand only has 23,000 genes by comparison. This vast colony of microbes makes up between 70-80% of your immune system (depending upon which research source you accept). It is the site where vitamins and nutrients are absorbed and synthesized; where short chain fatty acids (food for microbes) are produced and where our neurotransmitters such as serotonin are produced. Bloating and constipation are sure signs that your microbiome needs help.
So, you can see from this that the human microbiome is an essential part of your gut health and crucial to the optimal functioning of our bodies to the point where some scholars now refer to the microbiome as an organ in its own right.
Along the inside of the hollow tube of the gut is a one cell thick layer of cells called enterocytes. These enterocytes have little finger like projections called microvilli which increase the surface area of the intestinal tract and catch proteins, fats and nutrients which are then absorbed into the enterocyte cells. These enterocytes are joined closely together by aptly called tight junctions. These cells and their secretions form a defense barrier that separates our internal environment from the external.
When you have poor gut health these tight junctions become weakened and start to separate allowing particles and pathogens to move between the cells and into the blood stream. This condition is referred to as increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut. The inflammation caused by this condition along with the poorly digested proteins and pathogens that enter the blood stream can be a precursor to chronic health conditions such as autoimmune disease (multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and mental illness.
The main driver of leaky gut is a poor diet. Processed foods, high in sugar, trans-fats and additives and low in nutrients and fibre are known to initiate the inflammation process and upset the balance of the intestinal microbiome leading to bloating and constipation.
SIBO leads to bloating and constipation
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) occurs when there is an increased bacterial colonization of the small intestine from the bowel. This can result in symptoms of acid reflux, bloating, distension, gas, diarrhoea or constipation. Skin irritations and joint pain are common with SIBO as the condition leads to inflammation and malabsorption of nutrients. Gut inflammation and dysbiosis of the microbiota can lead to an immune response and malabsorption of nutrients can alter the production of neurotransmitters which may alter brain function resulting in altered mood, impaired cognition, anxiety and depression.
Gut Health Test
What gut health test do I use? The Complete Microbiome Map is a simple and non-invasive stool test that you can do from the comfort of your home. After a comprehensive one hour consultation I provide you with the kit and instructions on how to use it.
The test identifies the state of GIT functional markers such as Calprotectin, Pancreatic Elastase, Faecal Secretory IgA, Faecal Zonulin, Faecal B-Glucuronidase, Steatocrit and anti-gliadin IgA. It also identifies pathogens such as parasites, worms, pathogenic bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeast that need to be addressed. The status of beneficial bacterial strains is measured along with the status of short chain fatty acids which are the main source of energy for your but microbiome.
Initial consultation, Complete Microbiome Test and follow up consultation $620 Schedule Appointment