A healthy gut is regarded as central to the overall health and balance of the body in many medical traditions, including naturopathic, Ayurvedic, Chinese, and functional medicine. The GI tract is responsible not only for digestion and absorption of nutrients, but functions in protection from infection, immunity, neurotransmitter production, detoxification and elimination of waste, hormone balance, maintaining a healthy weight, and more.
Pregnant women pass their flora onto their new babies at birth, so having a healthy microbiome is essential to laying a healthy foundation.
According to the Gut Foundation, half of all Australians will experience digestive problems in any 12 month period. That is half of the population living with the symptoms of a digestive system in distress. Symptoms can appear as diarrhoea, constipation, gas, bloating, reflux or cramping but we can also look outside of the gut for gut-related symptoms. This is where many people become confused and don’t realise the origin of the problem lies in their digestive tract. These symptoms include acne, rashes, hives, depression, anxiety, headaches, brain fog, fatigue, hormone imbalances, autoimmunity, food intolerances, frequent infections and asthma. This is the perfect example of looking at the body as a whole instead of focusing in on the area that is expressing poor or irregular function. While some skin conditions can be remedied topically it is often in the digestive tract that the root issue exists.
If not addressed at an early stage, these symptoms can progress to Chrone’s disease, coeliac disease, ulcerative colitis, chronic candida as well as other auto immune diseases.
The functional medicine model allows us to identify the causes, triggers, and mediating factors that allow gut dysfunction to occur. The most significant sources are often stress, infections, diet and nutrient imbalances, but all possibilities need to be investigated. Addressing these will remove the insults, restore physiology and balance, not only to the gut, but the entire body, allowing you to feel your best again.