Healing Your Gut
Jul 01, 2014 01:15PM
By Rebecca Hunton, MD
Did you know your gastrointestinal tract is 30-feet long and has the surface area of a singles tennis court? Did you know that over 60% of the human immune system lines it? Or that it has direct nerve and neurotransmitter connections to the brain? How about that there are more bacteria cells living within us than we have cells in our entire human body? Is it a surprise that there is more DNA in those bacteria than we have in ourselves? We call this collection of bacteria the human microbiome. Humankind has unknowingly disrupted this delicate balance over the last 100 years. The consequences of this imbalance are implicated in autoimmune disease, allergy and eczema, increased susceptibility to infection, increased inflammation, diabetes and heart disease, cancer, MS and others. And this doesn’t include the irritable bowel symptoms you may or may not be having. Finally, we are often overfed and malnourished as a healthy intestine and microbiome are essential to our production and assimilation of vitamins and nutrients. However, there is hope.
Humankind has unknowingly disrupted this delicate balance over the last 100 years.
Restoring this balance follows a simple protocol:
- Remove the offending agents: Gluten and other food allergies are an example. Yeast, parasites, H. Pylori and other microbes are another. High levels of cortisol are also implicated in leaky gut syndrome. There are tests that can help identify imbalances in your microbiome and immune system.
- Restore proper digestion. The majority of us lose our digestive enzymes and stomach acid as we age. That creates a condition where the food sits and ferments in the stomach. Fermentation produces the same symptoms as too much acid. Our typical medical approach is to use acid blockers and find that more and more are needed with less results. Common sense shows how that actually worsens the situation instead of correcting it. Betaine and digestive enzymes are easily available and can make a huge difference in symptoms as well as healing the gut. Sialic acid is another option when the mucosa has been damaged.
Reinoculate with probiotics and prebiotics. Fermented foods and resistant starches are an option. The microbiome is actually our first line of defense. When you kill it off with antibiotics or natural antimicrobials, you are actually doing your immune system a disservice. Currently probiotics (the various strains of our ‘good’ flora) is an exploding research field. Choosing the right probiotic can be confusing and not all are created equal. Guidelines on discerning a good probiotic can be found at ISAPP.net.
- Regenerate the gastric and intestinal mucosa, reverse the leaky gut by healing the tight junctions between the cells. Zinc Carnosine and L-Glutamine are the most well studied therapeutic agents. There is a plethora of other natural agents that help including aloe vera and DGL licorice and frequently these can be blended together in a single product. Remember, we live in Florida and aloe grows easily in our climate...with most natural substances, fresh is best! A teaspoon of the inner jelly of the leaf twice a day yields great clinical results.
Rebecca Hunton, M.D., is the owner of Radiantly Healthy MD (RHMD) located in the Viera Medical Center, 8745 North Wickham Road, Suite 202, Viera. The staff at RHMD is preparing a seminar on healing the gut this fall. Contact the office at 321-254-6803 for details or appointments. DrHunton.com