Did you know that as much as 70% of your immune system is in your digestive tract? Gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) is a system made up of several types of immune tissues and cells that plays an essential role in maintaining immune health. Along with these important immune cells, neurotransmitters and brain cell messengers are also highly concentrated along the gastrointestinal tract – the tube that goes from mouth to anus.
Often we do not recognize the importance of gut health until we experience symptoms that we connect with an imbalance – such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. However, because of the guts’ connection to immune and mental health, other symptoms like depression, anxiety, eczema, allergies, asthma, etc. can also be directly linked to an unhealthy digestive system. How can we optimize gut function, and in turn also support immune and mental health?
By following the 3 R plan – Reduce, Repair, and Replace.
1) Reduce: as part of a wellness plan it is essential to identify potential foods that may be causing an imbalance or creating inflammation in your body. Often, refined carbohydrates (white breads, pasta, and flours, candy, soda, sugar, etc.) are major contributors.
The word “flora” relates to all the bugs that reside in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Most of these bugs are beneficial to our health and the function of the GI tract. These bugs are often called ‘probiotics’. Refined carbohydrates throw off the good guys by feeding other organisms such as yeast. An imbalance in gut flora can lead to brain fog, skin conditions, mood concerns, and weak immune function.
Refined carbohydrates are also pro-inflammatory and can damage the sensitive lining of the GI tract, leading to increased intestinal permeability (also known as leaky gut). This damage sets off a cascade which involves food particles being absorbed into the blood stream and triggering an immune response, producing inflammation through out the body. High sugar carbohydrates also negatively impact blood sugar levels and create a viscous cycle of ups and downs as well as craving and addiction.
Avoiding refined carbohydrates and using diagnostic techniques to determine your specific food triggers, is step one of a sensational wellness plan.
2) Repair: the gut needs certain nutrients to thrive. If the system isn’t working properly, it will have a more difficult time benefiting from supplements and good quality food choices. Our naturopathic doctors can help develop a repair plan to suit your needs. Such a plan may include tailored nutritional suggestions, medical foods, and supplements.
3)Replace/Restore: after we’ve reduced the burden and repaired the function, we can now move towards restoring your health, this includes a focus on mind, body, and spirit!
Bottom line: the gut is the foundation of health and following a 3R plan is likely to promote benefits in all aspects of your wellness. As said by Hippocrates: “All diseases begin in the gut.”
We offer several programs designed to optimize gut health. Call today for more information about our tailored wellness plans.