What is Your Gut Telling You? Part 1/3
We are focusing a lot on digestion because the gut itself affects all other body systems to such an extreme degree that often times even if you're going after a hormonal issue, or an autoimmune issue, or a metabolic issue, if you get better and then notice a change going backwards, it's often because there's been a misstep into going in and handling the gut.
The gut is often an unaddressed body system when it comes to looking at immune challenges and not just acute immune challenges like colds, flus, allergies, coughs, and colds, but also this pertains to autoimmune issues as well. Autoimmune issues will be a little bit more on the grander scale and a more long-term scale.
The gut is so key for any of these issues because 70% of the immune system, that's a lot, 70% of the immune system lives in the digestive tract. Maybe you've heard a small variation. I've seen 65%. I've seen 75%. I just say 70%. It just depends on the resource and the research facility that's talking about it. For the most part 70% of your immunity is in your gut. If you have imbalance in your digestive system, if you have dysbiosis or an imbalance in the microflora in the gut, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, candida overgrowth, or parasitic stuff going on in the digestive system like parasites living in there, of course it's going to affect your immunity because 70% of your immune system is going to see those bugs and see that imbalance in the digestive system and think we're having a war going on in here. A lot of your immune system is being preoccupied here, getting worked and overwhelmed so then your peripheral immunity goes down a little bit.
Personally, I was constantly getting sick when I was in college and I could not get anybody to tell me why it was happening. Simultaneously I had a lot of digestive imbalance and nobody was connecting the two for me. It was so frustrating and I didn't figure it out until I was in graduate school the inextricable connection between the two.
Autoimmunity is rampant nowadays. I would consider it an epidemic here in the US. So many women are struggling with autoimmune disorders. The thing is the excessive immune stimulation in the gut due to the presence of candida bacteria and those other microbes that don't belong in those excessive quantities, the excessive stimulation of the immune system in the gut will then lead to increased permeability in the digestive system so the strong tube in the gut that's meant to protect the body from things that only belong in the gut, that permeability actually causes extra inflammation to be able to seep into the peripheral system, this affected systemic inflammation that's also affecting nervous system inflammation.
We can see a lot of research has been connecting things like dementia and Alzheimer's and neural disorders to the gut specifically because of what happens when that intestinal permeability starts to become more and more and more and more permeable. Then these proteins and these pro-inflammatory markers that don't necessarily belong in the peripheral body, start to seep out. Then we start to see changes in the nervous system in brain function, in cognition and so on and so forth.
Similarly, that inflammation can start to affect our joints, cause a lot of peripheral pain. When we have too much inflammation going on systemically, we start to see our serotonin levels get eaten up. That can lend to the presentation of things like fibromyalgia and even depression secondary to pain disorders, not just because you're depressed because you're in a lot of pain, but literally the serotonin levels in the body starts to go down.
You can see that in terms of those immune challenges whether it'd be the acute colds and flus and your resilience around handling those with consistency and also how the gut pertains to the other side of the immune spectrum with autoimmune tendencies and manifestations, the digestive system is really an underlying piece for both of those disorders.