What is Your Gut Telling You? Part 2/3
Something that I discovered clinically before I discovered in the research is the connection between the gut and hormones. We weren't really taught this when I was going through a lot of my functional medicine training. I'm doing a training program with Chris Kresser, who's freaking phenomenal and he talks about this a lot. Interestingly when I started out practice nine years ago, I saw that women with hormonal issues, if they had gut stuff, I always dealt with that first, not totally understanding why.
Here’s the kicker: If you have gut bacteria and it's not in balance anymore, it's not in proper balance anymore, the presence of the bacteria will actually signal the nervous system in the gut via the vagus nerve. That's the nerve that connects your brain and your gut. But what's so interesting is as it's stimulating that nerve, it's talking to the brain and it can actually affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. It literally affects the way that your body handles the whole stress and sleep response throughout the day. We start to see changes in energy as a result of digestive imbalance. We start to see a change in hormonal balance as a result of digestive imbalance and we start to see a change in the capacity for our metabolic systems to be resilient during occasional bouts of stress. Isn't this so intriguing? This blew my mind.
I'm sure you've heard of the gut as the second brain but the vagus nerve, this is the biggest nerve pathway from our brain into our viscera, into our organs, that vagus nerve, most of it is actually going into the digestive tract. Here's the thing, 90% of those nerve fibers go into the gut and all 90% of that is coming from the gut to the brain. It's a one-way pathway. It's a one-way street. Meaning, the gut pretty much runs the show when it comes to brain. It runs the show when it comes to mood. If you're dealing with stress and anxiety and other psychiatric challenges, if you haven't worked on handling the health of the gut, you're missing one of the biggest pieces here when it comes to behavioral challenges. It means that if you have memory issues like brain fog, cognition is slow and maybe you're thinking , "Oh, it's just aging brain or whatever." I see so many women that come into my office and they're so sad about getting older. I had poor short-term memory. I can't think of names. A lot of the time if we work on the gut, we see that change right back into normal range. What's crazy is we're often told, "Oh, it's just a part of aging." It's not. Or, there's these improper diagnoses that go on even though the doctors that didn't necessarily do the due diligence and look into it as being a gut issue.
The gut in this exact same mechanism is connected to chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia because of that leaky gut, the intestinal permeability changes the immunity platform. The immunity canvas is changing causing more inflammation in the gut, allowing that to seep out to the peripheral systems causing more inflammation that can manifest in the joints and the muscles, causing that to diffuse pain. That can be all over the body. It starts in the gut.
If you've been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and nobody has talked to you about how to handle your gut, I can give you some tools in terms of foods and natural solutions like supplements and essential oils that you can get your hands on to start making some huge remodeling in your gut. (See the blog post What is Your Gut Telling You? Part 1/3).) It is possible. This stuff is holistic. Of course always talk to your treating physician about the changes that you're making in every aspect of your health: diet, essential oils, supplements, everything. You should always be talking to your physician about this.
What I've noticed now in conventional medicines as patients start to be more proactive around what it is that they can do to cause major shifts in what's going on in their health, more doctors are willing to work with that. They want to see you take a more proactive role. It's so beautiful.