The Heartbreak of “Leaky Gut Syndrome”
Gastrointestinal health is at the foundation of many health conditions. Integrative practitioners have emphasized the importance of healthy digestion for decades. At first, the concept of “leaky gut syndrome” was discounted by the general medical community as an unsubstantiated idea. However, new research continues to demonstrate the importance of digestive health and its relationship to immune health, skin health, mood health, and much more. Optimal digestion requires proper structure of the digestive tract (including strong sphincters, appropriate contracture of smooth muscles, etc) as well as adequate functional activity, such as acid or enzyme release at the appropriate time and concentration, proper signaling and innervation from the central nervous system, proper biota within the digestive tract, and much more.
Digestive health is one of the cornerstones of good overall health. The digestive tract in a lot of ways is like the skin, an initial barrier of protection between the outside world and our inner tissues. The intestinal wall is a complex selective filter that determines what will get into our blood stream or not. It is also the location of a majority of our immune tissues, allowing for adequate response to exposure to a pathogen and sometimes initiating an unhealthy immune response when the barrier is not intact. Integrative medicine also provides truly unique tools for patients with gastrointestinal problems. It is always a good idea to take a comprehensive look at digestive health including looking at possible offending foods that may negatively influence the intestinal environment, ensuring proper intestinal microbiota, supplementing with enzymes when needed, and supporting healthy gastrointestinal mucosa. By addressing these 4 key areas, you can lay the groundwork for good digestion and good health!