The Gut and Its Role in Human Health

What might joint pain, asthma, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, skin problems, heart disease, depression, IBS and autoimmunity all have in common? Answer: The digestive system.

The health of the digestive system is fundamental to overall well-being. Hippocrates stated nearly 2,500 years ago that ‘death sits in the bowels’ and ‘bad digestion is the root of all evil’. Scientists are now just beginning to realise the truth associated with these statements. Study after study links imbalances in the digestive system to the development of long-term disease. So why might this be the case?

The 25 feet of tubing that runs from the mouth to the anus, is populated with a huge number of bacteria. It is estimated that we have on average 100 trillion bacteria in our digestive system (that’s equivalent to the number of footsteps required to walk from Earth to Pluto and back again over 7 times!), effectively making us more ‘bacteria’ than ‘human’. These bacteria weigh in total around 2kg and consist of an estimated 35,000 different bacterial species, typically being referred to as the microflora or microbiota.

The microflora is made up of both good and bad bacteria. In a healthy gut, good bacteria dominate and keep control of the bad ones (using them for important tasks). Some of the key roles undertaken by a balanced microflora include: weight management, energy production, genetic expression, balancing mood, efficient digestion and absorption of nutrients, manufacture of certain vitamins and maintaining both a strong and tolerant immune system.

Problems can start to occur when the bad bacteria become too dominant (dysbiosis), contributing to inflammation of and damage to the gut lining. This can lead to the manifestation of any number of disparate and seemingly disconnected symptoms. The science now recognizes multiple ‘gut–organ axes’. What happens in the gut does not stay in the gut and we ignore the impact that the microflora has on our health at our own peril.

What causes dysbiosis? Modern life! Specifically: caesarian birth, poor dietary choices, food sensitivities, low stomach acid, antibiotics, medications, chronic stress, toxins/pollution, infectious diseases and alcohol/drug abuse.

Thankfully the body is regenerative and it is possible, working with a skilled practitioner, to both identify and rectify imbalances in the microflora, using specific functional diagnostic testing in combination with targeted nutritional and lifestyle protocols. Remember, ‘you’re in control’ far more than you might at first ever believe.

Gluten Grains and Mental Health

There has been a considerable amount of discussion recently about mental health and what more we can do as a society to help those with mental health issues. What never ceases to surprise me is the complete lack of discussion on the impact that what you eat can have on mental health. Depression is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in the UK.

There are certain scientific facts that I would like you to be aware of. Gluten (found in Barley, Rye, Oats and Wheat) does cause our digestive tracts to ‘leak’. This happens in every human being for a few hours after digesting gluten. That is a fact. If you are someone that already has an imbalance in your gut bacteria (due to caesarian birth, not being breastfed, alcohol abuse, poor food choices, antibiotic use, chronic stress and regular medications) certain toxic by products and semi digested food particles can be ‘leaked’ through into the body. In certain genetically predisposed individuals these toxins and foreign food particles can cause a significant immune system response (potentially causing the body to attack itself, if the protein structure of the semi digested food is similar to that of the body e.g. the brain), as well as putting considerable stress on the already over-stretched detoxification systems. Secondly, some of the breakdown products of gluten during digestion are opioid (morphine) like. Opioids are addictive and if they make it to the brain, are capable of disrupting neurotransmitter balance. Either way there is strong scientific evidence to connect eating gluten with brain chemistry/structural disruption in certain individuals.

Repeated studies show that gluten does cause a significant immune system response in both schizophrenic and autistic individuals compared to the normal population. So, if you or a loved one are not feeling as good as you might like, you might want to try eliminating gluten from your diet. Maybe it is also time for psychologists and psychiatrists to seriously consider the impact that a gluten free diet might have on their clients?

Let’s Talk Skin Event – Understanding Acne

Optimal nutrition and digestion play a significant role in overall skin health. As part of an event called ‘Let’s Talk Skin Event – Understanding Acne’ being run and hosted by Andresa Skin Health Clinic (www.andresa.co.uk) near Aldermaston in Berkshire at 7:30 pm on April 14th, I will be giving a presentation on the impact that optimal diet and gut health can have on the condition of  your skin.

Andresa Skin Health Clinic are specialists in skin health, using the very latest science and technology from around the world to correct and rebalance the health of the skin. There will be a demonstration of Andresa’s exclusive ClearSkin Acne treatment.

Refreshments will be served, and there will be a prize draw raffle on the night where you can win a relaxing, bespoke facial. The raffle is being held to raise money and awareness for Andresa’s charity of the year, Debra. To register for this free-of-charge event, please contact the clinic on 01635 800183 or use the booking form at www.andresa.co.uk

It’s Your Health…..Time to Take Back Control Seminars

Are you or someone close to you struggling with overall health? Do you want to make ‘healthy’ lifestyle choices but are confused by what you should do?

I am holding a series of local seminars in January, which will openly discuss the science behind the dietary and lifestyle choices that you can make to assist you to take back control of your health.

In the modern world rates of chronic disease (e.g. diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, arthritis and autoimmunity) are exploding. Whilst family history and genetics do play a part in the development of these diseases, it is the impact of our environment (food choices/toxic load and lifestyle) that is the key driver behind this situation. You have more control than you might imagine over your current and future health.

These seminars will provide an overview of human health and the challenges that we currently face, along with recommendations on what you can do now to make a difference to your current and future health outcomes and an open questions and answers forum to answer your questions on diet, lifestyle and the impact on human health.

I will be presenting at the following venues on the following dates in January:

  • Brimpton Village Hall (RG7 4TD)- Tuesday 12th January
  • Stockcross Village Hall (RG20 8LN) – Wednesday 13th January
  • Bucklebury Village Hall (Victory Room) (RG7 6PR) – Thursday 14th January
  • Boxford Village Hall (RG20 8DD) – Wednesday 20th January

Seminars start at 6 pm (estimated 7.30 pm finish) – £5 per head admission

Tickets can be purchased at each event or in advance by emailing mark@entirewellbeing.com

Cyrex Testing – Autoimmunity and Environmental/Dietary Immunological Triggers

Cyrex in the USA (www.cyrexlabs.com) have produced a range of functional tests (they call them Arrays) to help unravel the complexities of the autoimmune disease process and identify potential triggers and mediators (such as specific food antigens and toxic chemical exposure).  For an overview of Cyrex testing please click on this link: Cyrex Testing Overview

There are more than 80 different types of autoimmune diseases (including coeliac disease, type 1 diabetes, alopecia areata, multiple sclerosis, Graves disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and Hashimoto’s) affecting an estimated 360 million people globally and the numbers are rising fast. Research suggests that women are 2.7 times more likely to develop an autoimmune disease than men and to present with multiple autoimmune conditions. The science also clearly links specific environmental triggers that can cause an inappropriate immune response, as being a key factor associated with the perpetuation of the autoimmune process.

I specialise in autoimmunity (loss of self tolerance), working in a complementary capacity with modern medicine to help the client achieve their specific health goals. I do this by applying the principles and approaches that are continually being unearthed in the scientific literature. Cyrex testing is a fundamental tool that I use in this respect, as it facilitates the formulation of the most appropriate intervention for the client and can help build a clearer picture of what might be perpetuating the disease process and provide invaluable information to the client’s medical team. Cyrex testing is best of breed as it tests for an immunological response across a number of different arms of the immune system (IgG, IgA and IgM) to a large number of scientifically validated antigens (food and environmental).

Please contact me if you require any further information.

 

 

 

 

Overfed Yet Nutritionally Starving…..

The body requires the ready availability of approximately 40 individual micronutrients for optimal health. A deficiency in any one of these micronutrients may contribute to the development of disease. The typical Westerner is overfed yet is nutritionally starving. This is probably one of the main reasons why chronic disease continues to grow so rapidly. I can easily argue that the modern day human requires a great deal more micronutrients in their diet to deal with the chemical assault that we are under, compared to our ancestors; yet the majority of us rely on nutritionally depleted junk food and a mainstream agricultural system that produces foods that are not only riddled with chemicals, but are also nutritionally inferior to those grown 70 years ago. If you add in the fact that the most nutrient dense foods are rarely eaten, it is not surprising that we are seeing the current explosion in chronic health problems and that life expectancy is now starting to fall.

We are paying the price of being too far removed from our food supply and the traditions that our ancestors employed to source and prepare food. There is a chasm between the amount of a vitamin or mineral required to prevent the immediate onset of disease (e.g. rickets) and the levels required for optimal health and vitality. So what is the answer? Pop a supplement or two?

No. Most supplements are not only synthetic versions of those found in nature, but also contain a raft of binders and fillers. Research concludes that ‘natural vitamins are nutritionally superior to synthetic ones.’ Anyway, I would hazard a guess based on clinical experience, that the average Westerner has compromised digestive function anyway, so the first port of call involves repairing the damage that has been done to the digestive system, supporting the physical act of digestion and flooding the body with nutrients from real food. You maybe surprised what happens……

Seminar at Natures Corner (Newbury) on Autoimmunity and the Impact of your Genes, Environment and Gut Health

I am running a seminar at Natures Corner in Newbury on 22nd October between 6 and 7.30 pm.  There is a small charge of £3 to cover drinks and nibbles.

This seminar is designed to take you on a journey through the latest research relating to the processes that are now believed to be central to the initiation and development of autoimmunity. We will explore some of the key interventions that have been developed and are being successfully employed to help people presenting with autoimmunity to potentially take back control of their health.

There are over 80 autoimmune diseases and they represent the largest disease group in the Western World.

Recent research, suggests that autoimmune disease develops via a complex interaction between your genes, the environment and gut health and hence there is an opportunity to potentially affect disease outcome.

Both myself and the team at Natures Corner would be delighted to see you there.

Natures Corner, 12 Bartholomew Street, Newbury, Berks, RG14 5LL

www.naturescorner.co.uk

 

 

You think you’re Human?

Science continues to discover extraordinary facts about the microbes (bacteria, viruses and protozoa) that live in our gut (the tube that runs from the mouth to the exit). These microbes weigh in total anywhere between 1 and 2.5 kilos in the average adult, outnumber our human cells by a factor of about 3 to 1 and consist of thousands of different species with 100 times more genetic material than the entire human genome.

In broad terms there are three different classifications of microbe, namely ‘beneficial’, ‘opportunistic’ and ‘transitional’. We now know that optimal health requires a delicate balance to be maintained between these different types (eubiosis). The beneficial microbes should be dominant, keeping the opportunistic and transitional microbes under tight control. In fact the science in this particular area of research is moving at a rapid pace with the recognition of distinct ‘gut-organ’ interactions and dependencies such as the ‘gut-brain’ and ‘gut-skin’ axes.

Some of the identified key roles of a balanced micro flora include: balanced mood (the gut is the largest hormone and neurotransmitter producing organ in the body, for example producing over 90% of serotonin (serotonin is also required for properly motility of the gut)), digestion of proteins and carbohydrates (helping us get more nutrients from our food), manufacture of vitamins and essential fatty acids, increase in the number of immune system cells, immune system tolerance, break down of bacterial toxins and detoxification and the conversion of specific plant compounds into anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory factors, as well as assisting with efficient weight management and energy production.

Birth type/time of weaning/length of breastfeeding, chronic antibiotic use, parasitic and/or yeast/fungal infections, food poisoning, poor food choices, recreational drug use, unidentified food sensitivities, lack of nutrient density and diversity, chronic stress, chronic use of medications and NSAIDs (e.g. ibuprofen), oral contraception, regular alcohol intake and a high toxic load are all known contributors to dysbiosis (imbalance of the gut micro flora). Recent research also specifically connects gluten related disorders (the umbrella term for coeliac disease, non-coeliac gluten/wheat sensitivity and wheat allergy) to the initiation of dysbiosis, neuroinflammation and the disruption of the gut/brain axis and the manifestation of anxiety and depression.

So what does this all mean? Look after your microbes and they will look after you. How can I do that? Lifestyle and diet are your key tools.