Why Start with the Gut?
Have you ever had a “gut feeling” about something? Is it possible to “feel” with your gut?
The truth is that our gut is a lot more than just a digestive organ. It is becoming evident that there is a strong connection between the gut and the brain. Millions of neurons (nerve cells) in the gut produce chemical substances called neurotransmitters that help regulate mood. It is estimated that about 90% of the body’s serotonin, the chemical that helps control mood, is produced in the gut. So it would seem that you can actually “feel” with your gut.
There are more bacteria in your body than human cells, tens of trillions of them make their home in your gut! Most of these critters are extremely important to maintaining a healthy body. They help make serotonin, help the gut digest and absorb nutrients, help in the production of certain vitamins (B, K), help support the integrity of the gut lining by keeping other microorganisms in check, help manage our appetite and body weight, help support a healthy immune system (about 70% of the body’s immune system resides in the gut), and the list goes on.
And yet, it seems that very few people pay attention to their digestive system unless it starts causing them discomfort. Poor diet, stress, antibiotics and other drugs, are among the factors that affect the delicate balance of microorganisms in the gut. This is called dysbiosis and it is associated with a variety of health problems including inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue, allergies, asthma, diabetes, arthritis, eczema and psoriasis, fibromyalgia, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, depression, obesity and weight gain, etc.
Now you can understand why the gut is the holistic nutritionist’s starting point!