Most expect an unhealthy gut to cause symptoms associated only with digestion such as gas, bloating, or diarrhea and constipation. However, dysfunction originating in the gut can cause disruption virtually anywhere in the body.
The gut influences major areas of health including immunity, hormone activity, and even neurological function. Therefore, properly caring for the gut is an essential part of maintaining good health. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to treat gut dysfunction and also know if the treatment is working.
Learning about some of the most common forms of gut dysfunction, implementing an effective treatment plan, and knowing the signs of improved gut health can help you on the path to greater gut health.
The Impact of Poor Gut Health
Because the gut is so highly integrated with the rest of the body, many problems can arise if it is not functioning properly. There are many issues associated with gut dysfunction including:
- Autoimmune dysfunction
- Brain fog
- Chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions
- Digestive problems such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea or constipation
- Hormonal imbalances
- Mood swings and disorders
- Recurring infections
- Skin problems
- The development of food allergies or sensitivities
Some of the greatest contributors of gut dysfunction leading to the development of the above symptoms are leaky gut syndrome, SIBO, and candida overgrowth.
Leaky gut syndrome involves harmful particulates escaping the intestine, thereby causing dysfunction. Tight junctions in the gut regulate the passage of nutrients through the intestinal lining. If tight junctions malfunction, large particulates such as partially digested foods, dangerous microbes, viruses, and toxins may escape the gut and enter the bloodstream. This results in an immune response that can induce significant inflammation in virtually any part of the body.
SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)
The gut is a carefully balanced ecosystem of numerous strains of bacteria. When this balance is disrupted, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is likely to occur. Depending on the dominant bacterial strain, issues ranging from gas and bloating, malabsorption of fats, and intestinal wall damage may develop.
Candida albicans is a beneficial yeast found in the gut and mouth that supports digestion and nutrient absorption. However, too much of it can cause major dysfunction. When candida is overly present in the gut, known as candida overgrowth or simply candida, issues such as fatigue, brain fog, digestive malfunction, skin problems, and mood irregularities can develop. When the intestinal ecosystem falls out of balance, candida has the opportunity to proliferate and overtake the gut.
Resolving Gut Dysfunction with the 4 R’s
Restoring gut balance, function, and stability often requires a complete revitalization of the gut through a method known as the 4 R approach. Depending on the degree of dysfunction, the gut may take months or years to return to an entirely healthy and functional state. Therefore, it is essential to be patient when treating gastrointestinal issues such as those mentioned above. The 4 R approach is explained in the following sections:
The first step in restoring gut function is eliminating foods and factors that negatively affect the gut. Of primary concern are inflammatory foods. Ideally, an elimination diet is implemented that halts the consumption of foods such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, sugars, alcohol, and processed foods. These foods should not be eaten for at least three weeks to give the gut adequate time to rebalance and regenerate.
After the gut has achieved a functional equilibrium, important gut-supporting substances such as digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acids, and bile acids can be reintroduced to the system. These elements are essential for proper digestion and nutrient absorption.
Many factors, specifically antibiotics, can contribute to the elimination of helpful bacteria in the gut. It is critical, after eliminating harmful substances, to replace lost bacteria with healthy strains to normalize gut function. Using probiotics to repopulate the gut and prebiotics to support healthy bacteria growth is an important part of the restorative process.
Providing the right nutrients, vitamins, and minerals can help improve recovery. One way to do this is by taking a supplement such as Gut Feeling Max. This supplement, produced by HoltraCeuticals, is formulated with nutrients that help resolve gut inflammation, gut permeability, and promote better digestive function. Gut Feeling Max contains a high volume of beneficial amino acids and multiple digestive enzymes, which can improve gut function and repair. Using a high-quality supplement such as this provides the support the gut needs to effectively regenerate.
How Do I Know If the Gut Is Healing?
It is not always easy to tell if a treatment is working or not. This can be particularly challenging pertaining to gut health because it influences so many different areas. Although lab tests can be used as a metric for how well the gut is functioning, other factors are also indicative of improved gut health. The following areas are helpful in identifying the progress of gut restoration.
As gut health improves, symptoms such as gas, bloating, acid reflux, heartburn, diarrhea, and constipation should begin to dissipate. Bowel movements should also normalize to one to three times a day and be well-formed. Improved digestion leading to more regular bowel activity is indicative of improved gut health.
As the gut lining is repaired, particulates are less likely to escape from the gut, thereby alleviating sensitivities. If you are able to eat foods that previously caused symptoms without suffering any drawback, it is likely that the gut wall is repaired.
Symptoms such as eczema, rosacea, dandruff, rashes, and acne can accompany gut dysfunction. As gut function improves so to do does the health of one’s skin. Optimizing gut function will typically improve physical symptoms visible on the skin.
The immune system is found primarily in the gut. Therefore, it is not surprising that as gut function improves, so too does immune function and factors of autoimmunity. Patients often see an improvement of their autoimmune lab markers as gut health improves.
Perhaps the simplest way to identify if gut function is improving is to assess how you feel on a daily basis. The gut can cause lingering symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, and general malaise. If every day nagging symptoms begin to dissipate, it is likely that the gut is improving and moving towards being fully restored. Some common indicators are restored vitality, mental clarity, and a balanced mood.
Getting Good with Your Gut
The gut has far-reaching influence over numerous bodily functions, making it an incredibly important system to protect and support. Identifying dysfunction and subsequently treating it with the 4 R method is one of the best ways of resolving chronic, or even moderate gut issues. Knowing if treatment is working or not can be difficult when dealing with gut dysfunction. But, by knowing what indicators to look for, you can assess whether or not your treatment is working and adjust accordingly.
When it comes to the gut, the more you know, the better equipped you are to support and protect it.