Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said, “All disease begins in the gut”. In Chinese Medicine, a 3000-year-old medical system, good digestive health is considered to influence your overall health. The gut is considered to be the body’s second brain.
In the Chinese medical model and in modern Western medicine, there is an understanding that a super highway exits between these two-body systems –gut and brain. The superhighway entails a biological communication via chemical and hormonal interactions, connected by an extensive neuron system.
The brain-gut axis is now well documented in scientific medical journals with a growing exploration of how these two interact together, influencing digestive and mental health. When the gut is healthy, the brain and other body systems function optimally, enabling the immune system to produce good bacteria that positively influences a wide range of bodily functions including hormone regulation, enzyme production, effective digestion of food and high quality nutrient supply.
The enteric nervous system or ENS encompasses the 100 million plus nerve cells that line the gastrointestinal tract. The ENS connects and monitors from the oesophagus to the anus. Microbial health in the form of bacterial influences in your gut will also impact on your gastrointestinal systems health.
If you have harmful bacteria, you may be exposed to parasites, yeast, or candida, which can lead to a range of health issues including skin conditions, joint pain inflammation, food sensitivities and low tolerance to moulds, perfumes and cigarette smoke. These symptoms can indicate that your gastrointestinal integrity has been comprised, and can influence cognitive function, including thinking processes, memory and mood.
If intestinal permeability is comprised, we have what’s commonly known as Leaky Gut Syndrome and here we see the results in people whose mental acuity and functioning may be compromised. With 90% of serotonin made in the digestive tract, a lack of this, which is influenced by good bacteria, can impact on mental health. When the digestive system is in harmony it impacts on all other body systems.
Attempting to correct poor digestion, it is tempting to purchase nutritional supplements and introduce new diets. However this often still doesn’t hit the mark. And doing so can leave us feeling frustrated. It’s important to get professional advice and a clear diagnosis to avoid wasting money and energy.
4 things can you do to improve your gut health
- Establish a clear diagnosis through pathology testing and work with a registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Medical Doctor or Naturopath who has the skills to assist you
- Learn what your constitutional pattern is and therefore what foods will suit you and your current health condition
- Introduce some daily mindful, awareness and meditation practice into your routine as calming the mind will influence your gut health in a positive way
- Work with the 4 R’s of Gut Health – Remove, Repair, Restore and Replace.
Barbara Malarski is a Holistic Chinese Medicine Practitioner practicing in Port Douglas Far North Queensland. She is the Director of Oak Beach Dreaming a Holiday Artist and Wellbeing Retreat. Her interests include working with Gut Health and assisting clients to understand their individual constitution and use Food as Medicine.