A Healthy Gut and Why It Matters
On multiple occasions in my clinical training as naturopathic doctor we would discuss complex patient cases that didn't quite fit into any diagnoses. And I would hear the same phrase over and over from professors and supervisors with decades of healthcare experience: “Treat the gut.” In naturopathic medical school this is one of the first and most lasting lessons.
Now in my own practice I have found the same to be resoundingly true: our gastrointestinal health is of utmost importance to the overall health of our bodies AND minds. Did you know that 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut? That rocked my socks when I heard it in naturopathic medical school. I thought to myself: “Why aren’t we treating depression in the gut as well as in the brain?”
Well, now I am.
Oftentimes patients come to me already knowing they want to heal their GI. They have researched it online and discovered connections with their Irritable Bowel Syndrome, eczema, psoriasis, or fatigue. And they found their way to my office for some help navigating the many therapies available for these conditions. Just as often people look at me strangely when I bridge the topic of healing the gut, or addressing the GI, as they don’t think it’s relevant for them. But in most cases, it is.
Naturopathic medicine is famous for treating indirectly. That is, supporting one area of the body, which thereby will benefit another. A well-known version of this is treating the adrenal glands to help out the thyroid. This is often an effective approach. The treatment of the gut and GI tract is also an excellent example of this strategy, as it has implications for nearly every other body area and symptom. Wandering joint pain, seasonal allergies, skin rashes, reflux or heartburn, anxiety, depression, low energy, brain fog, ADD, ADHD, auto-immunity, cancer, mood . . . I could go on! MANY conditions have important implications and interactions with and in the gut.
You may have heard some of these popular gut phrases that seem to be in vogue right now: diversifying your microbiome, probiotics, food sensitivities, stealth infections or leaky gut syndrome? I could not be more thrilled that these important topics are getting noticed. If you are feeling bogged down or overwhelmed with the endless possible diets, supplements and “Dr. Google” suggestions, or if you have been experimenting with your own and have hit a wall, I would suggest the following: find yourself a qualified, and hopefully inspiring naturopathic doctor that can use functional and holistic tools to guide your path. I am proud to be one of those doctors. And I am thrilled to bring safe and effective natural tools for excellent gut health to you.