Our digestive tract is our first line of defense “against” the world that we live within. Eighty percent of our immune system parallels the digestive tract, which is a tube between our mouth and our anus, it just changes shape, size and function all the way down.
The reason so much of our immune system lives there is because this is the major site for organisms and toxins to enter our bodies (besides our lungs and non-intact skin). Twenty percent of our immune system waits inside of the body tissues and blood as our surveillance system in order to eliminate what the gut could not protect the inner body against. If our gut is compromised and not protected, a lot more enters into the body, wreaking havoc on our internal immune system causing systemic inflammation.
This being said, gut pathology opens the door to our internal weak spots. This is why most conditions that patients come to our office with are first treated at the level of the gut. If you have headaches, we’ll be repairing your gut. If you have an autoimmune condition, we’ll be looking at your gut. If you have fatigue, depression, joint pain – you name it – we’ll be looking at and treating your gut. The connection between gut health and overall health is therefore related to a breach in the intestinal barrier, and is often referred to as “leaky gut”. Thus, the normal integrity of the GI tract may be compromised, resulting in distant systemic complaints, even in the absence of overt GI symptoms.
To adequately treat any disease, therefore, the digestive tract, our first line of defense and protection must receive direct, specific and effective attention. Listed below are the five most important steps I believe that I ever take with patients.
- The first step is to remove any substance that is causing inflammation at the level of the gut lining. The best way to do this is to identify your specific food allergies. Of all the tests that I perform on patients, this is to be the best specific test that anyone can do for themselves. If you have specific digestive complaints, especially ones that have gone on for a long time, doing a gastrointestinal stool panel may also be important. Many times, yeast, bacteria, or parasites are present in the lining of our bowels and will prevent healing. Regardless of whether the stool test is performed, yeast is a condition that I will address in each person eventually after the inflammation has decreased enough with the removal of inflammatory foods.
- While removing inflammatory substances from offending foods, it is important to de-inflame the lining more aggressively by provide anti-inflammatory nutrients to assist the healing process to go a bit faster. The specific protocols that I use have been demonstrated in human clinical studies to dramatically reduce digestive mucosal inflammation such as enzymes, amino acids and fish oils in certain ratios.
- Once the inflammation has been reduced effectively important nutrients need to be replaced to help rebuild a healthy lining from the perspective of the immune system. All people heal at different rates. Our receptors become so full and inflamed and blocked over time that if we use an appropriate support supplement it may do nothing until we get to this step as there is no surface area for them to do their work. Now that overall inflammation has decreased it is possible to further remove the yeasts and parasites as they are more readily available and susceptible to elimination.
- Now that inflammation is eliminated through food and anti-inflammatory nutrients, and unhealthy organisms are being eradicated from your digestive tract, it is time to reestablish your immune protective system. Remember 80% of your immune system, in a healthy body, is waiting there as you eat and drink to protect you against what your internal body cannot use or handle. One of the main reestablishers of a healthy immune system is microflora, or acidophilus and at this point needs to be reinoculated into your system.
- Now it is time for you to think about maintaining a healthy digestive tract for life. Some very basic rules would be to maintain a respectful diet that is rotated since the body likes variety. Rotating your foods every 4 days is one way to accomplish this. I suggest creating a food plan for a week in advance. This gives you confidence that you won’t be scrambling to find something that would be good for your body, mind and spirit. This also gives you a refrigerator full of food that is available for you to choose from as well as a shopping list for the week. It is much easier to be proactive than reactive when creating health.
Food is our first medicine. Eating foods that may appear healthy can be causing any of your symptoms from minor aches and pains to depression to insomnia and even autoimmune diseases. In my opinion and experience there exists no disease that doesn’t have a component of food allergies associated with it. I’ll go so far to say that most of the conditions people come in with are actually caused by food allergies. To me, this should be the first part of any wellness journey.
You’re starting to understand that testing food allergies is essential to regain control over your own health. It is life-transforming when people exhibit the willpower to make choices regarding their diets that reflect the ultimate in self-respect.
Most people don’t have a clue to the impact that food has on our body. Our food is either (1) giving us vitality, (2) responsible for acute conditions, or (3) contributing to chronic degenerative diseases that may be known now or may not show up for a decade.