Digestive health begins in the mouth and ends in the intestinal tract. In brief, the mouth secretes enzymes and the teeth are responsible for chewing and breaking down food; the stomach churns while secreting hydrochloric acid and enzymes to aid with food breakdown; and the intestines absorb nutrients from food & water.The small intestine is an important part of the immune system
Did you know that 70-80% of the immune system is located in the gut? Have you ever heard of the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT)? Immune cells which attack and defend against pathogens are found within this lymphoid tissue. Immune cells must defend against pathogens and toxins while allowing for tolerance to food and bacteria – an important balancing act!
Bacteria are present in the digestive tract
Did you know we have both good and bad bacteria in our gut? Varieties of different bacterial strains are important in aiding digestive function and providing immune support. Bacteria defend against pathogens, enhance intestinal barrier function, metabolize toxins, reduce inflammation, and help maintain proper immune function. Changes in the relative ratio of good to bad bacteria can compromise immunity and cause inflammation. In a healthy individual, the intestines act as a selective barrier and allow the transport of essential dietary nutrients for absorption. However, when inflammation occurs, this barrier becomes impaired and no longer functions in a “selective” manner; foreign substances end up passing through the epithelial barrier (a condition known as intestinal hyper-permeability) ultimately resulting in greater health problems, including digestive upset and autoimmune disease.
Evidence suggests that certain bacterial strains may be more effective than others when it comes to treating a number of different complaints concerning the digestive system. It is important to note that the relative ratio of good to bad bacteria present in our gut depends on factors such as: diet, stress levels, method of birth (Caesarean section vs. vaginal birth), and use of certain medications.
Various conditions are related to poor digestive function, including: skin conditions (ie. eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea), fatigue, poor memory, allergies, headaches/migraines, frequent colds/flus, weight issues, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune diseases (Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, and celiac). Symptoms of sub-optimal digestion may include: bloating, cramping, abdominal pain, gas, constipation, and/or diarrhea.
Your Naturopathic Doctor can help you heal your intestinal tract by addressing diet and lifestyle factors, as well as promoting optimal digestion and overall health. Naturopathic Medicine aims to address the underlying cause of your concern(s) with individualized treatment plans. Naturopathic Doctors take a detailed health history to address the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional aspects of health. Book your initial appointment at Restore Chiropractic or the Hampton Wellness Centre today!
Ashley Kowalski is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor in Embrun, Cornwall, and Ottawa. She is currently accepting new patients.