Digestion is one of the most important functions of the body to have working correctly. If you think about it, our entire state of bodily nourishment comes from the digestive tract. The digestive system is so important that it maintains its own nervous system called the enteric nervous system and its own immune system called the gastrointestinal lymphoid tissue or GALT. It is estimated that over 70% of our entire immune functions happens through the digestive system. It is also responsible for the majority of neurotransmitter production for mood control.
For this reason we, and the rest of the functional medicine community feels that an assessment should be considered on every person.
The digestive system is so large that the surface area of the smaller intestine unfolded would be larger than a football field. For this reason there is a lot of potential dysfunction that could occur.
Through years of clinical experience it becomes obvious that there are several problems that tend to cause the major of metabolic dysfunction.
Food allergies and food intolerances are two sides of the same coin. Food allergies are technically food which create a blood IgE reaction. These reactions can range from a stuffy nose to a closing windpipe. Food allergies can be assessed with a skin allergy test or blood IgE test. Food intolerances are also reactions to food through the increase in IgG and IgA antibodies to those individual foods. These reactions are a delayed response and can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 24 hours to present symptoms. Often we find that many people are eating foods with these type of reactions so often that you can’t literally tell what it is like to not be in a reacting state. Food intolerances can be resolved with a change in diet and resolution of other digestive disorders discussed below.
Dysbiosis is defined as an imbalance in levels and types of bacteria and yeast in the digestive tract.
Candida and yeast overgrowth – Caused by diets high in sugar and carbohydrates
SIBO – Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth
Parasitic infections – Parasites live in many meats and food products. Most parasites are actually killed by acids in the stomach. Those with chronic stress and/or heavy anti-acid use produce less acid and are a common place that parasitic infections can occur.
Histamine Intolerance – Chronic allergies are symptoms of high histamine levels. Most of the histamine produced in the body is broken down by a Diamine Oxidase enzyme produce in the digestive system. Some people may a state of poor Diamine Oxidase production resulting in excessive histamine symptoms throughout the body.
Intestinal permeability “Leaky gut”
Intestinal permeability is a breakdown of the borders between each cell of the small intestine. These borders act as gate keepers preventing large undigested protein from entering the bloodstream. If there borders are compromised protein leak through the barrier system and immune reaction occur. Intestinal permeability can results from chronic intestinal infections, antibiotic use, and poor dietary habits.