“If you’re healthy on the inside,
you’ll be healthy on the outside!!
As the title implies, this is blog is about gut health. But what does gut health have to do with Osteopathy and the treatment of aches and pains, you may ask?
Well, science knows that around 80% of the human immune system forms around our digestive tract (gut). As such, when our gut is irritated by such things as sluggish function (constipation), bloating, food intolerance etc. the very sensitive and thin bowel lining gets inflamed and this sets off an immune system response.
This causes our whole body to shift into a more inflammatory state, thus any aches and pains such as arthritic joint pains, are well and truly magnified. This is especially the case when folks suffer with conditions like chronic headaches; I don’t think I have ever seen a chronic headache patient with healthy bowel function.
The effect of this increased bodily inflammation from gut irritation is not limited to pain conditions either. Recent intense scientific research has now directly linked poor bowel function to a vast range of medical conditions from allergies and depression to diabetes, obesity, and beyond.
One of the ancient Greeks, I think it was Hippocrates, said that all disease begins in the gut. The explosion of research into bowel function over the last few years is certainly starting to bear out this generalization as being closer to the truth than we could have imagined.
Fundamentally it’s not possible to consider oneself to be a healthy person if there is poor gut function. From the effective breaking down and absorption of nutrition to waste disposal, it all happens there. As such, poor bowel function will affect every other aspect of health.
But where to start?
Gut well-being is dictated by what we call The Microbiome (capital letters for emphasis only!). The microbiome is the name for the ecosystem of bacteria that live in our bowel. Think of it as a massive team of little minions working together to keep you alive!
The microbiome do everything from help you process food and breakdown waste to maintaining the integrity of the gut lining and the manufacture of vitamins; and much more.
Here is a number to consider; 9 out the 10 cells in the human body are actually the microbiome we live with!
For the last 60 or so years Medicine has practiced from the point of view that the only good bacteria are dead bacteria;, however science never looked at it that way. A healthy gut flora is square and center of a healthy body.
A diet rich in vegetables, fruit, wholegrains etc. is an excellent starting point because these foods nourish our vital gut flora. But whilst the public are aware of that aspect of diet, the missing component has been the inclusion of fermented foods into our diets, especially in the English-speaking world.
Fermented foods (such as yoghurts, sour creams, kefirs, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegars and (yay) red wine as examples) replenish the stocks of the vital healthy flora in our bowel. Yet this is not a food group that most of us are very conscious of.
If you are deeply interested in exceptional wellbeing this is where the science is at, and our knowledge is increasing exponentially due to the work being done by many research facilities around the world, especially The Human Microbiome Project in the U.S.
I used the think the whole gut flora/probiotic thing was A significant part of health; it may well be that it is The single most important aspect of it!
It has taken two and a half thousand years, but it looks as though Hippocrates was on the money!
Want to know more about the importance of gut health and food as medicine ?
My very good friends at R.I.S.E Wellness ( http://risewellness.com.au ) run courses in fermented foods, and food as medicine. I can’t overstate the value getting across this knowledge; it can be life-changing for every aspect of your health.
Rob Knight, professor at UCSD and the co-founder of the American Gut Project, has been exploring the vital role micorbes play in the body. Key research finding can been found via Rob’s TED blog ‘How microbes could cure disease’ http://blog.ted.com/how-microbes-could-cure-disease-rob-knight-at-ted2014/
At Sth Melbourne Osteopathic Clinic (in Middle Park) we prescribe an integrated strategy to our clients for their health and wellbeing. As such, I’m more than happy to assist folks with the nuts and bolts of how to renew and rejuvenate the internal workings!
Dr. Joshua Brohier