Gut Overview

The Gut

Did you know the human body hosts around 100 trillion microorganisms? This thriving ecosystem inside your gut is called your microbiome.  Our bodies are quite simply a host environment for bacteria. They use us for their own purposes. The molecules produced by the DNA of these bacteria have significant impact on our health.

Our microbiome has been linked to everything from obesity to autism, cancer to autoimmune and allergic disorders and even heart disease and diabetes. Our gut flora also serves a vital purpose in stimulating the body’s immune system, especially immunoglobulin A (Secretory IgA), representing the first line of immune defence.  Sec IgA accounts for approximately 80% of our total immunity, keeping us healthy by suppressing or warding off bacterial, fungal, parasitic and viral pathogens (germs) and toxins, and preventing them from spreading or penetrating through the gut wall to cause infection or disease.  Beneficial flora further plays a part in the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients, such as fermenting soluble fibre into short-chain fatty acids, synthesising B vitamins, and so on.

Human health, digestion, immune function and metabolic balance depend upon maintaining colonies of good bacteria. Some people consider the gut flora to constitute an “organ” in its own right. An imbalance in the gut flora leading to the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and yeast in the gut is known as dysbiosis. Many people believe that dysbiosis lies at the root of many serious health complaints such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic fatigue, eczema, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and depression, and other mental disorders, and this is common among individuals with autism. It is vital that gut integrity, health and function are optimized for the brain to remain protected and allow it to function to it’s full capacity.

There are many factors that can upset the delicate balance of the gut flora in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract:

  • Our modern lifestyle and high processed carbohydrate and sugar laden diet
  • Immune system dysfunction with low sec IgA production
  • Frequent use of antibiotics
  • Changes in gut pH
  • Insufficient fibre within the diet
  • Overgrowth of yeast, particularly Candida species
  • Food allergies
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen
  • Parasitic infection
  • Viral infection
  • Excessive stress
  • Excessive toxins including heavy metals

Another factor is the existence of biofilms:

A biofilm is a thin mucous membrane, secreted by often detrimental microorganisms, to protect them from being detected by the host and is much like plaque on your teeth. It protects detrimental organisms from being cleared from the gut by the immune system and anti-bacterial agents in food and drugs, causes inflammation and lowers nutrient absorption.

People with dysbiosis typically have several of the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Foul-smelling stools
  • Particularly light or dark stools
  • Mucus present in the stool
  • Increased intestinal permeability, or leaky gut
  • Undigested food in the stool
  • Parasites
  • Dysbiosis
  • Biofilm presence
  • Increased gut derived toxicity and detoxification impairments
  • Bloating/abdominal distension
  • Increased flatulence (wind)
  • Bad breath
  • Sugar cravings
  • Inadequate enzyme function, especially enzymes that break down proteins into amino acids (called proteases)
  • Disturbed pH levels – either too alkaline or too acidic
  • Inadequate hydrochloric acid production in the stomach (vital for a number of digestive and metabolic processes)
  • Secretory IgA disturbances and inflammation
  • Poor digestion and absorption of nutrients – low levels of amino acids, essential fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and trace elements
  • High levels of proprionic acid released by bad bacteria (proprionic acid has been found to cause autistic behaviour in rats)
  • Elevated levels of arabinose – an indicator of candidiasis
  • The presence of pathogenic bacteria such as streptococcal, staphylococcal and clostridial species and yeasts (especially Candida).

So the functioning of the gut is linked with the food you eat, the stress you’re under, the efficiency of your immune system and, the balance of gut flora. Anything that seems out of the ordinary means that something is awry and should be investigated by a qualified professional. Inflammation and damage to the lining of the gut may create leaky gut syndrome resulting in increased intestinal permeability and a thicker biofilm, lining the surface of the gut.

The critical discovery of our microbiome and its implications for influencing many of the diseases of the 21st century provides novel treatments involving changing our diets and the use of pre-and probiotics to shift the gut ecosystem into a health-promoting balance.

At TACGA we specialize in treating a range of conditions associated with the gut flora, including IBS, IBD, Leaky Gut, SIBO, dysbiosis, chronic illnesses and autism. For more information on these, please see the various sections on our website.

We are only as healthy as our gut bacteria.