Part 2: What’s in my gut? Understanding 3 less talked about digestive issues
As mentioned in Part 1: What’s in my gut? Understanding 4 common digestive issues, digestive issues can be complex and diagnosing such issues can be time consuming to say the least. In our opinion it’s always best to work with a few different practitioners and begin the process of ruling out certain dysfunctions, imbalances or infections. In this article we will cover 3 less talked about conditions that are commonly found as a root cause to many digestive disorders.
Mycotoxins and Mold
The secondary metabolites produced by fungi are known as mycotoxins. They are capable of causing disease in humans and animals especially if exposed in high doses on a regular basis or if the gut flora is insufficient. These toxins can aggravate and inflame the stomach and intestinal lining causing all sorts of digestive disturbance and pain. The inflammation they cause also causes permeability in the intestinal barrier, which makes foreign proteins affect the immune system causing food sensitivities, brain inflammation and nervous system dysregulation. So, brain fog, anxiety, depression and constipation to name a few. This creates a cycle which causes upset and with peristalsis and further damage to the intestinal lining over time.
How do we get exposed to mycotoxins? They appear in the food chain as a result of mold infection of crops both before and after harvest, exposure can either happen from eating infected food directly or indirectly from animals that are fed contaminated feed. Common sources are also nuts, spices, dried fruits, beans, coffee and chocolate, there are certain brands that screen for this. Mycotoxin exposure can also be environmental for example, if your home has toxic molds. Fortunately you can heal leaky gut by having a diverse diet, taking a binder such as charcoal or bentonite clay and taking a high quality probiotic. The most important part is eliminating mold exposure. Furthermore testing for mycotoxins in humans is a simple non-invasive procedure where a urine or saliva sample is tested for levels.
Yeast, fungus and parasites
Insomnia, skin problems,large appetite, dysregulated mood, heart palpitations, chronic low immunity, IBS? You may be surprised to learn that yeast (candida overgrowth), could be a attributed to this. Eliminating bacteria through antibiotic treatment often results in fungal overgrowth within the body. The fungus known as yeast naturally occurs within our bodies and GI tracts but its with the down regulation of gut bacteria that antibiotic usage can cause a predominance of Candida Albicans (yeast). Both inflammatory bowel disease and Candida overgrowth in the intestinal tract are associated with high levels of inflammatory cytokines overtime this can create chronic-long term digestive issues as well as global health concerns. RE-populating the gut with beneficial bacteria and eating a special diet can help to re-balance flora over time.
Intestinal parasites are actually more common than uncommon not to mention we all have parasitic fungi and parasitic yeast in our bodies. You may be surprised to know that you can pick up parasites in a variety of ways. From raw meat or sushi to polluted water, contaminated fruits and vegetables, infected animals and pets, insect bites and tainted water or food, there are a number of ways to pick up these critters. Most of our immune systems and gut environments are healthy enough to deal with most parasite encounters. Sometimes though, you may get a number of different ones or a larger dose and/or if your systems are weakened for another reason you may be more prone to parasitic infection. Want to know exactly what you may have? First visit your local ND or functional medicine doctor to receive a stool analysis like the Genova gut test.
Chronic Lyme’s disease
Chronic Lymes disease is not as uncommon as you think. Many Lymes acute infections go unnoticed and it’s not until months to years later that a myriad of symptoms begin to rear their head. This is because of ongoing Borrelia Burgdorferi, which is a spirochete bacteria that can burrow deep into tissues successfully hiding in your body and coming out during weakness. Common symptoms are severe fatigue, migratory muscle pain, headaches, insomnia and impaired memory. Less common but still of note are its effects on the digestive system.
In his book How Can I Get Better? An Action Plan for Treating Resistant Lyme & Chronic Disease, Richard I. Horowitz, MD notes that Lyme and co-infections can cause inflammation leading to issues such as abdominal pain, nausea, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or reflux disease, with occasional vomiting. He writes, “…a review of gastrointestinal and liver problems associated with tick-borne diseases found that in 5 percent to 23 percent of those with early Lyme borreliosis, patients presented with varied gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, anorexia with loss of appetite, and hepatitis, and some even had symptoms of an enlarged spleen and liver.” Chronic Lymes, especially the kind that goes undetected, can cause harm to the gut, namely from the spirochetes that burrow deeply often into the intestinal tract or GI areas causing long term inflammation. Often indicated in those who present with abdominal pain, acid reflux, chronic diarrhea or blood in the stool. It is possible to treat and test for Lymes but is easier in the acute phase. If detected early a person is typically put on a three month course of heavy antibiotics which in turn can negatively affect the good bacteria harbored in our gut.
What should I do if I have these symptoms?
Come in and see one of our qualified practitioners at Wellbalanced Center for Integrative Care and they can recommend next steps, work with an existing diagnosis and/or refer you to other practitioners in house to work as a team to get to the root of what’s in your gut. Visit us today to begin the path of feeling better faster.