Take Care of Your Gut

You are what you eat!

As modern science finds out more and more about what goes on in the ecosystem that is our gut, it has become clear that what we put in our mouth is crucial to our health. And our bodies are an ecosystem, a combination of our own cells and billions of outside microbes all living together in a symbiotic relationship. Scientists have discovered in the past several years that our bodies contain more foreign microbes than actual human cells.   And more importantly, the relationship we have with these guests can have a huge influence on our health.  If they are happy, they help us with our digestion, fight inflammation and promote antibodies which help fight foreign invaders.  If they are angry, they can produce a host of bad effects. The collective term that is used for the microbes in our body is called the microbiota.  These include bacteria, fungus, viruses and other microscopic critters, many of which can be unwanted.

Most of the microbes that inhabit our body reside in the large intestine, and like I said before, they can be our friends. As long as the good bacteria outnumber the bad bacteria we have a much better chance of being healthy. Obviously, there are a lot of other factors in our health, such as genetics, environmental toxins and emotional stress. A healthy gut will go a long way towards positively influencing these factors. For instance, we know that healthy microbes when fed the right foods produce short chain fatty acids that are anti-inflammatory.   If we starve these microbes by not giving them the right food, or kill them off by taking too many antibiotics, our body becomes inflamed.  It is becoming more apparent that most of the chronic diseases today can be tied to systemic inflammation. So a healthy gut is key in fighting chronic disease.

Depression in many cases is the lack of a neurotransmitter called serotonin which is produced in our gut. When we are depressed it may be due to a disrupted gut, and often we deal with depression by eating more bad food. This creates a vicious cycle.

So a healthy gut is your first line of defense and an imbalance in the gut, called dysbiosis, has now been tied in some way to just about every chronic disease out there. Because the gut is related to the development of immune cells, several autoimmune diseases have been tied to dysbiosis.  Cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even autism, have shown vast improvements when the gut flora is improved and the diet is cleaned up. There is increasing evidence that inflammation can be tied to many of the chronic diseases out there and as stated before, imbalance in the gut sets up an inflammatory cascade.  And of course all the digestive disorders out there were some of the first conditions to be tied to dysbiosis.  If you are overweight and have dieted to no avail, more than likely your gut should be looked at closely. So what can we do?

Eat More Vegetables

What we put into our mouth greatly affects our microbiota.  They feed mainly on fiber that is indigestible by our stomach.  So if we don’t get enough fiber in our diet we starve these microbes and are deprived of the benefits they provide.  This also lets bad bacteria have free rein. So the first thing we can do is eat more vegetables. It is the fiber in vegetables that feed the helpful flora in our large intestine.

Avoid Antibiotics When Possible

Obviously, there is a time for antibiotics. They are of course necessary to fight bacterial infections. Unfortunately, lots of kids get them every time they get a cold or the flu.  Both of these are viral and antibiotics can’t help. What they do accomplish is to kill off the good bacteria as well as any bad ones. Any time you take a course of antibiotics you should counter the damage to your healthy flora by supplementing with probiotics, and not just any off the shelf probiotic. If you are going to take a probiotic make sure it is a high quality product or you’re doing yourself no good.  The more live cultures the better, and since an effective probiotic must have live cultures, make sure it is sold to you refrigerated.

Get Tested

So, in many cases getting your gut in order may be the first order of business in fighting just about every chronic disease out there.  Of course, there may be other factors. That is why it is good to be examined from a functional perspective. There are some great tests out there to determine whether you have an out-of-balance gut and great strategies on what to do about it. Come see us and get tested today!

Introducing Functional Medicine

Functional Medicine

In the New Year, Baer Chiropractic will be adding functional medicine to its list of services provided. As powerful as pain relief is, we are no longer satisfied with just getting people to feel better. Yes, it is the first step toward a healthy lifestyle. People have to move better before they can take control of their health. But that alone doesn’t address the epidemic of chronic diseases that we are experiencing in modern industrialized society today. Every one of my patients either has a chronic disease or is on the way to getting one. As Harry Truman said, “The buck stops here.”

All of the chronic diseases we are faced with today are lifestyle diseases that conventional medicine is approaching with pills and surgery.  Heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s, and yes, even cancer are a direct result of poor diet, lack of exercise, exposure to toxins and poor handling of stress. The medical community and drug companies have been working toward curing these diseases, and perhaps with the best intentions, but things are getting worse. More diseases are born each year. “Adult” onset diabetes is now a disease of young teenagers.

Medical doctors have become so specialized that some of my patients have as many as five different specialists for each of their chronic conditions. Oftentimes they have symptoms that no one has time to treat and they get shuttled from one specialist to the next. Their cardiologist says their chest pain is reflux, and their gastro doctor says it is a pulmonary problem. And your family doctor is now merely a traffic cop that hopefully directs you to the proper specialist. In the end the answer is pills and more pills. And yes, sometimes pills are the temporary answer, but they can never take the place of a healthy diet and exercise.

Functional Medicine is a whole systems approach of finding the root cause of disease, not dispensing pills to mask the symptoms. If you are depressed maybe your body isn’t producing enough serotonin, but why? Why is your liver producing too much cholesterol and why is it causing plaque formations on your arteries? Why are there amyloid formations sticking to the brain cells in your hippocampus? Why are there tumors forming in your body? The answer is that the environment in your body is favorable for these pathologies to happen.

In functional medicine we simply ask the why questions. To do this we have to take a detailed look at the environment of your whole body. This might require a lot of specialized tests, and maybe temporarily taking supplements that aren’t covered by your insurance. But in the end, the answer is almost always going to be proper diet, consistent exercise, and stress management. Of course, it might be harder than just taking pills for the rest of your life, but it works.

And it does work!  I recently went to my now former medical doctor with a list of the supplements I was taking. She took the list and without looking at it said, “There is no evidence that any of this works.” Well, the fact is, there is evidence.  For years I have been touting Omega 3s and probiotics, based on evidence in medical journals that they do work. And suddenly, because they do work, pharmaceutical companies are marketing prescription forms of these supplements. I recently lowered my own cholesterol from 270 to 155 with diet, exercise and supplementation alone.

The bottom line is functional medicine doctors are reversing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and even Alzheimer’s. Call us today, we will happy to answer any questions and schedule an appointment for you. We look forward to helping you be the best that you can be.