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12 Health Problems Caused by Your Gut

When it comes to health and wellness, the gut is talked about far too little. Everyone understands the importance of our heart and lungs, but the gut is put on the back burner. Perhaps we do think about it, but primarily in regard to digestion or weight loss.

Did you know that the microbiome, an intelligent bacterial ecosystem in your gut, actually makes up the majority of your immune system?

Your body contains 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells!

The microbiome plays a far more crucial role in our overall health than most people realize. In this post, we’re looking at 12 health problems and conditions that most people don’t realize are linked to the gut.

Woman's gut problems are impacting her health

Heart Disease

As mentioned earlier, people learn the importance of our hearts from a very young age. But most don’t realize that heart disease could actually begin in the gut!

Recently, scientists found a possible correlation between the microbiome and cardiovascular disease. Some bacteria produce higher levels of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), which is linked to a higher risk of stroke and heart attack.

Unfortunately researchers are still unclear as to which microorganism produces these increased levels of TMAO, but they are hoping that in the future they can manipulate microbiome species. This could be very promising in both the prevention and treatment of heart disease.

Poor Immune System

If you find yourself getting sick more often than is normal, you should probably check in on how your gut is doing.

  • A low immune system is often linked to:
  • Poor microbiome health
  • An overgrowth of opportunistic:
    • Bacteria
    • Yeast
    • Fungus
  • A parasite

Maybe you didn’t catch that cold from your sniffly coworker! Or perhaps you did, but only because your immune system was already compromised by your gut health.

Diarrhea and Constipation

These might be two of the few conditions on the list that are actually obvious. Of course your gut impacts your intestines and overall digestive system!

Digestive issues are common, but one clinical research study found that constipated patients had significantly lower levels of a bacteria called Prevotella and higher levels of Firmicutes. This was especially interesting because the patients’ levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria (the probiotics that people usually take as supplements) were not any different from people who weren’t suffering from constipation.

Autoimmune Diseases

Did you know that autoimmune conditions have skyrocketed in the last century? Not only are there a ton of people who have them, there are also a broad range of different kinds. Currently, there are approximately 100 official autoimmune conditions and around 40 illnesses that have an autoimmune component.

A damaged microbiome and leaky gut syndrome often lead to autoimmunity because a full 80% of your immune system resides in your gut. If that large percentage is damaged, it will inevitably compromise your entire immune system.

Acid Reflux

Both acid reflux and Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) have been correlated with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), or with having a microbiome dysfunction.

Obesity and Weight Gain

If you were to play a word association game with “obesity” or “weight gain,” you’d probably think “overeating” or “fast food” or “sugar.” But maybe you should be thinking “bacteria”!

When a person’s microbiome has an imbalance of bacteria, they become far more prone to weight loss resistance and obesity. Granted, things like overeating or eating fast food and sugar on a regular basis certainly aren’t good for the balance of our gut bacteria. But if you think your weight doesn’t reflect the overall effort you put into maintaining it, you should ask your doctor to check in on your gut health.

Sometimes some extra attention to your microbiome can help you lose weight you’ve been holding onto for years. Studies have shown that Lactobacillus rhamnosus bacteria is especially helpful for weight loss in women.

Mental Health Disorders

Medical literature refers to the gut as your “second brain.” This is because the two are connected through communication lines known as the gut-brain axis. If your microbiome is unhealthy, it could result in conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Skin Problems

They say beauty is skin deep, but in reality it can be belly deep too!

All of the following skin conditions have a microbiome and inflammatory-autoimmune component to them:

  • Acne
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Dermatitis

Healing your microbiome could also help heal your face or other impacted parts of your body.

Chronic Sinus Infections and Asthma

Having an overgrowth of Corynebacterium tuberculostearicum and dysbiosis of microbiome bacteria was shown to frequently be the reason behind a patient’s chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) or asthma.

Cancer

One noteworthy study showed that having inflammation and damage of the gut severely decreased the range of of bacterial species in the microbiome. The lessened microbiome variety allowed pathogenic bacterial overgrowth of E. coli, and eighty percent of the mice with E. coli subsequently developed colorectal cancer.

Type II Diabetes

This is another one that may not totally shock you. Type II diabetes is of course linked to obesity and poor diet, but this chronic degenerative disease is more complicated than that. It was also recently linked to microbiome disturbances, and one study found that transplanting the microbiome of diabetic mice into healthy mice made the healthy mice diabetic!

Parkinson’s Disease

The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease still remains somewhat in the dark. However, recently researchers have found new evidence that it may actually start in the gut.

Scientists at the California Institute of Technology, known as Caltech, have concluded that changes in bacteria, or the bacteria themselves, contribute to motor skill decline. In fact, they may even cause it!

This also helps to explain why approximately 75% of Parkinson’s patients experience gastrointestinal abnormalities before other symptoms start appearing.

“Constipation is one of the nonmotor signs of PD which can start years before the motor signs. We do use probiotics for treatment of constipation in PD. It [constipation] can be distressing to patients and is one of the nonmotor symptoms that gets discussed commonly during visits,” said Dr. Marie Saint-Hilaire, a neurology professor at Boston University Medical Campus.

Dr. Saint-Hilaire added that many studies point toward a strong connection between Parkinson’s disease and the gut.

Conclusion

Researchers seem to learn more every day about just how much the gut regulates almost every system of your body. It is important to keep in mind how vital your gut is to your overall health, and how many seemingly unrelated things it can actually impact. In fact, you may have an unhealthy microbiome without having any gastrointestinal indications of it at all.

Hippocrates, known as the “Father of Modern Medicine,” once famously claimed that “All disease begins in the gut.” What was once thought to be an archaic claim has far more truth to it than most people outside of the medical field realize. Are you being proactive about protecting your gut?

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