There might be something wrong with your inner tube, and it could be making you sick and fat.
You may not even realize you have a problem …but if you have health concerns of any kind or you are overweight, your inner tube could be the root cause.
Of course, I’m not talking about a beach toy. I mean the inner tube of life — your digestive system!
It is likely that you suffer from (or have suffered from) some type of digestive disorder — irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, reflux, gas, and other things too gross to mention in print.
And you are not alone. More than 100 million Americans have digestive problems.
Two of the top five selling drugs in America are for digestive problems, and they cost us billions and billions of dollars.
There are more than 200 over-the-counter (OTC) remedies for digestive disorders, many of which can create additional digestive problems.
Visits for intestinal disorders are among the most common reasons for trips to primary care physicians.
And that’s not even the worst news.
Most of us (including most doctors) do not recognize or know that digestive problems wreak havoc in the entire body, leading to allergies, arthritis, autoimmune disease, rashes, acne, chronic fatigue, mood disorders, autism, dementia, cancer, and more.
So having a healthy gut means more than simply being free of annoyances like bloating or heartburn!Â It is absolutely central to your health.Â It is connected to EVERYTHING that happens in your body.
That’s why I almost always start helping people treat chronic health problems by fixing their gut, which is what I want to help you do today.
Today, you will learn how you can find out if you have a problem with your gut (though many of you won’t need me to tell you — your gut will speak for itself!), and I will give you 7 simple steps you can take today to heal your inner tube of life.
Fixing your digestion is the 4th key of the 7 Keys to UltraWellness or functional medicine, and it is absolutely essential that you heal this critical system in your body if you want to achieve optimum health.
Why your gut is so important? Let me explain …
How Your Gut Keeps You Healthy or Makes You Ill
The health of your gut determines what nutrients are absorbed and what toxins, allergens, and microbes are kept out. It is directly linked to the health of your whole body.
Intestinal health could be defined as the optimal digestion, absorption, and assimilation of food.Â But that is a big job that depends on many other factors. Let’s look at a few of them …
First, there are bugs in your gut that form a diverse and interdependent ecosystem like a rainforest. In fact, there are 500 species and 3 pounds of bacteria in your gut which form a HUGE chemical factory that helps you digest your food, regulate hormones, excrete toxins, and produce vitamins and other healing compounds that keep your gut and your body healthy.
This ecosystem of friendly bacteria must be in balance for you to be healthy.
Too many of the wrong bacteria, like parasites and yeasts, or not enough of the good ones, like Lactobacillus or Bifidobacteria, can seriously damage your health.
So keeping a healthy balance of bugs in your intestines is one factor to good gut health.
Second, there is your gut-immune system. Your entire immune system — and the rest of your body — is protected from the toxic environment in your gut by a lining that is only ONE cell-thick layer. If spread out, this lining would take up a surface area the size of a tennis court, and the entire thing is covered by a sewer!
If that barrier is damaged, you can become allergic to foods you may normally be able to digest perfectly well, you will get sick, your immune system will become overactive, and it will begin producing inflammation throughout your body.
Filtering out the good molecules from the bad molecules and protecting your immune system is yet another important factor in gut health.
Third, there is your second brain — your gut’s nervous system. Did you know your gut, actually contains MORE neurotransmitters than your brain? In fact, the gut has a brain of its own. It is called the “enteric nervous system” and it is a very sophisticated piece of your biology that is wired to your brain in intricate ways.
Messages constantly travel back and forth between your gut-brain and your head-brain, and when those messages are interfered with in any way your health will suffer.
Fourth, your gut also has to get rid of all the toxins produced as byproducts of your metabolism, which your liver dumps into bile. If things get backed up when you are constipated, you will become toxic and your health will suffer.
And last but not least, your gut must break down all the food you eat into its individual components, separate out the vitamins and minerals, and shuttle everything across the one cell-thick layer mentioned above so it can get into your bloodstream and nourish your body and brain.
Your gut has quite a lot to manage. Even in perfect world it is hard to keep all of this in balance.Â But in our modern world there are endless insults that can knock our digestive systems off balance; it is that much more difficult to maintain excellent digestive health.
How to Know if Your Gut is Out of Balance
To fix your digestion, you first need to understand what is sending your gut out of balance in the first place. The list is short:
- Â· Our low-fiber, high-sugar, processed, nutrient-poor, high-calorie diet, which causes all the wrong bacteria and yeast to grow in our gut and damages the delicate ecosystem in your intestines.
- Â· Overuse of medications that damage the gut or block normal digestive function –things like acid blockers (Prilosec, Nexium, etc.), ant-inflammatory medication (aspirin, Advil and Aleve), overuse of antibiotics, steroids and hormones
- Â· Undetected gluten intolerance, celiac disease or low grade food allergies to foods such as dairy, eggs, or corn.
- Â· Chronic low-grade infections or gut imbalances with overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, yeast overgrowth, parasites, or even more serious gut infections
- Â· Toxins like mercury and mold toxins, which damage the gut
- Â· Lack of adequate digestive enzyme function, which can come from acid-blocking medication use, or zinc deficiency
- Â· Stress, which can alter the gut nervous system, cause a leaky gut, and change the normal bacteria in the gut
What happens then is obvious. You get sick.
Mark Hyman, M.D. is an internationally recognized authority in the field of functional medicine—a revolution in 21st century medicine that provides a new road map for navigating the territory of health and illness. He is founder of The UltraWellness Center where he treats patients using this new model in his medical practice and is co-founder of UltraWellness whose mission is to make the principles of functional medicine accessible to everyone.
You can learn more about Dr. Hyman’s exhaustive work to change healthcare as well as his program for achieving UltraWellness by following him on Twitter, watching his videos on YouTube, connecting with him on LinkedIn, or becoming a fan on Facebook.
Dr. Hyman is the author of multiple New York Times best-sellers including The UltraMind Solution, The UltraSimple Diet, UltraMetabolism, and the weekly UltraWellness Newsletter in which he provides insight into how you can integrate functional medicine into your life and achieve the state of UltraWellness—which is nothing less than vital mental and physical health, optimal weight, and a renewed lease on life.
He is also Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors and faculty of the Institute for Functional Medicine; is on the Board of Directors of the Center for Mind Body Medicine in Washington DC; on the Board of Advisors and faculty for the “Food as Medicine” training program; and is a part of Memhet Oz’s HealthCorps. In each of these capacities he actively advocates for fundamental changes in healthcare—changes that takes into account diet, lifestyle, and personalized treatment based on the paradigm of functional medicine as essential components for medical education and practice.
Latest posts by Mark Hyman, MD (see all)
- Do You Even Need Nutritional Supplements? - October 1, 2011
- Raising Healthier, Smarter, Fitter Children - September 27, 2011
- Stopping Addiction to Sugar: Willpower or Genetics? - September 16, 2011