Trust Your Gut

Trust Your Gut

Trust Your Gut

In recent years, “gut health” has become a popular buzz phrase with scientists, physicians, and on social media. The idea isn’t new – Hippocrates once said that “all disease begins in the gut.” Improving digestive health has been a foundational ethos of Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. As a society, we’ve strayed from prioritizing health and nutrition over convenience, and are seeing the ramifications in increased obesity, heart disease, and other ailments that weren’t as prevalent before processed foods became a mainstay in our diets.

So why does the gut matter? Does having a drive-thru meal once a week really make that much of a difference? Your immune system, mood, sleep, digestion, heart, and brain all say yes.

Over the next few months, we’ll be looking at why gut health is important, and the roles of some of the unsung heroes of the digestive system.

 

Why it Matters

 

More than 100 trillion bacteria live in the gut.
That’s not a typo. There are more bacteria than human cells in the human body. Gut bacteria help our esophagus, stomach, and intestines work together to comfortably digest foods. When the biome is thrown off, it can lead to heartburn, bloating, constipation, nausea, and loose stools. The little bacteria can’t ward off infection or communicate well with the brain through nerves and hormones.

Roughly 70% of the immune system (by weight) lives in the digestive tract.
Without getting too technical, the Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT) is the largest mass of lymphoid tissue in the body, and helps protect the body from infection in the gut. The gut’s mucosal surface is thin – it to be in order to allow food absorption. That also means that it’s vulnerable to infection. GALT helps protect the body from a large population of plasma cells (which produce antibodies) – larger than the spleen, lymph nodes, and bone marrow combined.

90-95% of serotonin (the body’s mood boosting chemical) is produced in the gut.
You read that right. You’re probably familiar with serotonin as a brain neurotransmitter, right? A recent Caltech study shows that certain bacteria in the guy play a pivotal role in serotonin production. The foods we eat impact our moods beyond what we refer to as “comfort food.”

Up to 90% of diseases can be traced back to the gut microbiome.
An estimated 70 million Americans have digestive diseases, and almost 1 in 5 have IBS. Those little bacteria strengthen the digestive tract’s wall, protecting us from pathogens. When the pathogens get through, it leads to inflammation and digestive disorders.

 

Help a Gut out Already

 

There are some easy things you can do to help give your gut a break (while avoiding any allergens):
1) Eat a variety of whole grains and legumes
2) Minimize eating out
3) Stop eating when you’re full
4) Eat fresh fruit and vegetables every day
5) Have a handful of nuts each day
6) Drink lots of water
7) Avoid artificial sweeteners and minimize candies and confections
8) Keep a food diary. If you get heartburn, feel bloated, or experience other digestive distress after eating certain foods, try eliminating or minimizing them in your diet.
9) Get some exercise
10) Sleep
11) Be careful with antibiotics. If you need them, add yogurt to your diet for the duration of the prescription.

Contact Affinity Acupuncture for Nashville Acupuncture treatments and techniques.

 

Acupuncture and Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States with about 60,000 deaths from it every year. Like all cancer, treatment can be long, uncomfortable and come with many side effects. Those getting chemotherapy may experience nausea, vomiting, postoperative pain, cancer related pain, insomnia and anxiety. The chronic pain can significantly impact quality of life. Most patients are prescribed medications such as opioids for pain that have side effects and are highly addictive.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is believed that colon cancer comes from a number of underlying factors such as spleen yang deficiency, kidney yang deficiency, kidney yin deficiency and liver yin deficiency. Acupuncture works by addressing these deficiencies to return the body back to balance. Using specific points on the body related to these organs, acupuncture stimulates the body’s natural energy flow, Qi, and blood flow to improve organ health.

Going through chemotherapy treatment can cause severe fatigue. One study showed that acupuncture resulted in a 30 percent improvement in a baseline fatigue score.

Insomnia and anxiety are one of the most common symptoms that cancer patients experience. Acupuncture has been proven in numerous studies to be just as effective, if not more, than prescription drugs in improving sleep and decreasing stress and anxiety levels. This alternative treatment has also been shown to improve overall mood.

Acupuncture can help boost the immune system. Chemotherapy can greatly lower the body’s immune defense, leaving one in a vulnerable state due to a decrease in white-blood cell count. By increasing blood flow and stimulating Qi, acupuncture is a great way to improve immune function.

Cancer and cancer treatment is nothing to take lightly. A diagnosis can drastically change one’s life not only physically but mentally as well. If you have been diagnosed with colon cancer and/or going through chemotherapy, it is important to remember that there are alternative, safe treatments that can help make the process easier. If a loved one is going through treatment, support is the best thing you can do for them. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and there is no better time to get tested and become educated on the facts.

Sources: https://coloncancerfoundation.org/treatment/, http://bit.ly/1Toqw3p