One area I address with every patient is gut health because of the role it has in other areas of health. Is it possible to have a healthy gut and still experience other health issues? Yes! But, if there are gut issues that aren’t being addressed, then improving other areas of health may be hindered until gut health is addressed and optimized.
Let me give an example. Sarah has been experiencing headaches for months. As we dig deeper we establish that she has a long standing issue of constipation. Through food sensitivity testing or an elimination diet, we determine Sarah is having a sensitivity to gluten. When she eats gluten, it triggers an immune reaction which also triggers what is called the “inflammatory cascade”.
High levels of inflammation can show up in different ways including pain, such as joint pain or headaches. When Sarah eliminates gluten, not only does her constipation clear up, but her immune system and inflammatory response improves and headaches lessen or completely resolve.
One thing to consider is going a step further to identify if there is an underlying cause to why she is experiencing a gluten sensitivity. If there is gut dysbiosis, this may be what is causing an immune reaction to gluten. By balancing the gut microbiome, gluten may no longer be a problem for Sarah.
If we had addressed headaches by doing some very important lifestyle changes, like increasing hydration, improving quality of sleep and reducing stress - Sarah may have had some improvement in her headaches and other areas of health because these changes are important for our body and brain health anyway. But as long as the trigger of gluten and gut dysbiosis are present, it’s unlikely her headaches would resolve. Eventually other health issues can develop as a result of her immune and inflammatory response that is being triggered.
Hormone imbalances, weight gain, troubles concentrating, nutrient deficiencies and more are all possibilities in a scenario like this. This is why addressing gut health should never be overlooked.
Stayed tuned for a 5 part series on where to begin in addressing your own gut health. I want to provide actionable tips that I hope you’ll find helpful. If you want to receive more information like this directly to your inbox, consider signing up for my newsletter!
Your friend in health,
Alyssa Vest FNP