Solving gut problems can sometimes be challenging. Our modern lives can do a lot of unintentional damage to our gastrointestinal tract and unravelling the specific triggers for an individual’s gut health woes can sometimes feel like two steps forward one step back.
What we’ve come to understand in recent years is the role of bacterial diversity and just how much the exposure to bacteria, fungi, viruses and other pathogenic organisms has played a critical role in shaping our gut, and by extension – our genes and immune health. There have been many changes to our ways of living over the past 150+ years that have impacted microbial diversity and this likely accounts as one of the major reasons gut health is now such a growing health issue.
Discovering good and bad bacteria in the 19th century
We are just a couple of generations in since the advent of antibiotics, pesticides and many other modern medical interventions, which have all had an impact on our gastrointestinal tract and in particular, the microbiome – the populations of good (and bad) bacteria that live symbiotically within us. The rise of these notions of pasteurisation (heat kills bacteria), penicillin and the germ theory in the early 19th century rapidly became the prevailing school of thought to help stamp the disease and mortality burdens of the time. It was, however, around the same time that scientists were also starting to unlock clues about the role of good bacteria in the process of fermentation, which had been used for many years to preserve food without the need for refrigeration, but it would take many years for this emerging theory to develop into the microbiome understanding we have today.
In modern times we now consume less fermented foods, more refrigerated foods, less organ meats and more sugar and preservatives than any of our ancestors. We also have a huge percentage of the population living in apartments, and not in homes with yards or in contact with soils and livestock in the ways our ancestors would have been in order to obtain food. Add to that that we now also live in an era of plumbing and sanitation, antiseptics for cleaning and by the time we’re an adult we will have likely had up to a dozen or more courses of antibiotics. Our modern lives have definitely changed our exposures and the war we’ve waged on killing harmful bacteria has also come at the expense of the ‘good guys’.
What is the microbiome?
The microbiome is made up of the (mostly ‘good’) bacteria that live within our gut environment. Cell for cell, our bacteria populations within the human body outnumber our human cells 9:1. They play an important role in our digestive process, metabolising foods and fibres and also making important nutrients such as B vitamins that we need as cofactors in many metabolic pathways, including energy production.
Good bacteria can also produce protective metabolites that can have an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immune-regulatory effect as well as influence the pathways that make our mood chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine. The microbiome is an important aspect to human health that is still being fully understood, but what is clear is that when the microbiome is disturbed, or the balance of good vs. bad bacteria becomes out of balance, poor health outcomes are almost always the end result.
How do we heal the gut?
There are a number of aspects we need to consider when we want to improve the health and function of the gut environment;
The lining of the gut is the defensive barrier between ‘the outside world’ and our inner world or cells, organs, blood etc. This barrier, when working optimally, is a sophisticated threat-detection system that only lets in the good, and keeps out the riff-raff. However, if it becomes leaky or permeable, it can begin to let in substances it’s not supposed to and this sets off the alarms in our protective response systems (such as histamine, or immune chemicals) to ‘kill’ the threat that’s been detected.
Constant threats, inflammation, stress are just some examples of how the gut lining can become compromised over time. It needs nourishment to repair and sometimes when we’re feeling unwell, we aren’t making great food choices, our body’s resources can quickly become overwhelmed to complete the daily patchwork needed to keep functioning smoothly. This is where concentrated gut healing can be effective – providing the gut with resources that support cellular repair (such as glutamine), soothing fibres (PHGG, Acacia gum) and anti-inflammatory agents (like marshmallow root).
One of the most fundamental things our gut is supposed to do is breakdown food particles into smaller, more absorbable components so we can obtain the nutrients we need to run all our bodily functions. But when the gut becomes compromised, our ability to make enzymes can become depleted. This can be further compounded by a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables, which themselves naturally contain enzymes that the body can use to ‘top up the tank’.
Enzymes are an important consideration in gut repair. To help alleviate some of the housekeeping functions, to enable the body to initiate repair, but also to maximise the incoming bank balance of nutrition that the body needs to both run smoothly, whilst also having reserves on hand to do essential repair work.
|An unhappy and distressed gut can quickly become a battlefield for inflammation. As the lining of the gut deteriorates and the nutrient demands overwhelm the incoming supply, it sets up a cycle of perpetual inflammation that the body struggles to shut down. This can make us more reactive, to more foods over time and cause pain and other downstream effects like hormonal,mood and immunity problems. Addressing the inflammatory burden is an important part of any gut healing plan.|
|When the diet is poor and lacking in fresh produce, fibre and good quality fats we set up an environment in the gut that helps bad bacteria thrive and good bacteria struggle. Replenishing the gut microbiome is not as simple as throwing good bacteria back in and hoping for the best. To rebalance properly, the microbiome needs prebiotic fibres to fuel their growth and nourishment, reduced inflammation to keep their populations high and the gut environment (lining) needs to support the growth and development of beneficial organisms. This can be achieved by supporting secretory IgA in the gut and using soluble prebiotic fibres which help to rebuild the mucopolysaccharide layer in the gut lining where our good bacteria live.|
The Gut Repair formula has been formulated to take a broad spectrum approach to gut wellbeing. It provides the healing and soothing effects of anti-inflammatory agents like Aloe and Marshmallow, combined with soluble fibres (eg. PHGG, banana starch and acacia gum) that help rebuild the environment for beneficial bacteria to grow and thrive. It also contains beneficial bacteria (Bacillus coagulans) as well as Saccharomyces boulardii – which has the unique ability to stimulate an important gut compound, secretory IgA that has anti-inflammatory, prebiotic and immune-regulatory benefits. Lastly, it contains digestive enzymes to help the body break down foods, which is an important aspect to ensuring poorly digested foods aren’t triggering allergic responses and inflammation, but also helps us to maximise available nutrients from our diet that will further help with the healing and repair process.
“I’ve tried gut repair, and it’s not helping, or it’s making things worse”
As I’m sure you’re beginning to appreciate, there are a lot of aspects to gut health that can often mean we need to look into outside factors. There’s not always a ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to gut healing. Sometimes, our unique health history, genetics or other factors are at play and can interrupt our expected results. But sometimes, the lack of results can also give us clues as to where to look next.
Customers often reach out to our clinical support team with questions about their results with Gut Repair. Here is one such example;
Our customer support naturopath Sonja, liaised with this customer and suggested that based on the symptoms he was still experiencing, that he should consider exploring additional testing. She agreed with his prior advice that testing for SIBO would be warranted and to rule our H.pylori as well (another common culprit in gut disorders).
WHAT IS SIBO?
SIBO stands for small intestine bacterial overgrowth, and as the name implies, it’s characterised by too much and/or the wrong kinds of bacteria populating the small intestine. This leads to a number of functional digestive issues and may account for up to 80% of IBS sufferers’ symptoms.
Through better awareness and availability of hydrogen breath testing, SIBO is becoming easier to diagnose and requires targeted treatment to address and manage it appropriately. Gut Repair can still be beneficial alongside the medical therapies to continue to address those important aspects of digestive health – fibre, inflammation & healing.
This customer touched base with Sonja again three months later to say he’d received a positive SIBO diagnosis, which confirmed Sonja’s suspicions and explained why he continued to have certain gut symptoms beyond his initial three months of Gut Repair use. When we have very compromised digestion, it can take months, even years, to bring it all back into balance and control.
Sonja speaks to customers daily about their gut healing journey and sends many customers to explore further testing, depending on their symptoms. There’s a lot of functional testing that can dive deeper into why gut symptoms persist, whether it’s SIBO or assessing the gut microbiome and short chain fatty acid profiles, stool testing for parasites or testing for H.pylori. There are always answers to be uncovered that can step you closer to resolving your gut problems. Sometimes it’s the symptoms someone experiences in Gut Repair that can provide clues as to where to look deeper into someone’s overall gut health and steer us towards the answers to a full resolution of their gut disturbances.
So if you experience side effects with your gut healing journey, join our Think & Feel Your Best Community and talk to our clinical support team!