The Importance of a Healthy Gut
Updated: Jan 2, 2020
Why does Lighthouse Complex Care start with a focus on the gut and gut health?
The gut is the main home of the immune system. In our population, if addressing the problem was a simple as adding a supplement or antibiotic, in most cases it would already be solved. We know that in our complex patients we need to go deeper. Once the gut is functioning more effectively, it is easier to get nutrients and medications into the body so they can be properly utilized.
The first thing is always diet—and first on that list (assuming the patient is eating) is going gluten-free. There will be another post soon with a deeper look at gluten (and how/when you can add it back in). For now, know that there are plenty of studies that demonstrate gluten causes the digestive tract to open wider than it should for a longer period of time than it should be open. The impact of this can be an overactive immune response and an open blood-brain barrier. You know the next steps in the process? The steps apply to the gut analysis as well. So next, Lighthouse looks at infectious or environmental impacts on the gut. What is the patient’s poop score? (Not even kidding.) Does the patient show signs of parasites, poor gut flora, other disbiosis or malnutrition?
There are medical tests that Lighthouse reviews provide information to answer these questions. But further, Lighthouse wants to looks at gut function in consideration of DNA SNPs. Does the patient’s body produce a hospitable environment for the flora that need to live there? Is the patient digesting fatty acids properly? If the patient needs a specific nutrient, does the body have the mechanisms to process and absorb that nutrient, whether it is folate, sulfur or a host of other things? If genetics are impacting the body’s ability to get what it needs, what is the process to get this body what it needs?
Here is a simplified example:
While gluten-free, Chris has oily stools, and a folate deficiency. Giving methyl folate caused huge behavioral symptoms. Review of testing shows that digestion isn’t good, and it needs to be supported. A B vitamin deficiency is noted. First, digestive enzymes and probiotics are added to support and improve gut health. Next, body must have B12 to process folic acid, so that is added in to be absorbed through the mucus membranes. Only then is methyl folate reintroduced (low and slow) to make sure the Chris's body able to absorb and utilize the nutrient.
Can you see that the order of treatment in this case is important? If the gut isn’t working, nutrients are not absorbed. If methyl folate is thrown in before B12, there can be severe negative reactions. In the population of complex cases, examples such as this show up over and over again, often in the same patient. It is important to look at the entirety of the systems in the body and come up with a comprehensive plan. The plan should be ordered in such a way to get all of the systems of the body working effectively. At Lighthouse, that is what we do, and we start with the gut.