An astounding 80% of our immune system is in the gastrointestinal tract.
"Brain fog" is often related to GI issues that have not been addressed.
Gut and nervous system tissue are from the same source; therefore, they are intimately connected. Dr. Carrick's testing and treatment recognizes this lifelong connection.
What Everyone Needs for a Healthy Digestive Tract
Common GI complaints are bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn (aka GERD). The solution to all of these problems is a healthier digestive tract, so the following need to be in place:
- Food intake that nourishes us and is easily digestible
- Strong stomach acid (hydrochloric acid)
- Pancreatic and gallbladder enzymes
- A healthy liver, producing bile
- The right amount of water and fiber
- Well-timed, coordinated movement of food through the GI tract (motility)
- A relatively sterile stomach and small intestine
- Having enough diverse bacteria in the large intestine (microbiome)
Sometimes, GI issues disappear when the type of food being eaten is changed. An elimination (challenge) diet may be all that is needed to determine what is wrong with a patient's digestion. If more information is needed, tests are available to determine how much inflammation, what foods are causing an immune-system reaction, and whether there are parasites, pathogenic bacteria, viruses or fungi present.
Intestinal Bacterial and Fungal Issues
SIBO stands for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, which causes digestive issues, such as bloating. Just as common but less well known is SIFO: Small Intestine Fungal Overgrowth. The small intestine should have few bacteria and fungi/yeast. SIBO and SIFO, which cause problems beyond bloating, such as brain fog, can occur when there aren't enough digestive enzymes or when food moves too slowly through the GI tract and there is overgrowth.
Ideally, the mucosa of the intestine should be a semi-permeable barrier: allowing desirable nutrients into the bloodstream. When things that should stay in the intestine are allowed into the bloodstream, however, the condition is called hyper-permeable intestinal barrier or 'leaky gut." A leaky gut can cause nutritional deficiencies and food allergies or food intolerance. This condition steals energy, creates more SIBO work for the liver, and accelerates aging.
PROBIOTICS are beneficial bacteria which help to create a healthy microbiome (collection of microorganisms) in every human being. For bowel health, 50% of a stool consists of good bacteria. Probiotics, unexpectedly, are responsible for about 20% of the conversion of inactive thyroid hormone (T4) into active T3. In a study of depressed patients, taking probiotics for 8 weeks decreased depression and reduced C-reactive protein levels (a marker of inflammation). Lactic-acid-producing bacteria may reduce cholesterol by breaking down bile in the gut.
Everyone benefits from a wide variety and large numbers of bacteria and other microbes. Conditions and diseases such as IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), IBS (Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome), obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer have been linked to a lack of beneficial bacteria.
PREBIOTICS are food for probiotics. Eating a diversity of fibrous foods (avocados, strawberries, lentils, apples, carrots, bananas, chick peas, artichokes, etc.) helps to feed good bacteria. There are some supplements which help, too.
POSTBIOTICS are the benefits of a good microbiome: nutrients such as folate, vitamin K2, CoQ10, short chain fatty acids and amino acids that are precursors to dopamine (an important brain chemical).