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World Health Day: Importance of Gut Health in Chronic Conditions

I am sharing this article for World Health Day (7th April) in the hope that it will help many people suffering from chronic health problems. Chronic is the term used to describe long term health conditions.

If you are suffering from a long term condition, or think that pain and discomfort is an inevitable part of the ageing process and something you ‘have to live with’, then please read on.

Introduction
Whilst many chronic conditions are not life threatening, they can have a huge impact on our quality of life and wellbeing. By the very nature of being constantly there, there is no reprieve from them. People learn to live with them but feel worn down by them. When you are living with a chronic condition it’s all too easy to forget what it’s like to feel well, let alone to feel vitality alive.

In my kinesiology practice the majority of people I see present with chronic conditions. The most common ones include digestive issues, IBS, migraines, skin conditions, joint pain and back pain. In many cases I have found that the key to restoring health is to focus on improving gut health.

Recent science recognises the gut as ‘the second brain’, which connects with all systems in the body - including the nervous system, the immune system, the cardiovascular system and even the skin – and that any changes in the balance of the trillions of bacteria that live in our gastrointestinal tract can adversely affect those systems.

So how can those trillions of gut bacteria, or ‘microbiome' as it is collectively known, be put out of balance?

Antibiotics
Researchers at University College London (UCL) recently found that just one prescription of antibiotics can change the composition of the microbiome (click for more information). Antibiotics are undoubtedly necessary at times but can have side effects. When I question clients about when their health condition first started it can often be traced back to a course of antibiotics.

Symptoms typical of gut dysbiosis (imbalance) include, although are not limited to:
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • IBS
  • Upset stomach
  • Bad breath
  • Vaginal or anal itching
  • Difficulty urinating
Probiotics are all the rage and can be found everywhere, including supermarkets. However, for me this standard ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is not targeted enough and may potentially contribute to putting the existing gut bacteria even more out of balance by overpopulating with strains that are already present.

I prefer a more targeted approach and work with a range of 23 different product strains of bacteria to identify a combination that is tailor made for each individual. If you suspect you have gut dysbiosis I would recommend seeking someone who takes a similar approach.

Parasites
Parasites (or intestinal worms) can be a taboo subject, but they are incredibly common! They can be picked up from a variety of sources, including pets, undercooked meat and from veg/salad that is not washed sufficiently.

Common symptoms of parasites include:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Wind/bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss or never feeling really full
  • Waking up a lot in the night
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Mucus in stools
  • Grinding teeth in sleep
  • Diagnosis of iron deficiency
Parasites can be easily treated using over the counter medication. However, if you would like to check you have them before treating them then you can visit your doctor or a kinesiologist.

Leaky Gut
Leaky Gut is a condition in which the intestinal lining becomes more permeable than normal, allowing undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria to enter the blood stream. These are recognised as foreign by the immune system which triggers antibodies, causing inflammatory and allergic reactions.

Symptoms of leaky gut are not dissimilar to parasites and include:
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Arthritic type joint pains
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Irritability
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Sensitivity to many foods (when you sort the leaky gut, the sensitivity often disappears)
A leaky gut can affect the body’s ability to produce the enzymes needed for proper digestion, so the body may struggle to absorb essential nutrients, which can lead to a weakened immune system and subsequent health issues.

Leaky gut can be resolved through diet (there is much information online). In addition it can be supported and healed by targeted formulas/nutritional supplementation. Kinesiology can help to identify which ones will do the best job for you as an individual.

Conclusion
As you can see there are a dizzying range of unpleasant symptoms caused by imbalances in the gut microbiome. I have been humbled by how resolving many of these issues and gut health has helped to restore the health of so many of my clients. I very much hope this article will help other people.

Kinesiology recognises that we are all unique and have our own unique genetic make up. Its focus on the individual, rather than the disease/condition itself, can be highly beneficial in helping to manage many chronic conditions.

If you would like to find out more about kinesiology or would like to find a kinesiologist in the UK please visit the website of The Association of Systematic Kinesiology.

Image courtesy of www.pexels.com

The ICV – Could this little known valve be behind your IBS type symptoms?

The Ileo-Caecal Valve (or ICV for short) sits between the small and large intestine and plays a vital role in our gut health and overall wellbeing.

A malfunctioning ICV allows waste products to build up in the body, causing toxicity and a range of symptoms, which may include:

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhoea

  • Abdominal pain

  • Chronic tiredness

  • Stiff neck

  • Joint Pain

  • Mid-back pain

  • Carpel tunnel

  • Frozen shoulder

  • Headaches

  • Skin problems

  • Depression

Here’s how it works (or doesn’t!)…..

After food is broken down by the stomach it goes into the small intestine, where all the essential vitamins and minerals needed by the body are absorbed. Once the goodness has been taken out, the remaining waste product heads towards the large intestine, via the ICV, to be formed into faeces and expelled.

The ICV is like a gatekeeper sitting at the end of the small intestine – opening at the appropriate time to let the waste matter through to the large intestine, and closing afterwards.

Problems occur when the valve either stays shut (allowing waste matter to build up) or remains open (allowing faecal matter to flow backwards) - in both cases toxic matter is absorbed into the body via the small intestine, resulting in many of the symptoms listed above.

Causes of ICV malfunction

One of the main causes of ICV malfunction is emotional upset, which is why many IBS sufferers experience a worsening of symptoms when stressed.  

Another cause is food sensitivities.  Although it can often be difficult to identify the offending foods because, unlike allergies where the allergic reaction is usually instantaneous, food sensitivities can sometimes take days to manifest.

How kinesiology can help

A kinesiology assessment can help to identify ICV involvement in your symptoms.  It can also help to address any emotional cause as well as identify specific foods that might be causing you problems.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me for a non obligation chat.

Photo by Kat Smith from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/out-of-order-text-on-persons-belly-735966/