The Unsuspected Underlying Culprits of Stomach Pain: Finally Finding a Happy Place of Gut Health
When you are dealing with chronic stomach problems, diarrhea, gas or constipation, you want to find an explanation for it. Like most people, you want to make sure you cover all bases so you can finally overcome your tummy troubles.
Our energy, sense of well-being, and overall health is affected by our gut.
Our gut is the summation of our entire digestive tract that runs as a tube from your mouth to anus.
It’s easy to think about your gut as a simple organ, but it really is very sophisticated. For many reasons, your gut is the keystone of your health. Not the least of which is to ensure you get nutrition from your food for strong bones, muscles, and a clear thinking brain. It also helps your immune system act quickly against invading organisms like sickness-causing bacteria, viruses, and other things.
Masking the Root Cause of Gut Problems
The biggest problem I see is people trying to mask gut problems with digestion medications that don’t address the root of the problem. These may include a variety of symptomatic relief medications like antacids and constipation control aides.
It’s normal to believe that you need these medications for stomach problems because that’s what you see on television, in medical offices, and it’s what you hear from many of those around you.
Just because you see it advertised as a cure for your symptom does not mean it’s the answer to your main problem.
The unhealthy side to these “normal” medications is that they can mask the real problems. As a result your body may not digest food correctly or it might be working with a mismanagedacid-base balance or it may not be able to handle microscopic invaders effectively.
Understanding the relationship between your gut and all that’s operating in and around it can help you understand where you might be getting the chronic tummy troubles you have.
Your Body and the Bacteria that Live In It
Our body is complex and understanding its rhythms and movement are important for helping many internal health issues. As chiropractors, we often see patients with stomach problems and digestive troubles who also have spinal subluxations (joint fixations of the spine) in areas linked to the gut such as the level of the back just between a person’s shoulder blades. It is a common tight area where tension likes to settle in and hold, and it happens to be a key area of connection between the nervous system and the gut. A healthy nervous system ensures your gut is moving and reacting the best way it can. We’ve found that subluxation relief in this area may help.
Whether you like the idea or not, the inside of your body is filled with microbes, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses- some help us while some diminish our health and energy. These microbes make up what is called our “microbiome” or the complete collection of microbes that live in our body.
Michael Snyder, PhD, Director of Stanford University’s Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine says, “There’s a good chance your microbiome is associated with every disease you can think of.”
Besides normal gut troubles that most people know about like stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis, or gas, several unsuspected diseases and disorders have been linked to gut bacteria. Interestingly, gut bacteria may be connected with cognitive and psychological disorders such as depression, ADD, anxiety, autism, OCD, substance abuse, and Alzheimer’s disease. This connection may be due to the gut microbes’ ability to create molecules that irritate and impact brain function.
What is a Happy Gut?
A happy gut is in place when several positive intestinal processes are happening all at once: our microbiome is balanced and harmonious, our food choices enhance mobility of the gut and nutrition uptake, and there is a certain level of body and mind calmness in place.
Relieving tension and body restrictions such as that in between our shoulder blades has been shown to improve body calmness in some and thereby improve health problems with the gut. Managing, to the extent we can, what’s living in your body is just as important as managing the health of the surrounding structures of your gut.
How Can We Improve Our Gut to Achieve Better Health?
Rigorous research into the human microbiome is still in its infancy. However, there is evidence that we may be able to influence the mix of microbes in our gut through our food choices.
This is not to say that changing any one particular aspect of your diet—substituting one sort of food for another, for instance—will result in a cure for any particular disease. However, we know enough about a healthy overall diet and its impact on our body’s function and well-being to be able to recommend lowering sugar intake (sugar, bread, pasta, potatoes) and increasing fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats (olive oil, avocados, etc.). These changes contribute to a healthier nutritional profile, which clearly leads to better overall health and weight maintenance.
Some nutritional experts also recommend eating fermented foods containing live active cultures (such as yogurt, kimchee, kefir, miso, kombucha, and sauerkraut) or taking probiotic supplements to support the colonies of “good” bacteria that live inside your gut.
If you choose to take probiotic supplements, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- The probiotic supplement you choose must contain the right strains of bacteria to promote good health.
- The probiotic supplement must be of a good quality so that the bacteria strains they contain are active when you take them.
- Your digestive system is a very hostile environment. For probiotic supplements to do any good, enough of the good bacteria in them must be able to reach your intestines alive.
If you are experiencing stiffness and pain in your spine and in between your shoulders or problems with your overall movement, chiropractic treatments can help reduce the pain, improve your movement and has in some cases have been linked with improving internal health of your gut.
For personalized attention, I invite you to a complimentary “What’s Sapping my Energy and Causing Pain?” consultation. Please go to the contact form here, for more information.