“All disease begins in the gut.”
Hippocrates, the Ancient Greek physician, made this statement 2,500 years ago.
Finally, the science and nutrition communities are catching up to his ancient, yet wise words.
As we conduct more research, the correlation between gut health and mental health becomes more and more obvious. It goes well beyond mood, however. A healthy gut microbiome prevents chronic disease, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, IBS, and even cancer.
Research suggests that approximately 74% of Americans deal with gastrointestinal (GI) distress of some kind. This means that nearly 3 out of every 4 Americans experience some form of GI distress — whether it’s constipation, bloating, reflux, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping, or a mix and match of these symptoms. 10 - 15% of Americans are formally diagnosed with IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
A lot of this has to do with having a “leaky gut” or intestinal permeability which is due to the micro-tearing and separation of the tight cell junctions which hold our intestinal lining together. Our intestinal lining by the way is only one cell thick. Imagine something so important having the thinnest lining imaginable. We must take care of it as it feeds our entire body and brain.
In this article, we’ll discuss the rise of GI disorders and I’ll reveal how your gut microbiome is involved and how you can test your gut microbiome to identify and solve the problem.
What’s GI Distress, Leaky Gut, and IBS?
It’s easy to confuse GI distress, leaky gut, and IBS because they all share similar symptoms.
These symptoms include constipation, bloating, reflux, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramping. Many people suffer from many of these symptoms at once.
But there’s important differences between GI distress, leaky gut, and IBS.
Let’s look at each one to explain the differences:
GI distress is short-lived with symptoms lingering for one to two days. It is a warning sign like a a flashing yellow traffic light, inviting you to pay attention and make dietary changes.
If you notice acid reflux, bloating or flatulence after eating certain foods - don’t override this and ignore the signs your body is giving you. Ignoring these symptoms can lead to something more serious down the road.
2. Leaky Gut
Leaky gut is also known as increased intestinal permeability. It’s a digestive condition where bacteria and toxins “leak” through your intestinal wall, which increases your risk for autoimmune issues.
Intestinal permeability means how easily something can pass through your intestinal (or gut) barrier. This barrier allows the “good guys” to cross over into your gut — such as nutrients, gut bacteria, fluids, and electrolytes. It also stops the “bad guys” from entering your gut — such as toxins that might be part of your food (glyphosate anyone?), and pathogens like bacteria, viruses, molds and mycotoxins.
So leaky gut happens when a greater amount of substances cross your gut barrier. The more your intestinal permeability increases, the more “bad guys” get into your gut and cause problems.
Leaky gut leads to inflammation in the rest of your body, and left untreated leads to IBS, celiac disease (insensitivity to gluten), Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis and other autoimmune diseases.
In fact, new research backs up the leaky gut connection to autoimmune diseases such as lupus, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis, allergies, asthma, acne, obesity, and even mental illness. While we don’t have human clinical studies that prove this connection, it could change in the future.
IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is a functional GI disorder characterised by stomach pain, bloating, and irregular bowel movements like constipation or diarrhea. It’s not unusual for people with IBS to suffer from both constipation and diarrhea.
IBS affects your large intestine and is a chronic condition.
The medical community will likely tell you that you can’t do anything about IBS, or worse, they may try to medicate you. Instead, I urge you to try functional lab testing (I am about to explain which test will be most helpful) and follow an anti-inflammatory elimination diet until you can receive personalized nutrition recommendations.
There is a solution that addresses all these uncomfortable symptoms: improving your gut microbiome.
Your gut microbiome includes trillions of microorganisms that live in your intestinal tract. These microorganisms — which are mostly made up of bacteria — play a critical role in your health and wellbeing.
As more research emerges, we are learning how critical the gut microbiome is to our overall health. You could say it acts as the basecamp control center and it dictates how well our hormones function, how well our neurotransmitters function and how happy we feel. Imagine that our bacteria is writing all of our software programming.
Imbalances in your gut microbiome are associated with a wide array of health problems that extend far beyond your gut and GI health. In fact, your gut health can impact your immune system, cognitive abilities, emotional balance, and your energy levels.
Part of the reason so many people suffer from GI problems — whether it’s just GI distress or something more sinister such as leaky gut or IBS — is because our modern world poses new problems for our gut health.
For example, there are 4 main ways you damage your gut microbiome. These 4 ways include:
All of these wreak havoc on your gut microbiome and become exponentially more powerful when combined — which explains why so many people have gut issues.
So what can you do to improve your gut health?
Well, that brings me to this “IPA secret” I’m thrilled to share with you.
No, I don’t mean the popular beer type. In fact, alcohol consumption will cause inflammation in your gut, which heightens your intestinal permeability.
Instead, here’s what I mean:
Remember how your gut microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria?
Those bacteria create something called indole-3-propionic acid, or IPA for short. IPA is a tryptophan metabolite produced by your gut bacteria and it’s one of the most powerful antioxidants in your body!
A recent study from ASM Journals suggests that IPA plays a crucial role in regulating intestinal permeability.
Boosting your IPA production helps your intestines allow nutrients to pass into your gut, while preventing harmful substances from getting into it where they can cause inflammation and GI distress.
The cause of leaky gut and IBS are still mysteries to doctors and scientists, but this research suggests that insufficient IPA in your gut could be the cause behind GI distress, diarrhea, leaky gut, and even IBS.
As I mentioned in another article, testing your body is the best (and only) way to know if your body’s functioning at an optimal level.
Since your gut health depends on IPA production, testing for your IPA production is a great way to understand if your gut is healthy or not.
I was recently trained on a new metabolomics test offered by a company called Ixcela.
Ixcela created the easiest, cleanest, and most cost-effective gut microbiome test available today.
They measure 11 important metabolites (including IPA) associated with your internal fitness. Your internal fitness includes your GI health, immune system, cognitive abilities, emotional balance, and your energy levels.
By measuring these metabolites and their relationship to each other, the Ixcela test gives you an emotional balance score that reflects your gut microbiome's role in your mood, behavior, and how well your body manages stress (which is one of the only known causes of IBS).
That way, you know what you need to do to improve your leaky gut and IBS symptoms.
Ixcela takes the guesswork out of improving your gut health in the same way nutrigenomics takes the guesswork out of your nutrition.
If you’d like to try Ixcela’s pinprick test, you have two options:
The Ixcela Pro Assess — which is a one-time test for $269.
Or the Ixcela Pro Internal Fitness Program — which includes a baseline test, 90-days of supplements based on your unique results, and one retest for $599.
Here’s how it works:
1. Go to go.ixcela.com/enroll and click the Get Started button.
2. Use my Pro code ThriveResults to get a special discount.
3. Click Buy to order either the Ixcela Pro Assess or the Ixcela Pro Internal Fitness Program.
4. Complete the checkout process.
5. Once you complete the checkout process, take 5 minutes to complete your Health Profile in your Ixcela account. Ixcela needs this information to process your results.
After that, they’ll ship the Ixcela test to your home. And you’ll get your results within 2 weeks after sending in your sample. Watch out for an email notification from Ixcela Support (firstname.lastname@example.org) for your results.
Then, once you get your results, you can schedule a time to review your results with Ixcela’s team. Or I can help you make sense of your results too and the dietary recommendations that will accompany the test.
You don’t have to suffer from leaky gut, IBS, depression or anxiety any longer. Schedule your Ixcela test and discover exactly what your body needs to feel better.