Blog #102 A Healthy Gut Protects from Illness
According to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) our internal organs are paired together - one organ is yang, being more active at certain times and resting completely at other times, and the other paired organ is yin, being active (working) all the time, but less dramatically so than the intermittent yang organs. Yin organs are necessary for life, while we can survive without the yang organs. The five paired organs in yin/yang relationship are:
Some of these pairings are easily understandable, such as kidneys and bladder. Lungs and large intestine are not as obvious, until you give it some thought. The intestines (this includes the sigmoid colon, rectum and anus) connect with the outside air, and so do the lungs (this includes the bronchioles, bronchi, sinuses and nostrils). Also, the entranceway to each system (starting at the mouth and nose) are extremely close together. Paired organs also are interdependent, meaning that in order for one to be optimally strong and healthy, the other of the pair must also be healthy. During a pandemic, or, for that matter, during any time in our lives, we would want our internal organs to function as well as they possibly can. A healthy gut will help support respiratory health, and vice versa. Sometimes it is fairly easy to perceive the relationship between the two organ systems. For example, if you overeat or eat foods to which you are sensitive or which are not wholesome, you may find that you feel bloated or nauseous or you may experience constipation or diarrhea. Your nasal sinuses also may become clogged your nose may start running, or you may begin sneezing and develop a sore throat and symptoms of a ”cold” or upper respiratory infection.
Of course, some problems with internal organs may not be so obvious. A person may suffer from leaky gut, which means that the intestines are so inflamed that they cannot optimally perform some or all their many jobs. Most notably, the gut absorbs water from indigestible food and removes waste substances, such as bacteria, inorganic salts and epithelial cells from the body through the feces. Additionally, the large intestine contains many lymph nodes, which work together to create antibodies that help defend against invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, and molds. There are hundreds of healthy (commensal) bacteria in the gut, which produce Vitamin B complex, Biotin, and Vitamin K, all of which the gut absorbs to support the body’s health and vitality, so this is another function of the large intestine. Yet another function is performed by the gut’s mucosal layer. This layer acts as protection against bacterial infection and also produces bicarbonates, which neutralize acidity produced by the large intestine’s synthesis of fatty acids. Finally, the large intestine helps balance the body’s electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium. Sometimes, people do not immediately associate issues like fatigue or unexplained weight gain with leaky gut. Leaky gut can also result in autoimmune problems, such as hypothyroid, psoriasis, or food allergies.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often is associated with leaky gut. Some symptoms are bloating, diarrhea, constipation, gas, abdominal pain, fatigue, and more. Some people also have post nasal drip or other sinus problems along with IBS; some people even lose their sense of smell (that’s different from covid-19).
All these large intestinal problems not only reduce comfort and energy level, they also can compromise the immune system, making the body more vulnerable to a variety of health issues and infections.
A few ways to help support gut health are eating a wholesome diet containing many vegetables and fruit and free of processed foods. High quality probiotics and fermented foods, such as organic, refrigerated sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso can be helpful. So can organic apple cider vinegar and unsweetened, well-cultured, preferably organic yogurt or kefir. Sheep or goat’s milk is preferable to cow’s milk. Other ways to care for the large intestine is to get enough sleep, reduce life stress, exercise regularly, learn to breathe abdominally, take some time daily for meditation or self-hypnosis, maintain a healthy body weight, and use holistic therapies such as Chiropractic, Acupuncture, and herbal or other nutritional supplementation, as needed.
This blog’s offer: feel free to contact me with any questions regarding ways to address your possible gut issues. I may suggest lab work, supplementation, or nutritional changes.