An Inflamed Gut is an Unhappy Body
What and how we eat is a crucial component of our wellbeing. We know that a poor diet will often result in poor health, but there’s a lot more to nutrition than what we put in our mouths. In fact, the state of our health is often tracked back not just to what we eat, but whether the food we’re eating is nourishing or damaging to our gut system.
Hippocrates said it best when he declared, “All disease begins in the gut.” The gut has a far greater impact on our daily life than most of us realize. The efficiency of our digestive system is integral to everything from the immune system, hormone balance, mood regulation, and brain function. And with every gut being unique, the food that helps one person may harm another.
The lining of the small intestine can become inflamed or damaged from a variety of factors. When this happens, problems begin. Damaged cells can separate slightly, leading to increased intestinal permeability (more commonly known as Leaky Gut Syndrome).1 These ‘leaky’ cells allow undigested food or other substances like toxins, antigens, bacteria, and fungi into the bloodstream. The immune system then recognises these substances as ‘invaders’ and triggers an immune response, which typically results in chronic, low-grade inflammation – and the beginning of systemic health issues.
Antibodies help the body mount an immune system response (‘fight’) against foreign invaders. These specific antibodies are produced by the immune system in response to bacteria and viruses, but can also respond to food particles that have leaked into the bloodstream.
Different Antibody Responses:2
- IgE responses are a “true” food allergy as they occur immediately and can involve serious inflammatory symptoms such as swelling of the mouth and anaphylaxis.
- IgA and IgG reactions can take hours to days to appear on the skin or in the gut, causing nausea, constipation, diarrhea, brain fog, or skin irritation (especially worsening pre-existing conditions like eczema and psoriasis).
The first step in treating food allergies or sensitivities is to identify the cause of the reaction. Food sensitivity tests can run extensive panels of common foods to assess the body’s immune reaction in the form of IgE, IgG and IgA reactions. Once you understand the results of a food sensitivity test, this will help inform dietary healing protocols including the elimination of inflammation-triggering foods.
Unfortunately, most of us can’t discern the foods that are nourishing us from the ones causing inflammation.
The symptoms of gut inflammation:3
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Cramping, bloating and gas
- Heart burn
- Food allergies or intolerances
- Aching joints
- Acne, eczema, psoriasis
- Poor immunity
Over time, chronic gut inflammation has been observed in a wide range of disorders – nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances4, autoimmune disorders5, inflammatory bowel diseases, and depression.6,7
Getting the gut back to optimal functioning is perhaps the best starting point to revamp your overall health and wellbeing. Gut rehab, just like any other system, begins with a comprehensive and accurate understanding of the gut’s current status. Reviewing the journey of food, we can see that the gut is a complex system where many things can contribute to inflammation and poor function. Laboratory tests like food sensitivity testing and digestive mapping, are invaluable to creating a personalized and effective plan to reverse damage and support gut function.
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- Fukui H. Increased Intestinal Permeability and Decreased Barrier Function: Does It Really Influence the Risk of Inflammation?. Inflamm Intest Dis. 2016;1(3):135-145. doi:10.1159/000447252
- Vojdani A. Detection of IgE, IgG, IgA and IgM antibodies against raw and processed food antigens. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2009;6:22. Published 2009 May 12. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-6-22
- Fakhoury M, Negrulj R, Mooranian A, Al-Salami H. Inflammatory bowel disease: clinical aspects and treatments. J Inflamm Res. 2014;7:113-120. Published 2014 Jun 23. doi:10.2147/JIR.S65979
- Linares R, Fernández MF, Gutiérrez A, et al. Endocrine disruption in Crohn’s disease: Bisphenol A enhances systemic inflammatory response in patients with gut barrier translocation of dysbiotic microbiota products. FASEB J. 2021;35(7):e21697. doi:10.1096/fj.202100481R
- Claire Wilson, Raoul I. Furlano, Susan S. Jick, Christoph R. Meier, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and the Risk of Autoimmune Diseases, Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis, Volume 10, Issue 2, February 2016, Pages 186–193, https://doi.org/10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjv193
- Clapp M, Aurora N, Herrera L, Bhatia M, Wilen E, Wakefield S. Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis. Clin Pract. 2017;7(4):987. Published 2017 Sep 15. doi:10.4081/cp.2017.987
- Ohlsson L, Gustafsson A, Lavant E, et al. Leaky gut biomarkers in depression and suicidal behavior [published correction appears in Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2020 Nov;142(5):423]. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2019;139(2):185-193. doi:10.1111/acps.12978
Rachel Erwin, Nutritionist & Content Writer
Rachel is a Nutritionist with a BSc in Biology and Global Health from the University of Toronto, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Nutrition from the University of Ulster. She has counselled and educated clients in Hong Kong, whose health goals ranged from weight loss to detox and hormone balancing. Her love of writing led her to complete ‘Writing in the Sciences’, offered by Stanford University, and since then she has contributed several evidence-based health articles to various publications.