So – You’ve heard the saying, “You are what you eat” but if you’re not absorbing what you eat then that just means you have expensive poo and you’re probably not getting what you need to run your body efficiently. Our gut health will also dictate how effective our supplements are at transferring across our gut wall and being useful to our bodies. So perhaps we should say, “You are what you absorb!”
This may seem somewhat outside the scope of osteopathy however, in actuality, what you absorb will seriously affect the levels of inflammation inherent in your body. A high inflammatory load, amongst other effects, may change the way you perceive pain, may trigger autoimmune diseases and decrease your ability to heal from an injury. This has made me VERY interested in how gut health can affect our general health and healing abilities.
I often see patients with blood tests showing consistently high C-Reactive Protein, a generic marker of inflammation, with no obvious reason for this high result. These patients all have pain that relates to a high level of inflammation in their bodies. For example, they may experience constant pain in areas such as their sacro-iliac joints, lower backs and knees.
We are currently sitting in a world of cutting edge discovery about the gut biome: what it does for us and how it contributes to the development of babies in-utero. An article published in The Journal of Immunology just last month details a link between the mothers gut microbiome and the development of autism 1. A gene responsible for the production of a substance called Interleukin 17a (IL-17a), which helps prevent fungal infections, has been shown (using robust science) to influence the development of the foetal brain in the womb. The study showed that a mother mouse’s gut biome influences IL-17a expression, which then induced an autism-like neurodevelopment in the baby mice. The researchers then reversed the autistic characteristics using a faecal transplant to re-instate a healthy gut biome. This is an exciting time for preventative medicine. Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis are all also linked to this same gene.
In all my readings I have discovered that it is not a simple thing to provide an “ideal” diet or supplementation regimen for everyone to follow. It all relates to the genes we have inherited and how they are continuing to be expressed (which is the science of epigenetics). Some feel healthiest following a high fat / low carbohydrate diet, others feel best on the paleo diet and others have great health following the conventional low fat / high carbohydrate diet. People following a medical diet due to Coeliac or IBS are already more aware of their gut needs. We all would benefit from a good pro-biotic to re-populate our gut and to continue with this using regular ingestion of some form of pro-biotic, fermented food. From there, a good regular source of Omega 3 and 6 will help every single cell in your body perform its function as correctly as possible and maintain the ability of your gut to absorb.
Jeannie Baskeyfield, Osteopathic Natural Health.
(1) Cutting Edge: Critical Roles for Microbiota-Mediated Regulation of the Immune System in a Prenatal Immune Activation Model of Autism Catherine R. Lammert, et al. The Journal of Immunology July 2, 2018, ji1701755; DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.1701755