Common Digestive Problems Could Be Deteriorating Your Overall Health Part 3
Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS)
Many of the symptoms noted with these common digestive problems are the same as or similar to those of AFS. AFS is the constellation of, sometimes vague, symptoms that occur as a result of your body’s natural response to stress. When stress from any source comes into your life, your body reacts in the same way every time. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is activated, leading ultimately to the adrenal glands secreting cortisol, the stress-fighting hormone. If stress continues, as it so frequently does in our society, your adrenals continue to secrete cortisol until they reach the stage of adrenal exhaustion. Once this happens, significant symptoms surface. Mental confusion, insomnia, gastrointestinal symptoms, food allergies, feeling sleepy but unable to sleep, lack of energy, fatigue, memory problems, and depression and anxiety. These symptoms are very much like those of common digestive problems such as leaky gut.
With the lack of cortisol and other hormones associated with stress, your body becomes less likely to handle stress. Cortisol is also an anti-inflammatory agent. With lowered levels of this hormone, inflammation increases. Add this to the inflammation caused by leaky gut, and the risk of developing chronic health conditions increases dramatically.
Cortisol also weakens the immune system. It inhibits white blood cells, natural killer cells, and other cells associated with a strong immune system. This increases your risk of contracting an infection. Combined with risk of systemic infections with leaky gut, a weakened immune system can be extremely serious. At the ultimate end of AFS, your body begins shutting down.
The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response
When dealing with any of the categories of common digestive problems, traditional medicine falls short. Most conventional physicians will address symptoms alone or, at most, single organ systems. This is not a comprehensive approach to handling the root issue behind the inflammation, that is a foundation of autoimmune diseases. Controlling symptoms is helpful, but not healing. Prescribing medications that suppress the inflammatory process is designed to reduce inflammation. But, they don’t take on the root problem. Your body continues to deteriorate until that root problem is addressed.
The NEM Model goes directly to one or more of the six circuits that work to regulate stress. Each of these circuits is regulated by a set of organs in your body. These circuits interact with each other. What affects one, affects the others.
In the case of leaky gut, the metabolic system is likely the first one affected. Stress leads to the mechanisms that develop into leaky gut. Then, when the foreign products seep out of the gut, the inflammatory system is triggered. With inflammation comes a decrease in detoxification efforts. The liver, pancreas, and other organs involved with detox in your body work less efficiently in this case. Toxic reactive metabolite buildup occurs. As we have seen already, the neuroaffective system is affected by, and affects in turn, the metabolic system. This is the kind of cycle seen with the NEM model of stress. Healthcare practitioners who understand this model can construct natural ways to deal with the effects of leaky gut.
What Can Be Done About These Common Digestive Problems?
There is a program called the 5R Program. It is designed specifically to deal with the root causes of common digestive problems like leaky gut and the attendant chronic disease conditions that come with it. This program may take three to six months to complete. You must make the commitment to stay with it over that span of time.
Step number one is REMOVE. Get the environmental toxins, lifestyle issues, and pathogens, responsible for the initiation of leaky gut, out of your life. Use the natural substances needed to eliminate pathogens from your life. Another part of this step is to avoid the foods you are sensitive to, allergic to, or intolerant of. Get environmental toxins out of your life. This would include molds, chemicals that seep into your air, genetically modified foods, etc. Eliminate stress. This may be the more difficult part of this step, considering all of the stressors prevalent in the world. Learn what you need to do to prevent or deal with stress most adequately. You will probably want to try an elimination diet that will pinpoint specific foods to which you’re allergic or intolerant.
Step two is REPLACE. In this step, you’re replacing necessary digestive secretions. You’ll add back digestive enzymes, to include hydrochloric acid and enzymes found in the pancreas. These are all secretions that are affected by age, stress, diseases, and medications. You will also be adding dietary fiber to support elimination and overall gastrointestinal functioning.
Step three is REINOCULATION. You will be adding desirable gut microflora to restore desirable balance to your gut system. This reintroduction will include Bifidobacteria, lactobacillus, and saccharomyces to fight against yeast infections. Some of the foods you can add to your diet include onions, tomatoes, asparagus, fruits and vegetables, and soy fiber. You’ll also add more soluble fiber to your diet. Prebiotics to feed healthy bacteria and probiotics that contain these healthy bacteria.
Step four is REPAIR. You’ll supply the key nutrients the gut lining needs to make itself over again in the most beneficial way. Nutrients like glutamine, vitamin D, and EPA/DHA are helpful for this.
Step five is REBALANCING. Learn and continue the lifestyle choices you need to make in order to stay healthy. Part of this is mindful eating. Take time to enjoy and appreciate your food. Engage in relaxation, mindfulness, meditation, prayer, yoga, or some other equally relaxing activity you enjoy.
© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.