Parasites, bacterial infections and yeast overgrowth can really stress out your body. Chronic, low-grade gut infections can cause fatigue, joint pain, allergies, anxiety, depression, chronic headaches, sleep problems, skin issues, a lowered immune system and weight gain. They also can be a causative factor for autoimmune disease and fibromyalgia. And believe it or not, these effects can be present even without any digestive symptoms! Gas, bloating, digestive pain, diarrhea and constipation sometimes accompany an infected gut, but not always. Running a lab test, to look for low-grade infection, is a first step to learning why you might not be feeling your best. In my practice, about 60% of my clients test positive for gut infections.
The Gut As A Foundation For Health
Why would a parasite or other infection in the digestive system cause joint pain, allergies or other seemingly unrelated symptoms? The answer lies in understanding that the gut acts as a foundation for every other body system. If the gut isn't working well, overall health will suffer. The digestive system is designed to breakdown food, gather nutrients from it and deliver them to the rest of the body. These nutrients from our food are what the body uses to build and operate every other body system. Through the gut we absorb the minerals we need for healthy bones and joints, the fat soluble vitamins and antioxidants needed for the brain and mental health, and the macronutrients required to support our metabolism, which controls fat loss and gain. If gut health is compromised by infection, these body systems don't get what they need and difficult symptoms arise.
Inflammation and The Immune System
A chronic low-grade infection from a parasite, bacteria or yeast overgrowth causes significant inflammation in the digestive tract, again, sometimes with digestive symptoms, sometimes not. This inflammation leads to a condition called permeable gut, or leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut means that the pores in the lining of the digestive tract become larger than normal. Instead of properly broken down nutrients passing through the intestines into the blood, larger protein molecules can get through. The immune system then attacks these molecules and recognizes them as "foreign invaders." Next time that food (often it's gluten or dairy) is consumed, the immune system reacts, or overreacts, and a food allergy is developed, with symptoms like stuffy sinuses, skin rash, malaise or belly ache.
Over time, the toxins created by this immune response will overwhelm the liver. When the liver is overwhelmed by too many toxins, it cannot detoxify properly. Toxins circulate back into the blood stream and elicit more immune system response. This constant triggering of the immune system can lead to other kinds of allergies and, ultimately, autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto's and rheumatoid arthritis.
An infection in the gut puts the immune system on high alert. When these infections persist for months or years it becomes compromised as it uses much of its energy trying to deal with the infection. This leaves less immunity to fight off other infections like colds or the flu.
Infections and Adrenal Burn-out
A long term, low-grade gut infection acts as a significant stress on the body. The stress hormones, cortisol and DHEA, are produced by the adrenal glands. They control energy levels, mental clarity, inflammation and our circadian rhythm. Infections in the digestive system send a constant stress signal to the brain and the adrenal glands, and can lead to an imbalance in these stress hormones. This results in a condition called Adrenal Fatigue. Headaches, joint pain, sleep issues, depression, anxiety, brain fog and fatigue are all symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue.
Whole Body Wellness
Because the body is a whole, integrated system, well-being in the brain, the joints or the immune system is intimately connected with digestive health. When a chronic gut infection is left untreated, the inflammation, toxicity and stress it creates can keep you from feeling your best, and can lead to serious long-term health consequences.
If you suffer from any of the above symptoms, getting tested for parasites, bacterial infections and yeast overgrowth is a first step to wellness. The lab test is a stool test, a simple, take home kit. You just have to be willing to scoop your poop! Believe me, it is worth it to see mysterious and difficult symptoms--some of which have been around for years--disappear when we clear the infection from your body. Treatments involve anti-inflammatory nutrition, holistic lifestyle adjustments and natural supplement programs, based on your lab results.
Schedule your consultation with me, to learn more about lab testing and Body Wisdom Health's wellness programs. And remember, if you're not in Tucson we can work together remotely, by phone and skype.
In health and happiness,