Disease or [dis]ease: A disordered or incorrectly functioning organ, part, structure, or system of the body resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental errors, infection, poisons, nutritional deficiency or imbalance, toxicity, or unfavorable environmental factors; illness; sickness; ailment. (Dictionary.com)
When you break down the word disease, “dis-” means apart from and “-ease”means well-being. I use the term [dis]ease to help you to think about your symptoms or diagnosis as something that is temporary, not a lifelong label. The purpose of Functional Medicine is to bring your body back into balance and help you transform your life from [dis]ease to ease. So where do we start?
“All disease begins in the gut.” -Hippocrates
These are great words of wisdom from Hippocrates from the 400-300 B.C era. Now it’s the 21st century and even though it may not be true that all [dis]ease begins in the gut because of genetic disorders, we still have the power to control our gut from the outside in.
Our gut contains an ecosystem of bacteria, viruses and sometimes fungus, parasites and yeast. This ecosystem is called our microbiome. If we have more pathogenic, meaning harmful, microbes in our gut, this causes imbalance which leads to [dis]ease. A healthy microbiome leads to a body that is efficient and working properly. How can having an abnormal gut affect us?
A large portion of our immune system resides in our gut which plays a huge role in our overall health. Eating food that is processed and has no nutritional value causes inflammation in our intestines. When our intestines are inflamed, it becomes permeable, meaning allowing things to pass through when they shouldn’t. Chemicals and infectious microbes are able to get into our blood stream which activates our immune system. If our immune system becomes over activated, this can cause our immune system to start attacking our own cells. This is how most Autoimmune Disorders develop. We can develop sensitivities to certain foods that also activate the immune system which in turn attacks our cells such as the thyroid and joints. This is a primary cause of development of Thyroid or Rheumatological Disorders. Lastly, we are not able to properly absorb nutrients from our food if our intestines are inflamed and permeable, so most of us become deficient in important vitamins and minerals. Therefore, activation of our immune system, inflammation in the gut, and lack of nutrients being digested and absorbed, leads to most symptoms or [dis]ease.
Most people think that problems in the gut usually result in gut symptoms. However, gut dysfunction can cause other symptoms besides gastrointestinal symptoms including but not limited to brain fog, fatigue, joint pain, allergies, rash. These symptoms can be symptoms of metabolic, autoimmune, allergic, and other disorders.
Next time you have symptoms or a disorder that isn’t improving with treatment, think about your gut! How healthy is your gut health?