As a doctor specializing in functional medicine and gut health for almost a decade now, you’d think I grew up with a healthy, balanced digestive system.
Well, I didn’t. Along with the estimated 70 million Americans struggling with digestive diseases, I suffered from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) for more than half of my life. And even worse — as a result of eating all the wrong foods as a teenager — I also suffered from allergies, depression, frequent colds, sinus infections, and bronchitis.
Doctors thought my immune system was weak — but at the root of my problems was a distressed gut. I considered stomachaches, bloating, indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation part of my “normal.” This is often the case with the many patients suffering from digestive and gut-related disorders I see in my practice every day. They’ve grown so accustomed to having an unhappy gut they don’t realize how bad they felt until they start feeling better.
As I explain in my new book, Happy Gut: The Cleansing Program To Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Eliminate Pain, the gut is the seat of our health. It houses the largest presence of the immune system within the gut-associated lymphoid tissue. And it harbors a microbiome full of both favorable and unfavorable bacteria numbering in the 100 trillion, outnumbering the estimated stars in the Milky Way galaxy.
The state of your gut and its microbiome has the utmost potential to promote wellness but also to impede health. Here are some of the conditions in which an unhealthy gut might be the source of the problem: