Take back your life: Pain management through nutrition and gut health — part 2 | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Take back your life: Pain management through nutrition and gut health — part 2

Within every human body exists an ecosystem of trillions of micro-organisms. Bacteria, yeast and viruses all live together in and on our bodies.

One of the most important scientific discoveries, made recently, was that these micro-organisms are vital to human health and survival. Researchers have only scratched the surface of what role this tiny ecosystem plays in human health. We once believed that these micro-organisms were detrimental to human health, and while they can be, if grown out of control, when existing in the right balance they control most of the body's functions. In fact, the gut microbiome is considered the "third brain."

Many researchers believe it should more accurately be considered the "first brain" as it dictates much of what the brain does, including, but not limited to, synthesizing neurotransmitters and hormones. The latest research on intestinal flora suggests that these tiny organisms play a significant role in pain response and inflammation levels, as well.

More clinical research has been done in recent years that shows the important role diet plays in patients who are suffering with severe and debilitating pain. Links have been discovered between the gut microbiome and MS (multiple sclerosis), fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other causes of joint pain. The diversity of gut flora even plays a role in how one responds to injury and other acute pain causes.

So, how exactly does our gut influence pain and inflammation? Let me explain.

Our guts have these beautifully designed walls that, when healthy, allow nutrients to pass through while keeping out bacteria, toxins, and undigested food particles. When we eat a diet high in inflammatory foods (the standard American diet), causing imbalances in our gut microbiome (Dysbiosis), the thin wall of our gut begins tearing apart creating a condition called "intestinal permeability." This means that all those bacteria, toxins and undigested food particles, not meant to pass through the gut wall, can now slip through into the blood stream.

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Nutrient deficiency due to impaired absorption occurs and an immune response is initiated to battle all of those foreign invaders, known as antigens. This condition is known as "leaky gut syndrome."

When your immune system releases antibodies to battle the antigens, they distribute these antibodies throughout the body in organs and tissues, including joints, muscles and bones. This results in more inflammation, causing chronic pain, and often results in autoimmune diseases such as the ones listed above.

Diet and Pain

Before I get into how diet plays a role in acute pain, it's important to understand the process involved in healing from injury/surgery. Injury recovery is broken down into three stages:

Inflammation draws healing chemicals to the injured area

Proliferation repairs damaged tissue and draws new blood supply to the injured area

Remodeling replaces temporary tissue with stronger, more permanent tissue

While inflammation is a normal and necessary response to injury, it is meant to be a temporary process that initiates healing. When inflammation sticks around too long, the next steps in healing aren't properly initiated, causing longer recovery times, increased pain and in some cases the development of chronic pain in that area.

When injured or recovering from surgery, it is important to avoid inflammatory foods and beverages and promote proper healing with anti-inflammatory foods and spices. It's also important that you eat enough protein and other nutrients needed to repair tissue while avoiding foods that deplete nutrient stores and interfere with the absorption of such nutrients.

Supplementation also can be useful in ensuring the body is getting enough of the needed nutrients to properly rebuild the affected tissue, as well as supporting the body's stress response system.

Hippocrates, the "Father of Modern Medicine" is famous for stating that all healing begins in the gut and is more famously quoted as saying: "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."

Scientists continue to prove him right through researching the gut microbiome. You are what you eat, ingest and absorb because you ARE your microbiome.

If you are one of the millions of Americans suffering through pain, my personalized meal plans and protocol strategies can help you get your body's ecosystem back in balance and on track for less pain and a faster recovery.

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EDITS: The headline for this article has been changed.

About the Author

To schedule an appointment with Emilie Delworth, DHN, call 530-541-9355. Visit Elevate Wellness at 2034 Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe.