The American Lifestyle And A Holistic Approach To IBD – Part 1

Adapted from The IBD Healing Plan and Recipe Book
By Christie Korth, CHC AADP

Our Lifestyle and IBD- Is it Affecting YOU?

familytvDue to our unbalanced and busy lifestyle, many Americans are more sedentary than ever. Does this describe you? For instance, the average American only takes about five thousand steps per day, or half of what’s needed daily, according to Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke’s article regarding appropriate amounts of exercise; thus, we are certainly not moving around enough. Many people eat out and on the run due to crowded schedules and poor planning. These choices add up after a while, and Crohn’s and Colits patients should seriously consider their impact.

Since your IBD diagnosis, have you ever wondered whether the modern American lifestyle contributes to your illness? In my book I include an in-depth explanation of how the American diet affects it, but right now, just look at your own lifestyle and see if you can pinpoint anything that triggers your IBD. Because a holistic approach to IBD includes ensuring a healthy balance between work and play, along with stress management, this is a valid point to examine.

Your Gut and Your Emotions:

Because I have witnessed such positive results from using a holistic approach, I am intrigued by any information on the connection between emotions and IBD. If you’re interested in exploring this topic further, I recommend Dr. Peter Levine’s book In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness. It offers convincing biological explanations for the correlations between digestive problems and stress, and gastric motility and the nervous system.

Dr. Levine also writes about Charles Darwin, who was interested in digestion (many believe that Darwin may have had Crohn’s). Darwin hypothesized that a strong connection exists between the heart and the brain, and that the two affect each other when it comes to illness. In Darwin’s book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals he cites the work of Claude Bernard, who speculated “that when the heart is affected it reacts on the brain, and the state of the brain reacts through the pneumo-gastric nerve on the heart; so that under any excitement there will be much mutual action and reaction between these, the two most important organs in the body.”

Do You Have a Gut Feeling?

These ideas make a great deal of sense to me. The lining of the gut houses many nerves that govern sensory and motor functions to keep the digestive organs operating properly. Have you ever heard the phrase “nervous stomach”? It is not just a figure of speech—from an anatomical standpoint, it is a reality. Besides being intimately connected with the central nervous system, the digestive system is endowed with its own, local nervous system, dubbed the enteric, or second, nervous system. I love telling clients this. It really gives meaning to popular phrases like “I had a gut feeling about that” and “I have butterflies in my stomach.”

The problem is that most people with IBD do not absorb nutrition correctly, which puts us at a greater risk of neurotransmitter imbalance and also affects the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a coenzyme used as an energy carrier in the body’s cells or energy that is also responsible for regenerating cell tissue and nerves.

It also explains why having a digestive disease can affect our moods tremendously. I routinely test my IBD clients’ neurotransmitter levels. Neurotransmitters are responsbile for producing certain hormones in the body, including serotonin, norphrinephrine, and epipinephrine. Many people are unaware that 95 percent of the body’s serotonin (a hormone that helps us to feel good) is actually produced in the gut, not in the brain! When neurotransmitters are out of balance—for example, due to poor nutrition, such as inadequate levels of the amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine—we can become depressed. Therefore, maintaining a healthy digestive tract is important to keeping you feeling happy and healthy.

The problem is that most people with IBD do not absorb nutrition correctly, which puts us at a greater risk of neurotransmitter imbalance and also affects the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a coenzyme used as an energy carrier in the body’s cells or energy that is also responsible for regenerating cell tissue and nerves. If there is a metabolic issue, you can have problems with your nerves, since they are not getting the fuel they need. Certain foods can aggravate the immune system, which in turn causes inflammation that can contribute to nerve issues in the gut lining. For example, as a result of this we can have over or underactive nerve functioning which can affect many things from absorption levels and moods.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article…..

- If you have IBD, you owe it to yourself to consider how your lifestyle may impact your illness. For more information on how you can help your IBD holistically, please check out The IBD Healing Plan and Recipe Book, by Christie Korth – - Here is the link.

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