The human body is more complex than scientists understand. Constantly, there is new research being conducted and published that dives deeper into the bodies of multiple systems, uncovering new information that is thought-provoking. As of late, a lot of research is being conducted revolving around the human gut/gastrointestinal system. Originally thought, the gut was made to store food and digest food. However, now we are seeing that the gut is the real mastermind behind everyday body functions. The gut has now been linked to headaches, inflammation, and autoimmune disease.
The digestive tract is one of the most important immune support organs. In fact, it is the immunological powerhouse that houses more than 80% of our antibody-producing cells. This meaning that our gut is the first line of defense when it comes to unwanted antigens. The gut is so powerful that researchers began to test its true abilities.
The thought of the body having two brains sounds fictional, but scientists have begun referring to the gut as the body’s “second brain”. Researchers found that the brain contained in the human skull, working with the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the gut, working with the Enteric Nervous System (ENS) can function separately from each other. Although the two use the same “hardware”, the ENS can manage every aspect of digestion and is a nearly self-contained network of neurotransmitters and proteins.
Just throughout the small intestine, there are more than 100 million nerve cells. If you combine the number of nerve cells in the human GI tract, you will find that there are more nerves in the gut than there are in the human spine. This allows the ENS the capability to help with ION transport and GI blood flow.
Nearly every substance the body contains to control the brain can simultaneously be found in the gut. One of these substances being serotonin. 95% of serotonin is housed in the gut. A cell referred to as the enterochromaffin, squirts serotonin into the wall of the gut, which then communicates with the nerve cells to get things moving. 90% of communication occurring is from the gut to the brain.
Inner Defense System
As previously mentioned, the gut is our inner defense system. The mucosal layer that is associated with lymph node tissue is our primary source of immunological function. Gut-Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT) is the first to see foreign invaders and put up a fight. GALT produces two levels of defense, the most abundant being secretory IgA. Secretory IgA binds to antigens to provide protection against microbes.
It is important to note that secretory IgA in itself is NON-Inflammatory. However, when secretory IgA is fighting, it sends off signals for help from other immune cells, such as IgG and IgM which do produce an inflammatory response.
Most individuals who have an autoimmune disease have worn out IgAs. The goal of the gut and its defense system is to keep nutrients in while bouncing antigens off. In the case of autoimmune diseases, we see nutrients leaking out and antigens coming in.
With more research shining a light on topics such as these, we see the true the gut and how it comes into play with autoimmune disease and inflammation.
The gut is truly so powerful and highly overlooked. I can speak from experience in having an autoimmune condition where not a single doctor mentioned my diet or my gut! Now, knowing this information and being surrounded by patients who suffer from a disease similar to mine, it is the first place we look. The gut is the powerhouse and should be treated as so. -Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
University, Functional Medicine and Ronald Grisanti , directors. Physiology of the Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue, Enteric Nervous System and Mucosal Barrier. Functional Medicine University – The Leader in Online Training in Functional Diagnostic Medicine, 2010, http://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/members/443.cfm.