Your stomach is a lot more than the body’s temporary repository for food. The health and well-being of your stomach plays a much more central role in determining your overall health.
There’s an entire ecosystem of bacteria and a vast neural network operating in our guts. This ecosystem is our second brain, and comprises some 100 million neurons, more than the spinal cord.
This is not a thinking brain—it does not reason or write music—but mounting evidence suggests that your gut’s health strongly influences your mood.
Gastrointestinal and microbiome problems like candida overgrowth, SIBO, and leaky gut syndrome can be related to hundreds of modern health problems. Having an unhealthy gut can cause everything from depression to fatigue to weight gain to anxiety and even to cancer.
And the most discomforting part of all this? You may have underlying gut problems without even knowing it. You might think that having regular bowel movements means you have a perfectly healthy stomach. However, even serious gut problems don’t necessarily show any gut symptoms, until it is too late.
Many stomach issues are actually asymptomatic in terms of the digestive system, and only show symptoms in other parts of the body.
This means that you may have once gotten sick due to a gut problem, but never realized that the issue was related to your gut at all. Many people suffer from serious gut problems without knowing it; a recent study found that 22% of individuals who have stomach problems suffer serious damage in their small intestines, but display no gut-related symptoms.
The best way to protect yourself from this silent problem is by keeping your gut clean and healthy.
There are several healthy remedies, including drinking bone broth, taking probiotics, and drinking kombucha. However, since these are generally asymptomatic issues, it can be difficult to tell when you have gotten better (or if you have gotten better at all). So how long exactly does it take to clean out and heal a sickly gut?
Heal the Gut, Heal the Body
The answer can be found at the cellular level. The first thing you must understand is the actual surface area of your gut. While you may have heard that the human gut is just the size of a fist, the truth is that its surface area is much bigger; roughly 300 square meters, the same size of a medium-sized house.
Within this surface area lives your enterocytes, the gut-lining cells, which are always working on regenerating and rebuilding your gut.
The enterocytes work so hard that every two to three weeks, the human body has a completely new gut lining. This means that the gut can heal itself relatively quickly: a sickly gut that doesn’t have certain food sensitivities or autoimmune conditions can heal itself naturally within two to twelve weeks.
In a Harvard study published in Nature, it was found that the gut’s bacteria can significantly change within the first three days of a person altering their diet. This means that the food we eat largely determines the kind of bacteria living in our gut. However, certain health issues can make this process slower and ineffective.
These health issues include leaky gut syndrome, histamine intolerance, SIBO, blood sugar issues, Lyme disease, chronic inflammation, chronic viral infections, adrenal fatigue, or candida overgrowth. There is also what’s known as the autoimmune-inflammation spectrum.
What the Autoimmune-Inflammation Spectrum is All About
When an individual experiences an autoimmune disease, the immune system will destroy a large amount of tissue in the thyroid, gut, brain, or other places.
One example is Addison’s disease, where the adrenal glands are 90% destroyed. Other diseases where a lot of tissue has to be destroyed includes celiac disease and multiple sclerosis.
But to ruin this much tissue, the body takes time, and this time can be charted on the autoimmune-inflammation spectrum. There are three stages to this spectrum, including:
- Silent autoimmunity: The presence of positive antibody labs with the absence of any detectable symptoms
- Autoimmune reactivity: The presence of both positive antibody labs and detectable symptoms
- Autoimmune disease: When enough of the body has been destroyed to categorize it as a certain condition
In relation to the gut’s health, there are many who are stuck on stage two of this spectrum: not enough of the body’s tissues have been destroyed to categorize them into a serious health issue, but enough to start causing damage.
Considering Food Sensitivities and Allergies
Science is starting to catch up to the advice we’ve been giving for decades: food reactivities (such as gluten sensitivity) are on the opposite end of the larger inflammation spectrum, while autoimmune diseases are on the other.
This means that millions of people live with the symptoms of diseases such as celiac disease without ever being diagnosed; only 5% of people suffering celiac disease are ever diagnosed.
Those who have both gluten sensitivity and celiac disease could take half a year to lower their autoimmune-inflammation antibodies while eating gluten just once. This isn’t even taking into account any other problem that they may have.
Complicated stomach-related problems can lead to serious and much larger issues, so if you start feeling that you might have something, it’s important to get checked right away. Start your journey to a clean and healthy gut today.