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Everyone cares about our gut now, not just gastroenterologists and health-food nuts.
Emergent scientific research is looking at gut health as being intimately linked to all of our health: heart, hormonal, mood, skin, energy, immunity, and more.
This makes sense. The gut is the outside of the world in the center of our bodies, two worlds in the same orbit. How we deal with these foreign molecules has a huge impact on digestive and systemic health. The Human Microbiome Project, initiated by The National Institutes of Health in 2007 and projected to continue through 2015, is demonstrating that we have an unappreciated organ of 4-6 pounds of diverse bacteria inside our gut that acts as an influential translator between these two universes.
The intestinal tract is one of the most complex organs of the human body. It has multiple job descriptions, with the biggest job being to absorb nutrition out of our food. But we now know for a fact that the gut has conversations, cross-talk, with the brain and the immune system and is, in fact, a major pillar of overall health.
Most of us don’t think about our digestive tracts unless we have problems with it, let alone consider the link of our gut to issues such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (autoimmune thyroid disease), stroke, eczema, depression, neurologic disease, dementia, and more. Many folks who have other health problems silently have issues with their guts, but they or their doctors are not aware of the significant bridge between the two.
As we learn more about how our guts reign over the kingdom of our health, the American gut is under attack. The following statistics come from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
60-80 million Americans suffer with gastrointestinal disease
48 million visits to doctors for gut woes per year
21 million hospitalizations per year
250,000 deaths yearly from severe gastrointestinal disease
12% of all inpatient procedures are related to gut issues (5.4 million per year)
$141 billion dollars was spent in 2004 on gut illness