How Inflammation Affects Your Digestion

Do you struggle with gas, bloating, and other tummy troubles? Turns out inflammation could be the cause of your digestive issues.

Inflammation is a normal immune response that the body uses to remove viruses, bacteria, and other harmful substances from the body and begin the healing process. And that’s a good thing! 

But, if that inflammation becomes chronic, it can cause a variety of health concerns… including digestive issues.

Let’s take a look at what causes inflammation in the gut, how it affects your digestion, and what you can do to fix it.

What Causes Inflammation In The Digestive System?

Inflammation can exist throughout the body. For example, if you cut your hand, inflammation occurs as part of the healing process. Over time, it becomes an issue if the injury doesn’t heal or becomes infected.

We’re also exposed to a variety of things that can cause inflammation as we go about our day, too, like environmental pollution, allergens, stress, pesticides, viruses, and more.

When it comes to inflammation in the gut, undiagnosed food sensitivities are a leading cause. According to Julia Baum, co-founder of MBSF, “…any level of gluten sensitivity can trigger an immune system response that causes inflammation and a host of other side effects in the body.” 

Unfortunately, many people continue to eat foods their bodies can’t digest easily because they are unaware that they have a sensitivity- which leads to chronic inflammation. Eating processed foods, sugar, and other inflammatory foods regularly also causes inflammation in the gut. 

When your body is busy trying to heal the damage caused by food sensitivities and a poor diet, the health of your gut suffers, leading to digestive issues and other chronic health concerns.

Leaky Gut Syndrome

Leaky gut syndrome, or increased intestinal permeability, is a common condition that’s related to inflammation of the digestive tract. Here’s how it happens.

The cellular lining of the digestive system is quite thin. It forms a barrier between your immune system, your bloodstream, and your gut. When your digestive system is in good health, this cellular lining is locked together tightly to form a protective barrier. This protective barrier ensures that everything we eat is processed and the nutrients are absorbed by the body.

But when this lining breaks down due to chronic inflammation, you may develop something called leaky gut syndrome. When the cells of the gut lining are loosely packed, toxins, bacteria, and undigested fats and proteins can leak out of the intestines into the bloodstream.

And, when food isn’t passing through the digestive system properly, you may not be absorbing the nutrients you need for good health. Sadly, this condition also causes inflammation in other parts of your body which can cause chronic pain and health issues. 

It’s important to note that the connection between digestion and inflammation goes two ways. While poor digestion can lead to inflammation, inflammation also leads to poor digestion. It’s a vicious circle.  

Other Digestive Issues That Are Related to Inflammation in the Gut

Another common digestive issue related to inflammation is chronic diarrhea. The inflammation causes damage to the mucous membrane of the gut, compromising its ability to extract water from the food you eat. So, the food remains very liquid and leaves the intestine quickly.

In many cases, chronic diarrhea is also accompanied by stomach pain and gas, which can occur in various parts of the abdomen, depending on the cause of the inflammation. Classic gastroenteritis generally causes pain in the entire stomach, while ulcerative colitis often causes pain in the lower left side of the stomach.

Intestinal inflammation can also lead to vomiting and nausea, which can make it difficult to eat and lead to dehydration, constipation, and further nutrient deficiencies. In extreme cases, inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease may also develop.

Other general symptoms that can occur as a result of intestinal inflammation include body aches, fatigue, migraines, and joint pain.

Gut Health and Overall Health are Intricately Connected

 All of the systems in your body are connected. Your digestive system and hormonal system don’t work independently, they work together. In fact, a healthy gut and digestive system are at the root of good overall health.

In fact, the majority of the immune system is located in the gut. When the gut is inflamed, the issues go much deeper than gas, bloating, and chronic tummy troubles. Inflammation in the digestive tract also leads to hormonal imbalances, mood disorders, chronic disease, fatigue, autoimmune disorders, and much more.

Sadly, the bacteria in our gut can even promote inflammation as a response to chronic stress.

So, How Can You Fix It?

The fastest way to decrease inflammation in the gut and improve digestion is to change your diet. Start by getting tested for food sensitivities and eliminating any foods you are sensitive to. 

Common triggers include peanuts, eggs, nightshade vegetables, soy, corn, alcohol, refined sugar, dairy, and gluten. By eliminating all foods you’re sensitive to, the inflammation will be greatly reduced, giving your digestive system a chance to heal.

Here are some other steps you can take to correct gut inflammation:

  • Go on an anti-inflammatory diet: Eat more anti-inflammatory foods, like fresh fruits and veggies, spices, and healthy fats. At the same time, cut back on foods that cause inflammation, including sugar, refined carbs, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners. 

  • Try an elimination diet: If you don’t want to get tested for food sensitivities, you can try eliminating foods that you suspect may be causing your digestive inflammation. Then, add them back into your diet one at a time, allowing at least a few days between foods. Note any symptoms you experience and make permanent changes to your diet accordingly.

  • Include some probiotic and prebiotic foods in your diet daily: Probiotic foods introduce healthy bacteria back into the digestive system. They include fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso. Prebiotic foods are the foods that your healthy gut bacteria require to thrive. Rowdy Bars contain prebiotic fibers, and they’re free of common trigger foods, so they’re a great choice. Other prebiotic options include onions, garlic, bananas, and legumes.

  • Reduce your stress levels: Stress is a common cause of inflammation, not just in the gut, but also in other areas of the body, too. Try to incorporate stress-reducing activities into your routine daily, such as yoga, exercise, or meditation.

  • Provide your body with the right nutrients: Omega-3s, vitamin D, B-complex, and magnesium are all vital for fighting inflammation. Incorporating a daily multivitamin into your well-balanced diet is an easy way to ensure that you’re not deficient in any of these key nutrients.

Wrapping Up

Inflammation can have a dramatic impact on your digestion and cause many chronic health issues. Thankfully, there is hope! By making proactive changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can reduce inflammation in your gut, improve your digestion, and improve your health overall. Understanding what’s triggering your gut inflammation is the first step in the right direction.

CREDIT: Nicole McCray