A properly functioning gastrointestinal system is critical for overall health and well-being, yet it is often treated as the red-headed stepchild of the body – under appreciated, ill-treated and otherwise ignored unless it starts making a lot of commotion.
Consider the following about the gastrointestinal system:
- The gastrointestinal system comprises 75% of the body’s immune system.
- There are more neurons in the small intestine than in the entire spinal cord.
- It is the only system in the body that has its own, independently operating nervous system, called the enteric nervous system.
- If you stretched out the gastrointestinal system in its entirety, it would have the surface area of a regulation sized singles tennis court.
- There are over 400 species of microbes living in your gut, totaling over 15 pounds of mass and containing more bacteria than there are known stars in the sky.
However, as indicated above, our gastrointestinal systems do not have this sort of pain sensing system. As a result, we typically don’t know when our gastrointestinal systems have a problem. Instead we have to wait until things get bad enough to present symptoms to us. Suffice to say, if the body allocates this many resources to one particular system, it must be important.
In fact, we should start treating our gut with care if we are interested in weight loss, muscle gain or overall health in general.
We don’t really feel our guts. Specifically, we don’t often feel gut pain or any other sensations. That’s because our guts lack pain sensing receptors (known as nociceptors).
Nocioceptors sense noxious stimuli and send signals to our brain to let it know. These signals are registered as “pain.”
For example, the next time you accidentally step on a nail or sharp object, thank your nociceptors. They’re responsible for forcing you to remove your foot to prevent further damage.
However, as indicated above, our gastrointestinal systems do not have this sort of pain sensing system. As a result, we typically don’t know when our gastrointestinal systems have a problem. Instead we have to wait until things get bad enough to present symptoms to us.
If you have any symptoms such as…
- Foul Smelling Stools
- Burning in the Stomach
- Bad Breath
- Burping After Meals
- Undigested Food in Your Stools
- Inadequate Digestion (feeling like you have a brick in your stomach after you eat)
…you can be sure you have some type of gastrointestinal dysfunction.
Yet, oddly enough, many other symptoms typically aren’t experienced in our GI systems. Often, things like hormonal imbalances, migraines, allergies, eczema, and autoimmune disease all can be traced back to GI system problems. Interesting, isn’t it? If you have gastrointestinal issues and would like to discuss what your options are then contact our office now.