The gut is the mother of our health. As well as digesting food, the gut plays a central role in programming our immune system. It also provides an effective barrier to bacteria that could make us ill. Immune cells that line the gut work to maintain the integrity of this barrier. The gut wall immune cells also maintain the “correctness” of beneficial bacteria within and their “commensal conversations” that direct our immune system to stay alert. The gut wall also helps combat invasion into our inner cells, by pathogenic, non-beneficial bacteria and microbes.
Scientists and clinicians on the Norwich Research Park have carried out the very first detailed study of how our intestinal tract changes as we age, and how this determines our overall health.
They took and assessed samples taken from healthy volunteers from people of all ages. They found that the “typical” aging gut had a characteristic increase in one specific immune factor called interleukin 6 (IL-6).
This molecule lives to trigger unhealthy inflammation.
In other words as we age, much of our guts (intestinal tract from north to south) can and does get excessively inflamed. Chronic low-grade inflammation is seen now as the root cause of diverse illnesses from heart disease, fatigue, cancer and even cognition disorders.
Chronic low-grade Inflammation is increasingly seen as a key event behind what we associate with aging; cognitive decline, fatigue, frailty, and feeling more overwhelmed and under equipped.
The gut inflammation root cause of aging is now being called ‘inflammaging’ .
But we, functional practitioners, now have many ways to prevent and reduce this inflammation naturally, without drugs.
I do this daily in practice with folks with inflammatory bowel diseases and even other illnesses that manifest peripherally but are very responsive to the gut, centrally.
Increased levels of IL-6 directly make the gut barrier ‘leaky’ to small, soluble molecules, which contribute to diverse health issues, especially auto-immune disorders, like type-1 diabetes in children and Lupus and RA in adults.
How we eat, digest, the level of our endogenous hormones that line the entire digestive tract with receptors to regulate local gut health (and is being adversely affected at younger ages due to endocrine disrupting pollutants, detoxing these pollutants, and strategic nutrition intervention (nutritional gastroenterology), is at the core of keeping you and your gut well.
And there you have it.
- Angela Man, Eugenio Bertelli, Silvia Rentini, Mari Regoli, Graham Briars, Mario Marini, Alastair Watson, Claudio Nicoletti. Age-associated modifications of intestinal permeability and innate immunity in human small intestine. Clinical Science, 2015; DOI: 10.1042/CS20150046