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7 Interesting Facts About The Gastrointestinal Tract

The gastrointestinal tract is the most amazing part of the body. And it plays a huge role in our health. Hippocrates had it correct from the beginning with this quote, all disease begins in the gut and by the end of our discussion today, you'll see how that is incredibly true.

Today. We are going to discuss seven interesting facts that you may not know about the gastrointestinal tract, and I'm confident that by the end you'll have a new appreciation for that amazing gut of yours. Let's jump in.

Hello everyone. My name is Katie Krejci and I'm a gut health functional medicine dietician at Oswald Digestive Clinic, where we help people improve and eliminate bothersome gut issues like gas, bloat, diarrhea, constipation, and more. You can schedule an initial appointment with us, or you can just start by downloading our free guide about five ways to improve gut health.

So today's topic is all about seven different interesting facts about our amazing and wonderful gastrointestinal tract that you may not have heard about before. So let's dive into them.

7 Interesting Facts About The Gastrointestinal Tract

Our digestive tract produces 75% of our neurotransmitters

An interesting fact, number one is that our digestive tract produces 75% of our neurotransmitters. I think this is one of the most surprising things when it comes to our gut. It's natural to think about digestion, of course, when it comes to our intestines.

But what we discovered is that there are trillions of microbes that live in our intestines or our microbiome and these microbes produce most of our neurotransmitters. And neurotransmitters are our bodies' chemical messengers.

They carry messages from one nerve cell to the next that ultimately impact things like our heartbeat and digestion and breathing to even things like thoughts, memory, stress, and sleep. What's happening in the gut is that certain types of beneficial organisms in our gut help produce certain types of neurotransmitters.

So for example, lactobacillus and bifidobacteria are involved in GABA production and GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps keep stress-related nerve impulses at bay. Enterococcus and spore-forming microbes are involved in serotonin production, which is a neurotransmitter that's greatly involved in our mood and can result in anxiety or depression when those levels are low.

Lastly, Bacillus produces dopamine, which is a pleasure center neurotransmitter. These three neurotransmitters are key players in our mood and mental health. So if your gut is outta whack, then your mood and sleep could likely be out of whack as well.

If you suspect this, definitely reach out to us at Oswald Digestive Clinic, where we can help you heal and restore your gut, which will likely help your mood and sleep as well.

GALT or the gut-associated lymphoid tissue

Interesting fact, number two is that our gut houses, two-thirds of our immune tissue called the GALT or the gut-associated lymphoid tissue. The GALT is the largest lymphoid organ in our entire body. And most of it is found in our gut.

And this makes sense because our gut is a major point of defense against whatever ends up coming into our bodies from food and beverages. When our GALT becomes dysregulated, this can put our bodies at higher risk of things like inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's, and ulcerative colitis. So if we take care of our gut, then our gut will take care of us.

Muscular cleaning wave called the migrating motor complex (MMC)

Interesting fact, number three is that our gut has an important muscular cleaning wave called the migrating motor complex or for short the MMC, but it only works when we're not eating. So the MMC acts as a little street sweeper to clean out any residual stuff that's left in our GI tract after a meal. And it is essential for keeping our tract clean and reducing the risk of bacterial overgrowth.

However, we only get one MMC wave every 90 minutes once the meal or snack has passed through. So if you were someone that likes to snack all day, rather than having dedicated meals, then you're likely not benefiting from this MMC cleaning wave.

During the day, even chugging, a large amount of water can inactivate the MMC wave, just like food can, therefore it's best to sip on water throughout the day, rather than chugging and keeping those meals or snacks at least four hours apart to really benefit from this cleaning wave.

Now, if you're someone that needs to eat more frequently, don't despair, you should still be benefiting from the MMC cleaning waves while you are asleep. You just might not experience them during the day as well. Here's another tip to make sure that your MMC wave is firing well, and reduce that stress level.

Yep. Stress rushing and worry can all slow motility, MMC, simulation, and proper stomach acid secretion. All three are essential for good gut health. I know it's easier said than done, but when you're feeling stressed, just take a moment to pause, do some deep belly breaths or engage in just a five-minute meditation.

Not only will you feel better, but your gut will thank you too. Lastly, ginger root is a wonderful agent that can be used to promote motility and that MMC wave. If you feel like your motility is a little sluggish, try adding a little ginger when you're cooking, or you can even grate some ginger into hot water for a nice ginger tea.

Our gut is supposed to produce one and a half liters of stomach acid daily

Interesting fact, number four is that our gut is supposed to produce one and a half liters of stomach acid daily. And that acid is so, so important. I feel like stomach acid has gotten such a bad reputation in today's world with products like Tums and Pepcid being one of the most common over-the-counter medications.

Many people associate their symptoms of heartburn with too much stomach acid. When in fact it's typically caused by too little stomach acid in adequate stomach acid production, or hypochlorhydria is one of the most common issues that I see in my clients. And it can cause a lot of problems.

Stomach acid is our first line of defense against pathogens that come in our food and drinks. Acid is the enemy of bacteria. So if you have insufficient stomach acid, those bad bugs can make it down into your small intestine unscathed, and then take up residents there resulting in all sorts of GI issues from diarrhea and constipation to gas, bloating, and even leaky gut stomach acid is also essential for making some nutrients like calcium and iron available for absorption.

So if you have issues with chronic iron deficiency, it could be tied to low stomach acid production. Stomach acid also helps the rest of our GI tract just work better.

Did you know that the presence of adequate stomach acid that's mixed in with our food is what helps trigger the gallbladder and pancreas to release bile and pancreatic enzymes?

That's right. So if there isn't enough stomach acid, you won't be properly breaking down and absorbing your food in the small intestine digestion as a whole can become sluggish without adequate stomach acid and food often just sits there and starts to actually bubble and ferment.

And then that is where we get that bothersome heartburn feeling from if you suspect that you're having issues with low stomach acid, I highly recommend that you connect with a functional provider so that they can help you identify the root cause for why you aren't producing enough in the first place and come up with a strategy to correct it.

If you'd like to work with us at Oswald Digestive Clinic, where we are experts at solving low stomach acid issues, definitely make an appointment with us.

We house three to seven pounds of microbes on our epithelial surfaces

Interesting fact, number five is that we house three to seven pounds of microbes on our epithelial surfaces. And a bonus fact is that we also have 150 times more bacterial DNA in our body than actual human DNA. And I know it's kind of weird to think about all those microbes living on and within us, but those microbes are absolutely essential to our health.

And the fascinating thing is that the types of bacteria vary depending on their location in our body, the mouth is largely populated with streptococcus. The skin is largely populated with propionibacterium. The gut is largely populated with Bacteriodes and Firmicutes. Each of these different types of bacteria plays a slightly different role, just like different workers in a factory.

That's why it's important to have a diverse microbiome for optimal gut health. Using a probiotic can be a great way to support a diverse microbiome. However, there are so many options on the market right now, and picking not only the right strain and dose is important, but so is selecting from a quality brand that you can trust.

One study evaluated 13 different probiotics on the market in the United States and found that only two of them had contents that matched the label. Some of the products contained as little as 7% of the viable organisms that were listed on the label. Yikes.

So what you wanna be looking for is a brand that engages in batch testing, every single batch for potency and purity. And we wanna look to see if they have past inspection on consumer labs, if you're not sure which brand to use, we have some of our favorite probiotic products listed below.

  1. UltraBiotic Complete:

  2. UltraBiotic Integrity:

  3. UltraBiotic Daily Multi-Strain:

  4. UltraBiotic Daily:

Definitely go check them out!

If you have a leaky gut, then you likely have a leaky brain or leaky skin as well

Interesting fact, number six is that if you have a leaky gut, then you likely have a leaky brain or leaky skin as well. The connection between our gut and other parts of our body, like the brain and the skin is something that we are learning more and more about every day. And it's super fascinating.

A leaky gut occurs when a specific trigger results in tight junctions separating between our intestinal cells. Our gut lining is a protective barrier. So when that gets disrupted, things can leak through, into our bloodstream that isn't supposed to be there.

And then these things get identified by our immune system as foreign invaders and a whole inflammatory cascade occurs. Common triggers for leaky gut can be drugs, lectins, stress infections, gut overgrows, processed foods, or toxins. Just to name a few, here are some of the leaky brain or leaky skin symptoms that are often originated from a leaky gut.

So things like depression and mood swings, nervousness, aggressive behavior, fatigue, poor memory, poor concentration, confusion, even schizophrenia, environmental sensitivities, psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis too often, we are looking directly at the brain or the skin to come up with a treatment plan when really we should be looking at the gut.

35% of all doctor's visits are related to digestive illness

Interesting fact, number seven is that 35% of all doctor's visits are related to digestive illness. So if you're dealing with gut issues, you're definitely not alone. And unfortunately, I often hear from my clients that after going to their conventional doctor for help, they go home disappointed.

And without any answers, some even go as far as to have invasive colonoscopies done only to be told that everything is normal. So if this has been your experience know that it's not all in your head and there is hope functional medicine really is at the forefront of getting to the bottom of the root cause of gut issues and helping individuals heal for good at Oswald Digestive Clinic, we are experts in this space and would love to help you.

If you're struggling with any type of gut issue from leaky gut, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or heartburn, you name it. I hope this information about our fascinating and amazing gastrointestinal tract was helpful to you. And you now have a new appreciation for everything that it does for us.

If you'd like to explore any of this information further or obtain an individualized nutrition plan, you can schedule an initial appointment with us. We also take insurance and some of our clients get full coverage, which is great. Or you can just start by downloading our free guide.

Thank you and I hope you have a great rest of your day.

Interesting Facts About The Gastrointestinal Tract Video

If you'd like to explore any of this information further or obtain an individualized nutrition plan, you can schedule an initial appointment at our clinic.

We also take insurance and some of our clients get full coverage, which is great.

Or you can simply start by downloading our FREE GUIDE: 5 Ways to Improve Gut Health.