You hear the phrase all the time, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” This too is up for discussion but not what’s on my mind today. What is, however, is how we think of our gut health. I think the framing is all off. For one, the gut dwells in the dark corners of the body, it is mysterious and misunderstood. At the same time, it is one of the most complex and happening zones in our body. If that doesn’t spark your curiosity maybe our dependence on its health will.
The gut and its counterparts :
+ the liver
+ the pancreas
+ the gall bladder
… are all highly specialized. In their web, we find homeostasis or chaos.
As a culture we look to specialization for answers to our health disharmonies. We seek out specialists for dermatology, our chronic aches and pains, our mental health, our insomnia, our allergies (see my last newsletter for more on this). In this set up, the patient becomes the driver of the ship. Piecing together fractals of recommendations, combined with the ever present Google, and your health becomes a stew of disconnection. These are muddy waters to navigate and no fun, in my personal opinion.
This is because we have what some microbiome smarties have called the Vegas Syndrome. (Check out one of my favorite smarties, Dr. Alessio Fassano) We think that “what happens in the gut, stays in the gut.” In other words, that our foods intake and digestive health have little impact on the rest of our wellbeing. We seek specialization and we find disconnection.
This is how we get to be on the receiving end of what Dr. Maggie Yu calls … random acts of health violence.
Maggie is my full time sidekick in clinical practice. Many patients that join our practice have a long history with a number of specialists and a lot of confusion about these random attacks, creating a bumpy path to their health.
Underneath the sometimes years of feeling like a zebra in every practice they have entered, we start by assuring them that they are our normal patient. They are not a zebra at all, we are here to connect the dots and sort out the underlying cause of disharmony in the body.
For 90% of our patients: this starts with the gut, which is where I come in. A timeline of a person’s digestive health, or lack there of, is like the fine print of their wellness story.
There is no way around the significance of gut health. What we are eating and how we are eating, the stress associated with eating, the discomfort of eating. Remember: this is our gut, not Vegas. What happens in the gut, doesn’t stay in the gut. It affects every other system of the body. The work of the gut asks all of us to get personal, to be consistent, to take the time, to gather support where it is needed.
My hope is these thoughts give you fodder to help yourself or other people in your life start to read the fine print. One thing I am consistently amazed by in my practice is how people normalize their pain or discomfort. How quickly it actually becomes part of who they are, like part of the landscape. The thing is our body is really good at showing us the signs but our busy lives and quick fixes keep us from engaging in the conversation.
Spring is the perfect time to engage, to seek out fresh foods, a bounty of vegetables and leafy greens, to check out your local Farmer’s Market and to decide… this isn’t Vegas, this is the foundation of our health!