Ditching processed junk for real, whole foods can do great things for our health. However there are people who eat clean but still have health issues. There are lots of possible reasons why eating healthy alone is not enough, however according to Dr. William Cole one of the most common underlying issues is found in the microbiome – trillions of bacteria and yeast that live in our gut and on our skin. The microbiome is home to around 80 percent of your immune system. Often called your “second brain,” it helps control our mood, weight and hormones. Indeed thousands of years ago, Hippocrates, the father of medicine said, “All disease begins in the gut”!

Hippocrates the father of medicine

If you’re eating clean but are still experiencing health issues, Dr. William Cole says there are four underlying gut problems to look for:

1. Leaky gut syndrome

When your intestinal lining is damaged, undigested food particles and bacterial endotoxins called lipopolysaccharides (LPS) can pass through the gut lining, leading to systemic inflammation throughout your body. Eating a clean diet takes out most of the immunoreactive and inflammatory foods like gluten, sugar, and bad fats, which is a great start. Though there is a chance that years of eating poorly in the past, medications, or just living in a modern toxic world could have caused chronic food intolerances. When the gut is chronically damaged and an inflammatory-immune response has been triggered, your immune system can react to even the healthiest of foods.

2. Bacterial imbalances

The balance of your gut is essential for good health. Conditions like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and other bacterial dysbioses are linked to numerous health problems.  In addition to getting labs to assess your microbiome levels, you should also consider a FODMAP intolerance. Foods like onions and garlic are just two of the healthy foods that will flare up digestive problems and inflammation in someone with FODMAP intolerance.

3. Histamine intolerance

One other specific intolerance is histamine intolerance. Histamine intolerance occurs when there is a dysfunction or deficiency of the enzymes that break histamines — chemicals produced during an allergic reaction — down. Without the enzymes to effectively get rid of excess histamine, the overflow can cause a lot of problems. There are also foods that naturally contain histamine, or trigger the release of histamine in the body. Histamine intolerance can easily be found in people who eat healthfully, because many whole foods are high in histamine.

4. Yeast overgrowth

We all have some yeast in our gut microbiome, but overgrowths of yeast such as Candida albicans can cause chronic low-grade inflammation and immune stress. People with an already weakened immune system or autoimmune problem can find a candida overgrowth to be a trigger for more health problems.

How to achieve optimal gut health:

Dr. William Cole recommends these three simple action steps:

  • Consider functional medicine labs
  • Look at stress levels
  • Consider personalised functional medicine

Keep in mind that we are all on health journeys and we are all learning what works for our body and what doesn’t!