How the Digestive System Can Affect Mental, Emotional, and Oral Health

When a patient exhibits obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and significant digestive system health problems, there’s a good chance the conditions are interrelated.

That’s according to Dr. James Greenblatt, a Boston-area psychiatrist who identifies himself with the growing number of health professionals who practice integrative medicine. “I start with integrative medicine,” Dr. Greenblatt explains to ABCnews.com, “but I have my prescription pad by my side,” (i).

When Dr. Greenblatt first met Mary, she was a sophomore in high school suffering with OCD, ADHD, digestive system problems, and dwindling treatment options. According to Dr. Greenblatt, Mary had been having a poor response to traditional medicines for OCD and ADHD, which to him was a “red flag” that a larger problem was contributing to her condition.

Taking an integrated approach, Dr. Greenblatt designed a treatment protocol for Mary that focused first and foremost on digestive system health. Recognizing that a healthy GI tract can be a make-or-break factor for total body wellness, he recommended Mary supplement here diet with high powered probiotics to alleviate her digestive system pain. Later, he prescribed antibiotics to treat her unusually high levels of clostridia bacteria. Within 6 months, the discomfort of ADHD, OCD, and digestive system imbalance began to subside.

In September 2013, Mary began her senior year of high school. All OCD, ADHD, and digestive health issues were gone.

How Gut Health Impacts Total Wellness and Oral Health

Stories like Mary’s are becoming increasingly common. Although digestive system issues have likely always been a contributing factor to physical woes, the connection between gut health and total body wellness is only now garnering the mainstream media attention it deserves.

“There’s a certain ‘ick’ factor associated with gut bacteria,” explains Lita Proctor. “People tend to think of them as germs and disease-causing pathogens, but they’re actually part of our bodies.” As director of the Microbiome Project, Ms. Proctor has dedicated her professional career to characterizing the thousands of bacteria that call the human GI tract their home. For a healthy adult, that amounts to roughly 5 pounds of bacteria, which is about the weight of the human brain (ii).

The health of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract has a significant impact on total body wellness, because it is the medium through which the body absorbs vital nutrients. When GI health becomes compromised, so too does the body’s ability to obtain vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients from the foods we eat.

The most common cause for GI health issues is Leaky Gut Syndrome. This condition occurs when the intestinal wall becomes damaged, which not only makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients, but also leads to toxic leakage and oral health issues, like cavities and gum disease.

Can Leaky Gut Syndrome Cause Cavities?

Several factors can contribute to Leaky Gut Syndrome, including poor nutrition, stress, and bacterial imbalance (dysbiosis). No matter what the cause, this condition has the potential to significantly impair oral health.

As the lining of the small intestine becomes increasingly damaged, the body has a more difficult time absorbing minerals like sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, and other nutrients that are vital to teeth and gum health. This ultimately decreases mineral availability in the oral cavity, which impairs the body’s natural ability to re-mineralize the teeth, nourish the gums, and maintain general oral health.

To learn more, visit this article on minerals and trace minerals for strong and healthy teeth.

Diet and Dentistry: A Holistic Perspective

At Assure A Smile, we take a holistic approach to dentistry, and we believe that your teeth will enjoy a much healthier lifestyle through proper nutrition, diet, and care. We invite South Florida residents to schedule an appointment online to experience holistic dentistry firsthand.

Readers are also invited to speak with a friendly member of our front desk by calling 305-274-0047.

Sources:

(i) “Anxiety in Your Head Could Come from Your Gut.” ABC News. Accessed 4 November 2013.

(ii) “The Ins and Outs of Gut Bacteria.” ABC News. Accessed 4 November 2013.

 

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