IBD Awareness Week: Understanding IBD & Gut Health

Understanding IBD & Gut Health

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a broad term that describes conditions with chronic or recurring immune response  and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. The two most common forms of  IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease  – both characterized by an abnormal response to the body’s immune system.

Common Symptoms of IBD

  • loose, urgent bowel movements
  • persistent diarrhea with blood in stool & abdominal pain
  • abdominal cramps
  • constipation
  • night sweats, fever, fatigue & weight loss


Most likely caused by mix of heredity, genetics, immune system & environmental factors

click to expand IBD infographic

Gut Health

All of the digestive processes have one goal: to deliver nutrients into the bloodstream for use in our cells. If laid out flat this surface would be the size of a tennis court, but it is only one cell layer thick! When this delicate surface is damaged, inflammation spreads throughout the brain and body.

The hard-working gut allows nutrients and water to enter the body while preventing the entry of toxins/antigens. It’s a selective barrier between “us” and the outside world. But a distressed gut can’t act in our defense. Instead, it allows dangerous compounds to enter the body.

A healthy gut barrier depends on:

  • balanced intestinal bacteria – good gut bacteria help manufacture vitamins, enhance absorption of minerals, fight off pathogens, digest food, and metabolize drugs & even influence metabolism!
  • intact mucosa – when the gut wall is irritated or inflamed the tight junctions between its cells loosen up and we get increased permeability.
  • a healthy immune system – almost 70% of our immune system cells live in or around the gut.

Our gastrointestinal tracts work hard to keep us healthy and happy.

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