By Michelle Harkey
This past fall I had the opportunity to readjust my priorities and get some additional learning I wasn't expecting. I knew I hadn't been eating as well as I prefer over the past couple of years as I immersed myself in finishing a second Masters degree, running my business and being a mother, but I figured I'd get back to taking care of myself once I had the time. Well, a few trips to the ER assured that I finally MADE time to reevaluate my gut health. So, I've learned some great things.
One of them is the connection between gut dysfunction and back pain. Here's the way Alejandro Junger, MD explains it in his book Clean Gut:
"Back pain is the most common complaint and reason for medical consultations in the world. And gut dysfunction is often at the root of it. How are the two related? The explanation is so simple that it goes undetected, or isn't even considered, but most medical professionals today. It's simply a matter of space and pressure.
"When the immune and nervous systems in the gut battle dysbiosis and hyperpermeability (leaky gut), blood flow increases to meet the higher oxygen and nutrient demands of an army and communication network at war. As a result, the entire gut becomes engorged. It expands and pushes the tissues and organs around it. It first pushes in the direction of the abdominal wall, since there is less resistance on most people's abdominal walls due to a general weakness of muscles there. This causes the abdomen to protrude - the infamous belly so many Americans are obsessed with. . . .
"The gut also pushes against neighboring abdominal organs, including the kidneys, liver, ovaries, and uterus - causing dysfunctions of different degrees by reducing circulation in those organs - and the vertebrae and their emerging nerves. Plus, it pushes the diaphragm up, thus compressing the lungs in the chest, which can cause shortness of breath.
"To compensate for all this increased pressure, the body readjusts its posture. The result is back pain in all of its varying forms, each related to the specific ways in which an individual's body realigns to cope with how the engorged gut is affecting the different organs."