Have you ever heard of someone feeling better after modifying their diet? I have. There are, in fact, several mechanisms of action to explain this claim, which I cover in my book, Outsmart Your Pain! The Essential Guide to Overcoming Pain & Transforming Your Life.

“You are what you eat” is Surprisingly True.

You might be surprised to know that our gut actually orchestrates our immune system. Through the complex ’gut-brain axis’ and the action of the vagus nerve, our gut health modulates pain, inflammation, as well as our cognitive function and mental health. Surprising right?

Stay Healthy with Functional Medicine and Dietary Changes

Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is the key and the primary factor in our gut health is our diet. The Standard American diet, or Western diet, is rife with genetically altered foods or GMO foods, food laced with glyphosate and other pesticides and herbicides, emulsifiers, gums, sugar and artificial sweeteners. All of these ingredients alter the diversity of our gut microbiome.

Changes in our gut flora cause alterations of the brush borders that line our intestines, and this alteration leads to loss of the tight junctions that provide the crucial barrier function of our intestines. This leads to “leaky gut” and autoimmunity. Furthermore, this can exacerbate toxin exposures and impact hormone metabolism.

Foods to Avoid for Balanced Health

Pro-inflammatory foods are known to alter this delicate balance and include dairy, gluten, soy, peanuts, and artificial sweeteners. Once the barrier function of the gut is disrupted then chaos reigns in our guts and our health starts to deteriorate. When this happens, the enteric nervous system and vagus nerve send messages to the brain that alter how we feel physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Other factors that influence this delicate balance include stress, medications, lack of sleep, vaccinations, radiation, infections, toxin exposure and surgery, to name a few. Once our gut microbiome becomes imbalanced, then we lose beneficial bacteria in favor of pathogenic ones.

Why is a Balanced Diet So Important?

Normally, we host 1,200-1,500 species of bacteria in our gut, and this means we have the genetic material of these bacteria in our system influencing our own genes.

This complex interaction has potentially dramatic effects on our health and wellbeing. One of the most important things to understand is that while “you are what we eat”, our health is a delicate balance influenced by anything that throws us out of balance. One easy step you can take is to clean up our diet. A second beneficial step is to take fiber and high quality probiotics. Functional Medicine Improves Overall Health

The new area of medicine called Functional Medicine centers around the intricacies of the ‘gut-brain axis”. It also looks at how genetics plays a role in how susceptible an individual might be to these factors and how to modify one’s lifestyle to optimize health and minimize the effects of inflammation and aging. It’s true, “you are what you eat.” To learn more about Functional Medicine at the Barr Center, call us at 757-578-2260 or schedule an appointment online.


About Lisa Barr, MD Over the past 30+ years, Dr. Barr has treated over 200,000 patients for a variety of pain conditions. Her therapies include Functional Medicine and innovative Regenerative Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. Barr on LinkedIn or by reading her Book.