Life's health question.....Which Came First?

Bowel Disease..................Gut Inflammation..................Food Sensitivity

So, did Aguste Rodin have his health in mind when sculpting The Thinker? Or maybe he had the earlier philosophical question between the chicken and egg; and who has the answer to that?


Either way, it is well established in today's modern, medical community that you will not get an established, modern answer to what came first! Bowel Disease, Gut Inflammation, or Food Sensitivity? But what is very well established is that all three are linked to extremely serious diseases.  The National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases have very alarming statistics related to digestive related health (1):

  • 60 - 70 million Americans are clinically affected by digestive diseases.
  • 36.6 million patients have a primary diagnosis related to digestive diseases.
  • In 2010, there were 21.7 million hospital admissions for digestive disease related illnesses.
  • Just under 300,000 deaths were reported as digestive disease related.

Let's revisit the original question. . . .  Well, which came first; Bowel Disease, Gut Inflammation, or Food Sensitivity? $142 billion.....yes, billion dollars are spent annually on digestive related illnesses.  To put that number into perspective, let's look at the cost of the #1 killer in the United States.  Heart Disease has been a focus since the mid-70's. You would think that the amount of money spent on heart disease illnesses would be phenomenally higher than gut disease.  Yeah, it's only double at $300 billion. Here's the kicker. Heart disease, that #1 killer, seems be caused directly by digestive dysfunction. Back in 1943 Dr. Hurxthal published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Gastrointestinal Symptoms & Heart Disease (2). He investigated that there may be several links to digestive symptoms and various heart related ailments. In today's literature, digestive disease is associated with heart disease and other serious illnesses such as, diabetes, stomach cancer, respiratory infection, auto-immune disorders, thyroiditis, even severe depression.

I love pondering...let's ponder more. Hippocrates, that famous philosopher, (Actually he was physician - back then physicians were Alchemists. Modern medicine has lost that art) stated, "All diseases begin in the gut." It should be crystal clear at this point that the focus on gut health should be paramount to anyone considering a healthy life.


It is well established that gastrointestinal disease is a direct causal factor of disease formation. This part of the philosophical quest is known - inadequate attention to digestive health leads to chronic diseases, various diagnosis, life long medications, surgeries, even death. So as we work through this thoughtful quest, the pondering should end with understanding the three above are associated with dangerous, health impacted diseases.

The universal answer is the same as the secret to life....
— Alchemy de Nova

Now that we understand the seriousness between proper digestive health and overall health, let's get back to philosophy and the question; Bowel Disease, Gut Inflammation, Food Sensitivities? There is no answer and, frankly, it does not matter what comes first.  That's the universal secrete and now that the philosophical quest is over let's rest, yet continue. There is no answer they just exist!

When any of these exist, and they do in just about everyone, dis-ease is eminentBowel Disease is Inflammation is Food Sensitivity is Inflammation is Bowel Disease. Regardless of which came first individually or together, they are serious stressors to your immune system. A chronic stressor to your immune system results in diseases. Bowel Disease is seen clinically as hyper-permeability of the gut lining. This means the protective layer in the intestinal wall has lost viability allowing for unwanted particles to be absorbed. Inflammation is your natural immune defense sending the antibody calvary to fight what the body believes are foreign invaders. Food sensitivity is improperly digested foods that cause, and can be caused, by bowel disease and/or chronic inflammation. No one can intelligently answer which came first. All three are devastating your individual health. Growing research is identifying gut disease as crucial components to disease formation.

  1. Headaches/Migraines
  2. Rheumatoid Arthritis
  3. Joint Pain
  4. Eczema/Psoriasis
  5. Infertility
  6. Neuro-muscular Disorders
  7. Asthma
  8.  ADHD
  9. Anxiety
  10. Atherosclerosis/Hyperlipidemia
  11. Obesity
  12. Hormone Dysfunction
  13. Alzheimers

Dysfunctions of the digestive tract are overlook more often than they are considered when correlating symptoms to root causes of diseases. Various ailments that many suffer from today are rarely associated to digestive health, among most medical practitioners. Of the listed ailments, how many are treated by methods associated with gastrointestinal health?

In 300 B.C. that well know physician stated that all diseases begin in the gut. In 1943 that physician published that many gastrointestinal symptoms correlate to heart disease. Today's physicians state that poor gut health is associated, and is a direct causal factor, to the most treated ailments today (1,2,3,4).

however, health professionals today over look the importance of digestive health and it's association to most chronic diseases. Dis-eased digestion isn't just linked to physical ailments. Leading research indicates poor digestive health can be a cause of depression. Yet therapists continue to overlook that link as well. Even those of us looking into improved health really don't consider how important healing our gut is. At least in a efficacious and effective way.

The answers to all philosophical questions lead back to ...
— Alchemy de Nova

So if there is no answer to what came first, then were does that lead us? It leads us back to understanding where the truth really lies.  If we can agree that it does not matter which digestive dysfunctions are present, that proper gut health is imperative to disease prevention and management, and that our medical model does not identify digestive health as a precursor to most complaints, then the universal secret is applied. Loa Tzu, author of the Tao Te Ching, famously said, "At the center of your being, you have the answers...". The truth is found in you - Modern Translation: it is up to you to seek out specific information related to proper digestive health treatment.

It is extremely important to take an individualized approach when pursuing digestive health. An all in one approach, as you may soon see, leads to more trial and error. Not only is seeking out individualized investigation to gut health imperative, applying a specific, individualized protocol to correct any dysfunction is equally important. Gone are the days of internet searches for the latest gut health information or supplement. In fact, it can be negligent to assume that a one-size-fits all approach to gut dysfunction is appropriate.

As a Functional Diagnostic Practitioner, within the Functional Medicine arena, I first investigate physiological responses when determining the severity of digestive health. This is completed before any recommendations. My investigation to uncovering digestive dysfunctions, and it's possible impact on the body, is as follows:

  1. Intestinal Hyper-permeability: Assesses small bowel absorption and barrier function of the bowel

  2. GI Pathogen Screen: Identifies specific pathogenic overgrowth and virulent pathogens present.

  3. Mediator Release: The identification of problematic foods, chemicals, and food additives.

The goal, as mentioned, is to identify the severity of digestive integrity, which areas are most affected, identifying intestinal bugs that are contributing to poor gut health, and focus on foods that are identified by the body as foreign. Unless each area is properly investigated, it is very likely that symptoms will persist and optimal Health will not be reached. Is only when proper investigation takes place on an individual level, that effective guidance can be provided to improve personal, optimal health.

Intestinal permeability is the ability of the digestive tract to allow wanted particles absorbed in the body. While blocking unwanted particles from being absorbed. Investigating bowel absorption and barrier function identifies the severity of the loss of integrity in the small bowel. In addition, permeability investigation identifies if there is a problem with nutrient breakdown, proper enzymatic secretion, and if the immune system is compromised at the gut level. Even identifying such things as nutrient deficiency probability.

Digestive tract infections and pathogen overgrowth must be evaluated to ensure that an eradication protocol is in order. Overlooking the likelihood of pathogenic and non-pathogenic organisms leads to the inability to lower inflammation and manage the bodies immune system. Identifying specific organelles ensures that an individualized health protocol is applied, specific to the test results. Some bugs are much more difficult to eradicate than others. Not to mention that there is an order in eradicating parasites versus bacteria versus yeast. Moreover, specific bugs require specific durations of treatment. Understanding which bugs are present and to what degree will allow for improved digestive health.

The most overlooked tool to help with digestive health and overall health is food sensitivity testing. Food sensitivity testing deserves a bit more discussion. Serial infections like colds, flu, cold sores, mucus build up, joint pain, bloating, migraines, even mid-day fatigue are associated with food intolerances (1). If left unattended, these intolerances compromise the immune system and contribute to chronic inflammation. Our digestive system accounts for more immune fighting cells than any other place in our body. It is considered our first line of defense against illness and disease. A compromised digestive tract leads to increased pathogen overgrowth, bowel hyper-permeability, inflammation and infection. There are many food culprits that are associated with bowel disease, inflammation, and lowered immune response:

  • Diary intolerance: casein protein

  • Wheat intolerance: gluten protein and Gliadin production.

  • Yeast sensitivity: yeast protein

  • Corn intolerance: zein protein

  • Nightshade sensitivity: lecithins

As the body becomes more imbalanced, more compromised, more inflamed, and immune compromised, it is very likely that food sensitivities exist - and the risk of disease is likely. These intolerances are mostly unrecognized at first. But wreck havoc on the body over time. Early signs of a food sensitivities are clearing of the throat after a meal, fatigue, acne, bloat, chronic cough, joint pain, more frequent allergies and colds. Such diseases as colitis, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's, depression and anxiety, and auto-immune disorders are all associated with food sensitivities.


As we have journeyed together in this philosophical quest, our insight is more vast. It is important not to be overly consumed with thoughts of what came first, as there is no answer. The importance of consideration is the recognition that digestive health is directly related to many common ailments and associated with the most serious diseases. This wisdom has led us to understand the universal truth that the answers to improved digestive, immune, and overall health are within us. As the facilitator of this journey, my only interjection to introspection is to ask for all to have very careful consideration when continuing this journey into the depths of gut health knowledge. For those of you interested in a deeper journey of health philosophy, and all the self discovery that may come, may I suggest that attention to detail is imperative. Much like finding that guru to help us understand the secretes of the universe, it is just as important to find that guru who has a deeper understanding to gut health so we may go within and heal ourselves.

Okay, that was for a normal discussion.

Here at Alchemy de Nova, the approach to optimal health is provided by effective investigation, in-depth education, and customized self-care guidance for each individual. The cornerstone of improved health is identifying the causal factors of a compromised digestive system and it's affects on the body's innate ability heal. Visit for more information and register for a free consultation. The journey has just begun...









Sean Merrick