Gut health is so important for so many reasons! A healthy digestive tract should absorb nutrients, which are the building blocks to all cells in the body.
Your digestive tract also makes neurotransmitters, B vitamins, and is home to 70% of the immune system.
Your ileocecal valve (ICV) plays a key role in digestive health. The ICV is located just down from your belly button and half way to your right hip. This valve connects your small and large intestines. If functioning correctly, like any sphincter, it should open and close allowing small amounts of substance to pass at a time. If this valve becomes irritated it can become stuck open, closed, or alternate between the two. This can result is diarrhea, constipation, or both.
The hallmark of this valve’s dysfunction is a sudden onset of inflammation without a source of trauma.
Inflammation generally pops out in an area of weakness. Have you ever heard someone say, “My neck hurts, I must have slept wrong.” Well, more likely they ate something wrong and aggravated their ICV. This is a great example of a sudden onset on inflammation creating pain without trauma. When inflammation in this valve builds up it can create pain in your area of weakness. This often results in unexplained low back flairs, sciatic pain, bursitis and more. Food is a common irritant to this valve. Some foods to avoid that commonly aggravate the ICV are; Roughage foods such as nuts, seeds, popcorn, and corn chips. Whole grains, chocolate (I know right!?), spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine. Any other foods that your body is intolerant to can also irritate the ICV.
This valve is effected not only by food but also overall digestive health, hormones, adrenal gland function, and nervous system function. There are many signs of ICV syndrome other than constipation, diarrhea, or sudden pain. Symptoms and their severity can range depending on how long this valve has been irritated. Chronic low back pain, dizziness, dark circles under the eyes, ringing in the ears, nausea, frequent sinus infections and headaches are all symptoms related to the malfunction of this valve.
Treatment involves cleaning up your diet and taking supplementation to heal gut lining and restore ICV function. Getting exercise, a good night’s sleep, and balancing any other contributing organ systems are also key to healing ileocecal valve syndrome.