The Gut–Where It All Starts
When my problems first started I had never had digestive issues in my life and it was odd to me that it came out of nowhere. The more I learned about the gut the more I knew I had to fix it or I would never get well. The antibiotics that I took for 2 months, that were supposed to help my inflamed prostate, destroyed all of my gut bacteria. Gut bacteria actually help regulate hormones for hunger and an unbalance can lead to weight gain. This is why I started to gain weight out of nowhere. Once I started to correct the bacteria in my stomach it made everything else a lot easier.
Do you ever feel lethargic after you eat a meal? Feel bloated, have low energy, just can’t seem to concentrate? Do you regularly like you should just take a nap? This is how strong our gut and our brain are connected. You have more neurons in your gut than you do in your spinal cord or your peripheral nervous system. You literally feel what is going on in your gut. The gut actually does some of its own work without the brains help. In fact your vagus nerve, the primary nerve to your gut, sends about 90% of its information from the gut to the brain, not the other way around. If your gut is inflamed your brain is inflamed. This can lead to depression, anxiety, and life altering energy levels that keep us stuck in a rut. If you do not fix gut issues it is extremely hard if not impossible to get well. How can we start to work on this? Your gut will not heal itself overnight. There are over 100 trillion organisms living in your gut. You have more bacteria in your gut than you do cells in our body. Who is controlling who? We have 25,000 genes; they have 3.3 million. These bacteria make up 70-80% of our immune system.
Balancing and replenishing these good bacteria can help calm the inflammation in our gut. Fermented foods, which mean that the food has living bacteria on/in it can help us start to get some of these good guys back in our guts. Probiotic supplements are ok, but they don’t come close to being as beneficial as fermented foods.
The gut is the gateway to the body. Leaky gut is an alternative medicine term. Leaky gut is when your gut allows things like proteins, toxins, bacteria, etc. to leak across the lining of your intestines and into your bloodstream. This can trigger an autoimmune response in your body. This can manifest as bloating, excessive gas and cramps, weight gain, fatigue, food sensitivities, joint pain, skin rashes, and autoimmunity.
To show you how leaky gut can affect your health I’d like to tell you about my experiences with it. Early on when my body was healing if I ate grains for a day or two straight my body would start to react and become inflamed. Grains contain proteins that can leak across the gut; the most famous protein is gluten, but there are others. My digestion would be terrible, my wrists and forearms would start to ache, my lower back would get sore, athletes foot would start to reappear on my feet, and my energy would tank.The only way I could break that was to change my food and start to take things that would allow my gut lining to heal. Most people don’t even realize how their gut is affecting them until they make some of these changes, and then they see how life altering it can be.
So how can you start to see changes in your gut? You have to give it time and you have to give it the right food. Fasting is one of the most important tools in allowing the gut to regenerate. Intermittent fasting is one of my favorites. This allows the body time to heal without having to digest food. I also have patients fast with fermented foods like cultured whey; Socrates called it healing water. This allows the body to take a break from digesting and it also gives the body beneficial bacteria that can start rebuilding in the gut. Fasting with bone broth is another great tool we use that allows the gut to start regenerating.
After you have worked on the gut you can start to move on to other areas that need attention. You will see big changes just with gut work.