Sat | Nov 18, 2017

A healthy gut, a healthier life

Published:Wednesday | March 15, 2017 | 12:00 AMSuzette Shaw Reid
The approach consists of removing the toxic items from your diet and environs, for example, gastric irritants such as caffeine, alcohol, medications, etc.
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The words rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and diabetes kept floating around my head. For the past couple weeks, these autoimmune diseases were the buzz words I kept hearing from conversations among myself, my siblings and friends. However, being a firm believer that 'whatever you feed, grows!,' I decided to refrain from complaining about how I was feeling and proceeded on a quest to find new naturopathic methods to control my issues, which I would inevitably share.

I began to search for answers to my endless questions: "Why were some persons prone to autoimmune diseases?', 'How can autoimmune diseases be controlled?', 'Can dietary changes help your condition?' The more questions I asked, the more answers I sought, which led me to my exploration.

According to the poet Rumi, "Whatever you are seeking is seeking you". It came as no surprise the following week when I came across some valuable information on an IG post, which sparked my curiosity about gut health.

 

GUT HEALTH

 

The term 'gut health' was no stranger to me, as I was cognisant that the gut is the gateway to good health. However, I had not given it any keen attention before now. In simple terms, gut health is a general absence of disease or gastrointestinal (GI) issues.

When we consume food, it passes through the gut, along the GI tract, which resembles a tube and is lined with a thin, sticky mucus. The mucus is entrenched with millions of bacteria that live, grow, digest and absorb everything that passes along its tract. It thrives in an environment consisting of both beneficial and harmful bacteria.

When your gut has more bad bacteria than good bacteria, it is a signal that there is ongoing intestinal distress taking place. One such ailment is candida infection, which manifests itself through persistent flatulence, burping, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea, and stomach cramps. It is, therefore, key to maintain a healthy gut to avoid the onset of discomfort, because if left unattended, can lead to other negative ailments.

 

CANDIDA AND LEAKY GUT

 

Simply stated, candida is a bad bacteria in the body that turn into fungus if there is an overgrowth spilling in the intestinal walls. When this takes place, it is called Leaky Gut Syndrome. However, candida is not the only thing that causes leaky gut. Other factors such as infections, toxins, stress and age can also cause the gut to be torn. This is because the gut is naturally permeable to very small molecules in order to absorb these key nutrients. One of the basic functions of the cells is regulating intestinal permeability that line the intestinal wall.

Unfortunately, persons who are gluten intolerant are the main sufferers of leaky gut syndrome. This is because gluten can cause the gut cells to release a protein known as zenulin and that can break apart tight junctions in the intestinal lining, thus causing bacteria, undigested food particles, and more to escape from your intestines and travel throughout your body via your bloodstream. When this happens, your immune system identifies these 'foreign invaders' as pathogens and attacks them.

The body's natural immune response to these invaders/pathogens can manifest in the form of any of the nine signs below that demonstrates that you are a sure candidate for leaky gut.

 

SYMPTOMS OF LEAKY GUT

 

1. Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhoea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

2. Seasonal allergies or asthma.

3. Hormonal imbalances such as PMS or PCOS.

4. Mood and mind issues such as depression, anxiety, ADD or ADHD.

5. Skin issues such as acne, rosacea, or eczema.

6. Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.

7. Diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac disease.

8. Diagnosis of candida overgrowth

9. Food allergies or food intolerances.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS/DIETARY CHANGES

 

Now that we are aware of what triggers our autoimmune diseases and other illnesses, we are now able to look at viable approaches to keeping our gut balanced. Did you know we are only 10 per cent human? This is because 90 per cent of our cells are nonhuman, that 90 per cent is microbial cells. Since our diet influences our microbes, it is true to say we really are what we eat. Therefore dietary changes are important for good gut health.

Sometimes the very food item that is an excellent dietary snack is not good for your body, depending on an individual ailment and how the food is processed. It is, therefore, key to thoroughly research your foods before consuming. For example, persons who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis needs to avoid phytates and/or phytic acid which are antioxidant compound found in all seeds, grains and legumes. The reason for this is that they can bind to certain dietary minerals including iron, zinc, and manganese to name a few and slow their absorption in your body. The good news is the antioxidant compounds can be removed if they items are soaked or roasted.

 

PROBIOTICS

 

Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms and are the good bacteria our body needs. Probiotic bacteria is found in the digestive intestinal tract. There are more than 400 types of bacteria that live in the human intestinal tract. Numerous types of probiotics have been studied and there is some evidence that certain probiotics are effective in improving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis (a form of inflammatory bowel disease), and infectious disease, as well as reducing the risk of developing eczema and other allergic conditions. Overall, probiotics provides good health and a feeling of well-being.

Lastly, the very renowned 4R Program approach developed by Jeffrey Bland Ph.D. is also key in promoting good gastrointestinal health which include my first two recommendations, however, it is done in a strategic manner. The approach consists of removing the toxic items from your diet and environs, for example, gastric irritants such as caffeine, alcohol, medications, etc. After this is done, the focus is shifted to replacing these with good foods to rebuild digestive are. For example, digestive enzymes. The third step is to reinoculate the gut, that is, restoring the beneficial bacteria to re establish a healthy balance of microflora in the gut. The fourth step is repairing the gut by providing nutrients to heal the gut wall or lining.

According to survivingglobalrecession.com, did you know that 70 per cent of your immune system is located in your digestive system? It therefore stands to reason that if our stomach is not well, we are not well.

A strong immune system is our best defense against diseases. So maybe we should look at addressing our gut issues which is the root cause of all ailments instead of treating the symptoms.

yourhealth@gleanerjm.com