“All disease begins in the Gut” Hippocrates, 460-370 BC
The topic of Gut Health is the driving force behind our food journeys. Gaining an understanding of the intricate network of our micro-biome and its connection with our entire bodily functions has been revolutionary knowledge for us. This understanding came about with the discovery of G.A.P.S (Gut & Psychology Syndrome) by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride. A discovery driven by health challenges that our son’s were faced with in the first years of their lives taught us that “Good Gut health is Key”.
Just 4 years ago we were simultaneously challenged by the appearance of various mysterious skin rashes in our sons. After numerous visits to many different medical practitioners regarding the multitude of skin rashes we walked away each time disheartened by the lack of answers and the attempts to falsely reassure us that this was a normal part of childhood! Normal? Not for us. There was no way we were going to accept this warped sense of ‘normality’. So here we are sharing our journey on Pinkfarm; sharing the knowledge we have gained through self-education and applying it in real life. It is these parallel journeys that have bought us here today. Gut Health is the key to our health and the health of our children and future generations. Understanding the importance of Gut Health is the switch that brings light to the subject of many health problems.
A healthy digestive system with a good bacterial population is to the body as healthy soil is to the roots of a tree. One cannot thrive and flourish without it. “A well-functioning gut with healthy gut flora holds the roots of our health” (Campbell McBride, p.25). It is essential for our health and survival.
“The absolute number of living cells in our bowel is about nine times more than there are cells in our bodies, so we’re essentially 10 per cent human, 90 per cent poo,” says gastroenterologist Professor Thomas Borody, head of the Centre for Digestive Diseases in Sydney. The poo Dr Borody refers to is the bacteria that reside in our gut. When the ecosystem of our gut flora is disrupted and imbalanced it affects the body in many ways.
NUTRITION – When good bacteria are depleted, nutritional deficiencies can occur, as they are essential for digestion and absorption of nutrients from food. Such deficiencies interrupt normal bodily function & brain development as well as the immune system.
Eating a healthy diet full of good vitamins, minerals and healthy fats can be of little benefit if the gut is not efficiently digesting and absorbing them. Beneficial bacteria are also required to produce a supply of Vitamin K, B vitamins & amino acids.
IMMUNITY – Damaged Gut Flora leads to a malnourished, deficient, compromised, unbalanced and intoxicated immune system. 80-85% of our immunity is dependent on having good bacteria in the gut. It is often the body’s first line of defense against invading pathogens. This type of immune dysfunction can result in inflammation and auto-immune disease in the body (ie. irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, psoriasis & eczema). When gut dysbiosis occurs (too much bad bacteria to good bacteria) large undigested proteins (like gluten and casein) can enter our blood stream, causing food intolerances and allergies.
BRAIN FUNCTION – Bad bacteria in the gut can also release toxins into the blood stream, having adverse affects on the brain. We rely on the ecosystem of our gut to protect our bodies from toxins. A symbiotic relationship with friendly bacteria is essential to shield our naturally porous intestines and protect the body and brain from the effects of toxic substances from external and internal sources.
“An unknown number of various neurotoxins are produced by abnormal flora in the gut…these are absorbed through the damaged gut wall into the blood and taken to the brain” (Campbell-McBride, p.50). Dr.Campbell-McBride explains that when a child’s brain is clogged with toxicity it does not allow the brain to develop properly, interfering with the development of social skills, communication skills and instinctive play. Such toxicity in children presents as the “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” (GAPS) as proposed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.
“Apart from childhood learning disabilities: autism, ADHD/ADD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and various learning and behavioural problems, there is another group of conditions which fit into the GAP Syndrome. These conditions are schizophrenia, depression, eating disorders, manic depression or bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder” (Campbell-McBride, p.7).
Good Gut Health is the answer to many health problems that burden our society today. So why do we have such a widespread population of compromised gut health and gut dysbiosis, expressing itself as the myriad of auto-immune diseases, mental health problems & chronic diseases? Unfortunately our convenient Westernised lifestyles with abundant and easy access to packaged foods, agricultural chemicals, birth intervention & pharmaceuticals has come at a high price, as the leading causes of gut health dysfunction.
Many lifestyle factors will enhance the growth of good gut micro-flora whilst others hinder it and encourage the bad bacteria to flourish. It is important to adapt lifestyle changes to re-sync our gut flora into a balance of more good bacteria and less bad bacteria to optimise our health.
FACTORS THAT ENHANCE GUT HEALTH
- Being born vaginally. When babies are born through the birth canal, they are exposed to mother’s micro-flora hailing the important initial colonisation of the newborn’s sterile gut (read more here)
- Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is one of the only opportunities we have in our lives to populate the entire surface of our gut with a healthy mixture of bacteria to lay the basis of our future health. (read more here)
- Consuming Bone Broths. Rich in gelatin and extremely healing and soothing to the gut and high in minerals magnesium, calcium and phosphorus in a form that is easily absorbed, bone broths can be added to soups, stews, gravies and sauces (read more here)
- Eating REAL FOOD. Fresh, whole, organic and as close as possible to its whole form (read more about real food here)
- Probiotic foods. Eating fermented veggies just before or with your meals helps break down the food being consumed and also adds beneficial bacteria to the diet as does incorporating cultured beverages in your diet. Consuming milk kefir, kombucha and water kefir increase the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
- Prebiotic foods. These are foods that promote the growth and proliferation of beneficial bacteria in the gut. They are often beneficial bacteria. Such foods include herbs (dandelion root, chicory), vegetables (asparagus, onions, garlic, and leeks), raw apple cider vinegar, and dairy products).
- Avoiding Antibiotics. They destroy both good and bad bacteria in the gut. It can take up to 2 weeks (sometimes longer) for the gut to recover from a single dose of antibiotics.
- Drinking non-fluoridated & non-chlorinated water
FACTORS THAT DAMAGE GUT HEALTH
Refined Sugar – which is in 80% of supermarket foods (read more here)
Processed foods – high in refined wheat, sugar & vegetable oils
Medications – such as antibiotics, contraceptives.
Chlorinated Water – chlorine kills bacteria.
Chemicals – agricultural, cosmetic, household, industrial.
Understanding the importance of good gut health has been pivotal in our health journeys. We have applied our knowledge in a practical sense and reaped the benefits. We both believe that addressing the roots of our health (good gut health) has enabled our sons to flourish with healthy skin and respiratory systems that were once compromised. By addressing all lifestyle factors in a holistic sense, leaving no stone unturned, we helped our children to reach their utmost potential. “Our Children are Our Future. Good Gut Health is the Key to Our Future”