Our gut health is critically important. Without it we we will suffer from all manner of physical illnesses as well as horomal and mental health issues.
The gut is being termed as the secondary brain as it is so important in the running and regulating of the body.
But, the more enlightened amongst the medical community are saying the gut is the primary brain as it behaves a bit like a monarch. The queen communicates with everybody, but we don’t communicate with the queen. The same is true of the gut.
Our Gut Health Is Compromised
Sadly, many of us are suffering from compromised gut function, and we are displaying a complex array of symptoms as a consequence, some of which are covered within this article.
We have been misinformed. What we eat DOES matter, and what we are exposed to, and not exposed to also has a big bearing on how compromised our gut health is.
Everything from how we are born, to whether we were breast fed, what we ate growing up, and what chemicals we have been exposed to all have a bearing on our gut health. And, so does what we eat as adults and how much stress and technological exposure we have in our lives.
Healing The Gut
It has never been more important to learn about gut health. And, it has never been more important for us to do everything we can to ensure our gut is as healthy as possible.
Recent discoveries have proven that the gut plays a central role in our health. It not only produces and regulates a lot of our neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine, but it also produces and regulates a lot of our hormones as well.
Neurotransmitters and hormones form our internal communication system, so if the production of these things are compromised, because our gut health is compromised, then the systems within the body start breaking down very quickly.
This is why, when we have a malfunctioning gut, we can develop all manner of associated conditions.
If so, the answer to your problems is most likely in your gut!
- Do you suffer from chronic inflammation?
- Do you have Eczema or Psoriasis?
- Or chronic Acne?
- Lower back pain?
- Hormone issues?
- Anxiety & depression?
If so, you could very easily have a compromised gut!
The Microbiome is the diverse collection of micro-organisms that live in the gut. These micro-organisms are essential for gut health. Without them we couldn’t digest our food or defend ourselves against foreign invaders, like yeast, parasites and bad bacteria.
The microbiome is comprised of many thousands of different microbiota, including; bacteria, viruses, yeast and fungus etc.
ANd, before you start pulling faces and shrieking Eeyew! Just know this…
Without them we would be dead!
The Microbiome & Decision Making
It has been determined, very recently, that the microbiome is making the majority of our decisions for us… So, our gut flora doesn’t just tell us when and what to eat, they are actually informing a whopping 90% of our decisions!
We have more genetic material that is bacterial in nature than we have human genetic material by a considerable amount… it’s actually a ratio of 100:1!
This means that genetically we are more bacterial than we are human!
How Is Our Microbiome Formed?
Well… we actually inherit our microbiomes from our mothers… if we are lucky! (Not everyone is!) But, we can modify our microbiomes based on our food and health choices throughout our lives.
Obviously, if we make choices that negatively impact the health of our microbiota, especially on a pretty consistent basis, then this will cause health issues later on in life.
Sadly, a lot of people these days don’t have a great start in life where their microbiomes are concerned.
Babies born via C Section aren’t exposed to the mother’s vaginal flora which is how most of us gain our first inoculation of good bacteria. And, if we aren’t breast fed, which so many of us aren’t these days, then the secondary inoculation of our mother’s microbiome isn’t concluded either.
However, even if you are lucky enough to have been born naturally and you are breast fed, your microbiome could still have been largely destroyed by the use of antibiotics, or by something as simple as the daily consumption of chlorinated drinking water. Even showing for ten minutes in chlorinated water is equivalent to drinking four glasses of chlorinated water.
Yes, our skin really is that absorbant!
Most people believe that chlorinated water is safe to drink, but that’s because they aren’t asking themselves why the chlorine is in there in the first place.
Once this question has been posed the answer is rather obvious… It’s in there to kill bacteria! And, as our microbiome is made up of thousands of different types of bacteria the levels of chlorine in water are clearly sufficient to do our friendly gut flora a whole lot of harm!
Pesticides On Food
It is also believed that eating foods with pesticides on them will destroy gut bacteria… and even if this weren’t the case, then the recent ruling that Roundup is carcinogenic, and that compensation must be paid to the cancer sufferer who brought the case to court in the US, should be enough to stop most of us eating these terrible GMO and pesticide drenched foods.
Oh… you didn’t hear about this landmark case…? Well, I guess it’s GMO with a tasty side of pesticide for dinner again tonight then!
Somewhat unusually, this landmark case did receive some mainstream media coverage, but perhaps not enough for it to have reached the majority of UK homes… The Independent ran a story, as did The Guardian, for the US readership, (link above), and the BBC in Canada also ran a story on the verdict, but as far as I can tell, they decided the UK public weren’t likely to be so interested…
Considering Roundup is in every supermarket, garden centre and DIY superstore in the UK, and is one of the leading pesticides used over here, perhaps there’s more interest in the story in the UK than the BBC have anticipated…?
Here’s the piece in The Independent if you’d like to take a read…?
*Roundup is the pesticide produced by Monsanto, an American agro-chemical corporation that recently merged with the German drug corporation Bayer. Monsanto are the leading proponents of GMO, or genetically modified organisms. Many crops are grown using the GMO method, which requires genetic modifications of the seeds of the plants as well as the use of chemical pesticides. It is these chemical pesticides that have been proven to be carcinogenic.
*If the chemicals are deathly, then Lord only knows how dangerous the genetic mutation of these plants actually are. In some cases they are crossing the genes of fish with the genes of plants!
The thing that is so very worrying about these people is that they think this is a good idea?
Mould & Gut Health
Some say that mould exposure can cause us as many health problems as having a compromised gut.
Mould is certainly implicated in digestive issues such as Crohn’s Disease, and a lot of autoimmune conditions, which are inflammatory in nature.
Mould is also implicated in CFS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and ME.
Mould is also considered to be very much linked to the development of chemical sensitivity
Chemical Sensitivity & Gut Health
Chemical sensitivity is all part of the reaction a body goes into during an immune system overdrive. Chemical sensitivity is a result of fundamental systemic failure, and is always a symptom of a system that has been breached in one way or another.
Mould contamination is one cause, but viral infection and parasite infection are also implicated.
However, eating foods that cause intolerances and allergic reactions will so sufficiently compromise the immune system, 80% of which is in the gut, that the likelihood of multiple infections, including bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic etc is very high.
***Leaky Gut is also referred to as Intestinal Permeability.
All of the accumulative damage to our microbiome can lead to a condition we call Leaky Gut. It can also be caused by food sensitivities as well as toxic overload and antibiotics.
The toxic overload doesn’t have to come exclusively from pesticides, there’s also the issue of prescription drugs to consider… like Statins, PPI’s, NSaids, and Ibuprophen, which are all disastrous for our guts.
Leaky Gut In Action
Leaky Gut means that the undigested food and toxins in the gut can permeate the gut lining and end up in our blood stream.
The immune system sees these things as foreign invaders and mounts an immune response, which essentially means it causes inflammation in our bodies.
Leaky gut is often characterised by discomfort during the digestive process, suffering from lower back pain, as well as from digestive disorders such as; IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which means the sufferer will alternate between constipation and diarrhoea. And, then there’s Crohn’s and Diverticulitis etc, etc…
Leaky Gut also causes secondary nutrient deficiencies which severely compromise the ability of the gut to produce and regulate hormones and neurotransmitters… but more on this later…
***Your doctor may refer to your leaky gut as ‘gut permeability’.
Hydrochloric Acid & Enzymatic Processes
A lot of people believe that they have to much Hydrochloric Acid when they have indigestion and acid reflux etc. However, in nine times out of ten cases the reverse is true.
When the stomach produces too little Hydrochloric Acid the stomach doesn’t seal itself off properly. This allows some of the Hydrochloric Acid we produce to digest our food escapes back up the Oesophagus. It’s the production of a good amount of Hydrochloric Acid, after we start eating, which triggers a proper closing off of the stomach. Insufficient Hydrochloric Acid will not do that.
The tragedy here is that prescriptions for proton pump inhibitors, (antacids to you and me), are immense, as are the sales for Rennies and Tums. These antacids are just compounding the problem.
Helicobacter pylori & Other Nasties
Helicobacter pylori, (H. pylori), a bacteria that likes to live in human guts. After a number of years H. pylori can cause stomach ulcers, or ulcers that appear in the upper part of our small intestines. For some people, an H. pylori infection can ultimately lead to stomach cancer.
Our guts can be invaded by many different troublesome critters. Viruses, bacterial infections as well as yeast infections all cause our guts to dysfunction. There’s too many to mention here.
Then there’s parasitic infections, which are estimated to affect as many as 90% of us.
But, not all of these things are bad! (Although, parasites always are!)
Our Immune System
Our immune system is comprised of good bacteria, viruses and yeasts, such as Candida Albicans. In fact 80% of immune system is comprised of gut bacteria and other components like Candida and viruses.
However, a gut becomes dysbiotic when certain strains of things overpower others and become dominant. When the gut is out of balance, our health will suffer.
Healthy Gut – Unhealthy Gut
Healthy gut bacteria, or Probiotics, produce B Vitamins, which are so crucial for Thyroid and mental health. Probiotics also produce other nutrients required by the body, whereas dysbiotic or bad bacteria just create toxins.
Bad bacteria creates toxins that triggers an inflammatory immune response, which, in turn, really uses up our bodily resources.
Good bacteria does the opposite, allowing us to absorb nutrients better, which then causes an upward spiral.
That upward spiral includes the Mitachondria producing more energy as we start producing more good bacteria, which then helps clear more infection… Conversely, it’s the bad bacteria and other infections that produce all the toxins that over-burdens the liver, that then shuts down our Mitochondrial energy production… So, of course, reversing this process has the opposite effect.
Healing the Gut
A lot of people swear by taking the following supplements for healing gut dysbiosis: Collagen, L-Glutamine & Quercetin
However, I prefer to keep things a bit more natural, relying on things like bone broth and then maintaining gut health with intermittent probiotic consumption as well as fermented food.
*It is better to keep away from fermented foods if you have a mould or yeast infection.
Bone broth is brilliant for the healing of leaky gut. You can find the recipe for bone broth on the Wild As The Wind website..
Taking a really diverse probiotic, that ideally contains soil bacteria too, is vital after you have healed your leaky gut. Once the gut is no longer permeable it is time to repopulate it with good bacteria. Doing this whilst the gut is leaky would mean the bacteria could enter the bloodstream and cause all kinds of problems… inflammation and autoimmune responses etc…
The amount of good bacteria within each serving of your probiotic should number at least several billion, ideally 50 billion, according to Dr. Axe. This is because the hydrochloric acid in the stomach will kill a lot of the good bacteria on it’s way to the gut.
*It is possible to use probiotics in an enema, or within a suppository to avoid the problem of getting through the stomach.
Probiotics repopulate the gut with friendly flora. Believe it or not, this friendly bacteria form 80% of our immune system, without which we cannot digest our food properly or defend against bacterial and viral invasions.
“”””The more diverse the Probiotic the more effective it’s going to be. This means that the more strains of probiotic within the remedy will improve the efficacy of the probiotic blend.
Probiotics should be taken upon rising with water at least half an hour before consuming any food or drink other than water.””””
Cutting out grains and dairy really helps most people. I cut out all legumes also.
Here’s another GrenMedInfo article on how Toxic Wheat is.
There’s also external stressors like dust and washing powders / laundry fluids that can all start a chain reaction that negatively impact the gut. Sadly, these reactions are occurring in the first place due to the compromised gut. It’s all a vicious cycle!
It’s important to reduce all of these stressors as much as possible in order to heal the gut and return to optimal health.
Emotional stress is also very corrosive to our health and can seriously compromise out gut health.
Enteric Nervous System
There is a lot of nervous tissue in our gut, which we call the Enteric Nervous System.
The enteric nervous system (ENS) or intrinsic nervous system is one of the main divisions of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and consists of a mesh-like system of neurons that governs the function of the gastrointestinal tract.
So, it’s a quasi-autonomous part of the nervous system that includes several neural circuits that control our local blood flow, motor functions, mucosal transport and secretions, as well as modulating our immune and endocrine functions, and works separately to the central nervous system, or CNS.
The enteric nervous system is what’s been coined as a second brain because it has it’s own reflexes that are entirely independent to the primary brain and spinal cord. However, as already mentioned, some people are now referring to the second brain as the primary brain.
Whatever the case the enteric nervous system is connected to the cerebral brain via the vagus nerve and spinal pathways.
But why is all of this important?
Well… ENS dysfunction is often linked to digestive disorders… And, as our ENS is connected to the primary brain via the vagus nerve and spinal pathways this also means that there are neurological consequences to a dtysfunctioning ENS.
There are connections between gut health and autism, Parkinson disease and Alzheimer disease, as well as to some of the more exotically named conditions like; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.
As already mentioned, gut dysbiosis also leads to troublesome skin conditions like Eczema and Psoriasis as well as Acne
Neurotransmitters & The Gut
Neurotransmitters are one of two key ways in which the body communicates with itself. It does this via the Gut/Brain Axis.
For example, both serotonin and dopamine are produced in the gut. In fact, approximately 90% of the bodies’ serotonin and 50% of our dopamine are made in the gut. These neurotransmitters are what allows the brain to communicate messages.
They are essential molecules that send signals throughout the body that control impulses and cravings, as well as mood swings
Key Symptoms Of Neurotransmitter Deficiency
Insufficient neurotransmitters will result in many types of dysfunction, including:
- Mood disorders
- Anxiety & depression
- Memory loss
- Addictions – and yes, there are many food addictions!
Healing Neurotransmitter Deficiencies
The gut is where we absorb key co-factors that make neurotransmitters, so if the gut is compromised by something like Leaky Gut, then this will restrict our capacity to make these essential neurotransmitters, which will lead to some, or all, of the dysfunctions listed above.
These co-factors are amino acids which are found in protein rich foods.
We need Tyrosine to make Dopamine.
We need Tryptophan to make Serotonin.
Serine and Tyrosine are also vital amino acids.
The B Complex vitamins are also critical, especially B6, B1 as well as B12
*The methylcobalamin form of B12 is the better one if you are considering supplementing with B12.
*Methylating nutrients, like methylcobalamin, are key elements within our diets… but that’s one for another blog post or else this one will go on forever…
Suffice to say, for the time being, these methylation nutrients include choline, inositol, betaine, methionine, folate, vitamins B12 and B6, as well as minerals like magnesium, zinc and sulphur. The reason why it’s so important to ensure proper methylation within our bodies is because is critical for a multitude of metabolic processes like; cell division, and the maintenance of our DNA and RNA synthesis.
Methylation is fundamental to our health, and affects how our DNA behaves, and then determine our behavioural and dietary inclinations.
If you’re interested learning more about these processes, here’s a great video all about it…
Supplementing with Magnesium is vital. I like Magnesium Malate because it’s the better one for supporting heart health, but another good one is Magnesium Glycinate, which permits the highest level of absorbancy.
Magnesium is the most common nutrient deficiency we all suffer from, so we should all supplement with it!
It is vital for thousands of biochemical reactions every second in every cell of our bodies.
It plays a vital role in processing sugar, which is one of the major reasons we are deficient as there so much hidden sugar and tangible sugar consumption going on in our diets.
Another reason is the amount of stress, which includes physical stress, that we are all under in the modern world.
If you suffer from things like anxiety and restless leg syndrome then it’s time to get yourself some magnesium mineral supplements!
*A good way of topping up our mineral intake is by re-mineralising filtered drinking water with something like Himalayan Rock Salt, as mentioned in Morning Detox Protocols.
Magnesium actually prefers to enter the body trans-dermally rather than via the digestive tract. There’s a product called Magnesium Oil, which isn’t an oil at all, that can be sprayed on the skin so the Magnesium can be absorbed via the skin.
The Gut & Neurotransmitters
As already mentioned 90% of Serotonin is created in the gut! And, 55% of Dopamine is made there too!
So, if the gut is dysfunctional this will very dramatical affect our mental health!
Anxiety and depression are almost guaranteed with a compromised gut. As are brain fog and struggling to remember what we are talking about, as well as finding the words to fluently communicate what we want to.
Hormones & The Gut
There are so many amazing bio-chemical actions being performed in the gut that influence things like Neuro-Endocrine behaviour.
As mentioned in Hormone Health Part Two, the gut is responsible for producing and regulating a lot of our hormones. So, gut health is vital for hormone health.
Hormone health, or lack of it is often reflected in skin health, but also affects emotional health.
The Gut & Addictive Tendencies
Life is all about balance…
Staying well is all about eating well, sleeping properly, and keeping stress levels low.
Movement is also critical to our health!
Stress is easier to manage than we think… Simply doing a little deep breathing every hour, just ten deep breaths or so will do, we would feel more relaxed. Deep breathing sends signals to reduce the output of cortisol, our flight or fight hormone made in the adrenals, which also produces adrenalin.
You can find several other destressing methods in Morning Detox Protocols.
A lot of stress that young people have to contend with is derived from too much screen time. Not only is the use of blue screens predicted to cause a pandemic of blindness, their daily use is also really stressing us all out.
EMF, electro magnetic fields, created by technical devices, is implicated in all kinds of illnesses, including cancer
The incidence of teen anxiety and depression, as well as high levels of stress, is being correlated to excessive screen time. This is thought to be dramatically disrupting something called the HPA Axis…
The hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA axis or HTPA axis) is a complex set of direct influences and feedback interactions among three components: the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland (a pea-shaped structure located below the thalamus), and the adrenal (also called “suprarenal”) glands (small, conical organs on top of the kidneys).
These organs and their interactions constitute the HPA axis, a major neuroendocrine system that controls reactions to stress and regulates many body processes, including digestion, the immune system, mood and emotions, sexuality, and energy storage and expenditure. It is the common mechanism for interactions among glands, hormones, and parts of the midbrain that mediate the general adaptation syndrome (GAS).
The HPA axis, HPG axis, HPT axis, and the hypothalamic–neurohypophyseal system are the four major neuroendocrine systems through which the hypothalamus and pituitary direct neuroendocrine function.
Any dysfunctioning within the HPA Axis will lead to leaky gut among many other health issues.
Two Different Types Of Stress
Not all types of stress are bad for us. In fact, we need some stress to be healthy! It just has to be the right kind of stress…
EUstress – the healthy form of stress obtained from working out and walking etc, or from interesting psychological challenges, or biochemical/radiological (hormesis) functions.
Distress – or ‘danger stress’, where we face threats to our safety, position in life, identity, well being and our livelihood etc…
The Adrenal Glands govern the stress response, and so there are ways of supporting the Adrenals to keep stress levels normalised.
Things like adaptogenic herbs, including Ashwaganda, Siberian Ginseng, Rhodiola Rosea, Holy Basil or Tulsi as it is also known, and Astragalus Root, are brilliant for supporting adrenal function.
*Astragalus is an excellent immune boosting herb also, and Ashwaganda is the herb of choice within the South Indian medical system known as Ayurveda, for treating female hormonal problems.