It All Starts in the Gut

>> Thursday, March 5, 2009

I have come to firmly (and I mean firmly!) believe that most all of human diseases and conditions come from an unhealthy gut. Our immune system lies within our gut. And our gut doesn't just affect our digestive system, it affects our whole body; our central nervous system, our neurological system, our emotions...you name it. Think about it...not too long ago it was very rare to be diagnosed with autism, alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, cancer, even diabetes or heart disease. I believe the Western diet has wreaked havoc on our entire bodies and our society. We must restore the health of our guts by returning to whole, natural foods full of healthy bacteria.

Here is an excerpt from a great article I found by Dr. Cowan that illustrates this point beautifully...

"We have millions of intestinal villi, which are tiny finger-like hairs projecting into the intestine. These villi increase dramatically the surface area of the intestinal lining, making it a more effective semi-permeable barrier, which means it keeps unwanted things out of our bloodstream while absorbing the nutrients. These villi are covered with a layer of healthy intestinal flora, in some estimates about five to seven pounds of millions of varied bacteria, viruses, yeast and other microbes.

These healthy bacteria are vital for healthy life. They make vitamins, they digest food, they make antibiotic substances to keep down pathogens and they function as our immune system. I tell my patients that this system is analogous to a lush meadow with a thick layer of soil (the villi) covered by a lush layer of grass (the healthy bacteria). When both are intact, the meadow is healthy, but if you went to the meadow and stripped off the grass (this would be the equivalent of using an antibiotic in a person, or even not eating probiotic food), a whole cascade of catastrophic events will follow. First, you will get erosion of the soil, then the soil that’s left will be weak and unsupportive of healthy grasses. Weaker varieties of grass will grow or even no grass at all. Next, as the soil develops erosion cracks, poisons, runoff, etc., will start to seep into the ground water. At this point the land is dying.

This is exactly what happens inside us. First we strip our grass, then the soil erodes - the villi get weak and blunted, and then can’t support healthy micro-orgnisms. The cracks develop, and finally poisons seep into our groundwater, the blood. We now have foreign proteins in our blood, which either directly poison our nervous system (i.e. autism) or create antibody formation in reaction to these abnormal proteins, which is the whole process of auto-immune illness. Diseases which are the direct result of this process include not only intestinal diseases such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, but all the auto- immune problems such as eczema, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and on and on. It is not a stretch to confirm what natural medicine has claimed for literally thousands of years: The majority of human illness starts in the gut and must be healed by treating the gut."

More about this tomorrow...

3 comments:

Sally March 6, 2009 at 3:47 PM  

I don't know if you were already planning on writing about this...or if you have already (I didn't see it) but would you write about what you mean by "whole foods" specifically? How do you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Do you eat things out of a box at all? We don't have Whole Foods (grocery store) here, and the health food stores are so expensive for everything. I try to avoid high fructose corn syrup, and do whole wheat, but am curious about the "whole foods" thing. Is it just organic? I'm new in the lingo. ;-)

Susan Ginn March 7, 2009 at 12:57 PM  

Great idea Sally. I just took your suggestion and posted some definitions.

To answer your question...we eat very few things out of a box or can with few exceptions. We started slowly phasing them out of the house. We recently just phased our boxed cereals (of all kinds). Instead we eat eggs, oats or peanut butter toast (with high quality bread) for breakfast.

I don't shop at Whole Foods (too expensive!) either. I get my bulk grains from the health foods store (rice, oats, corn) but everything else I buy at a regular grocery store. I use a lot of fruits, veggies chicken, meats, etc.

I don't necessarily feel that whole foods means organic. If I have a choice and it's the same price, I'll buy organic. But I focus more on buying "real" food rather than buying organic. But for the most part, it hasn't been any more money than a typcial Western diet because boxed cereals and snacks are expensive!

Do you have a Trader Joes near you? That has saved me a TON of money and frustration.

collinsfamily3 March 7, 2009 at 11:27 PM  

My question is- what about babies who are nursing? Does their immunity in their gut come from what the mother's eating? And do you think it's more about immunity or being allergic to something that causes eczema?

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