Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Health Begins in the Gut

"I hate your guts!"  That corrosive taunt enjoyed most-favored status in my repertoire of childhood "fightin' words".

Now I wonder why.  I never saw anyone's guts or interacted with them in any way.  How could I hate them?  Maybe it was just instinctual knowledge.  I'm learning that the gut is the center of health, both mental and physical.  So hating someone's guts could actually make sense.

I continue to see changes in Emma since we eliminated gluten from her diet.  Gluten sensitivity is a gut problem and is the underlying cause for approximately 50 diseases, depending on where it manifests its attack--the brain, the liver, the heart, the skin, etc.  The other night Herb used our electric knife sharpener, which makes an annoying noise, and Emma said, "That's the first time I've heard that noise without feeling like I wanted to run away."  If I hadn't just learned the day before that sensitivity to noise can be a symptom of food allergy, I wouldn't have known what to make of it.  She is also sensitive to garlic, which makes her cough.  This past week she has been waking up with congestion and swollen eyelids.  We think it may be the raspberries I put in our detox shakes.

The gut plays a huge role in immunity and hormone balance.  Frankly, I do not understand where one issue ends and the next one begins.  Everything is so inter-related.  That's why going to a doctor who wants to treat symptoms is a really dangerous idea.  Emma's doctor prescribed cortisol and thyroid medication with no concern whatever for whether she was gluten intolerant or had an autoimmune disease.  I know now that healing must begin in the gut for all autoimmunity.  You must have the right balance of gut flora to enjoy true health.  Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, a neurologist, nutritionist, and author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome, (GAPS) is helping me understand this.  She says, 

We live in a world of unfolding epidemics: Autism, ADHD, asthma, allergies, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, diabetes, celiac these conditions overlap with each other and are related by similar underlying causes.

That "similar underlying cause" is an unhealthy gut.  Dr. Campbell-McBride says that our gut health has been destroyed by refined carbohydrates, antibiotics, environmental toxins, contraceptives, and formula-feeding our babies.  I was shocked to learn that a baby gets his supply of gut flora from his mother as he passes through the birth canal.  So if the mother does not have healthy gut flora, neither will the baby.  If she then formula feeds the baby, his gut health is further compromised.  In fact, Dr. Campbell-McBride maintains that a formula-fed baby has totally different gut flora from a breastfed baby.  The damage increases with each generation if gut health is not restored.  It is both depressing and fascinating to contemplate the implications.  The good news is that gut health can be restored by diet.  The GAPS diet is based on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet that was developed primarily for Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Diverticulitis, etc.

I have learned this information from listening to Dr. Campbell-McBride's videos on YouTube.  I have ordered the latest edition of her book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, from The GAPS Diet site, but this new printing is just becoming available, so I have not received it yet.  I can't wait for her to finish the book she is working on now, Gut and Physiology Syndrome.  I recommend watching any video with Dr. Campbell-McBride.  There are several really good ones on minddfoundation's youtube channel.  Please watch them and share them with everyone you know.  This one is an excellent start:

Since I have begun talking about Emma's health issues, I  am overwhelmed by the number of my friends and acquaintances who need this information.  Just on the  hypothyroidism issue alone I have talked to six women in my parish who are struggling with symptoms despite receiving medical treatment.  Hashimoto's, an autoimmune disease, is the underlying cause of the majority of hypothyroidism cases, and people with Hashimoto's are nearly always gluten intolerant.  If you are gluten intolerant then you have a 50% chance of being dairy intolerant.  The thing that most people don't realize is that so-called "gluten sensitivity" is extremely complex.  We are on a waiting list to have Emma tested by Cyrex Labs.  This is the first lab that will be able to test for sensitivity to many of the other wheat proteins that people are sensitive to besides alpha gliaden.  It will also reveal if the two arms of your immune system, TH-1 and TH-2, are out of balance, and if so, which one is the dominant one so that the other can be supported in order to bring your immune system back into balance.   The dangerous thing about wheat/grain sensitivity is that many people are completely asymptomatic, yet the damage is being done to their cells anyway.  I wish everyone would get tested, but at the very least, families with autoimmune disease definitely should.   Read all about the test here.


Fotofule said...

Fabulous post, Wen. I have the book you mentioned, I think. Although maybe an earlier edition? It all fascinates me, but particularly the mental health facet of gut-brain syndrome. We have an epidemic of mental illness in this country, and from what I'm reading, a significant number of patients could be helped by a gluten free diet. I think it's no surprise that patients on the mental health unit where I work are fed a HORRENDOUS diet, full of gluten, and that despite increasing medication, they often get worse.

Much to learn and contemplate on this issue. Thanks for the post.

Wendy Haught said...

Yes, not just mental health but also learning diasabilities like dyslexia!

I think the government is pushing this grain diet because they are in cahoots with big pharma.

Liz, Holistic Health Counselor said...

Wendy, so glad I stumbled across your blog! This is a brilliant post and wonderful information. And you are so right: so many (ill) people are in need of it.

I actually had Hashimoto's myself and healed it using similar protocols as in the GAPS diet. It is possible and it works. Now I Health Counsel those looking to heal their thyroid, autoimmunity, food allergies, and candida. So many people are suffering at the hands of the treatment of the symptom when in reality, there is so much hope for healing!

Thanks again for speaking your truth and sharing this information!

Yna said...

I am hypothyroid, and I rely on desiccated porcine thyroid to keep me energized. I don't want to take synthetic drugs, and this product helps a lot. I'm no longer too cold and depressed. I've been using this for three years along with other energizing supplements and feel I'm doing something right for my body.