If you were to ask me just a couple of years ago what it meant to have good gut health, I would have probably replied with something along the lines of “It means that you don’t have tummy troubles and constipation, diarrhea, and bloating aren’t a problem for you.” While that is true, it’s merely the tip of the iceberg. Constipation, diarrhea, and bloating aren’t actually the problem. They are a symptom of a larger problem, and that problem is poor gut health. Did you know that poor gut health can also be responsible for:
—-> A Poor Immune System
—-> Autoimmune Disorders
—-> Reoccurring Yeast Infections (Candida)
—-> Food Sensitivities & Allergies
—-> Crohn’s Disease
—-> Brain Fog & Memory Loss
—-> Nutritional Deficiencies
—-> Anxiety, Depression, ADD/ADHD
And the list goes on and on. Prominent researchers in the field of gut health, like Dr. Campbell-Mcbride (author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome<—- get yourself this book), actually believe that all diseases begin in the gut. 80-85% of your immune system function takes place within your gut. So let’s break down this whole gut health thing.
WHAT IS LIVING IN YOUR GUT
Our bodies contain trillions of these awesome little things called microbes. The majority of these bacteria can be found within our digestive system. They work together in a very organized fashion to keep our bodies healthy. Certain species of bacteria are more predominant and control other species. These bacteria can be divided into three groups.
- Essential/Beneficial Flora: Our friendly bacteria. A healthy person should be carrying around more of this bacteria than any other. This is the bacteria people pay for when they buy probiotics.
- Opportunistic Flora: You may be familiar with some these as well. Yeasts (candida), and streptococcus to name a couple. In a healthy person the essential bacteria keep these opportunistic bacteria under control. In fact these bacteria can play a positive role for your health, but not when left to multiply unchecked.
- Transitional Flora: Unlike the essential and opportunistic bacteria, these bacteria have no place in your body. These are the microbes we are exposed to daily through activities like drinking and eating. If the gut is functioning well and the opportunistic bacteria has not been left to multiply unchecked then these bacteria are not concerning. The body is able to attack them before they become a problem. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and many people are left defenseless against these harmful flora. A common one is Helicobacter pylori (H. Pylori).
WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT THESE THINGS?
Your digestive system walls are made of an epithelial surface which are jam-packed with huge numbers of bacteria (hopefully beneficial bacteria). The beneficial bacteria on the gut wall play a very important role and have a number of jobs to do. One of these jobs is to engage the lymphoid tissue of the gut wall, causing it to release a huge number of lymphocytes and immunoglobulins. The job of lymphocytes and immunoglobulins is to protect the body from bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.
When beneficial bacteria are deficient on the gut wall, additional immune cells such as neutrophils and macrophages also cannot do their job. Production of cytokines, such as interferons, whose job is to regulate an immune response, also cannot function properly. And to make matters worse, the opportunistic bacteria has been patiently waiting on the sidelines to take over the beneficial bacteria’s job of protecting the gut wall. And lets just say that the opportunistic bacteria are definitely not the bacteria you want for this job.
Did you know that the same measles virus used in the vaccine has been found within the gut wall and spinal fluid of patients (specifically autistic children) who are experiencing symptoms of gut dysbiosis (unbalanced flora)? What does this mean? It means that the Measles in the MMR vaccine, when injected into children with poor gut health, is not identified and killed. It is left to stay within the gut lining, causing havoc for the gut, the immune system, and the brain. If that doesn’t concern you, it should!
Think of your gut wall as a barrier. Protecting you from all the foreign invaders and undigested food. The wall is protected by beneficial bacteria who know exactly what to do and when to do it. However, when these bacteria are limited your gut wall becomes exposed. It becomes what we refer to as “leaky gut”. The foreign invaders and undigested food are now easily able to pass through this wall into your whole system and the immune system has to deal with that while also being compromised, deficient, unbalanced and intoxicated.
In cases of food intolerance’s, undigested food is passed through the gut lining where it is then attacked by the immune system because it is seen as a foreign invader. Resulting in symptoms of food allergies or an intolerance with symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, eczema, etc.
WHAT DAMAGES YOUR GUT HEALTH?
—Antibiotics (including anti-fungals): We have all taken antibiotics at some point in our lives. Most of us multiple times. Children especially seem to be prone to antibiotic use. Ear infection? Antibiotics. Cough lasting longer than a week? Antibiotics. Pink eye? Antibiotics. Yeast infection? Anti-fungal. Pregnancy and childbirth is also a big time for antibiotic use. Strep B.? Antibiotics. C-section? Let’s get you on antibiotics to be safe. And to make matters even worse our food is routinely injected and sprayed with antibiotics! So we get it, lots of antibiotics, who cares? Your gut cares!
—The job of an antibiotic is to kill ALL microorganisms. It does not distinguish between good and bad bacteria. It’s job is to wipe it all out. Taking antibiotics means you are killing your beneficial bacteria and you are allowing your opportunistic bacteria a chance to rapidly multiple. Leaving your immune system weakened and yourself susceptible to your own opportunistic bacteria (Candida, Streptococci, E.Coli species, etc.) as well and more infections which often results in more antibiotic use. A vicious cycle. Has your child ever had a year with 2,3,4,5 ear infections? Gut health is to blame!
—Diet: The food sold in stores today is processed, injected, dyed, and void of most nutritional value. These foods do not promote your gut health and the over abundance of sugary and processed carbohydrates promotes fungi like Candida.
—One of the most important diet choices we can make is for our children. In particular for our newborn babies. Babies are born with a sterile gut and they have 20 days to populate it with bacteria. Their bacteria are determined first by their mothers bacteria as they exit the vaginal canal (c-section babies skip this step). And then by what they eat.
Formula fed babies are unfortunately missing out on hundreds of different types of beneficial bacteria which are passed on from mom to baby during breastfeeding. Bottle-fed babies develop a very different type of gut flora than breastfed babies and it can predispose them to health problems later on. Remember if mom doesn’t have good gut health, this means baby won’t either!
Proper introduction of solid food for children is another key factor in developing good gut health. This is something I will be covering soon! But basically skip those yucky baby cereals!
Terrified yet about all the things happening in your gut? I’ll admit I was a little more than overwhelmed to learn just how important gut health is.
My journey to learn about this all started with my daughter, Riley. Her story of gut dysbiosis started before she was born. And it’s a common story for children these days. I myself was on antibiotics plenty of times during my life. I didn’t know about gut health so I never worried about healing after antibiotic use. I was better so who cared! Until the next round…..
Mom with unhealthy gut
Then when I was in labor with Riley I was given intravenous antibiotics for Strep B. (an opportunistic bacteria that had grown out of control—–>>>> hint hint my gut health was already no good). So while in labor any beneficial bacteria I had was being killed off. Riley inherited my bacteria, for better or worse, when she was born.
Poor transfer of beneficial flora during birth
Then we started breastfeeding. No one told me how hard that would be and within a couple of weeks we stopped. She was formula fed from there on out. I didn’t supplement her with probiotics or fermented probiotic rich foods. I didn’t know I should have.
She began developing ear infections at a year old which I gave antibiotics for. Because the doctors told me I had to (p.s. you do not have to). She had a bronchial cleft cyst (a birth “defect”) requiring surgery and two additional rounds of antibiotics. By 3 (not too long after surgery) her stomach issues began. By 4 we were making hospital trips for stomach pain and skipping days of preschool for nausea and vomiting. By 5, almost 6, we finally found the right people to get us on the path of healing her gut. And by 8 she is about 85% improved. Although she is diagnosed as gluten intolerant and her behavior is still very closely linked to her diet.
Lots of antibiotics
You know what the most interesting part of this was? We went through 3-4 pediatricians and not one of them told me about the importance of gut health. Not a mention of probiotics, antibiotics, bacteria overgrowth, diet changes. NOTHING. How could that be? I was told it was normal. It was brushed off. “Antacids”, “miralax”, and “maybe she’s stressed” were my answers.
Child with leaky gut
Sadly, this level of health for our children has become acceptable. Constant ear infections, stomach troubles, food intolerance’s, allergies, asthma, eczema, autism, ADD/ADHD, obesity, anxiety, depression, etc. These are all curable if not manageable through gut healing and additional natural remedies. But instead doctors mask the problem. Antibiotics, antipsychotics, stimulants, antacids, and more pharmaceuticals when the pharmaceuticals fail are their only answers. It’s all they know. Parents need to take their health and their children’s health into their own hands. No one will care as much for your children as you do and the answers along with the path to heal them is there, I promise.
Don’t worry not all hope is lost to those pesky opportunistic bacteria! If you believe that some gut healing for yourself or a loved one is in order then head over to How to Heal your Gut.
**DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnosis or treat, as I am not a doctor. Please consult with your physician before starting any new vitamins, diets, or remedies. And always do your own research on natural remedies to ensure that you think they are safe.**