Monday, September 23, 2013

It Takes Guts: Part 4- The Gut- It's not a litter box, so stop treating it like one.

Ah, the gut.  It's a fascinating subject.  Really it is!
I have read a lot about it this past year and a half and what I have learned is that if our guts aren't healthy, we aren't healthy.
Period and the end.
I'm excited about this part of our series because I think it is so important!

But before we get started, let me remind you about part 1.
You know the part where I tell you that I am not a professional and I still have a long way to go.

In part 2  I told you our story and now some of you won't look me in the eye.

Part 3 we talked about the big subject of gluten, and I am happy to report that some of you have begun to make changes to remove gluten and see if that is indeed part of your problem.
Yay you!  You are on the road to healing your gut.
Which brings us to part 4.  Don't you love it when things come full circle?

I became interested in gut health last year when my sister started telling me the things that she was learning. Living in Africa and subjected to a lot of different germs and bacterias, she was learning what part getting their  guts healthy could play in their overall health.
During that time I was still struggling with a lot of digestive issues despite that fact that I had been gluten free for almost a year.  This is when I started to learn that gluten free was not the only answer and that I had a really unhealthy gut. This was a whole new concept to me.

I know many of my friends were getting tired of my stomach always hurting.
So was I.

I'm happy to report now that I don't have many episodes of my stomach hurting, however I do still struggle with GERD.  I'm trying to get a hold on that, and still see things I could change and do better.
However, as I've said in my other posts, this whole health thing is baby steps, and although I have made a ton of them, I still have many more baby steps to go in my gut healing and over all health.

Now lets get started shall we?

Did you know that our guts contains millions upon millions of bacteria?
Our guts are their own little ecosystem and it's a delicate balance of good and bad bacteria.
This necessary bacteria takes up about 5 pounds of weight in your gut and helps determine many other factors like disease, inflammation, and even mood and mental health.
Studies have shown that our guts are responsible for 60-80% of our immune system.
Makes sense since so many of us are sick.

There are many reasons why our guts are unhealthy.
The two most common are the food we eat and the medicines we take.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am not anti doctor or anti medicine.


Antibiotics and over the counter meds are overused.
I've been the queen of it, so I can say it.
My kids lived on antibiotics their first 3 years of life.
Every time you are on antibiotics, you lose valuable healthy bacteria, and most of us don't do anything to replace it.

Remember, we talked in part 3 about the fact that todays wheat is not the same as the wheat of old.
The same holds true for just about everything we eat.
The typical American diet is full of processed foods, sugar, additives, etc, and not a lot of whole -healthy foods.  It only makes sense that since we eat a bunch of crap, we feel like crap.

Let's make this very clear....I am not judging you!

I have only in the past 2 years made any positive changes for myself, and am now trying to incorporate these changes into my family.  I know all to well how hard it is to make changes for myself, let alone my family.
Our food system is set up to perpetuate our bad eating habits. It's all about ease and convenience and I understand that because we are all busy and going in a million directions.
I was at Sams the other day and man do they make all that food look good and it's all such a good deal!
It's all about buying lots and buying it conveniently.
They even give you samples to try and then you are hooked.
I get it.

We've also been taught to eat and cook a certain way.  That way may have been ok 50 years ago, but todays food is not the same as it was back then, so our guts are paying the price.
I love Grandmas passed down recipes!  I am all about nostalgia food and comfort food.


It's such a hard dichotomy.
We live in this age of modern medicine and abundant food, and yet, cancer, disease, and just all around feeling bad, is on the rise.
There has to be a connection between all this disease and our food, and therefore our guts.

There is a new buzz phrase that has gained popularity recently and it is called "Leaky Gut".
Yeah, its just as gross as it sounds.
For a long time it was one of those things that doctors discarded because they didn't know much about, and there really isn't a test to diagnose it.
However, more doctors are looking now at the validity of this Leaky Gut, and are taking it a little more seriously.
I have talked with my doctor about it and he agrees. Yay!

But what is it you crazy lady?

Think about your gut as a long, hollow tube.
You've got this whole tube that everything we put into our mouths goes through.
It's a fascinating process.
This tube is meant to keep harmful things out of the rest of our bodies and process everything else to its necessary places.

Our gut should act as a strong, solid door, protecting our bodies from harmful toxins, bad bacteria, and properly digest our food.

With a Leaky Gut, that door is broken down and you are left with a screen door instead.
Through that screen goes all the bad bacteria that the good bacteria is supposed to take care of, undigested pieces of food, and other toxins that we take in.  Now those things are just in your body, and causing harm.

Who wants a screen to protect them from harm?  
Not me, and yet that is exactly what happened to my gut.  
Through years of bad eating and lots of different meds, my gut wall was eventually being chiseled away from harmful toxins and bad bacteria.  Not only was there the bad bacteria, I wasn't replacing it with good bacteria to heal the damage.  
This caused a lot of years of sickness for me.  I struggled constantly with sinus infections, and every cold or flu that came around, not to mention constantly feeling achy, random fevers, and the dreaded "IBS".  
Because my gut wasn't doing what it is supposed to do.  It wasn't being a solid door, protecting me from all the yuck. 

This is a good article that talks about Gut health in more detail.  
You really should read it. 

This one talks more about the the bacteria and leaky gut. 

And this one is a little more in depth.

If you really want to know more about the science of the gut, I highly recommend these articles. 
It is fascinating!  I think it's amazing that God created our bodies to work and function on a certain level. He also has given us foods to help it function in a healthy way. We just usually choose the wrong ones, and usually because they taste good and it's easy or convenient. 
Our bodies are paying the price for what we are eating, and that price doesn't always manifest itself is typical "tummy troubles".  ADHD, depression, skin problems, chronic disease, autoimmune disorders, and all sorts of other ailments can, in many instances, be chalked up to unhealthy guts.  
Look at the information.  It makes sense! 

Have you ever read a food label?  I know I never did.
They are filled with all sorts of stuff we can't say and certainly don't know what they are.

Lest you think I am judging you, I still have foods with ingredient labels in my house.
I just buy a lot less.  
I try to do all of my meal cooking with whole-natural foods. That has been a gradual process.  I didn't just one day tell my family I was doing it, I've just over time, done it. Nobody complains about dinner.  We eat good stuff and are full. 

What do we eat?
We eat meats, vegetables, potatoes, rice, beans, and every Saturday night we have homemade gluten free pizza. We eat good stuff!
For lunches we have homemade soup, nitrate free hot dogs or bacon, eggs, leftovers, etc.
I've recently started making our own protein bars and snack/energy bites, instead of the ones that are supposed to be healthy, yet filled with more ingredients I can't pronounce. I make us our own gluten free oatmeal too.  I buy the bag of gf oatmeal and then prepare it myself. 
But like I said, I do have labeled food in my house, I just have less than I did before.
I'm trying to live by the 80/20 rule.

That was a little bit of side note, but the point of it is that all of these foods that we put into our body on a daily basis, without thinking about it, are contributing to our unhealthy guts.  
There is a lot of information out there about the harmful effects of all of these crazy ingredients, including the dyes like red 40, yellow 6, etc....  Maybe I'll do a blog about that too :)

Over time, eating a lot of this, and not a lot of real food, breaks down that door in our guts.
Some of us are more sensitive to it than others, and others it can take a long time to feel the effects.
Honestly, I'm jealous of my friends that don't have any visible effects of a bad gut.
I don't think it means it's not there though, and over time things will begin to manifest themselves.
It's still better to not eat so much processed food, whether you feel bad or not.
In my next blog, we are going to talk about auto immune disease and all of this is going to unravel itself even more.  

One more thing about Leaky Gut.  Dr. Oz did a show recently on it and showed a lady and her 3 year old son who had debilitating arthritis. It was a juvenile form and the poor baby suffered from debilitating pain. The doctors gave him NSAIDS (Advil, Aleve, Motrin, etc...) and then started him on powerful chemotherapy drugs.  None of this helped.
Another Dr said that this could be related to Leaky Gut and started him on an "alternative treatment" of diet change and natural supplements, and no more meds.
Ya'll...6 weeks later that baby got out of bed and said "Mommy, my knees don't hurt anymore!"

Oh how I wonder how many diseases could be cured if more doctors would look at the gut and healing it first!   Heal the gut first and then go from there if that didn't work.  It certainly can't hurt to have a healthy gut.

Healing Your Gut
So what can you do to reverse Leaky Gut and turn that screen door back into a solid studly protector?
What can you do to prevent damage and disease?
There are several things that I've been doing, and let me remind you that there are many things I still need to do better!

1. Bone Broth-
If you are my friend, then you probably refer to me as the crazy witch doctor lady that stews bones and chicken feet.
But hey, guess what!  That's how you make broth!
Your grandma has been making broth from her leftover chicken carcass's since her grandma taught her how to do the same.
The broth you buy in the store comes from bones.  It's just a weak form of it that doesn't hold the same nutrients and usually has added stuff that ruins it. 
Homemade bone broth is 1) great tasting and 2) so so good for you.
Broth that is made right will gel. 
Gel you say?  That's disgusting!

I'm about to rock your world and everything you've ever found comforting about being a kid.

Its made from the collagen that comes from animal skin and bones.  
I'm not kidding.  
Read about it here, here, and this one here is especially interesting. 

Now here's the good news!  The gel that is made when when you make homemade broth is extremely healthy for you and your gut!  (the gel they use for jell-0 not so much, since they add all that other stuff to it)
I like to think of this good bone broth gel as Spackle for my gut. 
When you drink this good for you, homemade broth, it goes into that long tube of a gut of yours and starts to repair that mesh like screen.  All that collagen acts, like I said, as Spackle.  
I love to think about that when I drink my bone broth soups.  
I get this picture in my head of these little people in my gut working really hard to spread Spackle over everything.  
It makes me feel all warm and tingly inside.  
Missy likes. 

Don't you remember when you were sick as a kid and your mom would give you chicken noodle soup?  It's been a thing for forever to eat chicken soup when you are sick.
This is why!  
Chicken broth, and I mean REAL chicken broth, has so many healing properties, vitamins and nutrients in it. 

Check out this link that tells you what bone broth can heal and how to make it.
This link tells you information about cooking with bones and what benefits they have. 
This one is great! Read it!

Ya'll, I'm not kidding, I could read about this stuff all the live long day!
It absolutely excites and fascinates me!
I wanna throw a bone broth party and you are all invited!

Alright.  I'll stop freaking you all out with my love and admiration for bone broth, and move onto something a little more tame.

2. Probiotics-
Did you ever go on a round of antibiotics and your mom made you eat yogurt for the probiotics?
The concept was there, there's just a lot more to it.
Read about the importance of probiotics here, here, and especially here. 
Probiotics play a huge roll in the healthy bacteria in our guts.
Remember I said that we have millions of bacterias in our guts, and some are good and some are bad.  
Probiotics help promote the good ones so that the bad ones don't stand a chance.
I take probiotics in chewable pill form.

That's an easy way to start.
Once you really start to get into this, there are a lot of other ways to get probiotics.
Kefir for instance.  I've used Kefir but I let the grain die and I need to start a new one.

The next thing I am going to try is fermented fruits and vegetables. 
Now you REALLLLLY think I am crazy dontcha?!
If you'd like to read more about it, you can do so here.
It's a great source of probiotics, plus its easy and cheap to make!
I'm gonna do it. 
I'm all about easy and cheap.

Hey Missy, what about yogurt?
Yogurt can be a good source of a certain kind of probiotics, but its not all inclusive.  
Also, buy the real and good stuff.
Something like Stoney field greek yogurt, or fage.
NOT the kinds that are loaded with lots of sugar and other crap. 
You are kind of defeating the purpose at that point.

Alright, so lets summarize todays lesson.

*Our guts are like a second brain.  Our guts send information TO our brains and a lot of that information is that we are ill.  Depression, skin disorders, tummy troubles, chronic fatigue, foggy brain, autoimmune disease, these are all things that our unhealthy guts can cause.

*Our guts are unhealthy because our food system is unhealthy. 
Our food is convenient and tastes good and we rely on it.

*Going gluten free was not enough for me.  It was a start, but not enough. My gut was literally leaking all the bad stuff into my body and I was sick.

*Eating cleaner, bone broth, probiotics...these are all things that have helped heal my gut.

*Baby steps.  Cut out some of your processed foods, and add something clean.

* Start taking one form of probiotics.

*If you are really brave, start making bone broth.  It works wonders and you can even use it in your rice, beans, potatoes, anything you usually cook in just water.  
You may even want to bathe in it.
Just kidding.
(Note to self...check into benefits of bathing in bone broth.)

*Know that any changes you make aren't going to work over night.  Healing takes time!  
I am 2 years into this thing and am still healing, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that it is so worth it!  I cannot begin to tell you how much better my quality of life is.
Be patient.

*I love you and I want to see you be healthy because you are worth it!

Everybody good? Everybody happy? 
I want you to tune in next week as we talk about food allergies and autoimmune disease.
Why are they so rampant these days?
I don't have a lot of answers, but I have done some research that you might like.

Tata for now!  Go get that gut healthy!


Denise said...

Beyond awesome, and so much helpful information.

Jeri Tanner said...

Missy, this is truly great stuff. I've been taking baby steps too for the last couple of years and have been reading, but what you've provided here with links and simple illustrations is excellent. I want to add some of these things, including the bone broth (any way to avoid using chicken feet??) to what I've been trying to do. About the probiotics- do you have any thoughts on the use of the more expensive, refrigerated kind (like TruFlora) vs. the non-refrigerated types? I'd sure like to pay less. Again, good job. Smart girl.