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Filling in the GAPS – The Gut-Brain Connection

One only sees what one looks for, one only looks for what one knows.

Goethe

Modern medicine has divided us, human beings, into different systems and areas: cardio-vascular system, digestive syste, nervous system, etc. According to this division different medical specialties have been created, each concentrating on a particular bit of the human body: cardiology, gastro-enterology, gynaecology, neurology, psychiatry etc., etc. There is a reason for that. Medical science over the years has accumulated an enormous amount of knowledge. No doctor in the world can possibly know it all in detail, so specializing allows doctors to concentrate on a particular area of knowledge, to learn it thoroughly and to become an expert in that area.

However, from the early years of this specialization many doctors have recognized a problem developing. A specialist in a particular area tends to pay attention to the organs which he or she knows best, ignoring the rest of the body. The fact that every organ in the body exists and works in contact with the rest gets forgotten. The body lives and functions as a whole, where every system, organ, tissue and even cell depend on each other, affect each other and communicate with each other. One should not look at, let alone treat, any organ without taking the rest of the body into account.

One area of medicine is particularly prone to look at its organ separately from the rest of the body. That area is psychiatry. Mental problems are examined from all sorts of angles: genetics, childhood experiences, and psychological influences. The last thing that would be considered is looking at the patient’s digestive system. Modern psychiatry just does not do that. And yet medical history has plenty of examples where severe psychiatric conditions were cured by simply “cleaning out” the patient’s gut.

The vast majority of psychiatric patients suffer from digestive problems, which are largely ignored by their doctors. The gut-brain connection is something which, for some reason, many modern doctors do not understand. As they give out millions of prescriptions for antidepressants, sleeping pills and other drugs, which the patients have to place into their digestive systems in order to affect their brains, they still fail to see the connection between the digestive system and the brain.

from GAPS Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, MMedSci (neurology), MMedSci (nutrition)

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Filling in the GAPS – Opportunistic Flora

The usual broad spectrum antibiotics kill a lot of different microbes in the body – the bad and the good. But they have no effect on Candida. So, after every course of antibiotics Candida is left without anything to control it, so it grows and thrives. At the dawn of the antibiotic era the medical profession recognised this phenomenon, so it used to prescribe Nystatin (an anti-candida antibiotic) every time a broad-spectrum antibiotic was administered. However, for whatever reason, doctors stopped this practice decades ago, and now we are paying the price for it – candida infection has become extremely common. Apart from antibiotics, another factor in our modern world plays a major role in Candida overgroth – our diet. Candida flourishes on sugar and processed carbohydrates and these are the foods which nowadays dominate our Western eating habits.

Some opportunists, listed above, when out of control, get through the gut wall barrier into the lymph and bloodstream and cause problems in various organs in the body. Bur of course, the first place to suffer will be the digestive system.

Certain opportunists, when not controlled by good bacteria, get access to the gut wall and damage its integrity, making it “leaky”. For example, microbiologist have observed how common opportunistic gut bacteria from the families Spirochaetaceae and Spirillaceae have an ability, due to their spiral shape, to push apart intestinal cells, breaking down the integrity of the intestinal wall and allowing through substances which normally should not get through. Candida albicans has this ability as well. Its cells attach themselves to the gut lining, literally putting ‘roots’ through it and making it ‘leaky’. Partially digested foods get through this leaky gut wall into the blood stream, where the immune system recognises them as foreign and attacks them. This is how food allergies or intolerances develop.

GAPS – Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride  (p. 42, 43)

Filling in the GAPS – What Can Damage Gut Flora?

Things that destroy our good bacteria which live in our digestive tract include:

1. Antibiotics

2. Other drugs especially when prescribed for long periods of time, for example, pain killers or analgesics (aspirin, ibuprofen), contraceptive pills, sleeping pills, heartburn pills.

3. Diet, especially a diet high in sugars.

4. Disease, such as, infectious diseases (typhoid, cholera, dysentery, salmonella), diabetes, autoimmune disease, obesity, and neurological conditions.

5. Stress

6. Other factors include physical exertion, old age, alcoholism, pollution, exposure to toxic substances, seasonal factors, exposure to radiation.

Every one of us carries a unique mixture or microbes in the gut. Under the influence of drugs and other factors, listed above, this gut flora will be changed in a unique way in every one of us, predisposing us to different health problems. This damage gets passed along from generation to generation as a newborn child gets its gut flora from the mother. And as the damage is passed through generations, it gets deeper and deeper. For example, a grandmother has mild digestion problems as a result of low-key gut dysbiosis. She passes moderate abnormal gut flora to her daughter. On top of that she decides not to breastfeed, because it is not fashionable. As a result, her daughter suffers from allergies, migraines, PMS and digestive problems. Then she takes contraceptive pills from the age of 16, which deepens the damage to her gut flora, not to mention a few courses of antibiotics along the way for various infections and a diet of fast foods. After 10 years of being ‘on the pill’ she has children, to whom she passes her seriously abnormal gut flora. Her children develop digestive and immune problems, which then lead to eczema, asthma, autism and other learning problems.

From Natasha Campbell-McBride in the book GAPS Gut and Psychology Syndrome (Chapter 4, p. 33-39)

Filling in the GAPS

Gut flora is the housekeeper of the digestive system. The state of the house and its ability to fulfill its purposes directly depends on how good the housekeeper is. Anatomical integrity of our digestive tract, its functionality, ability to adapt and regenerate, ability to defend itself and many other functions are directly dependent on the state of its microscopic housekeepers – our gut flora. GAPS children and adults have a very abnormal gut flora, which result in digestive abnormalities.

p. 20, 21 – GAPS Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, MMedSci (neurology), MMedSci (nutrition)

Filling in the GAPS – the root of health

“As we know, the roots of a tree, invisible, hidden deep under the ground, play a crucial role in the well-being of every branch, every twig, every leaf of that tree, no matter how proudly high and far they may be from those roots. In the same way the diverse and multiple functions of gut flora reach in the body far beyond the gut itself.  One of the most important “branches” in the body being the immune system.

A well-functioning gut with healthy gut flora holds the roots of our health. And, just as a tree with sick roots is not going to thrive, the rest of the body cannot thrive without a well-functioning digestive system.”

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD – Gut and Psychology Syndrome p. 25

Product – Herb Stripper

Here’s a great idea!

MINDING MY P'S WITH Q

IMG_4299

I found this small kitchen gadget while shopping for Christmas presents in my local Target store. I picked it up, took a look, and immediately decided this was a present for myself. I use fresh herbs weekly, if not daily, in my cooking. I grow them on my kitchen windowsill in the Winter, in the outdoor kitchen/herb garden in the Spring, Summer and Autumn. One problem I have, especially with the smaller leafed herbs, is removing the foliage from the stem without driving myself batty. When I cook up soups/stews the stem is fine for adding to the broth, it can easily be removed when the stewing is complete, but I don’t want to have pieces of stem in salad dressings and other non-cooked foods. This small gadget perfectly strips leaves away from the stem and drops them in the bowl of the spoon, or as in the case of the…

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