I was recently reviewing a new homeschool resource for my kids that has all kinds of learning videos including ones on health. So I thought I would check out a few videos on the immune system and see if I could learn anything new or at least jog my memory on a few things I've covered in the past because after all, I can't remember absolutely everything I've read! :)
While there wasn't much new to learn it did give me a different perspective that I would like to share with you. Basically it boils down to this: Immune cells are designed to attack anything that doesn't belong in your body. These are called pathogens and they include viruses, bacteria, chemicals, parasites, etc. Once your immune system destroys one of these pathogens it takes a little piece of its protein and carries it around with it so all the other immune cells can learn to watch out for it too.
So imagine you have a string of colored beads. Each bead on the string is an amino acid and the whole string of beads together is a protein. While there are only a handful of amino acid variations out there what order they are put on the string and how long the string is makes up an almost infinite number of possible proteins. So you could have a pink bead followed by a green bead, another pink and then an orange and that would be one protein but take off all the beads and put them in a different arrangement and you have a completely different protein.
Now if you took some scissors and clipped off small pieces of that protein chain you would have what are called polypeptides. These polypeptides are only a fraction of the larger protein but these are what the immune cells are using to train all the other immune cells as to who the enemy is. Can you see where the problem is?
So proteins make up just about everything. There are proteins in the food you eat, in the pollen and dust in the air, and your own body is made up of proteins. If you have leaky gut, you've got all kinds of partially digested proteins and polypeptide chains leaking into your bloodstream where your immune cells have to clean them up. And these immune cells remember every little protein it has to clean up and will communicate that to your other immune cells.
Now if that little bit of polypeptide chain that your immune system is looking for happens to be similar to a part of your own body proteins - it will attack that too. It's called molecular mimicry where your immune system mistakes your own body tissue for a pathogen resulting in an auto-immune condition.
So say for example a polypeptide chain from soy protein leaks through your gut wall and your white blood cells digest it. Then it remembers that bit of polypeptide chain which happens to look a lot like your thyroid tissue. You may end up developing Hashimoto's Thyroiditis which is an autoimmune condition where your own body has developed antibodies to your thyroid tissue. And the more cells your immune system destroys the more the program is reinforced creating a vicious cycle of continuous inflammation.
And it's not just the thyroid this can happen to. Any body tissue can come under attack. Auto-immune disorders are on the rise and many people will end up with multiple auto-immune diseases. Some examples include Psoriasis, Crohn's Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and many others.
The key to bringing auto-immunity under control is to seal the leaky gut through a nutritional protocol such as the GAPS diet allowing the body and the immune system to return to normal function, although it may take quite a while depending on how much damage has been done. In some cases the body may never fully recover from auto-immunity! So the sooner you can deal with a leaky gut, the better your chance of a full recovery.
If you suspect you have a leaky gut or you already have been diagnosed with an auto-immune condition, don't wait to address it. Get to the root of the issue with the help of a qualified natural health practitioner or GAPS practitioner.
To Your Health!
Kathryn Doran-Fisher, ND, CGP
This past year I have been working hard to fine-tune some of my understanding of gut physiology and how it affects the rest of our health. First there was the Gluten-Summit last fall where some of the country's top experts in the field of digestive health talked about non-celiac gluten sensitivity in a series of online interviews. Then this spring the Thyroid Sessions and the Thyroid Summit became available, again with some free online interviews from top experts on thyroid function. These interviews helped me to understand the connection between gut dysbiosis and Hashimoto's thyroiditis. A couple of weeks ago I spoke with a probiotic specialist from Natren, one of the probiotic companies whose line we carry here at Elder & Sage. We talked about some awesome protocols for healing specific gut issues. And finally this past weekend I attended a course from one of my former instructors and colleagues at the Naturopathic Institute of Therapies and Education, Jackie Featherly, on the Detoxification pathways of the liver. There are still two more classes from Dr. Featherly later this fall but I wanted to get some of this info out to my clients while the information was still fresh in my mind!
The liver has at least 500 different functions including: creating over 1,000 different enzymes, making bile for fat digestion, storing nutrients, metabolizing fats and proteins, cleaning the blood, producing heat to maintain body temperature, converting thyroid hormones to an active form, activating and deactivating hormones and neurotransmitters, detoxifying from toxic substances, and more!
There are 3 phases that the liver uses to convert toxic substances into harmless substances. Phase 1 has 5 pathways, or five different ways to deal with toxins. Phase 2 has 6 pathways, and I haven't learned about Phase 3 yet!
So, when you eat your food is broken down into tiny little pieces. Your small intestinal lining allows some of those tiny pieces into your blood like amino acids, small peptides, simple sugars, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, etc. Some of those tiny pieces may even be chemicals, heavy metals like mercury, pharmaceutical drugs, food dyes, preservatives, bacterial waste products, etc. And if you have a leaky gut you may get larger proteins and food particles, yeast cells, bacteria, etc. All of this goes into your bloodstream and is carried straight into your liver.
The liver cells identify what the substance is and what to do with it. Imagine a recycling center. On the conveyor belt are all kinds of things that need to be sorted. Glass bottles, plastic, paper, metal, etc. Each thing needs to be sorted into the right bin. The liver pathways then would be the different ways to sort. For example Phase 1 deals with oxidation, reduction, hydrolysis, hydration, and dehalogenation. Chemicals that need to go through one of these five processes will head toward Phase 1. Once they have gone through Phase 1 some chemicals can now be safely sent out of the body while others will need more attention. Those will move on to Phase 2 for sulphate conjugation, glucoronadation, glutathione conjugation, acetylation, glycination, and methylation.
If Phase 1 is working fast but Phase 2 is a little slow you will get a bottleneck effect. Some of the partially broken down chemicals start building up in the system. This can also happen when any of the detox pathways are overwhelmed with material to detoxify. Many of these partially broken down chemicals are more toxic that what we started with. For example alcohol (ethanol) goes through Phase 1 oxidation and you are left with a chemical called acetylaldehyde. Eventually this chemical is converted to harmless acetic acid (like vinegar) but if the detox process gets bogged down (too much alcohol) the acetylaldehyde will build up and give you a hangover.* This bottleneck effect can cause damage to the liver, brain and immune system. In fact, most liver issues, disease, and cancer begin here.
*Acetylaldehyde detoxification also occurs in Phase 1 with a second oxidation to become acetic acid rather than moving on to Phase 2 but the bottleneck effect is similar.
With gut dysbiosis and leaky gut, there is a river of chemicals and toxins flowing into the liver and so the detoxification process is working hard around the clock but many chemicals bottleneck and are released back into the circulating bloodstream. This is why people with serious digestive issues don't feel good. You may be tired, sore, achy, fatigued and have all kinds of symptoms. The key to feeling better is reducing the amount of chemicals (from food and the environment) sealing up a leaky gut (with probiotics and bone broth) and helping the liver to process better (detoxification with juices and detox baths and selective supplementation). Healing the gut will also make it easier to absorb nutrients that the liver needs to support detoxification like the B-vitamins and magnesium.
The more the liver has to process the more congested it will become and the more toxic and dirty the blood will be - eventually putting strain on other filters such as the kidneys. Imagine how much work your liver has to do with a single meal, now imagine that same meal was full of preservatives, food additives, coloring, MSG, etc. and you took it along with a prescription drug. Every chemical put on or in your body has to be dealt with by the liver.
Many natural foods and supplements will stimulate the liver and support the Phase I detoxification pathways such as:
Cysteine and Glutathione containing foods: yogurt, cottage cheese, turkey, cheese, chicken, eggs, wild game and whole milk
Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi
Other sulphur rich foods: red meat, poultry, fish, legumes, egg yolk, onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, chives
Foods that aid in fat metabolism due to Vitamin B12: Brewer's yeast, organ meats, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, brown rice
Essential fatty Acids: cold water fish, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, walnuts, sesame seeds, black currant seed oil, borage oil, and evening primrose oil
Some natural health substances can also be used to reduce the bottleneck effect that causes symptoms usually attributed to a die-off effect or healing crisis by slowing down Phase I detoxification. These are: Grapefruit, turmeric, capsicum, and cloves.
Other vital herbs and supplements to support liver detoxification include: bioflavonoids, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B6, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Milk thistle, Carotenes, Co-Q-10, Copper, Iron, Selenium, Magnesium, Manganese, Zinc, Trace Minerals, Folic Acid, Lecithin, N-Acetyl Cysteine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Artichoke extract, Black Currant Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, and Borage Oil.
All of these nutrients and vitamins can be found in a well rounded diet based on whole, real, foods such as the GAPS diet. You can give an even bigger boost to the GAPS diet by making sure to include lots of foods such as: cold water fish; garlic; onions; fresh fruit; nuts and seeds; cold pressed oils such as safflower oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, flaxseed oil, and walnut oil; and fresh vegetables particularly ones from the cabbage family.
To Your Health!
Does your child have a health issue that doesn't seem to be getting any better? Have you tried all sorts of natural and pharmaceutical remedies with no success? Are you frustrated with all the "good" advice and no results?
Babies and young children today are dealing with health issues that were unheard of in past generations and many parents are struggling to understand what is causing their child to suffer and how they can help. Health issues such as:
Poor weight gain or "failure to thrive"
Eczema, hives, and other skin irritations
Constipation with hard dry stools that are difficult to pass
Chronic watery diarrhea
Stomach pains, flatulence and colic
Reflux and excessive spitting up
Food allergies and food sensitivities
Thrush and Yeast infections
Although these health issues are very different, they have the same root problem - gut dysbiosis, which just means a gut system that is out of balance. This means that the number of pathogenic, or disease producing microbes in the gut outweigh the number of probiotic or health supporting microbes. These pathogens create endo- and exo- toxins that irritate the lining of the digestive tract and leak through the gut wall into the bloodstream where they can create a variety of seemingly unconnected health issues. Contributing factors to gut dysbiosis in children include:
Use of antibiotics
Birth by C-section
High sugar consumption
Mother (and occasionally father) with gut dysbiosis
The last point is often overlooked in conventional treatment of eczema and other skin problems, particularly if the child is being breastfed. Gut dysbiosis in the mother results in an increase in immune response in the mother's blood and in her breastmilk. The baby's immune system responds to these immune factors as if they had been exposed to the toxins directly. But because their immune system is immature it results in dermatitis, eczema, asthma, or allergic reactions while the mother may have none of these issues. Topical application of steroidal creams provide only limited results and can be very harmful to the child's growth and development.
The mechanism behind this response is somewhat unclear to me and I hope more research will be done in this area. However, I have confirmed in my own practice that when the breastfeeding mother addresses her own gut dysbiosis, the child's eczema eventually clears up. This may also explain why some children "grow out of it" as their immune system matures or when they are weaned from the breast. Please note that I do not recommend weaning early to resolve eczema as breastfeeding has many other important health benefits. Contributing factors to gut dysbiosis in adults may include:
High stress levels
High sugar consumption
Use of certain prescription drugs such as hormone replacement, antacids, or anti-depressants
Because the baby gets their bacteria from the mother if born vaginally, gut dysbiosis in the child can also occur from the start of life if the mother already has digestive problems. The child would then suffer from colic, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, bad breath and other digestive symptoms. Since gut bacteria play a major roll in the immune system the child may also suffer from lowered immunity, chronic ear infections, asthma or allergies. This points to the necessity of establishing a good bacterial population well before pregnancy and promoting it throughout early childhood while reserving the use of antibiotics for extreme life-threatening situations. If antibiotic use does become necessary then using probiotics throughout and up to three months after the course of antibiotics will lessen some of the negative effects.
By far the most effective method of addressing gut dysbiosis is through the GAPS nutritional protocol. This short-term healing protocol is designed to limit the growth of pathogenic microbes, promote the growth of probiotic microbes, heal the digestive system, support the body's elimination channels, and support the body's detoxification systems. To find out more about the GAPS diet I recommend you read Gut & Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride or visit her website at www.gaps.me. You can also make an appointment with me or another Certified GAPS Practitioner close to you.
To Your Health!
Naturopathic Doctor and Certified GAPS Practitioner
Elder & Sage
I'm trying my hand at informational videos. Why is it that the thumbnail always catches me making a funny face? Oh well, here is just a little bit about the Gut & Psychology/Physiology Syndrome. Remember that I do a GAPS Intro class on the 4th Wednesday of every month beginning at 6pm here at the shop. Cost is only $5! Hope you enjoy the video
If you don't have any serious food sensitivities or digestive disorders, here are some of my general recommendations for healthy eating and weight loss. Follow this plan closely - avoid eating out while on this plan so you know exactly what you are eating. Herbs, spices, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and unrefined sea salt can be used as seasoning to taste.
FAT IS NOT BAD FOR YOU
A minimum of 3 TB of fat should be eaten daily up to unlimited amounts to encourage satiety, boost energy, and help to detoxify the liver as long as they come from the following sources: butter (pastured preferred), ghee, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, flaxseed oil (no more than ½ tsp daily), fish oil, cod liver oil, or coconut oil. Other natural fat sources such as lard, tallow, palm oil, or chicken fat are also allowed but often more difficult to obtain good quality. Processed vegetable oils should be avoided at all costs. It is also important to vary your fat sources to give the body adequate types of fatty acids i.e. don’t rely on olive oil alone for your fat sources. It is difficult to consume too much natural fat as the body has regulatory mechanisms that discourage this (feelings of fullness, discomfort, or nausea). You may find that if you are not used to eating fat you will have to limit your intake initially and slowly increase the daily amount allowing your body to adjust. Remember that fat is not stored in the body as fat – excess calories from refined carbohydrates are.
JUMPSTART DAY – LIQUID FAST
For best results do the jumpstart day once each week on the day of your choice.
Breakfast – Blended drink made with one dark leafy green and two fruits
(example: kale, pear and peach)
Lunch – Blended drink made with two vegetables and one fruit
(example: carrot, celery, apple)
Dinner – Vegetable, beef, fish, or chicken broth
1 TB of coconut oil dissolved in warm water before each meal.
ALL OTHER DAYS
For each meal up to 3 per day - 1 whole grain, fruit, or starchy vegetable, 1 full-fat dairy or protein, unlimited non-starchy vegetables or leafy greens, and at least 1 TB fat
If you find that you only need to eat two meals a day, make sure at least one of these is breakfast! All sweeteners should be limited to no more than 1TB of honey or maple syrup per day.
Drink plenty of water on both the jumpstart days and all other days. At least three tall glasses. Raw milk, Coconut milk diluted with water and herbal tea are also allowed in addition to water intake. Fruit and Vegetable juices should be limited to only the jumpstart days.
EXAMPLES OF FOOD TYPES
Whole Grains (all grains should be cooked whole or freshly ground and not refined) – Quinoa, Brown Rice, Millet, Amaranth, Oats*, Spelt*, Wheat*, Rye*, Barley*, Cornmeal
*Avoid if you are gluten sensitive
Fruit – Fully ripe banana, apple, grapes, pear, peach, melon, berries, etc. Limit dried fruit to 1 Tb.
Starchy Vegetables – Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Winter Squash, Corn
Non-Starchy Vegetables – Broccoli, Peppers*, Tomatoes*, Eggplant*, Carrots, Celery, Peas, Green Beans, Cabbage, Lettuce, Summer Squash, etc.
* Avoid if you are sensitive to nightshades
Leafy Greens – Kale, Collards, Romaine, Dandelion Greens, Chard, Endive, Radicchio, etc.
Full-Fat Dairy – Raw milk, Yogurt, Kefir, Cheese, Buttermilk, etc. Avoid soy or other milk substitutes. Homemade nut or seed milk may be used if you are sensitive to dairy.
Protein – Fish, Beef, Chicken, Eggs, Beans, Nuts, Nut-Butters, Lentils, Liver. Avoid soy or other protein substitutes.
1 serving of whole grain = 1/4 C. uncooked
1 serving of Fruit = 1 piece of large fruit, 2 small, or 1 C. of berries
1 serving of Starchy Vegetable = 1 C.
1 serving of Protein = 2 oz. meat, 2 eggs, ¼ C. beans, nuts, lentils
1 serving of Full-Fat Dairy = 1 C milk, yogurt or kefir; 1 oz. cheese
Supplements - Optional
Bowel Detox (Nature's Sunshine) - take as directed on bottle
Superdophilus (Natren) - Start with 1/4 tsp work slowly up to 2 tsp/day
Bifidonate (Natren) - Start with 1/4 tsp work slowly up to 2 tsp/day
Herbal Trace Minerals (Nature's Sunshine) - take as directed on bottle
Try it out and let me know what you think!
To Your Health!
Kathryn Doran-Fisher, ND, CGP
In my professional (and personal) opinion there is one food substance that has contributed more to the degeneration of health than any other chemical or toxin out there. SUGAR!
Every day I work with clients who battle their sugar addictions (and/or corn syrup and/or refined carbohydrates which are converted into sugar in the small intestine) and every day I watch as those who are able to successfully reduce or eliminate sweets from their diet - experience amazing improvements in health. But it's one thing to get an adult to give up the sweets and quite another to expect it of kids, right? I'm quite used to the panicked look in a parent's eyes when I even suggest it. The idea that springs into their heads is that if the children don't get their sweets they won't eat anything at all and then they will starve! Right?
Well, you may be surprised to know that just like adults, children do have a self-preservation instinct. So, they will eat whatever you give them if there is nothing else available. Yes, they will certainly not like it and they will probably cry and fight and do all kinds of horrible things that every parent dreads but... they will get over it. Perhaps you might think it is cruel to deny sweets to kids? Far better that they should suffer from lifelong health issues?
I am noticing a distinct trend in my clients.
From my grandmother's generation most were raised on real food made at home and often straight from the farm or their own family gardens. Yes, there was certainly sugar but it was not nearly as ubiquitous as it is today. In Iridology analysis, these clients exhibit nearly perfect constitutional health. When questioned, the women claim they had no trouble with menstruation and hardly any menopausal difficulties. Children were birthed easily and good health was enjoyed well into adulthood. It is only now in their later years that they experience poor health and degeneration. Most are just looking for advice on how to reduce or eliminate the number of pills and supplements they take. They are not accustomed to these aches and pains and find them to be an annoyance. There are of course exceptions but let me continue.
In my parent's generation poor health begins to truly present itself on average now as they reach 50 and 60 years of age. This generation also enjoyed mostly real food and home-cooked meals in youth. Although pop and candy were becoming fast favorites at Ice Cream and Soda Shoppes around the country. Most were breastfed as infants although the trend was starting to change and few would breastfeed their own children in favor of a "more scientific" approach. There is more thyroid, heart disease, bone and joint degeneration, and digestive issues but again, not presenting much until after age 50. Menstruation was easy for the most part but menopause brings significant discomfort.
Then in my generation. The clients I see are experiencing poor health in their 20's and 30's. Mostly allergies, digestive disorders, and joint problems, but some auto-immune and arthritis as well. ARTHRITIS! That which was supposed to be relegated to old age. I suffered from it myself in my 20's before I started my education. We still grew up on mostly home-cooked meals but fast food was becoming more common. Every school outing involved a stop at McDonald's or Burger King. Little Debbie cakes graced our lunches and Halloween Trick-or-Treating became a contest of gluttony. Dental cavities and braces became the norm. More and more kids got glasses. More and more "fat" kids suffered from the bullying of their peers. As adults, more women experience menstrual pain and irregularities. Childbirth and breastfeeding do not come as easy as they had hoped. Maintaining an ideal weight is a struggle. Thyroid problems and heart disease are common.
And now, in my children's generation. Childhood resiliency is a thing of the past. Obesity is common, asthma, ADD and Autism are rising fast. Food allergies and eczema run rampant. Digestive troubles start even at birth. The physical health of our children is so poor that a simple trip and fall can result in a serious fracture. But then again, sugar is everywhere. Candy is used for teaching math in school. Every week a child's birthday or upcoming holiday is cause for yet another sugar-filled party. This generation is not destined to have the same longevity that their parent's will have. If this trend continues, I predict that infertility rates will skyrocket within one more generation and population rates will fall. But maybe that was the plan all along?
I certainly don't want to give you the impression that I think sugar is the only factor in this but it is certainly a significant player. I started this post thinking I was going to talk about my own experiences with converting my kids to a diet without sugar but that will have to wait for a part two. What needs to happen now is we need to wake up to what is going on around us! We need to take action to reverse this trend of degeneration. If not for us, if not for our children, then for our grandchildren's sake we need to do this. Because even though I am doing the best that I can for my own children, I know that some damage has already been done and may not be reversible. But by giving them the best that I can in their growth and development phase and teaching them how important it will be for their own children - perhaps my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will enjoy better health than I, instead of worse.
To Be Continued...
To Your Health and that of your children and grandchildren,
This article from the American Journal of Pediatrics describes something called Eczema Vaccinatum, a rare but potentially life threatening reaction to the smallpox vaccine.
If you scroll down to the Abstract they recommend that children with a history of eczema or any other skin disorder should not be vaccinated. Even if there is a history of eczema in the family they should not be vaccinated. And if a sibling is vaccinated they should be kept completely away from the infant for up to 21 days.
Skin rashes, hives, eczema and psoriasis are becoming more and more common in children. I have seen a definite generational trend which I believe is due to an imbalance in the gut bacteria.
There are four major channels of elimination in the body: the bowels, bladder, lungs and skin. The bowels primarily eliminate food waste, waste from the lymphatic system, and whatever the liver has cleansed from the blood. The kidneys and bladder handle cellular waste as they clean the blood. The lungs handle any waste that can be converted to a gas, like carbon dioxide. And the skin eliminates waste as we perspire. If any one of these elimination channels are weak, slow, or overwhelmed... the waste material is reabsorbed into the body and has to find another way out.
Eczema is a result of waste material being passed out of the skin that was never meant for the skin! These irritating substances come with inflammation, itching, and redness as the immune system works to get rid of it.
An infant has a very porous digestive tract. That is why large immune components from mother's milk can transfer immunity to the baby. But if the mother has a lot of waste material in her blood and the resulting immune response - her milk will contain those inflammation promoting immune components. This results in what I call "breastfeeding eczema". The baby's body is having an inflammatory response due to the waste in the mother's blood.
And if the infant is formula fed, eczema can still result because they are not getting the beneficial immune components or colostrum in breastmilk but instead getting soy, high fructose corn syrup, genetically modified ingredients, and a whole host of other things never meant for a baby's sensitive digestive tract.
Where does this excess amount of waste come from? The digestive tract. Due to an overuse of antibiotics over the last two generations, the gut bacteria normally found in a healthy digestive tract are being displaced by yeast and pathogenic forms of bacteria. Combined with stress, poor diet, and now superstrains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics... we've got a real big problem on our hands. These pathogens convert even the healthiest of foods into chemical waste. There is a river of toxicity flowing from the gut into the rest of the body and overwhelming the body's elimination channels.
Gut dysbiosis is the underlying cause to a whole host of problems including: Colitis, Crohn's, Food Allergies, Eczema, Psoriasis, ADD, ADHD, Autism, Anxiety, Depression, Auto-Immune Disorders, Celiac's, Acid Reflux, Allergies, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Urinary Tract Infections, Asthma.... the list goes on and on.
An infant who has eczema is immune compromised and immune compromised children should not be vaccinated nor exposed to others who have been vaccinated. In my opinion, children with any sort of digestive problem at all should not be vaccinated. Any child with any of the above diseases or symptoms is immune-compromised due to a lack of good bacteria in their digestive system. That vaccination may be the last straw that puts their body into a state of crisis. Only healthy children should be vaccinated. And if they are truly healthy... why vaccinate?
When feces reach the rectum they should be about 70% water; and 30% a combination of fiber, undigestible materials, dead cells from the body, and bacteria. When these feces reach the toilet they float at first and then slowly sink and begin to fall apart as the fiber in them absorbs more water.The brown color of feces is a result of bile pigments coming from the liver. When feces are not brown, but have a chalky appearance, there is a problem in bile secretion and fat digestion.
Loose, watery stools or diarrhea can be produced by excessive use of laxatives (cathartics, which stimulate bowel contractions by irritation), nervous stress, gut dysbiosis, infection or the presence of toxic substances in the bowel.
Neglecting the urge to eliminate, not drinking enough water, poor bile production, poor hydrochloric acid production, gut dysbiosis, or eating foods low in fruit and vegetable fiber can lead to constipation. This is a clogging of the large intestine caused by waste material building up on the bowel wall to such an extent that feces can hardly pass through.
If you are eating three meals in a day but only producing a bowel movement once in five days, you could have fifteen meals still sitting in your intestines! This accumulation can become tough, hard and black like the rubber of a truck tire. When the bowel is that dirty, it can harbor an amazing variety of very harmful bacteria and parasites. These life forms will multiply on this putrid, decaying material creating toxins, poisons, and noxious debris that will seep through the bowel wall and enter the lymph fluid and bloodstream. Poor bowel condition is the source for many, many disorders in the body from allergies and skin afflictions to heart disease and cancer.
Even when you are having a bowel movement every day; how often or how much is not necessarily an indication of a healthy bowel. Many people will have loose bowels one day, stiff bowels the next, a smelly bowel one day, and so on. It is more important to establish regularity and determine how long it takes for any one meal to pass through the body.
The time it takes for a meal to travel through the digestive tract is called the bowel transit time. Normally it takes eighteen hours for food to go through the body and be eliminated. That means if you have breakfast at 8 AM, you would have a bowel movement just before bedtime. Lunch and dinner would naturally be eliminated in the morning the following day with one bowel movement shortly after rising and one just after breakfast.
The time it takes for food to be digested and eliminated depends upon the amount of roughage in the food and the water content. Bulkier feces travel faster as they provide substance for the bowel muscle to work upon. Otherwise a soft, fiberless stool becomes very difficult for the colon to move along. The longer it takes, the more water is absorbed, making feces compacted and hard so that it becomes difficult to eliminate them.
A healthy bowel has sufficient water, good nerve tone, good muscle tone, plenty of beneficial forms of bacteria, adequate circulation and the right biochemical nutrients in the right amounts. However, these things are not sufficient to bring health to a dirty, toxic-laden bowel. Cleansing must come first, only then can tissue rebuilding take place.
Bowel Transit Time Experiment
Take 2 oz. of liquid chlorophyll or 2 oz. of beet juice with a meal and take note of how long it takes to exit the body.
You will recognize the chlorophyll because your feces will be unmistakably colored dark green or red if using beet juice! Don’t take any more chlorophyll or eat any dark green leafy vegetables until you have passed all of the chlorophyll.
How long did it take? Did you have more than one bowel movement that was green?
What to Do Now
Now that you know what your bowel transit time is, you can start working to improve it. Bowel cleansing can be as simple as getting more dietary fiber from fruits and vegetables. Fiber from grains tend to be a little more harsh on a sensitive bowel lining and should be avoided by those with bowel problems.
You may also want to consider a bowel-cleansing program that uses bulk laxative herbs. Most over the counter laxatives contain substances that irritate the bowel causing it to flush out bowel contents very quickly. Some will pull water from you body tissues and result in loose, watery stools. Bulk laxatives are different because they absorb water and push through the bowel, as dietary fiber would. A good herbal bulk laxative is psyllium. Psyllium will also help to clean the toxic material that has accumulated on the bowel walls.
If your intestinal wall has become dry and irritated you may want to use a mucilaginous herb like slippery elm instead. Slippery elm absorbs water and produces a slimy coating to soothe the bowel wall and ease the passage of dry stools.
Improve overall digestion by taking a food enzyme supplement containing protease, amylase, and lipase enzymes. If hydrochloric acid production is low or you experience frequent heartburn or reflux try taking Betaine HCl or 1 oz. of apple cider vinegar before each meal.
Beneficial forms of bacteria are crucial for a healthy bowel and immune system. Particularly if you have had a recent or frequent dose of antibiotics. Use the lactobacillus or bifidobacteria strains which are the most well documented for improving bowel health. Probiotics are also safe for infants and children.
If muscle tone is your problem, you may need a combination of a bulk laxative with a stimulating laxative like cascara sagrada. Cascara sagrada stimulates the bowel wall, encouraging peristaltic action to move fecal matter through the intestines. White oak bark can also help to tone up the intestinal walls as well as reducing hemorrhoids and diverticula.
Stress can be a major factor in poor bowel health. Without proper nerve function your intestinal system cannot do its job. If your bowel function seems to change constantly even when you are eating regularly, you may need to consider an herbal combination to reduce stress. Nutricalm is a wonderful blend from Nature’s Sunshine that helps to improve nerve function and reduce the effects of stress on the body.
Dietary changes such as the GAPS diet combined with an herbal cleansing programs are very effective, but the healing process can take up to a year or more before you will see a regular, healthy intestinal system. Colon hydrotherapy is another option that can help to speed your recovery. Ask a qualified natural health care professional or GAPS practitioner for more information about any of these.
No matter what program you choose, be sure to drink plenty of fresh, purified water daily. Water helps to keep the mucous lining in the bowel thin and slick to provide lubrication.
Here's to Your Health!
So, my research into the fascinating world of probiotics continues...
The more I learn about these amazing forms of bacteria the more frustrated I become with the commercial brands that are available to the general public. Most probiotic brands are contract-manufactured. This means that sometimes the person who developed the formula and wrote the label may not be all that experienced in the field of probiotics. So I've been on the hunt for a good source for a while now. I've blogged about Natren probiotics before and I still really like their product. However, they are limited to just four different strains of bacteria and I'd like to branch out because each bacteria has different benefits and the more you switch them around the more likely you are to hit upon one that gives you greater benefits and faster results.
I've mentioned before that bacteria are competitive. So if you blend different strains of bacteria they will often compete with each other. Upon further research it seems some strains are more aggressive while others will play nice. Lactobacillus casei is one strain that is very aggressive and will compete heavily with other bacteria. That's another reason why I don't use BioKult, the strain originally formulated by Dr. Natasha which contains L. casei. Research into probiotics is ongoing and we are learning new things all the time. I also don't like to use soil based organisms as this has been a controversial topic among probiotic manufacturers. Many of these spore-forming soil-based organisms can become just as pathogenic as the strains we are trying to get rid of. I'd rather play it safe with a sensitive digestive system. If my client wants to try soil-based organisms once some significant healing has occurred I'm okay with that. But not in the beginning.
GutPro is an custom probiotic I've been investigating that was formulated with GAPS in mind. Here's what I like about this product:
One bottle of GutPro powder contains 12 TRILLION colony-forming units of bacteria. So that means at a therapeutic dose an adult would only need to take 1/32 tsp. This means there are 480 servings per bottle. A child would need even less, 1/64 tsp. Luckily the company also provides measuring spoons so you don't have to try and figure out how to get 1/64 of a teaspoon. An adult would need a smidgen and a child just a drop. The retail cost for a bottle of GutPro powder costs $155. Pretty steep for only 60 grams but again, you're getting at least 480 servings. I am only going to recommend this product if you have already reached your therapeutic dosage as a replacement for the Trenev Trio product from Natren. If you are just starting out on GAPS, stick with the Natren Superdophilus, Bifidophilus, and/or Bulgaricum. This should be a significant cost savings over Trenev Trio at $62.95 for only 30 servings. Hmmm, $2 per serving or 32 cents per serving?
The GutPro capsules contain 600 Billion CFU's (colony-forming units). So you'd have to get 20 bottles of GutPro capsules to equal what you get in one bottle of GutPro powder. Each capsule contains 5 billion CFU's. There are two extra ingredients required to encapsulate it and remember that capsules won't provide any benefit to the ear, nose and throat. This might be a good option if you prefer capsules, don't have upper digestive issues, or would like to remain on just a maintenance level dosage of 10-billion bacteria. One bottle gives a single person a two-month supply at 2 capsules per day for $49.95.
To Your Health!
Note - At this time I am not going to recommend GutPro for anyone under the age of four. Stick with the LifeStart Powder from Natren. On occasion I may recommend the Superdophilus powder, Bifidonate powder or Bulgaricum powder from Natren as well.