Why Does Healthy Gut Flora Matter?
I listened to a talk recently by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, author of the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome which outlines the popular GAPS diet. I have not read her book yet, but after listening to her speak, I am definitely interested in picking it up.
After listening to her talk, I was left with a stark reminder of just how important healthy gut flora is for overall healing — whether it be from endometriosis, or any chronic condition — especially auto immune conditions. So I’ll share with you a little bit of what I learned 🙂
Why should we care about healthy gut flora? Well 85% of the immune system is located in the gut wall so the gut flora essentially nourishes and balances the immune system. If the gut flora is off, then the whole system suffers.
This relates to the wise statement from the father of Westernized Medicine — Hippocrates — who said that every disease begins in the digestive system.
There are three groups of gut flora:
- beneficial (anti-fungal, anti-microbal)
- opportunistic (fungi, protozoa, etc)
- transitional (go through us but don’t settle, gathered from food and drink)
Beneficial microorganisms fight off the opportunistic ones and fight off toxins from entering your system. If there are not enough good guys in the battle then the bad takes over. Simple as that.
If there are too many bad, opportunistic microbes, then the body does not absorb nutrients, and things go hay wire.
An unbalanced gut flora can lead to leaky gut — where opportunistic microbes escape the gut lining and travel to other parts of the body. This can cause inflammation and other toxic effects.
According to Dr. Campbell-McBride, unbalanced, unhealthy gut flora allows cancer cells to come in. This makes me infer that it also allows endometrial tissue to attach (outside the uterus) and remain uninvited, taking shape throughout the body — hello again, endo 🙂
What Causes Unhealthy Gut Flora?
Unhealthy gut flora is developed at the start of life and relates to the mother. When the baby comes out of the mother’s vagina during birth, it essentially swallows its batch of gut flora before entering the world. So if the mother’s gut flora is off, then the baby’s gut flora will be too.
Babies that are delivered via C-Section are filled with opportunistic microbes, since they are unable to swallow the beneficial microbes from their mother. Thus, C-Section babies are more likely to develop immune system deficiencies.
Breast feeding is the next essential piece in developing a healthy gut flora. Babies that are not breast fed, or for not long enough, also tend to have immune system issues.
Later in life, prescription medicines, especially antibiotics, throw off the balance of gut flora. This is because antibiotics attack all microbes — including the good guys.
Every dose of antibiotics opens up a window where bad pathogens are allowed in. This period can be two weeks – two months long. Yikes. (Ever wonder why you tend to get sick again after a dose of antibiotics?)
And let us not forget that a tremendous amount of livestock in the United States are fed antibiotics to ward off diseases associated with the awful practices in this industry — so if we ingest this “dirty” meat then more antibiotics enter the body.
Birth control is another big contributor to unhealthy gut flora as are NSAID’s. I cringe now as I think back on the years and years of consuming these on a daily basis. Ugh. Yes — I’ve got gut issues.
In addition to all the pills, stress and toxins also affect the health of gut flora, and a diet high in refined carbohydrates, processed foods and sugar only feeds the bad guys.
How to Rebalance Healthy Gut Flora?
According to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride the gut lining renews itself all the time, but in order to be healthy, it needs dense nutrition. She outlines her design to heal the gut (the GAPS diet) in full detail in her book — Gut and Psychology Syndrome –but she went over it on a high level description in the talk.
She explained that the GAPS diet includes two parts — an intro (which takes dedication and requires a lot of cooking) and the full GAPS diet (which is easier to follow).
The intro removes all foods that are difficult to digest and maximizes nourishing foods. It introduces probiotics and fermented foods as well as healing substances like collagen and gelatin obtained through bone broth. She mentioned six stages of healing in this phase.
The full GAPS diet introduces more foods and should be followed for a couple of years so that the gut flora can revitalize. Once the gut is healed and sealed, then food tolerances tend to disappear and immunity improves 🙂
A look across the Internet reveals a large community of people seeking to heal their gut by following her protocol. People with a host of different issues.
Will it help and or heal endometriosis? Yet to be determined…. but I believe yes. Is it doable? I am interested in learning more before committing 🙂
And considering the stress in my life right now, with moving and settling into a new home I’m not sure I’d want to incorporate anything more restrictive right now — so the book is in my Amazon cart awaiting attention, Lol.
In the meantime this is what I’ve been doing to tend to my unhealthy gut flora:
- Supplement with daily probiotics and have introduced fermented foods into my regime as well as coconut yogurt that contains live, positive bacteria
- Cut both gluten and dairy, which contribute to gut issues and have eliminated (most) processed foods 🙂
- Eliminate toxins by changing my beauty products, my soaps, lotions — everything that comes in contact with my skin to natural choices (I’ve heard the advice that nothing should touch the skin that you wouldn’t put in your mouth)
- Daily detoxing activities to eliminate toxins that make into my body. I love my green juice — an excellent detoxifier 🙂
On the Positive Side?
When I review information like this, I feel more hopeful that there may be a path to truly healing endometriosis. Perhaps this is wishful thinking? Nevertheless, it is an option to try.
After reading people’s experience on the GAPS diet, and from hearing Dr. Natasha Cambell-McBride speak, it sounds to me like the intro to the GAPS diet is difficult to follow and quite restrictive, but Dr. Cambell-McBride does mention that we don’t have to jump into the intro diet right away. We can start with the full GAPS diet and start the healing process and do the intro when the time is right.
Healing the gut makes sense to me, and I feel it is a vital part in healing endometriosis, or any other ailment often associated with endo — PCOS, IBS, IC, recurring infections, headaches…. pain.
So I am going to look more into the GAPS diet and see if it is a viable solution for me. I am opening to trying and see what happens. The whole diet thing gets very confusing at times, and for me, it helps to have a path to travel — this is what you can eat, this is what you should not eat.
Have you tried the GAPS diet? Did it help you? Are you doing it right now? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Please share in the comment section below.
Until next time….
With much love,