We mentioned the increase in chronic childhood illnesses in our last post. Actually, chronic diseases are increasing in adults as well, especially autoimmune diseases. The common denominator in most of these illnesses is poor gut flora.
“A well-functioning gut with healthy gut flora hold 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 M.D. in Gut and Psychology Syndrome
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help manage, improve or even completely heal many of these chronic conditions. It’s still important to beware of possible triggers that deplete beneficial microorganisms in the gut. You’ll want to recognize symptoms of dysbiosis (when harmful organisms take over) and restore gut health if it’s damaged. When this is done concurrently with TCM treatment, complete healing is more likely to occur.
Good health starts with the mother!
Our gut flora is established at birth when we travel down the birth canal, swallowing bacteria in our mother’s vagina along the way , the “good” and the “bad”. The bacteria continue to grow and diversify as we get more probiotics from mother’s milk and they populate the length of the digestive tract.
We happily co-exist with these bacteria, who help us digest important vitamins & nutrients and protect the lymphoid tissue in the gut lining that makes lymphocytes & immunoglobulins (important members of the immune system). We enjoy good health unless something disrupts the inner environment and the balance of beneficial bacteria.
What Damages Gut Health?
Babies delivered by Cesarean have not had their sterile guts inoculated with the Mother’s vaginal flora. If beneficial bacteria do not start growing in a baby’s digestive tract by the first 20 days or so of life, then the baby may be immunocompromised. Breastfeeding is therefore essential for C-section babies since it’s the last opportunity for the mother to pass on her flora and immunity.
Again, breastfeeding is best for babies to make sure their digestive tracts are inoculated. But even for children born naturally and who were breastfed, issues can start to occur later when solid foods are introduced.
Children and adults eating diets high in sugar or processed/sugary carbohydrates select for an increase in fungi like Candida species and opportunistic/potentially harmful bacteria and parasites.
Diets high in fiber from grains can negatively affect gut flora, body metabolism, and damage the gut lining. It’s best to eat fiber from vegetables and fruits instead. They are more gentle on the digestive tract as well.
Prolonged fasting and overeating can also change the balance of bacteria in the GI tract.
It’s best to avoid antibiotics unless absolutely, positively necessary. Though they’re aiming at a certain group of bacteria causing disease symptoms, antibiotics decrease all bacterial populations (even the good guys!). Therefore, they can have a drastic affect on gut bacteria balance.
Also, most people don’t realize that all vaccines have antibiotics in them. If you choose to vaccinate yourself and your children, you’ll want to focus on replenishing your gut health afterwards.
Long-term stress can wreak havoc on one’s digestive health & gut flora. Here’s an article that explains more.
Pollution, pesticides, GMO foods, alcohol, recreational drugs, and over-the-counter and prescribed pharmaceutical drugs (yes, vaccines too which contain antibiotics and toxic adjuvants) can all harm beneficial bacteria and throw off the balance.
What are the symptoms of dysbiosis?
Gas/bloating, diarrhea, constipation, bad breath, abdominal pain, anemia or other nutrient deficiencies, allergies, joint pain, hyperactivity, difficulty gaining/losing weight, acne, rashes, nail fungus, yeast infections, and more, are all symptoms of dysbiosis.
And if you or a family member has been diagnosed with the following, it is also likely there’s a reduced amount of beneficial bacteria & an abundance of harmful bacteria:
- Any autoimmune disease
- Ear infections
- Heart Disease
- Irritable Bowels Syndrome (IBS)
- Liver/Gall bladder disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- and more…
So this is the “bad” news, about what damages gut health. Immune system performance and general health usually declines as a result. I share this so you realize what you are experiencing may not be normal, should not be tolerated, but CAN BE IMPROVED!
In our next post we’ll focus on the good news. We CAN restore our gut health through good food, supplements, and Eastern Medicine. You can read it below:
Part 2: How to Restore Gut Health
Please comment if you have anything to add or a question you’d like answered! Well wishes to you all…