GAPS part 2: Gut Health

It all begins in the gut.

You may have heard that before or maybe it’s a new idea to you. Whatever the case may be it’s the most important idea for you to understand. It will revolutionize your way of viewing health and most importantly how to stay healthy.
Tree in Sunset
What is a happy digestive system anyway?

A happy digestive system starts with one thing – balanced gut bacteria.

Trillions of types of macro and micro-life (bacteria or flora) exist all around us, but the ones we have to worry about the most are the ones in our digestive and respiratory systems, skin, eyes, and excretory organs. We can’t live without this bacteria!

Now I’m sure you’re wondering what bacteria I’m talking about – after all aren’t we warned all the time about the dangers of bacteria?

“Good” and “Bad” Bacteria

It’s true we have good and bad bacteria that exists on us and within us. But don’t let that freak you out because you don’t have to worry about having bad bacteria on, or in, you. All we have to worry about is the balance of bacteria.

There are three basic types of bacteria:

  1. Beneficial:
    Beneficial or essential bacteria is often referred to as our friendly bacteria (good). It is also the one that needs to be the most numerous in our bodies.
  2. Opportunistic:
    Around 500 different species of opportunistic flora can be found in the gut! The number and combinations of these species are individual.In healthy people they are limited in number and controlled by the beneficial flora (each of these microbes are capable of causing various health problems when out of control/balance. The most commonly known opportunistic specie is Candida Albicans.
  3. Transitional:
    These microbes are the ones we daily swallow in food or drink, and they’re the ones that come from our environment. Usually these pass safely through the digestive system, but when our beneficial bacteria is damaged or not functioning well transitional bacteria can cause disease.

Balance of gut bacteria is more important than the fact we have good and bad bacteria because the design is so when our flora is balanced the beneficial bacteria rein in the opportunistic and transitional bacteria making it work together in a safe and healthy way.

A Thick Layer of Bacteria

In our gut, specifically on our gut wall, there is a thick coating of bacteria that protects the gut from damage and invaders. When we have this thick layer in our digestive tract undigested food, toxins, and parasites can pass through our gut and be safely eliminated. As these toxic substances, including ones that are pathogenic, pass through our gut the healthy flora neutralize them which protects us from harm.

But when our beneficial bacteria are weak or not working correctly the whole system changes because without protection the gut wall is open to invasion by anything.

Invasion!

The more weak our beneficial bacteria is the more open we are to invasion by toxins and pathogenic organisms. As the layer of bacteria in our gut gets more and more damaged the gut wall begins to suffer.

Our gut wall is what keeps all the invaders out of our bloodstream, but as it suffers it gradually gets small holes that lets toxic substances through a little at a time. This is what Doctors call leaky gut.

Leaky gut is dangerous. After all toxins are seeping through our natural defenses and once in the bloodstream can affect anywhere in our body!

But how will it affect me?

Having toxins slow seep from our gut effects people in different ways.

“…it appears that it is the character of our individual opportunistic flora that may determine what diseases we succumb to. Yes, we carry most of our future health problems in our own gut pretty much from birth.” ~Gut and Psychology Syndromeâ„¢ Dr. Campbell-McBride

Yes this means that while I might be struggling with Autism and learning disabilities while you’re struggling with anxiety and constipation we are suffering from the same root of disease. It just depends on our flora and how long we’ve been toxic.

But there is one thing that affects everyone of us – malnutrition.

I don’t look malnourished.

Healthy gut flora takes an active part in the processes of digestion and absorption. In fact it is probably impossible to digest and absorb nutrients without it. But how can that be? Well by products of bacterial activity in the gut transport minerals, vitamins, water, gases, and many other nutrients through the gut wall into our bloodstream so they can be put to proper use.

When we have unhealthy gut flora this becomes impaired. So you don’t have to look malnourished to be malnourished, if you have unbalanced gut flora you’re malnourished.

So how do I heal myself?

We will be discussing the treatment suggested in GAPSâ„¢ in part 4 of this series, but simply put healing your gut and restoring beneficial bacteria is the way back to health.

We will close this article with a quote from Dr. McBride who says it best:

“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.” ~Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Campbell-McBride

All this information and more can be found in Dr. Campbell-McBride’s book which I hope this information gets you interested in reading it.

Part 3.

Next week we will be looking at the the Basic GAPS food Guidelines so stay tuned!

If you have any questions, comments, or feedback please leave a comment below. Thank you.

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