Gut health is important for total wellbeing, both mental and physical


There has been lots of news about the importance of healthy gut bacteria lately. I’m taking the latest mention of this in the LA Times and Wired both to reiterate something I’ve been talking about since this blogs inception. Gut health is important to our total wellbeing! Antibiotics are perhaps the biggest insult to a healthy gut out there, but our diets in general too are very important. Our diets, in fact, can also help reestablish healthy gut flora and therefore better health.

From the LA Times a few days ago:

In recent years, scientists have developed a growing appreciation for the “microbiome,” the collection of mostly useful bacteria that help us digest food, metabolize key nutrients and ward off invading pathogens. Investigators have cataloged thousands of these organisms through the National Institutes of Health’s Human Microbiome Project, begun in 2008.

Blaser is interested in why so many bacteria have colonized the human body for so long – the simple fact that they have strongly suggests that they serve some useful purpose. But these bacteria have come under attack in the last 80 or so years thanks to the development of antibiotics. The drugs certainly deserve some of the credit for extending the U.S. lifespan, Blaser notes – a baby born today can expect to live 78 years, 15 years longer than a baby born in 1940. But in many respects, an antibiotic targets a particular disease the way a nuclear bomb targets a criminal, causing much collateral damage to things you’d rather not destroy.

“Antibiotics kill the bacteria we do want, as well as those we don’t,” Blaser writes. “Sometimes, our friendly flora never fully recover.”

And that can leave us more susceptible to various kinds of diseases, especially considering that the typical American is exposed to 10 to 20 antibiotics during childhood alone. Blaser points out that the rise (let along overuse) of antibiotics coincides with dramatic increases in the prevalence of allergies, asthma, Type 1 diabetes, obesity and inflammatory bowel disease. (read more)

And from Wired Magazine too:

It’s an accepted concept by now that taking antibiotics in order to quell an infection disrupts the personal microbiome, the population of microorganisms that we all carry around in our guts, and which vastly outnumbers the cells that make up our bodies. That recognition supports our understanding of Clostridium difficile disease — killing the beneficial bacteria allows C. diff room to surge and produce an overload of toxins — as well as the intense interest in establishing a research program that could demonstrate experimentally whether the vast industry producing probiotic products is doing what it purports to do.

But implicit in that concept is the expectation that, after a while — after a course of antibiotics ends — the gut flora repopulate and their natural balance returns.

What if that expectation were wrong? read the rest

Wired asks whether it’s possible to get the original flora back and the answer may very well be no, but it is possible to repopulate the gut with other beneficial bacteria, but there’s been little systemic study about how to do it and if one does not go about doing it ON PURPOSE it won’t just come back on it’s own. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that one can heal the gut at least in large part if one knows how to eat and supplement appropriately.  Certainly we can stand to learn more about this and more research is needed.

I was given multiple courses of antibiotics as a child. I was even on them for 2 straight years for (mild!!) acne! Antibiotics were gravely abused in my lifetime and I do believe they set me up for the chronic illness I am now facing as a result of  the psychiatric drug injury . Nonetheless, having become aware of the gut being an important issue, given that I had severe irritable bowel syndrome at one time, I’ve been working on healing my gut for several years now.

These two books teach how to help get the gut flora back in order that one might become healthy again. And these two doctors think that almost ALL chronic disease processes can be helped by healing the gut flora.

I had cured my IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) with knowledge about gut health a few years ago. Since I discovered the above two authors I’ve gone deeper and gotten more improvement. Being that I’m profoundly ill the changes are still slow, but I got undeniable improvements after switching to a radical gut healing diet that remained, even while some of them retreated as well. I continue on.

When people have been ill for many years (some of us really for most of our lives) it can in turn take many years to regain health. The good news is with attention most people can regain their health. Gut health for many of us is a central part of the picture.

I’m essentially now going to repost my Gut Health  page below.

I’m now doing this process that allows for that deeper healing. 

IMPORTANT NOTEI recently discovered that while I did indeed get all the reported improvement mentioned below it was mostly superficial (meaning the Irritable Bowel Syndrome may have been healed and other symptoms improved, but it’s likely that my long-term chronic illness associated with the drug withdrawal required a much deeper gut healing)

It’s taken years of study and experimentation to get to the point where this next step was the obvious one to take.

I’m now doing a process that allows for that deeper healing.

More recently I posted a wonderful video, with my commentary of a woman who cures herself with a similar diet:

Gut / intestinal health is foundational to all health including mental well-being. It’s the first thing attended to when I chose to come off psychiatric drugs. In healing my gut I needed to alter my diet. I’ve collected articles below that speak to these changes I made.

People who have taken psychiatric drugs often have gut issues. Sometimes these issues predate the psych drug use (as it did for me) and sometimes the psych drugs destabilize the gut and body in general and so the drugs are the cause of such issues. In either case it’s common that the use of psych drugs in time will further exacerbate the problem.

Because everything works together as we are truly holistic beings I was able to heal all sorts of issues I had prior to setting off on this journey…a few of them are listed below.

Diet and nutrition has corrected multiple problems for me. A short list of the things that come to mind immediately is:

  • Twenty years of severe irritable bowel syndrome. (I went to dozens of gastroenterologists before discovering my own wellness through my own research)
  • Psoriasis, a horrible skin condition, is virtually gone.
  • My knees which were suffereing from what seemed to be arthritis for several years are no longer painful.
  • My hair is much thicker and shinier than during my whole life. I had incredibly thin and sparse hair. It’s not luxurious even now, but the difference is amazing, striking and visible and palpable.
  • Vast improvement of my endometriosis which I’m still working on. (mostly endo pain free these days 2/2012)

That list is taken from the post “Total health and well-being” which is basically just saying what I said above. We’re holistic beings and everything we do effects our whole being. So healthy gut is a somewhat central place to start and it seems to make sense to a lot of people as a large percentage of people have gut issues and an even larger percentage of people on psychiatric meds do.

For more posts more specifically on gut health see below:

The information provided here is by no means exhaustive. It’s a good idea to expand your research beyond what I share below as it mostly pertains to my own particular experience which sometimes includes others, but certainly there will be cases that differ from mine.

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters