Gut Health and Neurological Health Part II
An easy smoothie with 1/3 banana, 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup kale, 1 tbs MCT oil, 2 scoops medical food or unsweetened hemp protein, 1 cup H2O
After spending a good amount of time doing the Comprehensive Elimination and Challenge Diet (CECD) and learning about how different foods have different effects, leaky gut was still an issue. There is a lot of talk about how to heal leaky gut and the perception of what that means. Does it mean that you can just go back to eating the way you used to? Does it just heal with diet or should you use supplements?
The answer to the first question in my case, is no. Eating the way I used to eat was a diet that had too many chemicals, sugar, GMOs, and problem foods. With diet alone my gut felt better and I felt better, although the food sensitivity aspect did not seem to “heal” and in fact any reactions to foods were more intense than before doing the diet. A lot of people complain about this “side effect” of the CECD and wonder why this happens. Just suffice it to say, it does. I’m sure there is a very complicated answer and I’ll leave it to someone else. My own experience has led me to believe that the CECD does not heal leaky gut alone and still remain somewhat unconvinced that it can be “healed” completely. Many may disagree and there are people who do seem to heal sensitivities and seemingly heal the gut.
There is some new evidence presented by Alessio Fasano MD, former Medical Director of The University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, when the gut is exposed to gluten, something called zonulin is released from the lumen walls that causes the tight junctions in the cells along the intestines to open up and lead to leaky gut. The most enlightening part being that you do not have to be allergic or sensitive to gluten for it happen. Perhaps researchers will eventually discover other foods can do the same thing. At this time Dr. Fasano and others are working on a pharmaceutical Zonulin blocker. While not a fan of many pharmaceuticals, this could be interesting… To be very clear, I am not totally against pharmaceuticals and believe they can be quite useful and lifesaving. On the other end of the spectrum they can be dangerous, overprescribed, in some cases addictive and overused. In the case of a zonulin blocker the question still remains, if you eat it and it does something bad, should you try to block the bodies natural way of handling the offending food? Or should you just avoid the food(s)?
If my gut is still leaky, maybe I can just avoid the foods that cause problems and be fine? That’s a tall order in this society. So many foods are tainted with pesticides, GMO ingredients, hidden MSG, flavorings, colorings, thickeners, sweeteners, flavor boosters, and other chemical enhancers that it makes it tough to be perfect all the time. Ok, so this might be a case for some zonulin blocker… Every restaurant you walk into is a risky venture unless they are a completely farm-to-table operation. Even then we must ask for example, have the animals been fed a diet of GMO foods? My own experiences have led me to be far more discerning about dining out. Sometimes, I just accept there will be a price to be paid in symptoms that can pop up even days later.
Most helpful supplements so far:
- -IgG 2000
- -Vitamin D
- -Methylcobalamin and Folate
- -Rice protein medical food with liver and anti-inflammatory support
This combination of probiotics and colostrum seems to help shore up the gut in a way that probiotics could not do alone. All of my rashes and itches disappeared. The combinations appears to help me tolerate foods a little better and have had significantly less incidence of RLS, buzzing, tingling, and brain buzzes. It’s not perfect, but it’s been amazing! IgG 2000 is a non-dairy formula that has much of what colostrum has in it and can be used for people who are allergic to dairy. How long colostrum should be used is not really established. It is apparently pretty safe. Gluten and Celiac disease expert Dr. Tom O’Bryan, suggests about 2 months on colostrum. However, he explained to me that some people stay on it depending on their symptoms. I use a medical food with rice protein or sometimes plain hemp protein powder to make smoothies with added fruit and vegetables. They have been helpful are easy and tasty! All of the supplements I use are professional grade and dosages can be established with a good holistic or functional medicine practitioner.
The vitamin D is so helpful for many things and for me, it cleared up some bone pain in my right leg. The pain returns by skipping it for a while. The methyl B12 and folate seem to help me make red blood cells. Apparently, there was a deficiency in B12 even though I consumed meat every day.
Best dietary strategy so far:
- -Paleolithic or carbohydrate restricted eating
- -High fat/moderate protein
- -Small amounts of fruits
- -Little if any grain
- -High green vegetable content
- -Grass fed meat or fish (no chicken or eggs though)
- -Low to no added sugars
The healthy fats are from coconut oil, MCT oil, avocado, raw nuts or seeds, olive oil, raw butter if I ever find it, grass fed meats, or wild caught fish. Since I am gluten-free, that is not an issue. However, grains are still iffy for me. It is safe to say that abstaining from grains altogether might be better for my biological needs. Sometimes I still eat some rice, beans, or quinoa anyway. If I consume a lot of carbohydrates, fatigue, thirst, hot feet, and RLS usually follow along with endless cravings for more. Eating the right balance of foods is every bit as important or more than the few targeted supplements added for support.
For those who may be wondering about glutamine or aloe for the gut? Glutamine never seemed to make a noticeable difference in my case. Maybe I didn’t take enough for long enough? Aloe is a wonderful supplement for many and I have clients who love it. Nothing worked for me like diet, colostrum and probiotics. Boom!
The case for using food as medicine is growing stronger every day as we learn more about the inner workings of the human body. With the discovery that we also harbor approximately 4-6 pounds of diverse bacteria lining the gut, food can change the dynamics of this population. The right foods can encourage good bacteria to grow, supporting digestion and immunity. The wrong foods can starve out good bacteria and encourage bad bacteria to grow that can influence disease and malabsorption. Food should be the only pre-biotic that you need.
My brother in-law recently asked me, “What if your condition has nothing to do with food?” This may be initially true. However, our complex interrelationship with food is an ongoing dynamic process that builds or replenishes billions of cells, every day we are alive. To say that food plays a small roll is like saying that water plays a small role on earth. It always shocks me that so many people today still think food is something they eat to enjoy the taste, fill up their bellies, and get some energy, but it does not affect disease that much–don’t forget it should also be as cheap as possible. Food may not have started my condition, but it is the difference between functioning and not functioning well in my case. The supplementation I use is strictly to support what my body cannot seem to do without some help under the best circumstances. We cannot derive sustenance and health from pharmaceuticals and supplements alone, they have a purpose that is second to our need for the right foods.
There are also many brilliant functional medicine doctors and practitioners out there who could add or subtract supplements and or dietary recommendations to my own protocol. Medicine is still an “art” and must be practiced to the best of one’s knowledge at the time. This is where I’m at right now and look forward to learning and growing more on this journey. The fact that my neurological health has been profoundly influenced by diet and supplementation continues to amaze and motivate me to learn more about this connection between the gut disease.
Who Inspires Me?
Dr. Tom O’Bryan: thedr.com
Dr. Terry Wahls: terrywahls.com
Dr. Jeffrey Bland: jeffreybland.com
Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute: plminstitute.org