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Nutrition, the Digestive System and the Importance of Balanced Intestinal Flora

We at Palm Beach Gardens Health and Wellness emphasize the importance of obtaining optimal nutrition in your daily diet from natural, minimally processed foods and from organic, nutrient-dense superfoods. We adhere to the recommendations of Dr. Weston A. Price, as outlined in his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, and the subsequent Weston A. Price Foundation, from which the "Paleo Diet" originated. Additionally, we stress the importance of supporting the digestive system by maintaining balanced intestinal flora, as outlined in the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Diet, as outlined in the book with the same title, written by Neurologist and Nutritionist, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. The GAPS Diet takes Dr. Price's dietary recommendations a step further by incorporating a protocal for supporting, restoring and regenerating beneficial gut flora for the purpose of reversing numerous digestive disorders as well as numerous psychological disorders, including Autism, Schizophrenia, and Bi-Polar Disorder (to name but a few). As mentioned in the article, Mind/Body/Spirit, there is an undeniable correlation between psychological and digestive health as the brain, and central nervous system are linked and interconnected to the what is referred to as the "second brain" in the gut.

Much of the above-mentioned research has been compiled below in within the content of this webpage and video lecture presentations given by prominent leaders within the Weston A. Price Foundation, including Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (author of the GAPSDiet) and Sally Fallon Morell, founder of the Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation and author the book, Nourishing Traditions (an excellent cookbook and resource guide to "wisdom tradition" food preparation and information). We have also included a video presentation given by Dr. Mary Enig, author of the book, Eat Fat, Lose Fat, on the importance of healthy dietary fats, and a presentation by Dr. Terry Wahl, entitled, "Minding Your Mitochondria", which highlights the basics of the Paleo Diet and the biological importance of key nutrients contained within the recommended foods for sustaining optimal health.

These above mentioned books and videos provide an excellent foundation for nutritional guidelines that support optimal health. These recommended dietary modifications have been documented to produce life-changing results within a few, relatively short months. For more detailed information, please also refer to the Weston A. Price Foundation website, which includes full-length documentaries from their international conferences.

Nutrition Videos

Sallon Fallon Morell:
Introduction to the Work of Weston A. Price

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride:

The Importance of Healthy Gut Flora

Get the full video at http://bit.ly/i2TCi1
From Wise Traditions 2010 - 11th Annual Conference. Weston A. Price Foundation. Captured during the conference by Fleetwood Onsite Conference Recording. Sally Fallon Morell, MA, is founding president of the Weston A Price Foundation and founder of A Campaign for Real Milk, Mrs. Fallon Morell lectures extensively around the world on issues of health and nutrition. She is a prolific writer of numerous articles and books and serves as editor of Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation. In 1996, Mrs. Fallon Morell published the best-selling Nourishing Traditions (with Mary G. Enig, PhD), the cookbook that launched her career in alternative health.
This video was uploaded by minddfoundation on May 31, 2010 from http://www.mindd.org. It gives a summary overview of the concepts explained in her book, Gut And Psychology Syndrome Diet (GAPS Diet).

For a more detailed explanation of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride's research, please refer to the article posted on this page below the video section.

Dr. Mary Enig: The Importance of Eating Healthy Fats

Dr. Terry Wahl: Minding Your Mitochondria

Forward Motion Host Karen Allyn interviews Mary Enig, Ph.D., nutritional biochemist and author of "Eat Fat, Lose Fat". Don't be afraid of saturated fats! Parts 1-2:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxExJkoF2Og
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iL9d8IjDxs
Dr. Terry Wahls learned how to properly fuel her body. Using the lessons she learned at the subcellular level, she used diet to cure her MS and get out of her wheelchair. She gives an excellent scienticfic overview on the nutritional program that produced life changing results beginning within a few short months.

 


Digestive Health and the Importance of Balanced Intestinal Flora

Dating back to ancient Greece, Hippocrates, "the Father of Modern Medicine", laid the foundation to the most essential guiding principles of health when he said that "All diseases begin in the gut." Hippocrates also said, "Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food." But despite Hippocrates' wisdom, the health of the digestive tract is routinely overlooked as the starting place for diagnosis of illness in conventional medicine. Even amongst some of the more-infomed alternative practitioners and nutritionists, there is a limited understanding on how to support a healthy digestive system beyond improved dietary practices and probiotic supplementation.

Although proper nutrition plays a vitally important role in restoring health, the common assumption that the nutrients taken in through food and supplementation will be properly assilimilated by consumers is faulty. Beyond basic nutrition, the key to all healing begins with a scientific understanding of what conditions are necessary to create a hospitable, supportive internal environment for growth beneficial flora (probiotic gut bacteria) to thrive and flourish while repairing the intestinal linings that have been damaged from improper diet, infections, drugs (including antibiotics and vaccines), environmental pollutants and toxins.

For thousands of years and across the globe, probiotic cultures have been used in "wisdom traditions" to ferment foods, such as kombucha, yogurt, kefir, lassi, sauerkraut, and alcoholic beverages as a way of preserving foods and for health benefits. During the 19th century, probiotics were used in the to prevent and cure diseases, and were added to domestic animal feed to enhance growth. In 1908, It is the first scientific assessments of probiotics were made by Russian Nobel Prize Laureate, Elie Metchnikoff, when he first hypothesized that a high concentration of lactobacilli in intestinal flora were important for health and longevity in humans.

Digestive system

However until recently, despite it's major advances, western conventional medicine has had relatively few researchers since that time who have made significant contributions to further the understanding of nutrition, assimilation, utilization of nutrients on a molecular microscopic level. Most notably, Dr. Weston A Price, conducted the most extensive research on a global scale involving numerous isolated, cultures throughout the most remote regions of the world between 1920 and 1930, at a critical time when the adverse effects of processed foods (also referred to as the "Standard American Diet", or "SAD") had already begun to surface. In his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Dr. Price and his wife thoroughly documented hundreds of live case studies of entire tribes, contrasting the degenerative effects of caused directly from inadequate nutrition in modern diets with the restorative effects nutrient-dense ancient "wisdom tradition" indigenous diets over a decades and generations.

In 1951, furthering Dr. Price's important work, Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas developed the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and wrote the book entitled, Management of Celiac Disease, documenting his experiences of curing hundreds of cases of celiac disease, cystic fibrosis of the pancreas and other serious digestive disorders. SCD gained great popularity after a mother, Elaine Gottschall, healed her own child of "incurable" ulcerative colitis and became an advocate for SCD.  Elaine Gottschall then authored the popular books, Breaking the Vicious Cycle. Intestinal Health Through Diet and Food and the Gut Reaction.

Dr. Hass developed the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), based on his biological research findings that linked adverse, toxic metabolic chemical bi-products resulting from the breakdown of complex carbohydrates and sugars (especially those found in refined starches, grains, and dairy products), that incur physiological damage to the microscopic flora and membranes within intestinal lining, eventually causing a host of serious digestive disorders. By identifying and eliminating these damaging foods and replacing them with healing, nourishing foods, Dr. Hass successfully helped hundreds of patients overcome and reverse "incurable" digestive disorders (such as celiacs disease, ulceative colitis, IBS, Crohn's Diesease) and rebuild their digestive systems. Elaine Gottschall continued Dr. Haas's research and further developed a healing program and recipe book in support of the SCD.

The Role of Microorganisms in the Digestive System
Scientists, microbiologists and doctors are just beginning to understand the significance of gastrointestinal microflora and they roles they perform our health and survival. Until recently, most doctors dismissed the notion that the digestive system served any significant purpose beyond breaking down food, based on their limited understanding of the functions of this beneficial microscopic flora. But medical scientists like Nobel Prize Laureate, Elie Metchnikoff, Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas and Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride have helped to reveal the vital relationships between the digestive system, the beneficial probiotic microflora and immune system. Recent findings have demonstrated that all of the digestive processes that occur within the gastro-intestinal tract are ultimately dependent on a microscopic level by these fragile creatures.

Key Roles of Beneficial Microflora in the Digestion Process
We now know that beneficial microflora are essential activity has been compared to that of the liver. They produce enzymes to metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, fats and fibers needed for the metabolism of food. They synthesize and a wide range of soluble B vitamins, vitamin K2 and minerals, releasing them as needed by the body. These microbes also assist in transporting nutrients through the gut wall and into the blood stream. They also produce hormones to direct the host to store fats. Without them, we would literally starve to death, but their function impacts so much more than our digestion.

In addition to their vital roles in the digestive process, they play a key role in our immune system, serving as the body’s primary internal defensive barrier against invading pathogens. In fact, it is estimated that 84-86% of our body’s immune function is carried out within the gut wall. These microscopic creatures play have the ability to produce anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal substances to ward off pathogens and anti-inflammatory substances to protect cells, tissues and organs. They also play a critical role in the detoxification process, adhering to toxic and carcinogenic substances and eventually chelating and eliminating them from the body. So the quality of our health is directly determined by the condition and balance of these fragile microorganisms and their environment. A properly functioning immune system is our primary internal defense system against ALL disease. Conversely, a compromised gut flora environment will result in an ineffective immune system.

These gastrointestinal microflora that inhabit the digestive tract are also referred to as "probiotic" flora, literally translated as "for life". Theses trillions of fragile microbes generally include lactic acid bacteria, such Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. casei, L. bulgaricus, L. plantarum, L. salivarius, L. rhamnosus, L. reuteri, Bifidobacterium bifidum, B. longum, B. infantis and S. thermophilus. Some of the most commonly recognized probiotics are shown below.

 

benefical flora

Coexisting within the gastrointestinal tract amongst these beneficial microflora is a wide range of pathological macroscopic organisms and microorganisms, including various parasites, yeasts, bacteria and viruses. Together this mass of combined beneficial flora and pathogenic organisms comprise about 90% of the number of cells in the body.  These symbiotic pathogens include about 500 distinct microflora. The most commonly identified and notorious microbes include: a wide range of Candida species (including about 200 known species of yeasts), Clostridium tetani, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Helicobacter, Escherichia coli (a.k.a. E. coli), Sulphate Reducing Bacteria, and a variety of viruses, such as: Measles, Herpes. In a healthy individual with a healthy lifestyle, these normal flora coexist without endangering the host. However in adverse, health-threatening conditions and lifestyles, these microbes can act as opportunistic pathogens.

It is estimated that 500 to 1000 species of bacteria live in the human gut. Optimally, the ideal gut flora balance (eubiosis) should be predominantly populated with gram-positive Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, to present a formidable barrier against invading pathogenic microorganisms. However, the composition of the gastrointestinal flora varies individually, and also during phases of life and circumstances within the same individual. Numerous factors, including: diet or climate, age, medication (especially antibiotics and vaccines), illness, stress, pH balance, infections, geographic location, race, socioeconomic circumstances, lifestyle, and interactions of typical intestinal bacteria; any/all of which can synergistically and significantly upset this balance, causing an unfavorable state of dysbiosis. Among these factors, drug-induced dysbiosis is typically the most difficult to treat and reverse.

The symbiotic relationship between all of the various organisms within the community of gastrointestinal flora and the human body is still not fully understood. It is possible that even some so-called pathogenic microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, may also play contributing roles in supporting digestive and immune function. Generally, the ideal balance ratio between the probiotic and pathogenic is considered to be about 85% probiotic bacteria and 15% pathogenic. As the percentage of pathogenic flora increases, the symptoms and conditions worsen. All degenerative diseases, allergies and autoimmune disorders stem from abnormalities in gut flora.
probiotics

The Gut/Brain and Psychology Connection
Some of the most practical research conducted for the pupose of helping patients to overcome debilitating and life-threatening digestive disorders caused by dysbiotic or unfavorable gut flora conditions includes the work of Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas, who developed the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), Elaine Gottschall, author of the popular books, Breaking the Vicious Cycle. Intestinal Health Through Diet and Food and the Gut Reaction and Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, MMedSci (neurology) MMed (nutrition), who accurately identified the relationship between digestive disorders and psychological disorders. She coined the phrase, "GAPS" (short for Gut and Psychology Syndrome), and further developed SCD into a full healing protocol that she explained in her book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, which has been used successfully to treat hundreds of children suffering from various psychological disorders, such as:

  • Autistic Spectrum Disorders
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Depression
  • Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
gut-brain
According to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, all degenerative mental and psychological disorders, such as Autism, Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar Disorder, Dyspraxia, Depression, ADD, ADHD also can be traced to the abnormal gut flora. Moreover, specific disorders can be linked to certain microorganisms and the toxins they produce. The following are some of the most common, documented toxic conditions and their correlated effects on the brain and nervous system.

Toxic Byproducts of Abnormal Gut Microflora
Acetaldehyde & Alcohol
Acetaldehyde Proteins
Dermorphine & Deltorphin
Gluteomorphins & Casomorphins
Low Serum Sulphate
Clostridia Neurotoxins
Various Organic Acids

Digestive Disorders
Although Dr. Campell-McBride primarily focussed her efforts on helping children and adults to overcome mental disorders and diestive issues, her GAPS Diet protocol has also been used to succesfully treat a myriad of physical conditions, which all have commonality of inbalanced gut flora, thus validating Hippocrates' foundational principles of health. The list of conditions that have been successfully treated include, but are not limited to:

  • Bloating & Flatulence
  • Colic
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Feeding Difficulties
  • Malabsorption
  • Fecal Compaction
  • Overspill Syndrome
  • "Autistic Enterocolitis" (Inflammatory Bowel Disorders:
    Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis & Chronic Pouchitis)
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes in Intesinal Walls) Measels same as MMR vaccine

probiotics
Common Conditions Related to Dysbiotic/Abnormal Flora
The overgrowth of Candida yeasts is one of the most widespread dysbiotic gut flora conditions associated with an unhealthy modern diet and lifestyle (i.e. consumption of refined flour, sugar) alcoholic beverages, stress, and the overuse of antibiotics. These one-celled organisms can induce a condition known as “Autobrewery Syndrome” fermenting carbohydrates and sugars to produce alcohol. They also produce and acetaldehyde, which ia an extremely toxic substance that attaches to proteins, altering them into “foreign proteins”. Because these altered foreign proteins are unrecognized by the body, they trigger the immune system to produce antibodies and attack them, causing autoimmune disorders. Acetaldehyde also inhibits the protein-based cellular function and production of vitamin synthesis, particularly water-soluble B vitamins (B1, B6, & B12). Additionally, acetaldehyde occupies the receptor sites for Vitamin B6, preventing the body from utilizing the this vitamin even if it is readily available.

Another widespread dysbiotic gut flora condition is caused from the incomplete metabolism of carbohydrates, sugars and proteins (such as those found in starchy grains, breads, and dairy products) due to the lack of the beneficial flora needed to produce the enzymes, glutase and lactase, which are required to metabolize gluten and lactose. This condition results in the toxic byproducts, Gluteomorphins & Casomorphins. These partially digested peptide chains and form a glue-like coating that causes physiological damage to microscopic enterocytes, villi and the gut lining. They also penetrate the intestinal walls, passing into the bloodstream and eventually through the blood-brain barrier to effect the brain and nervous system.

leaky gut
The Gut-Brain Psychological Disorders
Their structure and effects are similar to heroine and opioids, and are responsible for causing some of the abnormal psychological behaviors associated with Autism and Schizophrenia. Contrary to poplar misinformation, gluten and casein-free diets are only partially effective in treating autism and Schizophrenia because this diet doesn’t address the issue of the other toxins, or abnormal flora, contributing to these psychological disorders, nor does this diet restore the proper micro-flora balance and heal the gut. Because this diet is only partially effective for about 30% of patients, the GAPS diet and protocol are recommended.

Some pathogenic gut fungi have been known to produce Dermorphine & Deltorphin, the same poisonous substances found growing on the skin of poison dart frogs, which extremely potent neurotoxins that can cause paralysis. Clostridia tetani, which related to tentaneus, is also known to produce dangerous neurotoxins.

In addition to microorganism-specific toxins, generalized toxic conditions have also been traced to gut flora abnormalities. Among the most common are Sulphate Reducing Bacteria, which can cause an immune system disorder known as low serum sulphate. This in turn impairs the detoxification process in liver, which requires sulfur. As a result, the body can become extremely toxic, due to the liver’s inability to remove toxins.

An overly acidic body pH level is another unhealthy condition that can lead to any number of degenerative diseases, is another leading indicator of gut dysbiosis. As the balance of gut flora shifts in favor of pathogenic microorganisms that a produce wide variety of acids and thrive in more acidic environments, the acidity levels in the body fluids rise as a result of the predominant acid producing flora that have established in the gut creating a vicious cycle of further increased acidity and dysbiosis. Although the kidneys will excrete these acids to some extent, the resultant highly acidic urine can cause inflammation and infection in the bladder. If this imbalance is not corrected, degenerative diseases take advantage and overcome the body.

Sources of Flora/Progression of Damage-Development of Learning Disabilities
During her successful practice of treating thousands of Autistic and Schizophrenic children, Dr. Campbell-McBride has worked with parents to document the most common progression of factors and conditions that have lead to these psychological disorders. She has observed that gut flora abnormalities can be traced to the health conditions, diet, and lifestyle choices of the parents. Typically, the child is first exposed to abnormal gut flora while passing through the birth canal, which hosts the same flora as the mother’s gut. Usually, learning disorders can be traced to the child’s mother having a history of poor diet and/or lifestyle, overuse of antibiotics or contraceptives.

If the infant is breast-fed, the child will typically not begin to exhibit problems until solid foods are introduced into the diet. The first signs of abnormal gut flora and compromised immune system include excema, colic, athesma, upper respiratory and ear infections, for which, the most commonly prescribed treatment will be antibiotics, which in turn cause even more dysbiotic gut conditions. This leads to more serious issues with over production of mucous and chest infections, and a vicious cycle of even more antibiotics and further damage to gut flora. If the child has a severely weakened immune system at the time when MMR and DPT vaccinations are given, the child can succumb to further inflicted damage from the toxins viruses contained in the vaccines, such mercury and Measels.

Of course, everyone at any age with a similar medical and dietary history is susceptible to gut flora abnormalities and related immune disorders, regardless of their psychological health. As mentioned earlier, many factors, such as diet or climate, aging, medication (especially antibiotics), illness, stress, pH, infection, geographic location, race, socioeconomic circumstances, lifestyle can upset the balance of gut microflora. Of all the contributing factors, diet plays the most significant role in maintaining, or failing to maintain a balanced state of gut microflora. On a typical modern diet, predominated by processed foods, wheat and dairy products, the child’s (or adult’s) gut flora will become imbalanced. Therefore, anyone who is striving to overcome degenerative disease conditions or attain optimal health must first restore a healthy balance of gut flora and heal the damage incurred to the gut over the course of one’s lifetime.

Various Other Conditions Reversed with GAPS Protocol
In addition to digestive issues, many other health problems have been shown to favorably respond to the GAPS protocol and probiotics. Below are listed just a few.

  • Arthritis
  • Allergies including food allergies
  • Asthma
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Burns of various degree
  • Clinical infections
  • Chronic viral infections
  • Diabetes
  • Uro-genital infections
  • Hepatitis, Liver Cirrhosis and Biliary Disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Meningitis
  • Malignancy
  • Perioperative care and intensive care in surgical patients and patients with massive blood loss
GAPS overlap
Conculsion
Considering hundreds of diets and protocols I have personally studied and experimented with over the course of decades, I have found Dr. Campbell-McBride’s protocol, as explained in the Gut and Psychology Syndrome protocol, based on Dr. Sydney Valentine Haas’s and Elaine Gottschall’s Specific Carbohydrate Diet to be the most pragmatic and effective. Basically this diet eliminates complex, starchy, high-gluten carbohydrates, highly processed foods, refined flours, sugars and fruit. The foundation of the diet is meat broth soups, fish, cooked vegetables, along with probiotic-rich fermented foods, such naturally fermented vegetables, yogurt and kefir. In addition, supplementation with therapeutic strength, aggressive strains of probiotics, cod-liver oil, krill oil, Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s including Omega 3, Omega 6, Omega 9), nut and multivitamin/minerals and digestive enzymes are often recommended. For more information, please refer to the official GAPS website.

In Gratitude
There have been a number of other alternative health practitioners and advocates that have involved themselves in related research, most notably: Donna Gates, developer of the Body Ecology Diet (BED), Sally Fallon (Founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation), Dr. Jordan Rubin, ND, and Dr. Joeseph Mercola, MD. To everyone mentioned on this webpage, I am extremely grateful for your passion and commitment to heal and your tireless research. To anyone suffering from poor health with a desire to be healed, I highly recommend the authors mentioned above, especially Dr. Natasha Campbell MeBride and her GAPS diet. For more information on the GAPS Diet protocol, please visit the links indicated on this webpage, or the information on the Articles page.

I love to hear your success stories, as well as your questions. You are welcome to contact me at my personal email address below. I am also available via phone between the hours of 9AM and 4PM Eastern Standard Time Monday through Friday.

Dr. Nike Adamedes, PT, DPT, CHC
Med Specialty Care/ Palm Beach Gardens Health and Wellness
[email protected]
Office: 561-630-7897/ Cell: 561-755-0219
11380 Prosperity Farms Road, Suite #114
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410

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