digestive wellness

our immune system sits in our gut

Focus On: Digestive WellnessA healthy gut is the main building block for health. It’s now known that gut-associated lymphoid tissue accounts for 70 percent of the body’s immune system. It follows that when the lining of the gut mucosa is damaged, immune function is compromised. Mucosal damage can occur due to infection or after antibiotic treatment, which reduces normal beneficial intestinal flora. When the gut lining is impaired, this may interfere with nutrient availability and normal GI immune response. This can open the door to continued colonization of pathogenic bacteria and yeast, and an inflammatory immune response that could lead to malabsorption, malnutrition, and chronic disease.

Chronic disease wreaks havoc on the American populace. One million Americans suffer from AIDS; eight million have cancer, and twelve million battle heart disease. However, there is one disorder that afflicts more individuals than the combined total of all of these other potentially deadly disorders, and, surprisingly, it is rarely mentioned. Thirty-eight million Americans are victims of digestive disorders, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, celiac disease, IBS, constipation, diarrhea, GERD, candida and food allergies. – Jordan S. Rubin, NMD, CNC

Whatever the source of the damage, diet can go a long way in healing an impaired gut, food allergies, and other digestive complaints. Although many Western physicians have told their patients that diet has no effect on digestive health, throughout time, food and herbs have been used by some to heal multiple disease states; macrobiotics has been used for cancer, as has a raw, vegan diet, and there are special dietary recommendations for lupus, rosacea, and other disorders. Food allergies are frequently controlled—and cured—with a rotation/elimination diet.

The effects of diet on the gut are most-evidenced in autistic children, who commonly suffer from chronic digestive problems. On PecanBread.com, a site about using the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) to heal autism, they write:

What if there was a basic and fundamental thing you could do for your child with autism? What if that choice set the stage for every other intervention to come? And what if it would ensure your child the very best possible chance of recovery? Well, there is… and it’s called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). No matter what other things you choose to do for your child… supplements, chelation, other biomedical treatments, ABA…. nothing will have a more profound effect on your child’s potential, and no other diet will provide a better foundation on which to build all the other pieces of the puzzle.”

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet has also been used to manage digestive diseases like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and diverticulitis.

Many people underestimate the power of diet and its effect on health, and only discover it once they start having health problems. The good thing about the Standard American Diet (SAD) is that it leaves huge room for improvement, and if you currently are eating fast-food, pizza, snacks, lots of carbs, and other unhealthy foods then you can be assured that a dietary overhaul, if done correctly, will usually have profoundly positive effects on your health. Even if you are eating relatively healthy, an undiagnosed gluten sensitivity or food allergy can affect you in ways you never imagined.

Humans are the only species on the planet who actually go out of their way to feed their children crap. All other animals instinctly seek out the best nutrition they can find…But humans? Most of them “reward” their children with junk food, sugary sodas, candy laced with petrochemical coloring additives and refined sugars that promote obesity and diabetes. – Mike Adams

Unfortunately, most Americans will turn to their doctors for dietary advice, even though most physicians have never received much training in nutrition and usually do not live a very healthy lifestyle themselves. Luckily, holistic health counselors and nutritionists who are “walking their talk” are becoming more popular and those who realize diet is the building block for health are investing wisely in their guidance.

One of the first steps to a healthier diet is to eliminate refined sugar. Learning how to cook is another; you would be shocked to know how many prepared foods have sugar (and toxic chemicals) in their ingredients. Once you start to cook for yourself, you will become much more conscious of what you are putting into your body.

Planet Thrive is a big proponent of using diet—along with lifestyle changes—to create and maintain health. We believe that “you are what you eat,” quite literally. Although not a fan of “fad” diets like the Zone, or South Beach or Weight Watchers, we are definitely supportive of healing diets that can help your body transition from a state of “dis-ease” to one of vibrant health. If something is out of balance in your body, improving digestion is a good place to begin your return to health. We hope you enjoy all of our resources and recommendations below.

photo: © Izabela Habur / iStockphoto.com

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Weston A. Price Foundation Heather's IBS New

Hippocrates Health Institute Breaking the Vicious Cycle Pecan Bread


Living Foods for Optimal Health The Wheatgrass Book by Ann Wigmore Nourishing Traditions Breaking the Vicious Cycle Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia by Natasha Campbell-McBride

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