© 2012 jen

Fit-tastic Update: Finding Mind Control Powers Through The Gut

So I’m at week 10 of being gluten-free and I know I’ve said this before, but I just have to say it again, I cannot believe how different I feel in both mind and body. It feels like I was raised in the dark and now the lights are on, or like I’ve received the gift of super powers after being disabled in the past.

In body I feel really healthy and good and this is also true my mind, but more specifically it’s as if all the dark parts of my character, the stuff that we hide from the world,  just aren’t very strong in me anymore. Every day is more fun than good days were before. I’m having a blast just being me.

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Update:

I’ve lost 2 lbs this week. I’m eating plenty, feeling no hunger and I’m also feeling more and more satisfied with my new diet, while still losing weight. I can’t believe how easy weight loss is now.

Right now I’m at 202 lbs. My goal weight was 199, which I might need to reconsider because I’ll probably hit my goal in the next week or two. I think I hit my goal first and then reassess.

I’m still running, but I’ve had a cold with a terrible cough so I’m not running solidly. I’m doing intervals again, short, quick ones, which feels good.

I’m also doing my regular exercise classes and feeling great about my increased strength and overall performance in these classes.

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I used to feel like I was in a fairly regular battle with my mind. To be more specific, I could get frustrated easily, my emotions could get the better of me so much so that I couldn’t overcome how I felt. I’d be stuck in my mires of my own negativity. Sometimes I couldn’t even reason with myself. I could turn my frustration in on myself and be livid over things I couldn’t control and just stay there: mad, sad, hurt and the like. Over the years I’ve really learned to manage my thinking fairly well, but I think I went through periods of anxiety and depression in the past and more than once in the past. I even tried an anti-anxiety medication once years ago and thought I’d jump out of my skin, because it made me more hyper and more stressed, so I stopped taking it.

I spent years off and on in therapy stuck on old problems that I struggled to get over. Knowing that something inside of me just didn’t feel right. I thought it was emotional, but it turned out it was physical. Now everything, and I mean everything, feels lighter and easier.

My son reports similarly. He tells me he feels more cooperative, that he can concentrate better and he feels much happier. We just had a parent/teacher conference and his teacher reports that in the last week or two he’s seen big changes in Oliver’s participation in the classroom, his homework and his general attitude.

This whole thing has me thinking: What’s going on in our brains? Why does changing our stomach contents affect our thinking and brain functioning so radically? It’s led me down another rabbit hole.

The Brain Gut Connection.

The brain and gut are actually closely connected to each other and they are literally connected via the vagus nerve. The idea that the brain and gut are connected seems somewhat obvious.

You get butterflies in your belly when you’re nervous. What causes the butterflies in the belly? The mind. You think about something gross like someone vomiting and if you have a vivid enough imagination you can probably make yourself sick to your stomach thinking about it. Or how about when you have a break-up and you stop feeling the urge to eat food. Your mind is affecting how your stomach feels/”thinks”.

Now Let’s Talk About Digestion and Neurotransmitters.

Digestion is a complicated operation- so much is happening in our digestive system that we may or may not be aware of. It only takes small changes to totally disrupt our digestion program. Let’s say you have Candida or some other fungi in your gut, or maybe a bacterial infection, or maybe a parasite or some other digestive issue. This can affect many areas of your body’s function and just because you’ve treated the stomach issue and it’s no longer a problem, the damage that can happen from that digestive issue can take a long time to correct itself. The other thing is, you might not even react to the stomach problem directly, as in feeling like you have an upset stomach. You might just get some eczema and get bloated and not even know your stomach is having problems at all.

Our digestive system is the heart of our immune system. If you have health issues, the best place to start to look at preventative care is in your gut and if your gut isn’t healthy it can and will affect all sorts of other areas of your body: stomach problems, weight issues, early aging, skin tone, heart disease, lung problems, rashes, mood problems and a feeling of general well-being or some combination of all of these. Watch this video.

Here’s one of the reasons so many areas are affected:our gut is neurological. Did you know we make more neurotransmitters in our gut than in our brain? Here are a few of the neurotransmitters made in the gut: serotonin, dopamine, GABA, Norepinephrine, Neurotensin and almost all other neurotransmitters.

Did you know that 95% of serotonin is made in the gut, not in the brain? Truth. Read more here.

One thought that is becoming more popular is that when you take an anti-anxiety medication or anti-depressant it’s working on your gut mostly, which then helps the brain shift in the direction you’re wanting to move. Read more here.

If you have too much serotonin in the gut it causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome and too much in the brain causes anxiety and if it’s really just way too much seritonin, panic disorders.

Too little serotonin? Depression in your brain and in your gut, constipation. It’s even believed that fibromyalgia and asthma are linked to problems with serotonin levels in the gut as well. Read more here.

Here’s some other interesting belly/organ chemistry info, if your pancreas isn’t producing enough digestive enzymes, or you don’t have enough stomach acid, or maybe your villi are slightly damaged for some reason, like Celiac Disease, but you don’t need to have this disease to have damaged villi they can be damaged for lots of reasons- all of these things will affect your neurotransmitter production, either an increase or a decrease which will affect your ability to regulate your mood- causing either anxiety or depression. Watch this video.

When people with GI issues are polled to find out about how they are feeling it’s common that these people have substantial anxiety or mood issues, some as serious as schizophrenia. Read more here.

More About The Brain Gut Connection.

There is even a connection between learning disabilities, autism, ADHD, asthma as already mentioned, eczema and food allergies to the gut. How we act is really dependent on what’s happening in our digestive systems. Watch this video.

Back to me for a minute. I believe I have at least one and maybe two undiagnosed learning disabilities and that one of them is related to ADHD, but recently I really feel that I’m thinking more clearly. I had terrible asthma all my life and am no longer using medications to prevent it, nor do I feel any breathing restrictions. Why is everything I’m reading consistent with what I’m experiencing? Because I believe it’s true.

My son, who had very few symptoms did have these weird sores on his arms. They were small and mostly at the tops of his arms, but guess what? They are almost all gone for the first time in about a year!

Here’s what makes me crazy about this- I’ve taken him to the doctor and to a dermatologist and no one suggested any reasons as to WHY this was happening! They gave me a cream, told us use it for 2 weeks and that the sores would go away. They did go away, but then more appeared and we pretty much gave up on trying to get rid of them after that, but now they are healing themselves without a cream.

This is one of the wonders I’m discovering from this healing process. The body wants to heal itself. All we have to do is to create an environment so that the body is capable of healing.

Dropping The Leaky Gut Bomb.

OK, so now I’m leading up to something that I’ve been trippin’ on now for days. It turns out that Naturopathic doctors generally see Leaky Gut Syndrome as one of the predominate issues with GI problems and secondary health issues. Leaky Gut Syndrome is a condition where the villi in the small intestine become so inflamed and damaged that the wall of the small intestines becomes permeable- with larger food particles escaping the gut and moving into the bloodstream to wreck havoc on the body. Most Naturopaths and integrated medicine doctors see Leaky Gut Syndrome as the reason for inflammation response, and the cause of asthma, joint pain, skin problems, Diabetes, Autism, Crohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease, even breast fibroids and other health issues such as this. Read more here.

So let’s take this all home again, the reason I had asthma and my son had these weird sore-things on this skin was because our guts became weak and could no longer function properly so large bits of food were getting into our bloodstream which then triggered an auto-immune response in our bodies that created the various health issues we had. What the what? Mind blowing! And also pretty freaky.

Here’s one more, I’ve had a lump in my left breast that has hurt for a few years now. It’s been photographed, poked, analyzed and they say it’s normal breast tissue, but very dense and they couldn’t figure out why it was hurting me so much. Guess what? It’s finally stopped hurting now that I’ve stopped eating gluten. Maybe because my gut is stronger and food isn’t oozing into other parts of my body? I can’t be the only one thinking, WOAH! Can I?

Let me just say, I didn’t even know if I believed this when I started reading on this topic, but I’ve decided while writing this that I totally believe that this is true. It makes too much sense. I’m seeing that the health issues that were chronic in my life are going away as I change my diet more and more.

Sadly, from what I have read the reason Western doctors don’t recognize Leaky Gut Syndrome the same way as Naturopaths do is because there haven’t been many studies done in the area. Why aren’t studies being done? Because this is preventative and this isn’t what Western medicine specializes in.  Also since there’s no drug to cure this condition there’s no funding for research in this area and as a result Western doctors aren’t taught about this. Read more here.

Western medicine isn’t taught to look at the root cause of most health problems. The health industry is really more interested in symptom management/medications, surgeries, and referrals more than anything else, which are important, but that’s only half of the picture. This is really important to know, because most people take what the doctor says as the gospel, but just remember, Western medicine doctors aren’t trained in preventing your health problems generally speaking. If there’s going to be prevention, it’s going to have to come from you or some other non-Western practitioner.

It’s my hunch that a good chunk of the reason that Leaky Gut Syndrome is not taught to doctors is also related the food industry as well, who I already want to punch in their collective nose anyway.

If doctors were going around telling people to change their diets, not just the people with heart disease or diabetes, but anyone with a systemic on-going health problem that is unexplained, such as: behavioral issues, mood, anxiety, learning disabilities, skin, breathing, sleeping, or fibroids. This would mean we would all have to change our diets and who would eat all of the processed foods?  Educating people about how weak our guts are becoming as Americans, eating an American diet would be terrible for big business, it would change how we regard food and what we expect of food companies.  You can see how it doesn’t serve the best interests of the food industry for doctors to educate people in these ways.

Early Childhood Digestive Issues- Take Cover It’s Another Bomb.

While I was researching this topic I kept finding post after post about how anxiety and depression were linked to early life digestive problems. There has been lots of speculation and some research done that is pointing in the direction of early digestive issues as the cause of later anxiety and mood issues. It seems that bacterial infections in the gut or even a bad sickness under the age of 3 years old–> that led to antibiotics –>which then strips the good bacteria in the gut –> exposing the body to future bad bacteria. The thought is that if a child’s gut doesn’t have time to heal properly bacteria or yeast get in the gut and damages it so that there is a life long sensitivities to both anxiety and depression. There’s been a lot of research done in the area on rats and it’s been shown that the rats who had tummy problems as babies were more anxious and depressed than rats without tummy troubles. Read more here.

Now back to me again, when I was 1 year old I got a terrible case of pneumonia and ended up in the hospital with a temperature of 106. My mother has told me they had to put me in a ice bath because I was so hot and was drifting in and out of consciousness. I was given tons of antibiotics and a short time later I had terrible food allergies. I couldn’t keep any food down. I was sick all of the time. This is when my mom did an early elimination diet with me, but she didn’t test for wheat. Back in those days, in the early 70s, wheat wasn’t seen as a common allergy. She did find that I was lactose intolerant (I had no problem with dairy before my sickness, but I just couldn’t handle it after this). She also said I had an egg allergy then, but I don’t have an egg allergy now and I wonder if I ever did, who knows.

For me, all of this research is really making all kinds of sense. It has me thinking about my health in a new way. It has me rethinking my tough girl exterior. I’ve always felt that I’m so strong and can handle anything, but maybe I shouldn’t tolerate anything, because my health has already been compromised. Maybe I should be protecting myself more and more, by learning about the foods I eat and how they are affecting my stomach. I don’t just mean gluten and wheat either. I mean everything. It has me contemplating how I do tend to feel better when I eat less grains, and more vegetables. It has me thinking about how my body feels when I consume processed or sugary foods. The taste is still good to me, but the way my body feels now- bad foods don’t feel that good for me anymore.

So clearly the brain, gut connection is HUGE! I wonder how many of us could be thinking clearer, feeling better, happier, ending chronic ailments and literally changing our lives through dietary changes, without pills to find a happier, healthier person living inside of them? I know I can, and I am doing that.

How about you? Do you feel there’s anything you can do to help your gut achieve optimal health? Do you believe in all of this information I’m sharing? If not, please share your thoughts. If so, please share too. I’d love to hear what other people think about this information. Thanks for reading this and I hope it helps you continue your own journey toward health!

 

 

Comments

comments

2 Comments

  1. Posted December 1, 2012 at 11:03 pm | #

    This makes SO much sense! I can’t wait to watch & read all of the links you posted. It links directly to what I’ve been going through as well, and possibly my daughter. Another parallel–I had tons of antibiotics as a child for ear infections, and am now allergic to most antibiotics. My daughter was also on a LOT of antibiotics as a baby for multiple different issues, and suffered tummy aches and possibly mild anxiety for a long time. I’ve been making a lot of changes for me, but it’s time to make more changes in her diet as well. (Suggestions here would be welcome! Changing a picky 12 year old’s diet is not something I’ve been looking forward to…)
    Thank you once again for sharing all of this info and your own story as well!

    • Posted December 2, 2012 at 5:51 am | #

      It’s pretty amazing once you see it all laid out, huh? I know I was floored by how much what we eat directly impacts how we think. The video I posted in my post is just one video, but it’s really long. It’s the kind of thing you can do something else and listen to.

      Thanks for chiming in, Lea!