I haven’t been sick since I can’t remember when -- until this past week, that is, when a stomach virus leveled me. And like any writer with warehouses of curiosity seeking an outlet, I wanted to know the fastest way to get rid of that nasty bug.
As often happens in life, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear, which it did, in the form of an online article by Dr. Mercola (Mercola.com) on astonishing new discoveries about our inner gut biome, and a fascinating webinar on gut bacteria given by a former San Francisco news anchor/investigative reporter.
Some of the important information I learned is:
1. Our genes are controlled mainly by our gut bacteria. The bugs that live within us are changing our genome expression moment to moment.
2. The composition of the gut bacteria has enormous influence on your health, including your brain’s health. determining whether your brain will become diseased or not.
3. Our gut genome had been the same for thousands of years until now because of all the processed foods and toxins we ingest. And because we're changing our gut bacteria, we are also changing the signals that are going to our DNA, producing massive amounts of people with diseases.
4. When your gut lining becomes compromised, you end up with leakiness of the gut. This increases inflammation, which is a cornerstone of virtually all brain disorders, like Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's and autism.
5. There is a direct connection between a leaky gut and autoimmune diseases such as MS, Lou Gehrig's disease, Crohn's, and inflammatory bowel disease.
6. The old notion that doctors should look at you as a collection of individual parts is completely illogical. Every system relates to each other in a way that ultimately causes either health or disease.
7. Two key strategies to nourish and protect your gut genome are to limit your consumption of antibiotics to when they're absolutely necessary, and be smart in the food choices you make. Whenever possible, opt for whole, raw organic, non-genetically modified (GM) foods, along with traditionally fermented and cultured foods.
8. Pesticides have also been shown to alter gut bacteria and foster drug-resist bacteria in the soil and food, so organically-grown and raised foods are your best bet.
9. You can rehabilitate your gut bacteria so that they will do the majority of the work in preventing disease and promoting a healthy functioning body and mind.
And that was just the tip of the iceberg. My plan now to completely recover from this flu is to eat fermented foods to heal my gut, continue taking a probiotic supplement (forget processed yogurts. They’re too weak and sugary to do any good), and eat lots of organically grown greens, onions, garlic, and nuts and seeds.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to rehab your gut, I recommend reading Dr. David Perimutter’s, Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain-for Life, and his previous book, Grain Brain, which topped the New York Times bestseller list for 54 weeks.
Dr. Perlmutter is a board-certified neurologist and a fellow of the American College of Nutrition (ACN).