CANCER – Will You Be the 1 in 2? (Part 1)

“By 2020 almost one in two people (47%) will get cancer at some point in their lives”. This statistic is from the Macmillan website.

According to Wikipedia, “Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body”. There are many theories on how/why it starts, but there is no doubt that constant inflammation in the body can set up responses which result in a cancer. There are many ways in which we contribute to this inflammation, knowingly and unknowingly. My endeavour is to give you some information so that you can make better life choices.

Cancer in humans from our pre-historic past is hard to prove or disprove due to lack of remains to examine. However, there are plenty of studies from peoples across the world living a simple, hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Cancers are rare – as are many other chronic diseases. The fact is, that when life is lived in the way that is most natural to us, these diseases do not develop. It’s so simple. Another interesting point is that wild animals rarely suffer cancers, but domesticated animals do. This is what happens when we think we know better than nature!

The biggest problem we face is modern life. We work hard, we don’t sleep well, we don’t get outside in the fresh air, we eat food that has been treated unnaturally, we smoke, etc. etc. Another problem is greed. Food manufacturers want to make a profit – so they use the cheapest ingredients plus chemicals to make them taste better. This produces inferior quality products that fool our taste buds. They do NOT have our health in mind. This is just one example of greed making us sick – there are many more.

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Ignorance is a contributory factor. We can be forgiven to a degree – we trust “experts” and doctors to give us sound information. But what has this trust achieved? A nation of sick people who – if we believe the news – have brought our NHS (paid for by us) to breaking point. The only way out of this mess is to stay out of hospital. In other words, reclaim our health. We must stop believing all we are told and think for ourselves. If hunter-gatherer peoples can do it, so can we, but it takes effort on our part and it can sometimes mean quite radical lifestyle changes – perspectives and values need to be reassessed. This is not just diet, not just exercise, not just getting better sleep and not any one thing – it’s learning really what it means to be human – healthy and integrated, as nature intended us to be.

You need to ask yourself a few questions -
What is the most important aspect of my life?
Is it worth protecting?
Do I want to make a change/changes?
Am I in a position to start making these changes?

Sometimes it is better to mull things over and maybe talk to close family and friends before committing yourself to anything that will affect them too. If you are intending to apply changes to include the whole family, get their opinions and suggestions and implement changes slowly – let them choose where to start maybe. You don’t need to believe all I say here. In fact please, if you are going to do this, you must understand why you are doing it. Research for yourself. You should not be just following instructions – you should have a real understanding of the whys and wherefores of the changes you will make.

I cannot say that the list below is definitive as we are living in a relentlessly changing environment. Industries look to implement the cheapest/highest profit measures – not the safest. More of the planet’s surface is becoming barren due to bad management and we adopt unhealthy behaviours etc.  This list will be expanded upon next time.

  • Protect and boost your immune system. Sunbathe, eat the right foods (including some fermented foods), fast, get in touch with nature, learn about vaccines, stop using plastics.
  • Use fewer toxic personal and household products.
  • Learn stress management techniques and avoid stressful situations. Stay positive.
  • Practice intermittent fasting.
  • Address your diet – eat organic foods and include good fats, protein and a variety of vegetables and a little fruit.
  • Exercise moderately, preferably outside.

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What on Earth is a Superfood?

What on Earth is a superfood? Is it a Teenage Mutant Ninja Sausage? Or maybe a sandwich that leaps between buildings in a single bound? Silly I know, but so is the notion that any one food can be a “superfood”.

A while ago, I saw a headline stating that eating almonds every day can protect your heart against disease. I have seen that broccoli can fight cancer and I have seen any amount of health claims for kale and blueberries. Others include – goji berries, oily fish, cacao, maca, and beetroots – the list goes on. These are good foods to include in our diets and they contain antioxidants (but so do many other foods) but they are not “superfoods” because there are none! There are good and bad diets though. These “superfoods” are liberally and continually splashed over magazines and newspapers. What is the purpose of these articles – what are they trying to achieve?

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To be fair, some of these articles are just trying to get people to eat better but doing it this way is, in my opinion, a waste of time or falls on deaf ears. Why would adding blueberries to an otherwise poor diet contribute to good health? Most articles are featured by the media just to get you to buy their newspaper/magazine and some are to get you to buy a supplement – eg.beetroot juice.

Nutrition for us comes in the form of nutrients (sorry for being pedantic) contained in our diet. There are many known nutrients but there are also some unknowns. We keep discovering “new” nutrients in foods, but this being the case means that we must eat the foods in order to obtain them – ie. not from supplements. Another thing that is always conveniently glossed over, (I’m being kind here as I suspect that this is not as widely known as it should be), is that nutrients in plants are not always bio-available to us – we can’t utilize them. Bear in mind that our digestive systems are very different from the herbivores – they are uniquely equipped to digest vegetation. We have a digestive system similar to that of a carnivore, telling us that we can more readily absorb and utilize nutrients from meat. Of course, as we are evolving as omnivores, it is fine and possibly desirable to eat plants – there are nutrients in plants that we can use – I am not saying we shouldn’t be eating some of them.

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Let’s look at some of these “superfoods”.

Kale is a real buzzword at the moment. I am seeing countless recipes for raw kale in smoothies and salads.  It used to be just grown for fodder, but someone decided we should consume it too, so it became a great winter vegetable when there was little else (no doubt why there is a variety named “Hungry Gap”). No problem – it needs lots of cooking as it is quite tough and fibrous, but its strong earthy flavour is liked by many and there are some nutrients to be had – minerals especially. Raw? Not a chance – you try it! Your taste-buds tell you what your digestive system can cope with!

Beetroot is very popular at the moment. It is a historic food but not a pre-historic food. It is a relative of “sea-beet”, from which all other “beet” varieties stem. The leaves were eaten and used in medicine long before the root had a use. The root was probably not in general use until around the 14th century. Again, some nutrients are available but beetroot is sweet – and can contain up to 10% sugar! A few years ago, an article on beetroot juice told of heart health benefits. I know of someone who took himself off his heart medication and instead, drank a pint of beetroot juice daily. He made himself very ill indeed.

Goji berries are not native to Europe and are grown commercially in China – where they have become big business. Many minerals and vitamins can be present but aren’t always unless organic methods are used. They are a member of the solanaceae family – which also includes tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and all members of the nightshade family – including “deadly”! Whilst most of us can tolerate the food plants, the presence of toxic alkaloids are present in all these plants to a degree and they are poorly tolerated by people with certain chronic illnesses. Goji berries are highly susceptible to pests and will usually contain considerable amounts of pesticide residues. If you are going to use them, always buy organic.

Remember – the nutrients may be there but some may be useless to us. I am not suggesting that their inclusion in your diet is wrong but don’t rely on them to supply all that which your body requires – cos that ain’t happening! This is worth a read if you want to understand plant foods better and this if you want to learn the traditional methods of making plant foods more human-friendly.

Just by way of a comparison, organic pasture reared meat – offal and all – contains all nutrients needed for human health and they are in exactly the correct form that we can absorb and utilize them. Pesticide and drug-free to boot. And for those now wondering where the vitamin C is – organ meats contain vitamin C but please don’t overcook them.Spring Lambs

My advice – eat mostly foods that are native to your country of origin; eat vegetables and fruit in season; buy organically produced fruit and veg or grow your own; process foods in your kitchen according to tradition to increase their nutritional value; find a source of raw milk and dairy; eat animal fat; eat nuts and seeds in moderation and if you eat grain, treat it properly; meat and eggs should be from pasture raised animals. Eat small fish and shellfish. For other health measures, see my Healthy Life guidelines.

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Micaela’s Story – Her Fight With IBS (IBS Part 6)

Mic2Micaela’s recovery from illness is one I want to share. She had a condition called “gut dysbiosis” which means that the normal microbes in the gut are having a hard time. Due to the unpleasant and varying effects of dysbiosis, the condition has been called “Irritable Bowel Syndrome”, “Food sensitivities”, “Spastic Colon”, “Chronic Constipation”  and more, but the fact is, that in 99% of cases, it is Gut Dysbiosis.

Micaela had most of these labels with a few more conditions thrown in, including depression. This is her story in her words and how we treated her and I am very grateful to her for allowing me to tell it.

Micaela – “Back in 1985 I had my appendix removed. The operation went OK and I was given antibiotics afterwards. I seemed to make a complete recovery, although when I look back it was around that time that I started to suffer from a lot of wind, bloating and constipation. I was a single mum trying to raise my boys alone and working in a fast food restaurant and didn’t have a very good diet. It was just one of those minor niggles you learn to live with.

“Over the next few years I took a considerable amount of anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers.”

Ten years on I started to suffer a lot of back pain. I was born with a congenital deformity of the spine and age and hard work had taken their toll on my back.  Over the next few years I took a considerable dose of anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers.  I started to suffer constipation and diarrhoea and a sort of empty rumbling in my gut.  I often used to crave toast and butter and it seemed to settle things for a while.
At this stage it had developed from a minor niggle to something that was becoming a bit irritating.

Early 1999 I had some gynae problems. I was prescribed hormonal treatment for about six months which did settle things down.  By the middle of 1999 I had my first ever migraine. That marked a major downturn in my life. I started to have migraines about every two weeks to begin with; they steadily got worse until at their worst point, I only had about 3 days in any one month where I didn’t have a terrible headache. I’d spend days in bed often battling the most terrible pain.  Doctors thought it was hormonal and want to do a hysterectomy, but I felt this was wrong I was sure it was something I was eating. I tried cutting different foods out for a while but never made much headway.

“I ..cut out fruit and sugars and thought I had beaten it”

In 2002 I had a food intolerance test, which came back positive for milk, eggs and yeast. I cut these foods out of my diet and although I felt a little better, I never made any real progress back to full health. The possibility of Candida was mentioned at this time, so I also cut out fruit and sugars and thought I had beaten it.  Some time after changing my diet I started to suffer from constant diarrhoea – 8-10 times a day.  It was so bad I didn’t want to go out anywhere.  I was trying to eat soda bread & homemade Cornish pasties, so as to avoid the yeast.
In 2005 I saw a gastroenterologist who put me on a gluten free diet and for a little while I seemed a little better.  It was short lived and things started to deteriorate rapidly.
I was put on an exclusion diet which started with lamb, carrots, rice and pears.  I never really made it much past 12 foods and once I brought in any kind of fats I had the most terrible headache.  At last I felt I had worked out a connection between food and the headaches.

Since this time I have lived mainly on rice, not fats at all and occasionally small pieces of rice(1)chicken and pineapple.  I gradually grew  sicker and sicker suffering from constant fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, got up tired and went to bed exhausted, stomach pain, cramping in my gut, constipation, diarrhoea, bladder problems, aching joints, depression, numbness in my fingers, earache, pain behind the eyes, nausea – need I go on? I could see life slipping away, everything I tried to eat apart from rice caused me problems of some kind. I’d seen numerous doctors and had many tests but no one could get to the bottom of the problems with my health.”

A desperate appeal for help went out in the Metro newspaper.


Treatment of illness this severe, often means that the sufferer has to suffer a bit more before healing can begin. Gut problems are almost exclusively due to gut-dysbiosis and this is regardless of the diagnosis. Because of this, treatment has to be similar in all cases.

With the emphasis being on “the absorption of the correct nutrients as quickly as treatment allows”, as priority, easily absorbed foods must be used. These foods have to be the ones that good bacteria and microbes thrive on – and it is no coincidence that these very foods are the very ones that nourish us too. They don’t nourish the microbes that have moved in, set up home and become pathogenic – the ones causing the illness.

All life forms eat, drink and excrete. Not in quite the same way perhaps but the microbes that are supposed to be in our gut, help us with their excretions or “metabolytes”. They produce vitamins and enzymes and help digest the food we eat. Those that have overtaken do far more damage than than just hinder this process! They have to be brought under control and largely be killed off.It is this that causes the worsening symptoms at the beginning of treatment. When pathogenic microbes die, their toxins can overwhelm the body and they have to be removed – whichever way.. Think – diarrhoea, foul breath, body odour and rashes accompanied with headaches and gut pain from intestinal spasm.

Once the bad boys under control then it is imperative to replace with the microbes that naturally live in our guts. Once they are established, more foods can be added gradually. Gut healing is a very long process of trial and error, but determination does pay.

When  Micaela reported back to the papers after only three weeks of treatment when she was eating around forty different foods, I was delighted that she felt well enough to do this. However, I was concerned that she felt she was almost “cured”. It had taken many years for her insides to make her as sick and malnourished as she was – and true recovery would take much, much longer. The first six months were extremely difficult, but it was a year before she felt she had the confidence to go it alone. She would have been fine without support after six months, but long-term illness saps confidence and so we still kept in touch frequently for this time.

I am very happy to report that right now (August 2014), Micaela has several part-time jobs, both at home and outside. When I met her she weighed 48 kilos and she is now 60 kilos. She is happy, healthy and living her life.

Here is a report of Micaela’s progress barely three weeks later.
..and 6 months later, looking forward to Christmas dinner

Here is a short audio on Micaela’s recovery:

 

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Are Fungi and Yeasts a Threat to Our Health?

A couple of quotes from this study: “Fungal infections take more than 1.3 million lives each year worldwide, nearly as many as tuberculosis”. “..half of the world’s 350,000 asthma-related deaths each year stem from fungal infection..”

file2701293812299Yeasts and fungi are probably the most successful organisms on the planet. They do not necessarily require sunlight or oxygen and they use starches, glucose and other sugars for growth. This means they can grow pretty much anywhere as long as there as there is food and moisture – from the sludge at the bottom of the sea to mould on damp walls to us. Having more than one way to reproduce adds to their success too. They are often invisible – miles of mycelium (the underground “roots” of fungi) can be present in just a handful of soil, for example. Yeasts too are invisible to the naked eye unless they are part of a colony as in baker’s yeast or the bloom on the skin of some fruits. Just think what an advantage these attributes give to the life of these ubiquitous organisms! There are of course, many that are beneficial to us – some edible mushrooms have a wonderful array of nutrients and antioxidants.

Both yeasts and fungi can attack humans and they are one of our major killers worldwide. Even if they do not kill, they can cause suffering and misery.  “..half of the world’s 350,000 asthma-related deaths each year stem from fungal infection”  for example and Candida albicans can cause vaginal and oral thrush, skin problems and gut disturbances. In severely immune compromised people, Candida albicans can kill. There are other fungal/yeast infections that can affect humans such as aspergillus, ringworm and tinea (eg. athlete’s foot).

Severe infections with these organisms occur mostly in people who are immune compromised for some reason – A.I.D.S., treatment to prevent the rejection of a transplanted organ, cancer treatment and even pregnancy as this is a normal immune-suppressed state. (The baby shouldn’t be rejected!) However, if we eat incorrectly or if our immune systems have taken a knock for some reason, we are all at risk of mild or severe infection.

Including some fermented foods in our diet boosts our beneficial bacteria and this DSCF0577 keeps Candida in its place. It lives in our gut naturally but if we are healthy, it causes no problems. The main two ways that will change this balanced condition is if we feed it or if our gut microbes have been compromised for some reason. Candida can multiply rapidly and instead of being a few harmless yeast cells, it becomes an invasive colony. Yeasts need sugars for their growth and reproduction so if our diets are high in carbohydrate foods (which are broken down to sugars) – such as the doughnut, they get the chance to flourish. Many drugs but especially antibiotics, will disrupt the gut flora giving Candida a chance to gain a foothold. As a colony, it is able to put out microscopic rootlets which penetrate the delicate one-cell thick lining of the gut. This creates the condition known as leaky-gut syndrome giving rise to a host of problems in the gut and systemically.

In nature, one sees fungi not only thriving in decaying wood and leaves but also invading dying or weak plants. If we are less than healthy with a poor immune system, we too become a target. Don’t let it be you.

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Micaela Stafford – The Lady Whose Body Rejected Everything

One day back in May 2011, I was shown an article in a newspaper about a lady who was very unwell.  She had been searching for years to find a solution to her illness and even though some things she tried helped a little, the relief was short-lived. The only food her body would tolerate at this time was rice. Everything else made her feel ill – migraines, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, nausea and more. She weighed 7 1/2 stones. Food sensitivities were ruling her life.

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Her efforts to find a cure led her to many general doctors, gut specialists, nutritionists and dieticians – to no avail. Such was her determination to regain her health she then approached newspapers and radio stations to widen her search.

I felt that treating her was worth trying as it was possible that the core problem had been missed. The term “gut dysbiosis” is a relatively new one and not one to have entered mainstream medicine yet. It is very often the case that until a condition is accurately named – in other words, one which truly describes what is happening – that treatment can be wrongly advised.

Take irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. This is the diagnosis which is often returned when all else has been excluded. (These tests of course have to be performed as IBS has similar symptoms to other gut disorders.) The problem is that IBS merely encompasses a set of symptoms – it does not address the root cause, but “gut dysbiosis”, does. It succinctly describes the condition of microbial life in the gut being out of balance. So when I was faced with Micaela’s illness, I knew that before she could benefit from the nutrients in food, her gut microbes needed normalising.

When we met, I was shocked at how thin and drawn Micaela looked. The specialists that she had consulted, once they had determined that (from their point of view) there was nothing to be done, advised her that is was “all in her head”. It most certainly was not, all in her head – it was very real. However, over many, many years, her mind had been affected by being chronically ill and she was in a bad place by the time she came to me. With hindsight, it would have been most helpful to have had specialist input to help her manage this. Also, I suspect that her recovery would have been quicker if her mind was being treated at the same time. Stress is counterproductive due to the constant release of stress hormones – which long-term, damage the body physically.

Micaela had to take a huge leap of faith as here was someone, (me!) telling her something completely different to all the other professionals from whom she had sought help. To be frank, I had never treated a gut condition this severe and whilst I had confidence in the theory, I could not be confident of the outcome as treatment would be incredibly difficult for Micaela. In fact I could never have predicted how tough it would end up being.

Most of Micaela’s life had been blighted with ill health and she had to undergo many forms of treatment for her ailments. The history she recounted to me showed clearly that there were many opportunities for undesirable microbes to colonise in her gut. At the point where we met, I suspected that the only reason that she was able to tolerate rice, was that these microbes were using it as fuel. (To test this, add cooked rice to warm water and yeast. The yeast will digest the rice by turning it to sugar – its preferred energy source. The mixture will bubble until the rice has almost all been used up.) The main offender was Candida. I cannot know this as a certainty as it was never proved and I don’t perform tests as they can be unreliable. However, treatment which just involved nutritious food would only benefit her no matter which organisms were to blame.

Where to start though!  As Micaela could only tolerate rice – what would I give her? The important thing to start with was to rid her of the pathogenic organisms. To this end, she had to undergo a two day broth fast. This was just the liquid from boiled chicken bones, vegetables and herbs. This is not only very easily absorbed but definitely not a favourite of Candida or its friends! The problem for Micaela was the “die off” reaction – all the symptoms of IBS but even worse. It was a very, very hard time for her and this was just the start of treatment.

The only way to tackle gut dysbiosis is -
1) Clear the gut of pathogenic microbes.
2) Heal the gut (which has been damaged by these microbes).
3) Replace the beneficial microbes (with probiotics).
3) Introduce absorbable nutrition as quickly as is practical.

This is the treatment that Micaela needed to heal her insides and ultimately – herself. She had endured years of poor nourishment as her gut would not absorb it – even when she occasionally tried something other than rice. In other words, she was suffering from malnutrition – and then everything is wrong.

At three weeks of treatment, with the inclusion of about forty foods that she could eat and enjoy, she thought she was well again and there was another news item in her local paper. We were both very excited that she was eating so well, but I feared that it was very early days to be celebrating – and my hunch was right – she was far from completely recovered. There were still hard times to be overcome. For six months foods were added or added and removed until finally that year, Micaela enjoyed a Christmas dinner.

The last few years have been a steep learning curve for both of us and we’re still climbing! Eating out is not a problem for Micaela now – there is always something she can have and enjoy without any adverse symptoms.  From my point of view, I have achieved my aim, which is the same for all.
“To ensure that all the body’s nutritional requirements are met as quickly as possible, in the most acceptable way to the person being treated.”

Fortunately, although Micaela’s condition is not completely unique, most IBS sufferers can recover more easily than she did. Fortunate indeed as there are not too many people with Micaela’s amazing determination to succeed.

The picture at the top, is of Micaela now, at 9 1/2 stones and happy.

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IBS – Host to a Host of Undesirables (IBS Part 4)

It is my belief that our gut microbes have a great deal to do with who we are as people. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Let me tell you how I see it.

We are literally heaving with microbes! We have trillions more microbes in our gut than we do cells that make up our bodies and they can weigh more than a kilo. We are not entirely  human!

As far as we are concerned, they come in three types:
1) The ones we need for our health.
2) The ones “passing by” (in quantity, some of these may also make us ill).
3) The ones that make us sick – the opportunists.

Now, if we have enough of the ones we need for health, they will ensure that the microbes in the other two categories don’t do us much harm.

The microbes needed for health help with many functions – including the digestion of food, protection of our gut wall and keeping all other microbes in check. In return, we feed them – a truly symbiotic relationship.

bacteriaAll living things need to take in some form of energy and as this is used up, waste products are created which have to be released. The waste products (or metabolites) of the “good guys” in our intestines are things we need such as B vitamins and enzymes. The metabolites of the passers-by are of no consequence in small quantities but then we come to the bully-boys. The metabolites of these can really make us ill – substances similar to opiates and others related to the tetanus toxin, production of horrendous gases such as hydrogen sulphide (the rotten eggs smell) are just a few of the effects that affect our health. Regrettably, our modern diets nourish these pathogens, perpetuating the problem.

Very often, these pathogenic organisms are left to dominate when we have been subjected to poor health over a period of time, repeated use of antibiotics, chemotherapy treatment for cancers and other continuous drug treatments for chronic illness. In order to colonise, some of these microbes have the ability to “anchor” themselves to the intestinal wall thus creating microscopic fissures in the delicate single-celled lining. This allows them, their metabolites and minuscule particles of undigested food into the blood stream. What happens then is another story but just consider what opiate-like substances might do to the brain if this can happen.

The most common opportunist microbe to invade the gut when conditions are right is candida albicans. This yeast acts as a fungus when allowed to overgrow. It needs another blog to describe the effects and this will be the subject for next time.

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IBS – The Unkempt Garden (IBS Part 3)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is, for whatever reason, a condition in which the gut microbes have become unbalanced.

We have trillions of good, bad and on-the-fence microbes on and in us. In a healthy person these live in harmony, with the good guys calling the shots. In a less than healthy person they live in conflict. In someone with IBS there has been an all out war where the good guys have been beaten into submission. This causes all the miserable symptoms now called irritable bowel syndrome.

Often you can’t tolerate the very foods needed to keep you healthy. Everything will now be out of sync. Your gastric juices, enzyme and bile production vitamin manufacture, liver function, immunity and lots more cannot work until your gut microbes are normalized.

I will use an analogy to illustrate the steps that are required to normalize your insides because when nature finds a good way of doing something it is repeated often where a variety of life forms dwell together. I will use a garden for my example, but I could just have easily used a pond, a forest or even a compost heap!

overgrownImagine you have to make an overgrown garden into a tidy one with attractive flowers and productive plants and of course you will want to attract birds and insects which will ensure a good harvest.

Will you straight away go and buy the plants and stick them in where you can? Tidy Garden_nNo of course you won’t – you have hard work to do first! The overgrowth has to be removed or severely cut back and the weeds must be uprooted. Nutrients must be replaced and then you can you start replanting. Eventually, you have a garden which will become almost self sufficient, needing only minor attention from you. Everything will be balanced.

If you have IBS, the only way to tackle it is from the “ground” up. You can only benefit from good microbes and nutrients when the bad guys have been evicted to make room on the gut wall for colonization and absorption. When this has been achieved, with a little TLC your gut will look after your health forever. This also takes TIME!

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“Why Do Some People Suffer Gut Problems More Than Others?” (IBS Part 2)

This post starts to answer some of the questions I posed last time. Everything hangs on your immunity. It really is the be-all and end-all of wellness or illness. Let me tell you a story, a bit scary in places but it all ends happily ever after.

When you were developing in your mother’s womb, your gut was sterile. When you were born, you were covered with the bacteria and other microbes that were in your mother’s vagina – the same ones that were in her colon. (Told you it was scary!)

Walking BarefootYou were put to the breast where you and your brand new gut microbes were nourished and you all thrived. As you grew you were given a good diet of eggs, meat, healthy fats, vegetables, fruit and quality dairy products. Playing was fun and you crawled around the garden in the sunshine, tasting the worms and making mud pies. (Well I did!)
Childhood illnesses were encountered and fought off and even when antibiotics were necessary, you were quick to recover on your nutrient-dense diet. The status quo is maintained and you continued your healthy lifestyle. As an adult, you are healthy and wellness is easy.

 

Now another even more scary story which does not end so happily.

When you were developing in your mother’s womb, your gut was sterile. When you were born, it had to be by Caesarian section as your mother was in difficulties and you had to go straight into an incubator. You had not picked up your dose of mum’s gut microbes but you got a little of everyone else’s flora from being handled. As your mother was unwell for a while, you were fed formula milk and you and your new – but unbalanced – gut microbes were nourished.

French FriesYour diet was mostly quick and easy foods as your mother went back to work and you play time was mostly indoors at the nursery. You suffered all the childhood illnesses going around at the time, and needed several courses of antibiotics which upset your tummy. As an adolescent you settled on a high carbohydrate diet as the government advised.

You had a holiday abroad, got a stomach bug from which you partially recovered but ever since, your stomach has been a problem. Foods you were able to eat become ones you now can’t tolerate. You suffer gas, diarrhoea, stomach cramps  gurgling and more. As an adult, you don’t really know what wellness is.These symptoms can be due to IBS, but may progress to being celiac disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease (IBD). All these diseases are autoimmune conditions.

I have made these stories simple but there are lots of other factors that contribute to how you will fare health-wise. Vaccinations, household cleaning products, exposure to sunlight, accessible good quality food etc. – if/how/when these are done will all impact on your immunity.  The problems encountered in the second story can be overcome as long as the very basics are observed – nurture of the immune system.

Next time I will give you a “close up” of what is happening in a gut suffering “dysbiosis” – microbial life at war!

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“How Did I Get Irritable Bowel Syndrome?” (IBS Part 1)

IBS is at the top of medical reasons for absence from work, sharing the slot with the common cold. The impact on the workplace is not insignificant, but it can have a truly devastating effect on the individual.

Toilet road signIrritable bowel syndrome is a miserable condition as any sufferer knows. It can vary in how it presents itself, how uncomfortable it is, how long it lasts and how it affects individuals. Perhaps the most disruptive aspect – is that a flare-up can happen without warning. Plans for the day go out of the window as  a day in bed, near to the bathroom is all that is practical.

When I started nursing in the 70s, there was no such thing as irritable bowel syndrome. Even ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease were rarities. I do remember that there were a few cases of “spastic colon”, which I guess was the forerunner to IBS but again it was rare. What has happened since then to make gut problems commonplace now?

I have interviewed hundreds of patients during my career as a nurse and I have often been asked “how did I get irritable bowel syndrome?” Over this time I have been able to put two and two together and after considerable researching, reflecting and witnessing, have at last made four! For so long, the sums just made no sense. Why do some drugs cause diarrhoea? Why is it many people do not recover completely after a nasty bout of holiday tummy? Why is an upset stomach common after chemotherapy? Or more to the point, the question I eventually asked was – why is it some people are OK after these things?

Most of us have had antibiotics at some time, but for women in particular, a course of antibiotics means another problem – thrush – why? Or for anyone, antibiotics can cause diarrhoea – again, why?

There is a common denominator in all the above situations and it is candida. The ubiquitous yeast, candida.

The symptoms of candida infection (overgrowth), exactly match those of IBS. Bloating, stomach cramps, headaches, gas, constipation and diarrhoea and more. Can this be coincidence? I don’t think so and over the next few weeks, I want to answer some of the questions I have posed here.

 

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Vitamin D and Gut Problems

Over the last ten years, inflammatory bowel disorders (IBD) have steeply increased in both adults and children. They are autoimmune illnesses. This is a very serious situation as both IBD – ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease – are usually controlled with steroid drugs and many will go on to have bowel surgery – more than once in many cases. Celiac disease – a severe gluten sensitivity – is also thought to be an autoimmune disease.

Walking BarefootThese diseases are capable of disrupting normal childhood activities and bringing isolation to sufferers. They are characterised by persistent diarrhoea, sometimes accompanied with blood and mucus; severe stomach cramps; anaemia; tiredness and often, emotional upsets. It is a truly catastrophic illness for all involved.

As usual, I believe that it is a nutritional problem. If all of us were able to feed on the diet we are programmed for and obtain sufficient sunshine to keep our vitamin D levels in an optimum range, I doubt there would be very much in the way of chronic illness – not in adults or their offspring.

But things are constantly changing. We largely live indoors, use the car, eat fast microwaved food and know little or nothing about the art and science that should go on in a kitchen.

With this in mind, how can we and our children expect to stay well? Wholesome diets for human beings encompass all the known nutrients for our health. But what of the nutrients we don’t yet know about? We shouldn’t worry. Nature takes care of that providing we eat the food we are genetically programmed for. (Plenty of information about this in my other blogs.) Anything else just wouldn’t make any sense. After all, wild animals don’t have nutritionists and books to guide them, they just eat what they instinctively know is right.

One of the biggest problems that the western world faces is vitamin D deficiency – yes, here I go again! We have carefully slathered on the high factor sunscreen before venturing out to prevent skin cancer but effectively screened the UVB rays that create vitamin D in our skin – and thus left us wide open to a multitude of other cancers, infections, porous bones and gut problems amongst others. This is devastating and will lead to a very poorly world indeed – and it’s already started.

“Our vitamin D needs to come from the sun”

People with gut disorders often have low vitamin D levels in their blood. There is speculation as to whether this is the cause or effect of gut problems but to me there is no doubt – our vitamin D needs to come from the sun, not in supplement form. This accompanied with a healthy diet could protect us all from from these life-changing illnesses. Evidence is emerging that the diet of a pregnant woman also affects her offspring – for better or for worse.

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