All Together Now
Connecting Autoimmunity, Gut, Microbiome, Stress, Nervous System, Probiotics & Beyond …
Oh, and a wine recommendation ...
Oh, and a wine recommendation ...
Trust me when I say that the quickest, and most guaranteed, way to develop an autoimmune disorder is to shut down the stomach.
Horse or human, feed/eat a C.R.A.P. diet (Carbs, Refined, Artificial, Processed), then decrease the amount of acid the stomach's producing because of the resulting gut pain/reflux, courtesy of an acid-inhibiting med, and Boom - one autoimmune disorder in a heartbeat.
The gut microbiome is a Hot Topic these days - I think it’s fair to say that we’re all now pretty much clued up these days on the fact that restoring the gut microbiome restores the health of body and mind, full stop.
I’m so lucky doing what I do, because apart from being able to be with my horses and dogs all day while getting to know my clients and their horses, I spend a ton of time learning, studying, researching … you name it, I’m on it. Just last night husband tried to prod me for the regular Friday night Happy Hour at our local. "Nah," I said; "I’ve got the last module of a docuseries I’m studying on brain health."
He wasn’t overly impressed – headed off himself for a jar, but brought back a peace-offering - a bottle of my favourite organic, vegan wine (which means it hasn't been filtered through fish swim-bladder, yuk, I mean, who was it who had the idea that fish swim-bladders could be useful to filter wine through?!), which I can’t recommend highly enough. If you like a full-bodied juicy little devil, nip down to Waitrose and get yourself a bottle of Terre di Faiano, Primitivo. I recently bought one for the neighbour after they did us the biggest favour ever, and he was so blown away by it that he bought us one back to say thanks!
Back to it, and again whether horse or human, if there’s one overriding fact I’ve learned over the years (yes I know, I say this a lot!), it's that if we want to fix conditions like gut disruption, stress and fatigue, depression and anxiety, autoimmune syndromes and beyond, the solution is always going to be about fixing the gut environment first and foremost.
This is because the gut is host to 70%+ of the body’s immune cells, and science has discovered that the gut microbiome, or intestinal flora, or whatever you want to call it, has more than a billion neurotransmitters that regulate everything in the body from mood, hormones, mental health and behaviour.
So much so that scientists have named the gut ‘the second brain’. The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates himself, already knew this huge secret more than 2,000 years ago. He was the first to say that all disease begins in the gut, and now science is finally backing up his vision.
The gut is more than just a vat that digests food; it’s a super-complex system, multitasking its socks off like a giant computer that communicates directly with the brain and the immune system, every single second.
Just to give you one example, gut health connects to depression in a profound way. More specifically, the microbiota themselves, our friendly gut bugs, create the chemicals and hormones that the brain utilises to regulate mood, appetite and immunity, i.e. our happy hormone, serotonin, and our pleasure hormone, dopamine, are produced in the gut - not the brain as we're brainwashed into believing. If these two bliss chemicals are happily regulated, we’ve cracked the code of managing mood and relieving anxiety and depression.
This is just one part of the amazing role the gut plays in overall health, but it’s a much bigger picture than this. Gut health is increasingly connected with autoimmune diseases such as fibromyalgia, Crones, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, and also dementia disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson, just to name a few.
Back to that 70%+ of immune cells in the gut; the microbiota helps to create and develop smart immune-system cells called T-cells, and it’s these smart cells that teach the immune system to spot the difference between a bad substance, which needs to be destroyed, and the body's own healthy tissue that we need to hold onto.
Put simply, autoimmune issues are nothing more than a wrong message that got to the T-cells, which have then given the instruction to attack. Which basically means we need to make sure these T-cells work properly, which means restoring gut function. And once the gut is restored, immunity gets restored too.
The first place we have to start with is diet - there's just no way around it. The challenge, however, is that in many cases there’s a thing called ‘stress’ in the way, and we know just how effective stress is in causing havoc in the body.
The central nervous system
The body has a natural, inbuilt, homeostasis regulator that's able to balance the different systems and functions in the body. This regulator stems from the hypothalamus, the pituitary and the adrenals, and it's known as the HPA-Axis.
So let's meet the autonomic nervous system - this is the main system that runs this self-regulation, so we don’t have to think about any of it, i.e. we don't have to think about digesting food – it's already taken care of automatically courtesy of the autonomic nervous system. Then there's cellular renewal - the autonomic system takes care of this too. Did you know we get a new liver every six weeks? And on a hot day, we don’t have to think about sweating – the body already knows to trigger this to cool us down. All these natural self-regulation processes that we don't have to think about … clever stuff.
Then we have the the parasympathetic nervous system, which is designed to relax things. However, when we get under too much stress, the sympathetic nervous system takes over, creating a load of tension in the body which starts to sabotage the body's ability to self-regulate. Long and short, too much stress means our natural self-regulation system will start to have problems, and when we start to have problems with digestion, this really is the beginning of bad stuff.
Thing is, sometimes it’s tricky. We're all told that we are what we eat – so true. I mean, all those chemicals we ingest - the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, enzymes, nutrients – they all turn into the hormones that make our brain chemicals that control whether we’re happy, or whether we’re sad. But when we've got ongoing stressors, caused by whatever reason, depleting gut function and stomach acid because of all the stress, no matter how healthy we're trying to eat, the gut is now struggling to break down the food and get the nutrients absorbed.
This is further compounded because of acid-blocking medications because we’re told there’s too much stomach acid going on (no such thing, I promise you).
So back to no way around the first place we have to start with is diet. We have to change the diet to restore health. However, it’s not the be-all and end-all - there're many other important factors we need to implement to get over the hurdle back to happy, comfortable health.
At this point, we’re going to need to add in some support to do this. Horse or human, we’re walking around with detoxification issues that need to be addressed; food toxins from the CRAP diet; heavy metals from, well, everywhere; maybe fatty liver from carrying too much weight; maybe elevated liver enzymes from taking prescription meds.
Beneficial, friendly bacteria should make up about 85 to 90% of the total gut flora, but this ratio can become skewed for many reasons including diet, stress, antibiotics and so on.
Which means ... the first supplement we need is a good probiotic. This will help maintain a healthy gut flora population which will directly benefit immunity and brain health. You can’t heal a gut without probiotics, otherwise you'll just end up spinning your wheels - you'll spend lots of money, lots of time, lots of effort ... and stay in the same place.
Another important role of probiotics is that they cultivate the gut wall. As they colonise, they stake their claim on their territory and cultivate it, much like we cultivate our garden. If we want a nice garden, it takes a lot of cultivation and hard work to make it fabulous ;-) This is what probiotics do with the gut, which makes clearing out the toxic waste so important so they can do their job. As long as there's accumulated waste in the body, that waste is a pro-inflammatory substance, and an autoimmune disorder cannot afford to have inflammation in the body.
It's the probiotics that get into the gut and actually fix it, then keep it fixed, so if we don't recolonise the gut wall with good microbes, the gut wall will always stay irritated. We might be able to temporarily reduce the inflammation, but then it'll get irritated again, and again, and again, and so it becomes a cycle. If we actually want to break this cycle, we need to upgrade the diet, calm the inflammation naturally, get rid of the waste, then finally, recolonise with probiotics.
It’s a few simple, basic steps:
– Diet - first, remove the bad microbes’ food supply by upgrading the diet. Feeding our Horses / Why What We Feed Has To Be right
– Detox – now get all the waste out. Shift what shouldn’t be living there, all those inflammatory-promoting irritants, out of the body through detoxing. https://equinatural.co.uk/i/detoxification-1