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Symptoms of an Unbalanced Gut

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Sometimes I wonder how I got here. Symptoms of disease struck my life almost two decades ago and it broke me. Those symptoms shook me to my core and I didn’t know that my body was desperately trying to get my attention to help me heal. And heal I did. With a grateful heart, I’m here trying with all I know to help you too. I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the hundreds of emails I get. Some emails are of wonderful healings from these foods that healed me, and others are from those who are struggling and looking for hope. I don’t hold all the answers, but I do know that what the poet Rumi said is truer than you know: “What you seek is seeking you.” Here is what I have learned, lived, experienced, and continue to do each and every day. I believe in wellness, and I want an epidemic of wellness to be the norm and not the exception. I mostly speak of wellness and how to get well – you won’t find me talking about scary topics to drive traffic to my blog. I’m trying to guide you to wake up to the miraculous vessels you live in. It’s a magnificent design that is filled with trillions of microbes. So these symptoms of disease aren’t the enemy, they’re the warning signs. Heed the call and seek with all your heart. Do all you can to find wellness, change your diet, study, pray, meditate, and trust. Then watch the answers come. You’re never alone – you have trillions of unseen helpers following you around and all they really care about . . . is you!

If your gut bacteria were a city, they’re would be more than one-hundred trillion residents living inside you!

Symptoms and signs of an unbalanced gut

Some of the obvious signs

Are your gut bacteria out of whack? Your bacteria can be one of your strongest allies in being healthy, or they can be one of your worst enemies. The symptoms of an unbalanced gut are broad and wide. It’s staggering how many things are affected by your bacteria. So, here are some scenarios for you. After you eat, does your stomach hurt? How about gas? Are you struggling with perimenopause or menopause or PMS? Did you know that your body regulates hormones and detoxes extra estrogen largely through your gut? If your gut is messed up, those extra hormones are going to be circulating through your system. They make you feel tired and exhausted and they can lead to excess estrogen which can cause all kinds of problems. Your gut holds all kinds of answers to many dilemmas in your life. We think that we control so much of what’s happening in our daily life through our habits and daily rituals. You’ll be surprised to know that your 100 trillion microbes control so much more. You might be shocked what happens to you when you harness their power.

Do you have any of these symptoms?

  • Constipation
  • Excess intestinal gas
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Hormonal disruptions
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Digestion problems
  • Food cravings and addictions

symptoms, cravings, and addictions

We all have particular foods that we crave and eat on a daily basis. We think that we crave certain foods and we just can’t help it, but that’s not true. It’s your microbes that are causing these cravings and preferences. You’re going to crave different things depending on what you feed your microbes. If you reset this, your microbes make you crave different foods and it can make it effortless to eat healthily. I’m not kidding about this! If you’re craving unhealthy food and can’t stop, then you need to reset the microbes in your gut. They’re making you crave foods that you feed them, and this is a signal that something is amiss.

Penn Jillette, a famous magician, talks about this in his book and video. He was dangerously overweight and he reset his microbes by eating a mono diet (nothing but potatoes)  Potatoes have a resistant starch in them that feeds the microbiome. He added potatoes so he could lose his detachment to food and then slowly started adding a lot of soups and greens, too. By doing this, he reset his microbes. There are different ways to do this, but he says now he doesn’t want any of those foods he used to love. Every two weeks he’ll eat whatever he wants and he just doesn’t want those foods he used to love anymore. He said it shocks him that it was so easy once he cleared out his microbiome.

I’ve found the same thing – you can change your microbes and after a little bit of time, you start craving the healthy foods in a powerful way. Check out this article for more info. Does Your Gut Control Food Cravings

Emotions

Emotions are powerfully affected by our microbes. We have a nervous system in our gut that has between 50 million and 100 million nerve cells. It’s about the same size as our spinal cord if you pushed it all together. It has its own intelligence. They call it the “second brain,” and for good reason. It wants to get rid of things that don’t belong there — either bacteria, bad bugs, or toxins from rotten foods. If you ingest something wrong, it gives the signal to expel it; and if you have a bad bug in your large intestine, it generates diarrhea or vomiting. For example, certain microbes can influence the production of the serotonin molecule, which plays a role in appetite regulation, food intake, well-being, and sleep. This gives the microbes a tremendous ability to influence your overall state of health. Some microbe signals can activate the vagus nerve endings in the gut, which are like an information superhighway to the brain. Every emotional state has a reflection on the gut level. For instance, anger makes the stomach contract, so it secretes more acid and produces an increase in blood flow to allow the stomach to do this extra work.

When we experience stress and anxiety, there is a release of stress hormones like adrenaline and norepinephrine. They circulate in the blood, make your heart beat faster, and cause sweaty palms. We are learning now that they also influence the behavior of the microbes in your gut because they have receptors for these chemicals. Psychology Professors Matthew Hilimire and Catherine Forestell recently joined with the University of Maryland to investigate a possible connection between fermented foods, which contain probiotics, and social anxiety. The researchers’ gut feeling was right when they found that young adults who eat more fermented foods have fewer social anxiety symptoms with the effect being greatest among those at genetic risk for social anxiety disorder as measured by neuroticism. The journal Psychiatry Research accepted the study in April for publication in August.

I was reading a letter that was recently in the news from Robin Williams’ wife talking about his struggle with dementia, and in it she said she traced the first signs of trouble to a celebration of their wedding anniversary, about ten months before her husband died, when “gut discomfort” made him fearful and anxious. That set off months of escalating problems. Gut discomfort is my first sign that something’s wrong in my life. Too often, we don’t heed this nor connect it to our emotions, but caring for your gut and its microbes should be one of the first things you do when you sense your emotions are out of control. If you have begun to be more irritable, feel more anxious, or if it seems like you can’t concentrate, it could very well be an imbalance in your gut flora. Try making some minor adjustments to your diet and then note if your condition improves. Check out this article for more info: Can You Make Happiness in Your Gut

constipation or diarrhea

Signs of constipation, diarrhea, stomach upset, or pain when you eat is always a sign that your gut is struggling and needs your help. These symptoms can develop after you take antibiotics and is always a sign that your gut is out of whack. Having cultured foods can greatly help bring balance to these symptoms. Many people have gotten off their medications for constipation after consuming kefir. One of the first people I met at one of my classes was a man in his late seventies who was on medication for chronic constipation for years. One week on kefir and he didn’t need it anymore. One way kefir may help is by lowering the pH in the colon via short-chain fatty acids (butyric acid, propionic acid, and lactic acid). A lower pH or more acidic colon enhances movement.

A study was done in Japan with mentally and physically handicapped residents of a nursing home who struggled with constipation. Glycerol Enema (GE) is used to treat constipation in these patients. The administration of GE not only causes mental and physical stresses to handicapped people but also causes physical damage to nurses. Kefir-fermented milk was ingested three times per day (total 6 g per day) for three months to see if it could prevent constipation. They found that four of the eleven participants showed improvement in bowel movements without the administration of GE. Although this study was carried out with a highly limited number of subjects, the results implicated that adding kefir to the daily diet of handicapped people might have benefit for constipation. Even though further studies are required, this study suggests that the oral intake of kefir would contribute to the reduction of the physical labor of nurses spending much time and effort in the administration of GE, and also contribute to an increase in the quality of life for handicapped people. 1,2

A study in the Turkish Journal of Gastroenterology in 2014 3 studied two groups of patients. The first group of ten had “normal transit” and the second had “slow transit” (constipation). The patients themselves kept daily records. The Results:

  • Stool frequency increased
  • Stool consistency improved
  • Colonic transit time improved
  • Bowel satisfaction scores improved
  • Laxative use decreased

Diarrhea

I have found kombucha, with its special probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii, to be especially good for diarrhea. S. boulardii is one of the most thoroughly researched of all probiotic supplements. 4It is now used to treat Clostridium difficile (C. diff.), acute diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, some parasitic forms of diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal disorders. 5 S. boulardii can also act as a decoy to harmful pathogens. It attracts and binds with the pathogens, keeping them from attaching to the intestinal wall and doing damage. Many people have expressed how much kombucha has helped them with chronic diarrhea. It seems to be the only thing that really works for them, and it’s simply a delicious fermented tea – not a drug that can have side effects.

The Healing Crisis: Now, something that can occur when you first start consuming kefir is called a Healing Crisis. This can sometimes be accompanied by constipation or diarrhea that is usually short-lived. When you first start ingesting cultured foods, the body is flooded with probiotics which want to kill pathogens. A lot of extra debris can accumulate in the colon as the body tries to shed all the waste of the die off. You’ll need to have lots of water and fiber which will also help remove the unwanted debris.

Check out this article for more info: Healing Crisis and Cultured Foods

Hormonal Problems

I have noted quite frequently that women who have a lot of problems with hot flashes and menopause (or perimenopause) symptoms almost always have a messed up gut. They harbor parasites, harmful bacteria and viruses, and candida. Here’s how it works. Your body cannot regulate your hormones if your gut is messed up and doesn’t allow it to detoxify those excess hormones. Fifty percent of your excess hormones are going to be eliminated through your gut. During these phases of your life, you’ll need extra help detoxifying. Hormones are broken down and detoxified in two ways in the body: first in the liver, and then in the colon. When the digestive tract is out of balance, your estrogens, especially, are not detoxed properly, leading to symptoms of estrogen dominance. The most important step you can take to support gastrointestinal function is to rebalance your gut flora – especially clearing out yeast. I have found this step to be the most profound in dealing with any hormonal imbalance – especially PMS.

Eating probiotic foods will help keep out pathogens, parasites, bacteria, and viruses, especially Gardnerella, Proteus, Chlamydia, Campylobacter, Neisseria, Treponema, and Salmonella. These are also the urinary tract bacteria that cause yeast infections and bladder infections. These infections are common when you are experiencing hormonal imbalance!

Check out this article for more info.Microbes and Your Hormones

So how do we fix all of this?

I started with kefir. Actually, it was powder packages of kefir that were pretty foolproof. Years later, I  produced my own powder packages from flash-frozen kefir grains and called it Easy Kefir. I made my first batch of kefir in 24 hours and that’s where I started. But you should pick the cultured food that most interests you. Is it kombucha? You can start with just buying it. There are a lot of good brands in the stores. If you’d like, I can teach you to make it and it’s super fun. Maybe cultured veggies look good to you? You can buy some good lacto-fermented brands at most health food stores, but they’re a cinch to make. A lot of people love water kefir and it’s such a fun place to start if you want a bubbly, refreshing drink. All in all, you pick what most interests you and start with that. You have your own guidance, and your body knows what it needs, you just need to start checking in with it. I see this all the time and I watch people become believers in their body’s ability to heal and make them well. When it happens to you, then you’ll want to tell others. This is how it was always meant to be. I’m believing in your wellness – the journey is worth the effort. Just you wait and see.

How to Make Easy Kefir

How to Make Kombucha

How to Make Veggies

How to Make Water Kefir

Listen to my podcast

Your gut bacteria can be one of your strongest allies in being healthy or it can be one of your worst enemies. It can send you signals through your emotions, food cravings, and stomach distress. Find out if your bacteria are out of balance and what you can do about it today!

References:

  1. https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/prophylactic-effects-of-kefirfermented-milk-on-constipation-among-mentally-and-physically-handicapped-persons-2168-9776.1000126.php?aid=37868
  2. http://internationalprobiotics.org/kefir-fix-constipation/
  3. http://www.turkjgastroenterol.org/eng/ozet/4463/281/Abstract
  4. Czerucka, T. Piche, and P. Rampal, “Review Article: Yeast as Probiotics—Saccharomyces boulardii,” Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 26, no. 6 (September 15, 2007): 767–78: abstract at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17767461.
  5. H. Choi et al., “A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Multicenter Trial of Saccharomyces boulardii in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Effect on Quality of Life,” Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 45, no. 8 (September 2011): 679–83: abstract at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21301358; S. Uhlen, F. Toursel, and F. Gottrand, Association Française de Pédiatrie Ambulatoire, “Treatment of Acute Diarrhea: Prescription Patterns by Private Practice Pediatricians,” Archives de Pédiatrie 11, no. 8 (August 2004): 903–7: abstract at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15288079.
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