What’s Going on in There?

Why is it that, despite all the hard work that I’m doing - eating clean, exercising, using essential oils and even abstaining from chemical products in my home - I still feel like garbage? In fact, I’m pretty sure I feel worse than I did before I started even bothering! 

Does this sound like you? If so, I hear you and I’ve got an answer.
As you may have read, we are all around 90% bacteria and approximately 10% human cells. Yep, you are outnumbered by some pretty scary dudes!! Bacteria dictate everything in our bodies – our immune system, behaviour, sleep, joy, happiness, pain, energy – and the list goes on. They really do make us or break us, and if we don’t look after them properly, things can go horribly wrong, atrociously fast.

It’s like a scene from an Old Western movie; everything is peaceful in the cantina, cowboys are happily playing cards and then one guy would swing in those double doors, draw his guns and oh my, IT WAS ON!

Chaos would erupt. Everyone would start fighting without a known cause. Chairs were flung, men were wounded and liquor bottles, shattered by speeding bullets, would expel their fuming liquid all over the men left standing. For an entertainment segment, this is top class stuff! However, when a scenario very similar, minus the blazing guns and cowboys, is unfolding in your gastrointestinal system, it is anything but entertaining.

Every time we eat or drink something that doesn’t agree with us, feel overwhelmed by stress, get insufficient sleep, breathe in too many toxins, or even think a negative thought, a scene, not unlike the Western drama described above, will begin to set up camp in our guts!

So what does this mean for you?

Well, any number of things, let’s take a look at some of the more common problems associated with intestinal chaos …

Candida can thrive and release alcoholic by-products.

Candida is a yeast that requires glucose and other sugars for food. Sugars come from the digestion of carbohydrates. In people with a yeast overgrowth, the yeast hijacks the glucose and digests it in a different way, called alcoholic fermentation. In this biochemical process, candida and these other yeasts convert dietary sugars and carbs into ethanol or alcohol, and its by-product; acetaldehyde. In Adults, researchers discovered that when their patients had candida they appeared to be drunk without consuming alcohol and were often permanently drunk after a high carb meal.

For people with Candida, there is no need for Friday night drinks. They already have alcohol pulsing through their veins.

It’s addictive and it wreaks havoc on the entire body – especially the liver, our stomach acid and digestive enzymes. It causes brain damage, nerve damage and muscle weakness. And, to add fuel to the fire, vital nutrients, such as Vitamin B6, which is a cofactor for neurotransmitters, and zinc, which is the cofactor of immunity, are rendered useless by alcohol.

Clostridia can take up the house.

The clostridia family produce extremely powerful neurotoxins. These neurotoxins get into the bloodstream and then into the brain, where the rest of the nervous system lies, affecting development and function. Low muscle tone, often seen in autistic children, has been associated with a particular neurotoxin that clostridia releases – it basically stops muscle tone from developing (scary huh?). There’s a reason why these bugs are called the bad guys! Clostridia is pretty much resistant to antibiotics, and when antibiotics are taken, they remove both good and bad bacteria, leaving the clostridia alive and completely out of control.

And it doesn’t stop there.

These bacteria cause a further issue called Leaky Gut (or intestinal permeability for those that prefer to use ‘technical terms’). 

This is when yeasts and pathogens, such as candida, literally drill holes into the gut wall, where they then embed themselves and make a nice comfy home, thriving and surviving on all of OUR nutrients, much like an unwanted house guest.

These holes not only create an entry point for the bad guys, they also allow food particles, toxins and bacteria (and the toxins they release), that should not ordinarily pass through the gut wall, into the blood, where they circulate throughout the body. The immune system then mounts a response to these particles, resulting in further damage to the gut wall, and this leads to problems with nutrient absorption, the development of allergies, autoimmunity and places an additional load on the liver.

And what is our poor liver up to during all of this?

Our liver bears the brunt of an unhealthy gut. It’s trying its hardest to get rid of these toxic substances. However, it’s not able to filter properly and mop up the toxins because instead of receiving a steady supply of vitamins, minerals and amino acids to work at full capacity, the bad bugs are hijacking the nutrients, thus impairing liver function.

An impaired liver function will make you feel fatigued, irrational and irritable. Our liver is such an important powerhouse in our body. It drives energy production, filters our blood, and manages our immune system. It is vital to overall health and well-being to have a healthy and happy liver, and if it is burdened by pathogens,  you are going to have a hard time coping with day-to-day life.

So what can you do? And what is the dreaded “die off” that everyone talks about and how does that affect your liver?

My next blog will unpack the ways that you can support your liver and combat the toxins that the bugs release. If the liver isn’t supported when rebalancing your gut, you likely feel even worse than when you started and this makes it oh so tempting to throw the towel in and just give up. That doesn’t have to be the case, as there are ways to make sure that your liver is supported and in tip-top shape.