Fed & Fit

Ep. 41: Gut Health 101 (Part 2 of 3)

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The Fed+Fit Podcast | Nurturing a Healthy Mindset for a Healthy Lifestyle

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Ep. 41: Gut Health 101 (Part 2 of 3)

On today’s part 2 episode of the gut health miniseries, we’re talking all about the gut flora and intestinal barrier disruptors.

Topics:
1. Updates from Cassy [0:32]
2. The two parts of the gut [8:12]
3. Part one of the gut, the gut flora [10:23]
4. Part two of the gut, the gut barrier [14:21]
5. What can damage the gut lining [16:39]
6. Effect of lifestyle on the gut [26:43]

1. Updates from Cassy [0:32]

Cassy Joy: Howdy everybody! Glad to be back again with you for another episode of the Fed and Fit podcast. Just a couple of notes before I jump into today’s part 2 of the gut health miniseries. I wanted to let you guys know that if you’ve been following Fed and Fit for a while, especially since last holiday season, you probably remember the Holiday Feast eBook that I published last year. Well; it goes back on sale this week! You know, I took it down after New Year’s last year, and I made a promise that I would be sending out an updated copy again this year. So here we are.

This new 2015 version includes a brand new Halloween chapter, and just like last year we’ve got over 50 recipes in the eBook, over 150 pages, and it’s got 5 different menus each for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Eve; Halloween of course being the bonus chapter this year. Each of those menus include; we’ve got one for autoimmune, one for 21-Day Sugar Detox, one for low-FODMAP, one for low-carb, and the last one for what I like to call Fed and Fit decadence. It’s kind of like a much healthier way to holiday and enjoy the holidays, but still have a piece of pie and still have a snuggler, you know {laughs} which is hot cocoa with a little peppermint schnapps in it. But, anyways.

I’ve got all those awesome recipes, what I think is the best paleo pie crust out there. I guess I should say paleo-friendly, but it’s great and it’s made the old fashioned way where you chill the butter, you roll the dough, and you chill the dough again. So it’s a project that I poured a lot of time and a lot of heart into it because the holidays are just so very special and very important to me, and I wanted to create a way to share kind of my holiday table with you all. And kind of feel a little bit liberated. The holidays shouldn’t be a time where we stress out, and think; oh gosh, well here we go, I’m just going to be unhealthy for the next two or three months, and then when January rolls around, I’ll get back on track.

I think there’s a way to have your cake, and eat it too. And that’s really what I wanted to provide for you guys, a resource that kind of bridged the gap there. You know, it was; yeah, you know what; that pumpkin pie should be enjoyed, it’s Thanksgiving for Pete’s sake, so let’s make a pumpkin pie that everybody loves, and it just also happens to not be detrimental to health. I like to think of them as benign recipes. Maybe not; pumpkin pie isn’t necessarily going to be a boost any which way you cut it, but it can definitely help out.

And then I also created a bunch of recipes for you guys, if you are following a strict autoimmune protocol, or if you are following, let’s say a 21-Day Sugar Detox or an extended Sugar Detox, or low-FODMAP plan. I included special recipes with special modifications for you guys. I have a pumpkin pie custard that is bananas! It’s so stinking good. So you can have that instead of the pie, and still feel like you’re taking part in the holidays.

Anyways, that was a lot more than I intended to talk about it, but I’m really excited. I think it’s a great project, and my team has done an awesome job of updating it for you this year. The Halloween menu is pretty exciting; I’ve got some spooky treats for you! So I encourage you to check that out. And keep in mind, for each of those 5 menus that I’ve got for each of the holidays, I also included not only the menu, but we also have a shopping list guide, so we went and scrolled through all of the ingredients for all of those recipes for each menu and pulled out all the ingredients, so you’ve got a one-page shopping guide.

So if you decide that you want to have an autoimmune Thanksgiving dinner, you can just take that page, that shopping guide, and go straight to the grocery store. Cross off the stuff you’ve already got in your house, if you’ve already got salt, and you’ve already got garlic, or whatever it is, and then go to the store and buy what’s on there. It’s super duper easy; already ready for you.

And I also included, for each one of those; you can tell this type A side of my personality, I get really excited about being organized. But I also included for each of those a “What to Make When” guide. So when you’re prepping a Thanksgiving dinner, for example, it can be a little overwhelming to think; oh my goodness! I have to make these 9 dishes for these 12 people that are coming over; or maybe more, or maybe less. And so what I’ve done is I’ve looked at the span of all the recipes I included for each of those guides, so say if you’re following the low-carb Thanksgiving dinner, or the low-carb Christmas dinner; I’ve looked at the recipes that I’ve got there, and I’ve pulled out the steps across the span that you can do in advance. So I’ve got a “2 days ahead”; “1 day ahead”; “the morning of”; and “right before the guests get there”. So it’s able to just break it out. You can just kind of go on autopilot, and just enjoy your holidays.

I guess that’s what I really want, with this eBook. Is for you guys to lean on it, and just enjoy the holidays. Spend your mental energy, not on worry about what you’re going to make for dinner, or what you’re going to bring to the potluck, or how you’re going to host all these people, or how you’re going to stay healthy, or how you’re going to convince uncle Joe that this low-carb apple pie isn’t actually a low-carb apple pie. I don’t want you to worry about that; I want you to spend your mental energy on being with your friends and family. Because that’s what it’s all about. So that is my gift to you guys; I hope you love it.
To make good on a promise, again, that I made last year; I told everybody who, I’d like to think of you as early adopters. So the folks who bought the holiday book last year, I’m still more than flattered and honored, and I promise that those of you who got it, I was going to email you an updated copy this year for free. So we’re doing that! In the next few days, this, of course, podcast airs on Monday. But in the next few days, hopefully by Wednesday, you will receive an email from a lovely young lady on my team, her name is Megan. So she will be emailing you a copy of the Holiday Feast; so keep your eyes peeled for that.

If it doesn’t show up in your inbox, at least by the end of the week if not by Wednesday, go ahead and shoot Megan an email. She’s expecting to hear from you guys, but her address is Megan@FedandFit.com. So sent her note; say, “hey I don’t know if it went to my junk folder or not, but I would love to get my free copy of the Holiday eBook”, and she will take care of you. Because I want you guys taken care of! Again; no stress. Spend your mental energy this holiday where it really matters, and that’s with your family.

Ok, having said all of that. By the time next week episode airs; not this one but the next one; I will be a married woman. I’m so excited! I get married; if you’re listening to this podcast when it airs, I get married this Saturday, and I am just tickled. October 24th, in case you’re listening later. So, I will be out of the state, and then out of the country. We are headed to New Zealand for our honeymoon for the next several weeks. So in advance, please accept my apologies for being later to reply to your messages and emails. I will be back in late November, and with all of this, no more wedding to plan free time on my hands, you will be hearing a lot more from me. I appreciate you being here, and if you need anything in the immediate, my team is super awesome. They’re watching all of the communication channels, and they’re here to help you guys.

2. The two parts of the gut [8:12]

Ok; let’s get back to it. Alright, so part 2 of this 3 part series of the gut health. So in the first one, in case you missed it; I encourage you listen to it, but the first episode, episode 1 was gut health 101, and why it matters. Why does it matter so darn much, and we talked about all of the in’s and out’s, all of the diseases. Why is it something that you’re hearing of more and more? Why is gut health all over the place? We answered a lot of those questions in the first episode.

In this episode, episode 2, we’re talking about not why is it so important, but what the heck are those disruptors? So what are the things that do mess up our gut health? We learn that our guts are kind of made up of two distinct parts. We’ve got our gut flora, and those are the 100 trillion bacteria strains that make up our gut flora. You can learn more about that in episode 1 of this series. And then we also have the gut barrier; the physical barrier that makes up our intestine lining. So in that context, we’re going to talk about the two again today, and how those two are impacted and what really causes them to be compromised.

So, dialing it down a little bit further, I want to break up today’s episode, which is going to be pretty short and sweet, but I want to break it up into two different parts. We’re going to talk on a small scale, and then we’re going to talk on a big scale. So we’re going to zoom in, and we’re going to look pretty closely, kind of think, what is it, Ms. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus. We’re going to kind of travel into the body, and we’re going to show a real close up; what are we talking about when we’re talking about this gut flora? And what the heck are we talking about when we’re talking about this gut barrier?

And then we’re going to zoom back out; Ms. Frizzle is going to drive the Magic School Bus back out, and we are going to talk in a more practical sense. What does this really mean to you? What are the things that you’re experiencing in your everyday life that are actually having an impact on the gut flora and the gut barrier?

3. Part one of the gut, the gut flora [10:23]

Ok; so. The first question; small scale, what causes poor health in terms of the gut flora? How is the gut flora impacted? So because my brain in all of its crazy wonder, I work really well with analogies, so I hope you guys stick with me on this one. Because I think it describes it pretty well.

So if you think of your gut flora, it’s kind of a gross topic, right? We’re thinking of gut flora and bacteria, so it can kind of be a turn off, so I kind of want to paint a prettier picture for you guys, so you can really grasp how awesome our bodies are in this relationship we have with these microorganisms. So if you think of your gut flora as a garden with a variety of flowers, and shrubs, and grasses, and weeds, and trees, and bigger trees. It’s just got all of these awesome plants; it’s this rainforest. This expansive, almost seemingly infinite array of microorganisms. This wide variety of plants, per se. they’re present, and they’re all necessary to make that perfect balanced eclectic garden/rain forest, however you want to think of it.

The flowers help to keep the weeds from taking over, the shrubs kind of help to create some shade for more of the delicate plants; and the gut flora, similar to this garden, of course in this garden we have 100 trillion different “plants”; they’re very similar. We’re given this big variety of wonderful microorganisms that all work to help manage our immune system, part of our endocrine system; you know, our hormones, and a lot of our digestive system, all on our behalf. It’s pretty cool that they work for us that way.

And just like a garden, this gut flora can be directly impacted positively by feeding it foods that it needs to eat, and negatively by exposing it to toxins. So, water, fertilizer, and fertilizer in this analogy could be in the form of nutrients that feed the good bacteria, right? So the good bacteria in your gut eat those healthful foods. The healthy vegetables, the slightly predigested foods that are fermented that we eat; sauerkraut and kimchi and kefir. I can never say kefir right. Those kinds of food feed the good bacteria, and the good bacteria produces nutrients that the body can absorb and uses really well. And then, of course, giving another healthful practice to feed the nurturing of this garden includes giving it kind of time off; giving it a day and a night. The garden needs a day and a nighttime, and allowing your body to rest between meals could be that practice.

Toxins and other unhealthful practices that could influence kind of a degradation of the gut flora include also some of the foods we eat. Alcohol is an example. Toxic, highly processed seed oils, too much sugar, preservatives, artificial ingredients, etc. We’ll go over more of that in details in a second; can negatively impact the gut flora. Dehydration, starvation by some nutrients, by not eating healthy foods. So, malnutrition, for example. And then exhaustion and stress can all cause this garden to start kind of wilt, and die, and wither. Maybe some of the flowers are killed off because they just couldn’t hack it because we weren’t giving it the right micronutrients. And then some of the weeds start to take over. That’s kind of the ebb and flow of our gut flora.

4. Part two of the gut, the gut barrier [14:21]

So looking instead at the gut flora, let’s look at the gut barrier. I’m sure you’ve heard the term “leaky gut” by now. And that’s, again, kind of a gross concept. And once upon a time, I led a keynote {laughs} at a gala. It was this National Gluten Free Day Gala in San Antonio, Texas, and everyone was eating this wonderful, beautiful gourmet meal, and I got up and took the stage and I started talking to them about leaky gut. And I saw people put their forks down {laughs}. So forgive me if this grosses you out. I will try to use the words intestinal hyperpermeability if that helps.

But essentially, what I want to talk about is kind of the gut barrier, and what does leaky gut really mean. So you can think of a healthy gut lining as having several layers. So several lines of defense. Because that’s the role; we talked about in episode 1, that’s the role of the gut. The inside of the gut; if you think about where the food goes through, that’s essentially the outside world. Because it comes in, and then it goes out. Right? And the gut barrier, all the good things in there that are part of our line of defense, those are kind of like those bouncers that we talked about before that decide who is allowed to pass into the actual body cavity.

So, we have the bacteria is one of our lines of defense; those 100 trillion microorganisms. And those help to break down foods, which create nutrients that we can then absorb and use. We have the mucosal lining, and then we have the actual cells, which are a part of our body that all make up this several layered, several lines of defense. And note that, of course, our own immune system is present here in this system. So those cells we were talking about that make up the barrier are all tightly smashed together, and they hold real tight when they’re really healthy, and they do their best to keep the integrity of the barrier maintained.

So what happens is, when we have an unhealthy diet, an unhealthy lifestyle, or exposure to medications or other toxins that are damaging, it can compromise one of our lines of defense. It could have an impact on the healthy microorganisms. It can have an impact on the mucosal layer, and it can have an impact on the actual walls; the cells of the intestines. They become damaged and compromised. Those tight junctions between the cells of the body can often start to loosen a little bit, and that creates a hole. It creates a leak in the gut. So that’s what we’re talking about; that is that leak that we’re talking about. The several lines of defense, all of a sudden because of the things that we do to it, become compromised, and then some of these larger than healthy food particles; bad bacteria or other compounds that our body usually passes out, finds its way into the body cavity.

Initially what happens is that the liver tries to kick in and filter out some of the waste, but eventually the liver really isn’t enough for the job, and our body’s immune system will kick in and take over the monumental task of cleaning up. So what happens when the immune system kicks in is inflammation ensues, and if the leak isn’t patched, so to speak, the inflammation will continue. And then the cascade goes from there, as you could have future development of food allergies become more likely, diseases caused by inflammation become more probable. Those include autoimmune disease, heart disease, arthritis, etc. we talked about those in the first episode. And the gut becomes even more damaged and weakened, so it’s just like the cycle continues. It feeds upon itself.

5. What can damage the gut lining [16:39]

So; that is the Ms. Frizzle edition of this episode. Now, let’s kind of take a step back. Let’s look more now; practically, what does this mean? What can I do, what are the things that I’m doing that are compromising my gut health? So on a large scale; number one, let’s talk about food toxins. And one of my favorite resources, actually in this industry, his name is Dr. Chris Kresser. You can find him at http://chriskresser.com/; I think that’s his URL. But we will link to it in the show notes. He defines a food toxin succinctly, and I really like this as; well, he’s essentially talking about a food toxin, but I like this list.

He talks about it will produce a toxin that damages the lining of the gut, it produces a toxin that binds essential minerals, making them unavailable to the body. So you might be eating all the right foods; all the healthy fruits and vegetables, but if you’re also eating these toxic foods that produce these toxins that bind those minerals that keep your body from absorbing them, then you become deficient in those nutrients, even though you’re eating them. That’s what we’re talking about there. And then lastly, a food toxin could be something that produces a toxin that inhibits digestion and absorption of other essential nutrients. So sort of the same sort of thing, but we’re talking about digestion here. So it’s serving as a block to those nutrients that you’re trying to absorb.

So what are some of these foods? What are these foods that are causing all this havoc that are messing up the gut lining? Compromising not only the gut flora, but the gut barrier, or they’re preventing these awesome nutrients that we’re working hard to eat; we’re chewing up that kale salad, and by golly I want to make the most out of it. So what are these foods that we’re eating that are messing that up? One of them is wheat, of course, and other cereal grains. But we all know; at least if you’re following in the paleo world, all the in’s and out’s about wheat. And if you don’t; and if you’re new to paleo, I always like to recommend Wheat Belly by Dr. Davis. I think that’s a great introduction. It’s not a paleo book, but I think he does an awesome job of describing the science and dangers of wheat.

Wheat contains a protein called gliadin, and gliadin increases zonulin in the body. And zonulin is a protein that subsequently increases intestinal permeability. Intestinal permeability is leaky gut; right? So the intestines become more permeable, so more things can get through to it. And because of this cascade of reactions; think of it as a domino effect. When we eat wheat, this essentially, we think of ourselves as causing more intestinal permeability.

Another food toxin; sugar. Especially when consumed in excess. Processed foods, preservatives, and other artificial ingredients, like food dyes. That’s kind of what I’m talking about there. Processed seed oils; so we’re talking about canola oil, vegetable oil, all of those; goodness. There’s more. There’s more out there, but those processed oils. That oils that are excluded here would include butter, let’s say from a grass-fed cow, like Kerrygold. Those are great. Coconut oil is good, olive oil, really good olive oil like Kasandrinos olive oil is really good. If you want to buy really good olive oil, go to my website, FedandFit.com, search for Kasandrinos and you’ll pull up the podcast episode where we had Tony Kasandrinos on, and he gave us a discount code for Fed and Fit listeners. I think actually the discount code is just FEDANDFIT, and I’m pretty sure it’s still good for 10% off. So if you want 10% off of your olive oil from Kasandrinos, literally the best ever, please do that.

Let’s see; and then other food toxins include soy and subsequent soy products. And I’m really talking about soy that’s consumed as a meal replacement. I’m not going to split hairs at this point and talk about soy sauce, or other fermented soy products. We mean soy as a meal replacement; tofu dogs, for example. Other food toxins include some of the obvious; alcohol, that’s obviously not a health food, and it’s obviously going to do some damage. So food; there we go, that was the number one that can cause poor health. Something that you can definitely influence.

Next one, dehydration. Pretty obvious. I’ve done a lot of episodes on dehydration, that’s something that’s really important to me, and it’s going to come as no surprise to you if you’ve been a long time listener. Next up, medications. Antibiotics; let’s talk about those first. The use of antibiotics is directly linked to a loss of gut flora diversity, and a change in the overall makeup that is not right-sized without reinoculation. So let’s say, if you have a moderate use of antibiotics. Let’s say you got a cold last fall, and you just couldn’t kick it, and your doctor prescribed a Z-Pak, and you went ahead and took it. But you haven’t taken any more antibiotics since then. What about you? I can hear you guys asking; well what about me?

I want to say that in some of my research, some studies have shown that after 6 months of a short period on antibiotics, most of the bacteria levels can be recovered, but some strains are lost forever. So, that’s important to know. It’s kind of like; what you’re born with is what you get, and we have to maintain that garden, like we were talking about. We have to kind of maintain and nurture those more delicate plants and flowers that are doing really wonderful things for us, that are digesting some of those nutrients that our body really needs. We have to protect them. So some antibiotics are going to zap them altogether. It’s probably going to cause an imbalance in the gut flora, you know; like maybe zapping some of the good bacteria and some of the bad bacteria will tend to overgrow really quickly. And we can rebalance it later, but that might happen.

So note that if you tend to experience, for example, diarrhea after the use of an antibiotic, it could be because the antibiotic resistant bacteria; and we’ll call those bad bacteria for the sake of this description, have started to overgrow due to the disappearance of their “good” bacteria counterparts. And a side note; if you’re a lady who plans to get pregnant, it’s important to know that antibiotics you take while pregnant can directly alter or result in an insufficient amount of gut bacteria in your newborn. So again, what you’re born with is what you get. So pregnant mommies, I think that’s just something to be conscious of.

And I’m not saying; let’s say you already had your baby and you took antibiotics; don’t think you did anything wrong. This is just kind of like a “the more you know” kind of thing; I’m not trying to talk down to anybody or belittle any of your decisions. Because nobody is there but you, and that’s a decision only you can make. But it’s a cool thing to think about, what our babies are born with, and what we are born with, is what we’ve got to protect and nurture, and that really constitutes the basis for our health.

Another medication that could have an influence on our gut health is hormonal birth controls. And lastly, NSAIDs; those are those pain killers, those non-steroidal pain killers. Those include ibuprofen, which off the shelf those are Advil and Motrin; naproxen sodium, which is Aleve, and aspirin, which Bayer is a form of aspirin.

6. Effect of lifestyle on the gut [26:43]

Ok, and the last thing I want to talk about today that has an impact on our gut health is lifestyle. This is a big one as well. All these are big ones; they all work together. So, first and foremost, stress. We think of stress as tipping over that first domino in a hormonal cascade. So when stress in your body starts to kick over various hormones, which can ultimately result in an imbalance of microorganisms, and it can disempower the protective power of your gut barrier.

So chronic stress maintains it’s disruption for a longer period of time, causing more inflammation, more stress, and the cycle just continues. And when it comes to stress, as with all things, you must break the cycle. So break the stressors. Really start to get on top of your chronic stress; get to the bottom of it. Why am I so stressed out, why am I so anxious? There are several things you can do there. I’ve got episodes in the podcast lineup about stress. But as soon as you break that cycle; and note that it will get worse before it gets better how you’re feeling, but things will get much, much better.

Other lifestyle habits, I guess we can call them that can influence your gut health include exposure to some cleaning products. You know, constant toxic exposure. If you are somebody who; let’s say you are cleaning houses for a living, or you’re in college and you’re doing that to make some extra money. Constant exposure could have an impact, so encourage you to look at nontoxic cleaning products, or start wearing masks and other things. Make sure you wear gloves.

Overexercise is a lifestyle habit that can have an impact. Overexercising can eventually cause exhaustion, which probably results in more stress, more dehydration and malnutrition. And then lastly, lifestyle; let’s talk about chronic infections, which really result in an overworked immune system. That immune system, remember, is a part of our gut barrier, and a part of what helps to maintain the integrity and help us from having a leaky gut.

So that is all I want to talk about for today’s episode, but because life isn’t as simple as “always avoid antibiotics” or “never stress out” or “never eat unhealthful foods”; that’s just not practical! Real human beings don’t live perfectly like that. So there are going to be times when our guts will be compromised. So in the next episode, we’ll talk about several how to heal methods so that you can plan your next gut healing move with confidence. You’ll be able to really take a self reflect, figure out maybe where your gut health is at; maybe you got an idea after these last 2 episodes. But be able to figure out where you are from here and where you want to go. There are some little short steps we can take, there are some medium shapes and there are some big steps. I will go through all of those so you’ll feel really good about.

So, thank you all for joining me this week. Like I said, the next time you will hear from me, I will be a Mrs. and I’m very excited about it. You guys have a wonderful week, and I’ll talk to you next time.

   

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