This blog is a way of sharing the information and resources that have helped me to recover my son Roo from an Autism Spectrum Disorder. What I have learned is to view our symptoms as the results of underlying biological cause, which can be identified and healed. I say "our symptoms" because I also have a neuro-immune disorder called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

And, of course, I am not a doctor (although I have been known to impersonate one while doing imaginative play with my son)- this is just our story and information that has been helpful or interesting to us. I hope it is helpful and interesting to you!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Gut Health Interview with SCDLifestyle

These notes are for a podcast from Underground Wellness (click here to listen) featuring Jordan Reasoner and Steve Wright of the website SCDLifestyle,com

The show is about gut and digestive health but largely focused on what our bowel movements tell us about these two areas of our health.  Basically, our poop is an "output variable" that gives us information about what is going on inside our systems.  Healthy elimination of stool occurs usually between 1 and 3 times per day, and should involve no straining or discomfort.  They recommend consulting the Bristol Stool Scale for more information about what our poop tells us and what is healthy. 

What are factors that cause less than ideal poop?

First factor is eating a real food diet, such as paleo, WAPF, primal.  Eating the standard American diet is problematic and should be addressed first.  If you are eating real food and still have poop issues, you are most likely dealing with chronic illness.  There are three main body systems involved in producing healthy poop, and they tend to find that at least 1 or 2 of them are diseased in clients with poop problems.  These include the hormonal axis (the HPA axis), which is how the brain and the body communicate, which can include sex hormones, thyroid hormones, and stress hormones like cortisol.  The GI tract is another relevant system, which seems obvious but can be involved in more complex ways than people sometimes think, including issues like SIBO, leaky gut, parasite and bacterial infections, intestinal inflammation.  The third main system is the liver detox system which includes the liver as well as the other ways that the body removes toxins, including the the lymph system, the circulatory system,  and the skin.

More on the hormonal axis....

For many people there is a stressful triggering event that leads to a downturn in people's GI health, such as a trauma, a death, an accident, etc.  This can lead to itchy eyes, acne, poor libido, which indicate the hormonal axis coming apart.  Cortisol, produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress, is the primary anti-inflammatory hormone in the gut, and when people aren't able to produce enough inflammation in the gut gets out of control.  With ongoing stress the communication pathways between the brain and the adrenals get worn out.  Then we can't shut off the inflammation in the gut.  Pretty much everyone with any gut issues and/or food intolerances has leaky gut to some degree.  Proper cortisol levels are what seals up the leaky gut. 

DHEA is also made by the adrenal glands and is very correlated with the immune system in the gut.  As the hormone system in the gut breaks down, we also lose our immune function in the gut.  Adrenal fatigue causes us to lose our secretory IgA function in the gut.  This is what is primarily responsible for taking care of yeast, bacteria, parasites, and even food particles that didn't get broken down int the gut.  This can also cause new food sensitivities to occur. 

What are the specific issues in the gut to look for?

Inflammation and leaky gut are a vicious cycle.  The majority of their clients test positive for parasitic and bacterial infections in the large intestine such as H. Pylori, and issues like SIBO in the small intestine.  SIBO also tends to come from inability to digest complex carbohydrates. 

What about liver detoxification pathways?

Leaky gut allows toxins like LPS (which come from the infections in the gut) into the body, foods that aren't being broken down enough.  The liver has to work to process medications and supplements that we take to address our gut issues.  Heavy metals and other environmental toxins also take out this system.  People with sluggish and overburdened livers are often the people who seem very sensitive to supplements, who can only take one brand, and who seem to do poorly on prescribed protocols needing to go slowly.  The liver is a big part of regulating hormones, so you can't hope to balance hormones without addressing the liver.  Skin issues often indicate an overflow of toxins from the liver that the body is excreting another way.  Constipation allows the body to reabsorb toxins that it's trying to excrete, which further burdens the liver.  This is called low grade endotoxemia.  (There is another interview on UW with Tom O'Bryan about LPS toxicity).

Examples from clients 

They say that about half of their clients have had issues relating to dysfunction in these 3 systems from birth, and about half of the clients had a triggering stressful incident that followed very good health, which led to disease onset.  Problems can include constipation issues from childhood, headaches, chronic sinus infections, menstrual problems from the onset of menstruation, etc. 

Misc from questions...

Are routine colonoscopies necessary?  They point out that many problems can occur from the prep process for the scopes, which can clean out the good bacteria from your gut so probiotics are really important to follow up with.  What causes pencil thin poops?  This can be caused by blockages, make sure to avoid grains, than do stool testing.  They suggest 2 tests, a BioHealth 401H (which is a stool culture) and MetaMetrix 2105.  It's important to make sure that there isn't a bacterial or parasitic infection in the gut.  Especially if the person is eating areal food diet, look for a parasitic or bacterial infection right away.

Some supplements speed up the bowels, such as protein powders (like whey and casein), also caffeine can speed along bowel movements.  

NAC is good for boosting glutathione status to support the liver.

Not eating enough fat can cause constipation, because fat content can trigger peristalsis. 

Digestive enzymes are a very important to support digestion, especially if the gallbladder has been removed.  Loose stools or nausea indicate the need for more enzymes or other digestive support.

Functional medical practitioners use different labs and different tests than standard general practitioners do, which are much more advanced and turn up issues that general doctors and tests miss.  The page 6 gut infection case studies gives more info on the tests that these practitioners use.