Do you have crazy food cravings that seem uncontrollable even for the most strong-willed? How about digestive discomforts such as bloating, acid reflux, diarrhea or constipation? Do you or your child have allergies, Autism, ADD, ADHD or autoimmune disease? Do you suffer from depression or mood swings? Gut Dysbiosis might be the culprit! But what is gut dysbiosis anyway? From Wikipidia:
Dysbiosis (also called dysbacteriosis) refers to microbial imbalance on or inside the body. Dysbiosis is most commonly reported as a condition in the digestive tract. It has been associated with illnesses, such as inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, obesity, cancer and colitis.
There is a delicate balance of microorganisms that exist in our bodies, living together in harmony. They have a symbiotic relationship which means neither group can live without the other. They perform a number of vital functions, from digestion all the way to immunity. We literally can’t live without them. The largest colonies live in our digestive tract in a very diverse and organized micro-world. Our gut’s micro-flora is constituted of these 3 groups: Essential or beneficial flora, Opportunistic flora and Transitional flora. A healthy adult carries around 4 pounds of them in their belly!
“All Diseases Begin in the Gut” – Hippocrates, 460-370 BC
The beneficial flora is the largest (or at least it is supposed to be) and the most important of the groups. The famous bifidobacteria and lactobacteria are among them. One of their key functions is digestion and absorption of nutrients. But they also serve as a protective barrier to our intestinal wall, making sure nutrients can come in but keeping everything else out. When there is not enough beneficial flora to protect that wall, compounds that are not supposed to pass through this barrier are able to make their way into the body, over-stimulating the immune system. There is a lot of medical evidence indicating that this is how allergies and autoimmune diseases are born. The over-permeability of the intestinal wall is a condition often referred as leaky gut. The transitional flora is comprised of the bugs we pick up, or ingest, coming in from outside of our bodies. Usually they go through our digestive track causing no harm. The opportunistic flora is also a large group, with a variety of microbes. Yeasts and Clostridia are some examples. In a healthy individual their numbers are usually limited and tightly controlled by the beneficial flora but when their numbers are low, the opportunist flora and transitional flora groups can get out of control causing an imbalance in our micro-flora called dysbiosis. The form of gut dysbiosis that is the most common is the overgrowth of yeast and bacteria in the small intestine. This condition is referred to as SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth).
“An extremely important, yet often overlooked, cause of gut dysbiosis is diet. Because the bacteria in your gut feed off the food you eat, what you eat can directly impact their numbers. This is especially true when it comes from grains, which our bodies are not well adapted to digest and which provide a large amount of complex carbohydrates to the microorganism in our guts. This excess food for microorganisms in our gut enables them to replicate beyond normal numbers – that is they overgrow – directly causing SIBO.” –The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne, Phd
Some of the factors that cause gut dysbiosis are: frequent antibiotic use and/or eating dairy and meat from animals treated with antibiotics, certain medications such as immune suppressants and birth control pills, stress, a diet rich in grains, sugar and starches and low in nutrients. All recipes in this website avoid all types of grains and I find it important to clarify why. Wheat, corn, rice, soy beans and any other cereal used as food (that includes gluten, which is a protein found in many grains) have been consumed for thousands of years. But grains are actually seeds, meant to produce a plant and not to be digested. In the past, grains were prepared very differently before they were consumed. They were soaked and then sprouted. You can think of this process as a “pre-digestion” since soaking and sprouting allows the compounds in the seed/grain to be broken down; making it a lot easier for them to be digested by the human body.
It’s also important to consider that a person who suffers from gut dysbiosis simply doesn’t have enough beneficial flora to break down grains properly before the intestinal wall can absorb their nutrients. This is true even when grains are soaked and sprouted. For this reason it is very helpful to avoid them until that flora is reestablished. The same is true for sugars and starches. As stated above, food that is not digested feeds the opportunistic flora, which loves to feast on sugars and complex carbohydrates, making it even more difficult to reestablish balance in the gut. You can view the avoidance of grains, sugars and starches as temporary, giving the gut a chance to get back on track. But the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have a problem, right? So Take this quiz to find out if Gut Dysbiosis is an issue for you.
If you suffer from gut dysbiosis, and consequently leaky gut, what can you do? Here at the DelicateBelly our mission is to offer recipes and guidance so you can proactively heal your gut. We design recipes based on the GAPS , Paleo and Paleo Autoimmune (also known as Paleo AIP) diet protocols. They include foods that are easy to digest such as broth, fresh juices, and dishes that are cooked with animal fats (which are packed with vitamins and minerals) and offer an abundance of vegetables and even some fruit. We also offer some dessert recipes, but those are foods to consume only once in a while.
To enhance your healing process we recommend the consumption of fermented foods and drinks such as kombucha, sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables, raw milk, yogurt and kefir. These foods have natural probiotics and are great allies to bring beneficial flora back into your gut. You can add gelatin (from pasture-raised cows) to many drinks and dishes. It is a great gut healing food since it’s rich in collagen. You can pair this with digestive enzymes and supplements like MSM sulfur, probiotics, L-glutamine and colostrum. Also think about adding in anti-fungals like oil of oregano, olive leaf extract and golden seal. These tools will help heal and seal your gut in no time. Any questions? Just comment below and we will do our best to help!
my child is 9 and she is autistic. strangely i never knew about how diets help our kids. so since a year i am on gf/cf diet and i buy nothing from shop…prepare my own meals. we did great initially but as i introduced coconut oil in her diet things changed. i am an Indian and vegetarian. i think incorporating diet with indian food tradition is big challenge for me. my child is showing dysbiosis and i think the culprit can be flours as we make flatbreads and little sugar i am still using. i really struggle what snack to offer her in evening as gap between lunch and dinner is 7 to 8 hours……..can u pls guide me for how to make kefir and when to introduce?
Hi, Shalini! It is great that you are trying the gf/cf approach and that you make everything from scratch. We have much more control in the quality of our ingredients that way and it’s also a great way to save money! Coconut oil is very nutrient rich, containing antibacterial, antiviral as well as anti fungal properties. It’s very possible that your child is experience die-off from introducing this food. My advice would be for you so start slow. Maybe 1/8-1/4 of tsp a day and see how she does. Grains, starches and sugars are difficult to digest, so I would suggest that you take a break from those until her gut flora is a little stronger with probiotic bacteria. If that is not possible due to a vegetarian diet you could try introducing digestive enzymes to aid her body with the digestive process. Proteins would be a great evening snack, such as a boiled egg, for example. They take longer to digest and will help her body stay full for longer periods of time. For tips on Kefir, the website Cultures for Health is a wonderful resource – http://www.culturesforhealth.com/starter-cultures/kefir-cultures.html. If you are a vegetarian you can still make vegetable stock, enhancing every cup with health fats such as ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil, etc… You can also add a little fermented vegetable juice when the broth is warm to touch. As you have noticed your child is sensitive make sure to start slow. Another great addition would be fresh juices with lots of leafy greens which are packed with protein. Just go slow as these foods can be very detoxing and if the your daughter’s detoxification pathways are not open they may cause die-off. If you experience die-off, one great help is detox baths to help her body rid itself of toxins in other ways. If you haven’t done so, you can like us on facebook and feel free to send a me a private message with any questions!