By Katie Guthrie
Having firsthand experience, I can tell you how much our gut and brain work together. Eleven months ago I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disease that made my body hyper-react to gluten. There was so much inflammation in my gut it affected my brain resulting in terrible brain fog. I couldn’t make decisions or complete anything and felt horribly sick, tired and, depressed.
Starting the Gerson Therapy kicked off my healing journey. It didn’t take long to see the benefits of eating an organic, whole food, plant-based diet. Slowly but surely I eliminated everything that caused inflammation in my body. Along the way, it cleared up my brain too and I could see clearly again.
There have been times where I accidentally had some gluten and surely twelve hours later, my body would go through an autoimmune response. Unfortunately, one molecule is all it takes. When this happens, I get painful inflammation that feels like someone is stabbing me in the gut with a butter knife. My bones and joints ache and all I want to do is sleep.
At the same time, I experience that terrible brain fog making it impossible to think clearly or concentrate on anything. My eyes drift away as feelings of anxiety and weepiness surface. Not fun.
My symptoms are no fun, very unpleasant and it usually takes me about 3 days to feel human again. What I have learned this past year is that I don’t have to feel this way: I can reduce the inflammation in my gut and have a clear brain! I can thrive in whatever I choose to do? How? By making mindful food choices. When we take care of our gut health, we take care of our brain.
Every day more research is showing the connection between brain and gut which resulted in nicknaming our gut the second brain. This research has been ground-breaking as it represents a break from the more conventional idea that brain disease must arise in the brain.
So, when you notice a difference regarding how your brain works, it might be time to have a closer look at your gut health.
HOW I REDUCED INFLAMMATION IN MY GUT AND STARTED THINKING CLEARLY AGAIN:
1. UPGRADING ON WHOLE PLANT BASED, ORGANIC FOODS
I start my day with eating organic gluten free oatmeal slowly cooked in water with apples. For lunch I take a big mixing bowl and fill it with mixed lettuce, shredded beets, cabbage and carrots, red onions and small baked potatoes. To change it up I’ll add quinoa, apples and raisins in place of potatoes. You can never have enough greens.
Remember to choose organic produce when possible, especially when it comes to the “Dirty Dozen” list of the highest sprayed crops.
You can start reducing gut inflammation right away by replacing pro-inflammatory foods with healthier alternatives. For example, you can replace dairy milk with nut milk made from hemp, coconut, or almonds. Go through your cupboard and throw out any processed food. If you can’t read the ingredients list don’t eat it. Eat more organic whole foods in your diet.
2. DOWNGRADING THE TOXINS AT HOME
I drink plenty of clean, filtered water. There are many good and affordable filters to choose from. Google and find the one that suits your budget and will benefit your health.
Go through your storage cupboards and throw out all chemicals. It is really easy and super cheap to make your own household cleaners. Again, the internet is your friend: you can find more DIY instructions than you'll ever be able to try out.
Personally, I make my cleaners with simple ingredients like vinegar, water, and lemongrass or lavender oil.
Change this habit will help you to reduce inflammation, support the environment instead of breaking it down and, it's super cheap!
3. CHECKING FOR FOOD SENSITIVITIES
“Do I have any lingering food sensitives that need to be addressed?” A simple and affordable blood test showed I sure did.
The test enabled me to eliminate certain foods out of my diet causing extra stress in my body. As a result, the inflammation in my gut reduced tremendously. Common food sensitivities are: gluten, soy, eggs and dairy. These can wreak havoc for some people. The best way of knowing, is having it tested. This way, you can identify the threats, eliminate them from your diet and turn down the inflammation in your gut.
Do you have any lingering food sensitives that need to be addressed? Well I sure did! It’s worth getting a blood test to see what foods you’re sensitive to. Eliminating certain foods out of your diet can take a lot of stress off your gut and reduce inflammation. Gluten, soy, eggs and dairy can wreak havoc for some people. If you identify any of these as potential threats; eliminate them from your diet and this will help cool the inflammation.
4. CHECKING IN WITH MYSELF
This is a big one for me. Being a mom means less time for myself. It was important for me to remember that when I was feeling tired, stressed out and, at the end of my rope, to stop and take care of myself. Does this sound familiar at all?
Stress can create a storm of inflammation in the body and inflammation often leads to other things which I can write a whole other blog about.
For me, it is important to be mindful and work on ways of alleviating stress. When I don't, my body breaks down.
How do I take time for myself? I love to grab a bath and soak for a while. Just completely rest my body and my mind. Get away from all distractions. I also love picking up a book and fuel my soul with new, interesting knowledge.
And lastly: I surround myself with people I love, spend time outdoors and get plenty of rest. This is how I learned to take care of myself. It might help you too.
Next time you feel depressed, anxious, brain fog or fatigued remember to focus on what is going on in your gut. Take a minute to think about your diet. Are you feeding your body with organic, whole foods? Are you eating more fruits and vegetables? Are you finding ways to combat stress and taking time for yourself? Did you throw out all toxic chemicals in your house and replace them with homemade, environmentally friendly ones?
Being mindful of this will help you feel a whole lot better.
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Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect your Gut - for Life; Dr. Pelmutter, M.D. and Kristin Loberg
Dr. Draxe: Healing leaky gut and autoimmune disease
The Daily Beast: The Cure for Brain Diseases Is in Your Gut; Dr. Pelmutter, M.D.
Author Katie Guthrie
Edited by Stephie Hennekam