More than three weeks of eating clean and no weight lost. I am happy that my body composition appears to have changed. The casual observer (which I hope you all are) would not notice, but it seems to me that my subcutaneous fat (below the skin) is increasing and the abdominal fat is decreasing. This is a more healthful state, but I’ve never read of anyone else seeing this change. And I haven’t measured it, so I could be wrong.
At any rate, I have been reading a lot about nutrition and allergies. One of the major areas of scientific study now is in the area of gut flora. That would be the bacterial critters with which we coexist symbiotically. We evolved together, which really makes them a vital part of our bodily systems. They are like free-floating, microscopic organs of digestion. Since the 1940’s when antibiotics were introduced, we have been killing our good bacteria along with the bad ones that set up house-keeping. Then in the 1990’s we added antimicrobial agents to everything and decreased our opportunities to repopulate our good flora.
In a microbial sense, we’re like the grumpy old man who treats everyone badly, yells at the kids to stay off his lawn, and then wonders why nobody ever comes to visit.
The huge increase in dietary allergies and digestive ailments in the past decade or two seems linked either to the absence of good flora, or the proliferation of bad flora, or both. “Leaky Gut” is the rather evocative term used to describe the state that occurs when these bacteria are not in place. Microscopic bits of incompletely digested food can enter the blood stream from the intestines and cause problems.
Now, I don’t have a lot of allergies, but I’ve been overweight my whole life. What got me to thinking about the relationship of gut flora to weight was Christmas. My sister had scanned a bunch of family photos and we watched a slide show of them, both at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I remember seeing all the pictures of me before, but I was a really fat little guy. I don’t remember my diet at two years old, but it couldn’t have been much different from anyone else’s. This was the late 1960’s, and there was sugar, but no high fructose corn syrup, etc.
What was different for me was that I had very bad ear infections as a baby and toddler. I remember taking the penicillin (or maybe amoxicillin). I took LOTS of antibiotics. And they worked. They kept me alive and saved my hearing. I have tinnitus in both ears, but I can hear just fine. I’m wondering though just what happened in my intestines?
Believe it or not, there are a couple thousand strains (species) of beneficial bacteria in our bodies. Once some of these are gone, it is difficult or even impossible to repopulate them. Lots of them can be repopulated by eating fermented food like kimchi or sauerkraut. There are probiotic supplements that you can take too; essentially little bacteria pills.
There are other, more…invasive procedures. Incredibly, doctors are working miracles for people with Crohn’s Disease and similarly severe conditions with “fecal implants”. You read that right. They have a healthy donor and an ill patient. After a round of strong antibiotics, the patient fasts and is otherwise cleaned out. They liquefy the feces of the donor and implant it into the patient’s intestinal tract. The result in most cases is a nearly overnight cure. Despite the shudder factor, it is helping a lot of people.
So, my situation is nowhere near that drastic. I could have a proliferation of a bad bug, or lack a good one. What I’m going to do is this. I will fast for two days. I’ll have lemon water (and maybe a coffee in the morning). By evening on the first day, I’ll start taking GSE (grapefruit seed extract) which is a powerful alkaloid that kills bacteria and viruses. It doesn’t taste good, but it works very well. After a couple of days sipping GSE on an empty stomach, I should kill a lot of the bad guys in there (good ones too, unfortunately). When I come off the fast, I’ll start with fruit and organic yogurt. I’ll have kimchi for dinner. I’ll stop by the Farm Stand and get a couple of bottles of Kombucha (fermented tea). I’ll also supplement with the probiotics, eat lots of vegetables, and of course continue to avoid grains, sugars and starches.
My hope is that this little regimen will repopulate my gut with some of the beneficial flora that it needs to function well. At least it will give it the opportunity to begin healing. I’ll let you know how it works out. Stay tuned!