So, here I was, faced with the news that I had developed food allergies and autoimmunity, and that I just had to live with these facts and get prepared for a slow ride into the darkness of ever-worsening disease. Refusing to accept this descent, I dug in and researched. I was suddenly fascinated with the question: How does my body really work?
All my life I had taken for granted that my body worked well – I had never questioned how. But, now that it seemed to be breaking down, I had to know. I believe life is to be enjoyed and savored. I now realized that to continue this way of living, I better get in touch with the mechanics of this body, because it truly is our vehicle, our vantage point.
One game changing piece of information I discovered is: we don’t actually have one brain, we have two, and if that second brain is unwell, expect chaos.
The second brain is located in the gut, and communicates with the first brain (the one in the head) by a long nerve, called the Vagus Nerve.The Vagus Nerve begins in the brain stem, and wanders throughout the ‘viscera’, or the internal organs, specifically the organs of the chest, abdomen and pelvis. This is where the term ‘visceral reaction’ comes from – referring to a feeling deep in the gut.
What exactly is the gut? The GI (gastrointestinal) Tract is a hollow tube that runs through the body, from the mouth, through the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine or colon, and out through the rectum. This is the part of our inner body that is exposed to the outside world, by the things we ingest through our mouths. The Vagus Nerve is constantly using its sensors to see what’s going on in the gut, and sending messages back to the main brain about the state of affairs.
Interesting!! The term ‘gut reaction’ has a scientific basis. Does this have any connection to autoimmunity and allergies? Oh, yeah. I had stumbled across gold with this knowledge. Let me explain.
There is a section of the GI tract that has a whole lot to do with autoimmunity and that is the small intestine. The small intestine is a tubular structure that winds back and forth, so although it is called ‘small’ it is actually quite long. This very important organ has a wall that is not very thick, and that can be delicate. Large particles are not meant to escape this wall, they are meant to be broken down into tiny molecules that our body can use as energy. Anything we can’t use, is supposed to pass into the colon from here, and be expelled.
The problem arises when the wall of our small intestine becomes compromised, because when this happens, large molecules – usually protein chains – escape the intestinal wall and are released into our bloodstream. Now our second brain is shouting out, ‘Call in the troops!’ The troops – the immune system – rev up to annihilate these intruders. When this continues to happen over time, the immune system becomes overactive. In a later post I will go into more detail about how this eventually develops into autoimmunity and food allergies.
In this post, I am shining the spotlight on an unwanted visitor in the GI tract, one that I picture like an evil octopus – actually, a team of evil octopi – that once introduced, will hold onto the inside of your gut, happy to have found such an awesome home. This evil octopi team is called yeast – once it’s out of control, the term is candida. And quite simply, the culprit is SUGAR. Sugar will destroy the intestinal wall and cause great havoc. That’s right, yeast will destroy the intestinal wall, making it permeable so that large molecules go where they are not supposed to go. Talk about a bad gut feeling.
In my year to heal, the first thing I did in January, was to totally eliminate processed sugar in any form from my diet. Was this hard? At first, yes. And let me tell you, candida is a real bugger to defeat. It took me 9 months to finally kill this invader, and only when I was victorious in this battle, did my hives finally stop.
Step one in your year to heal: Take your sugar bowl, tell it thank you for the good times, and throw out the window. And don’t look back.