The Root Cause is the Gut Cause: The Simple Truth to Health and Vitality
Like most mums, the moment I had my son my focus shifted on all things infant related: sleep, play, routine, feeding and of course my son’s health. As soon as you have a child you realise it’s a whole new world of discovering how children develop, what is “normal” sleep? What is normal behaviour? What are the signs and symptoms of illness and how do I keep my son fit and healthy?
Having had a big passion in all things related to health and fitness before having my son, I of course applied some of the things I already knew but I also opened up a pandora’s box of research, reading, talking to paediatric chiropractors, doctors, naturopaths, sleep experts, oral health coaches, lactation consultants...the list goes on and on. Basically I delved in it all! And being an engineer with a science background, I didn’t hold back!
I soon realised the more I learned the more I didn’t know! So I researched and consulted more and because I am a numbers and facts kind of person, I needed data, stats, so I began a big journey into listening to as many webinars, online health summits, research papers, online courses, books and one on one consults as much as possible. I had never really noticed, until I had my son, is that we are living in a highly toxic environment and the current generation of children have many chronic conditions. It is not uncommon for children these days to have eczema, asthma, autoimmune illnesses, food intolerances, ADHD, ADD, autism, bipolar, PANS and the list goes on. According to this year’s heavy metals summit, it’s projected that by 2025, 80% of our children are going to have some sort of chronic illness. That’s 8 ion 10 kids!
This, of course, concerned me and made me want to look at ways I could mitigate our environment and my family’s health. These findings also made me look at my own health more critically and one area of health that I have delved into a lot is genetics, epigenetics and gut health. Our genetic predisposition to disease, illnesses and intolerances and behaviour is heavily guided by our environment. Dr Elisa Song, holistic paediatrician, summed it up well; “our genes have not changed in the past decade. So there is a reason why our kids are getting sicker and adults are getting sicker because these same genetic SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms), they’ve always existed. So what has changed is our environment. It’s the epigenetic expression of our genes that’s changed. It’s the interaction of our environment with our genetic makeup. It’s said that our genes load the gun but it’s the environment that pulls the trigger”.
So it’s clear out environment is making our kids sick, however, this is hard to see when you or your child present with ear infections, rashes, food intolerances, behavioural issues etc. it’s very hard to know what caused this and where to begin.
When my son was 11 months old he had recurrent ear infections. After many rounds of antibiotics, I realised I was not looking at the root cause and I was also not looking at the right answers. I consulted with a naturopath who suggested we look at his gut and do a stool sample test, for myself and for my son. While this was not a fun experience to be scooping bits of fecal matter and putting it into a specimen jar, the results were very interesting. My son showed missing gut bacteria and also a bacteria was present causing problems. We treated his gut naturally and he got better very quickly.
At the time I had also been looking into genetics and wanting to find out as much information as I could into genetic predispositions to know how to look after my sons health a bit more specifically. I had come across the MTHFR gene via Dr Ben Lynch’s website and I decided to get my son tested via MTHFR Australia. I knew this gene was one mentioned many times by other holistic practitioners and I knew this gene affected detoxification pathways in the body via methylation. I also now know that there are other genes but the MTHFR gene (methylene-tetrahydrofolate reductase) is responsible for the functioning of the enzyme responsible for converting folate in the diet into the usable form methyl folate which in turn helps vital detoxification pathways in the body. My son showed a homozygous mutation for this gene meaning he was genetically predisposed to have a 70% loss of function in his methylation pathways. I didn’t know what to do with this information. He presented with gut issues and also a genetic predisposition for detox impairment. I took my findings to a specialist doctor that had genetic knowledge. His first suggestion was to ensure my sons gut health was better. Probiotics and a good cod liver oil to get enough vitamin A and D and support his detoxification pathways better.
So given this information – both genetics and gut health and knowing that our environment is full of toxins, how do I ensure health and vitality for my family?
I now know “toxic load” in our environment is critical to reduce if we want to ensure good health for ourselves and our children. Our children are overloaded by toxicity and this in turn affects our biochemical and biomedical imbalances which translates to gut dysbiosis and leaky gut and, as Dr Song summarises so well “this leaky gut and gut dysbiosis is setting the stage for system, overall body oxidative stress and inflammation which is then triggering immune system imbalance, chronic infections, which in turn is causing stress to our mitochondria and cellular energy production”. Coupled with a genetic predisposition to not detox and you have a very good mix for chronic health issues for life!
Of course this has promoted me to do an immense amount of research. I have researched (and read the book) Dr William Walsh, 30 years of research into nutrient therapy and epigenetic cause of bipolar, autism, schizophrenia, depression etc. I have researched and completed Dr Ben Lynch’s courses on how to clean up “dirty genes” how to detox and eliminate sources of toxins in our environment. I have read Dr Jay Davidsons “5 steps to healing health protocol” on all things detox related. I have looked at cellular Detox by Dr Pompa, listened to the Immune defence summit, the microbiome summit, the genes summit the heavy metals summit. I have consulted with MTHFR Australia, Holistic doctors, chiropractors…well you get the idea!
And what did I find??
1. Eliminate the source of toxin exposure: from foods, water, air and home. In my home we have ensured we only use natural products for cleaning, bathing, washing and what we put on our skin such as deoderants and make up. I have ensured we eat organic, removed as much processed as is humanly and realistically possible, I have also ensured we upgrade our water filtration system for the whole house, changed our light bulbs and switched all electronic devices to flight mode at night to reduce constant EMF exposure (I also want to put a timer on our wifi!) I have even checked we don’t have a smart meter at our home! I have also tried to reduce and eliminate spraying of glyphosate in our yard. Seems excessive but the sources are literally everywhere!
2. Work on the gut microbiome: this is a really big one and the title of my blog because the root treatment of disease is in the microbiome. Gut health drives our mood, our energy, our immune system and even our oral health. Having a poor gut microbiome exposes the person to have poor absorption of nutrients leaving a person deficient and thus the immune system suffers and that’s when a person will get sick. A poor microbiome affects our mood as there is a lot of nerve connections from the gut to the brain and when we can’t digest it affects our mood and our ability to send the right signals to the rest of the body.
The gut microbiome sets the basis of our health. Without the right colonisation of gut bacteria our entire body cannot function and pathogens take over. It really is that simple. Finding high nutrient foods that nourish the gut lining, feed the good gut bacteria and help sustain the microbiome is key because without a healthy microbiome, the entire body falls apart. So, yes, nutrition is key and supporting the microbiome is where it all begins. This includes eliminating foods that feed the wrong bacteria and in turn cause inflammation.
Of course there are many other health and lifestyle factors to consider such as sleep, stress and exercise. However the two above are complex in themselves yet simple to achieve if you make small changes over time. It’s been years of learning for me but having my son accelerated this learning curve and for the bette