Your gut microbiome and your immune system.
Did you know that only one in every six cells in your body is human?
The other five cells are ‘bugs’, otherwise known as bacteria or microbiome.
- Microbiome is the biological term for the total population and variety of bacteria that are in your intestines.
- Given the breadth of the non-human cells in your body (remember, that’s five out of six!), it’s important to take care of them. They do, after all, take care of you.
- 70% of your immune system is integrated between your microbiome cultures and your intestines.
- If your microbiome isn’t intact, you will unfortunately suffer from issues and ill-health.
- Napoleon reportedly once said that “an army marches on its stomach”, and whilst we don’t consider ourselves an army here at The Maas Clinic, we do agree that your gut supports your overall health.
How do you know when you have good digestive health?
On a physical level the signs of good digestive health are obvious. On an emotional level, someone with good digestive health will generally be balanced.
Someone with good digestive health will have the following:
- clear white eyes
- a clean tongue
- clear skin
On a physiological level they will also have:
- 2-3 bowel movements a day
- pre-gas only before a bowel movement
- non-smelly wind, if any
Someone with good digestive health will NOT typically experience the following:
- gastric or acid reflux
- smelly wind
- bad breath
For a little more info on the Top 5 signs of good digestive health, click here.
Did you know, good digestive health is critical to your brain function.
You may not immediately link your digestive health to your brain function, but there’s a reason that Integrative Medicine practitioners like the saying “good food, good mood”.
Your brain relies on nutrients that reach it via your digestion.
An empowered mind, thoughts and feelings, all come off of the back of a healthy digestive system.
How can you support the growth of ‘friendly’ bacteria?
Along with a number of probiotic rich foods, there are other ways you can support the growth of friendly bacteria in your body.
- You can use a shop-bought probiotic supplement.
- You can also try ingesting a culture through a drink like kefir. Some people also like kombucha.
- Alternatively, if you are able to consume dairy, you can opt for a dairy product (yoghurt is popular) with a live culture.
The link between your microbiome, and your immune system.
There is a direct link between your friendly bacteria, and your immune system. The friendly bacteria help to make cofactors or “helper molecules" that assist in biochemical transformations and are fundamental building blocks for normal immune regulation. Friendly bacteria in your intestines produce some incredible immune factors.
If friendly bacteria is not present, your immune system cannot regulate. If your immune system becomes imbalanced it can self-attack, and that’s when autoimmune disorders come into play.
Hence why it’s so important to prioritise encouraging healthy microbiome.
How can you treat an imbalanced microbiome?
Autoimmune issues are intrinsically linked to poor gut health.
As Laurens shares:
“If anybody comes to see me with an autoimmune issue, I’m immediately thinking:
they have leaky gut
their microbiome is disordered
there’s some pathogenic bacteria in there, which is causing a bacterial endotoxic histamine response."
Laurens’ approach here at The Maas Clinic, for treating patients with autoimmune issues is, simply put:
“to get the good guys (bacteria) in, and the bad guys out.”
If that exchange of bad bacteria (out), and good bacteria (in), doesn’t happen, the immune system can’t regulate properly.
If that goes on for too long, over time that could turn into something more serious than immune disfunction —it could turn into an autoimmune disorder.
Autoimmune disorders include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, Parkinson’s and type 2 diabetes.
It can also lead to thyroid issues. For more information on this read our article here.
Is it possible to treat chronic digestive problems?
People who suffer with chronic digestive problems often feel exasperated by their disorder.
Chronic digestive problems include:
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease – GERD for short
- Non erosive reflux disease
- Chronic SIBO and IBS.
It can be demoralising and frustrating not to be able to find a treatment plan which works.
Fortunately, here at The Mass Clinic we have seen that it is eminently possible to recover from chronic digestive problems. Though, it must be noted, that is does take time.
For a client with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease for instance, it can take 1 – 2 years to treat fully.
As Laurens shares:
“It can take a year or two to treat ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, and to really nail the pathogens that are causing the problems. We need to repair the physiological systems, that got damaged in the process. As with every problem we treat clients for at The Maas Clinic, we look at the client’s health as a whole, and are fastidious about getting to the root cause of their problem. Often, chronic digestive issues come with a history of failed therapies, which can contribute to further problems."
Adrenal health and gut problems
When we treat clients for chronic digestive problems we look at a variety of things including:
- food choices
- bacterial population
- efficacy of digestive enzymes
- how well the adrenal hormones are working
If you have chronic gut problems, your adrenals will have been impacted.
Gut pain, and resulting toxaemia (blood poisoning), puts extra pressure on your adrenal glands.
In turn this has an impact on your hormone levels, which will decline. Your cortisol, melatonin and DHEA will decrease, thus impacting on your ability to rest and recuperate.
As with so many systems in your body, one ailing system has a negative impact on another.
Eating according to your paleo blood type
Laurens believes that eating in line with your blood type has a huge number of benefits, supporting your health and wellbeing and reducing stressors and reactivity.
For example, eating the right type and amount of protein to suit your blood type and weight is key in avoiding potential allergies. It also reduces the possibility of your blood becoming sticky and slower flowing, which in turn slows the flow of oxygen around your body. At the clinic, we can tell a lot about a person’s diet and lifestyle just from looking at the blood under a microscope!
Geeky fact… the ABO blood type system was discovered in 1901 by Karl Landsteiner and covers blood types O, A B and AB.
If you know your blood type, then take a look at the following details and supplements that may further support your system.
O blood types – 44% of the population
If you are O type you may benefit from meat and fish proteins but struggle with wheat and diary and suffer from high levels of gastric acid resulting in ulcers.
General supplements for Os:
- B vitamins
- Liquorice (take care if you have high blood pressure)
- Calcium carbonate (to offset acidity),
- Vitamin K.
A blood types – 40% of the population
If you are A type you would mainly benefit from a vegetarian diet with the addition of occasional white meat and fish. Generally this blood type group produce less stomach acid.
General supplements for As:
- Vitamin B12
- Folic acid
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Milk thistle
B blood types – 11% of the population
As a B type you can enjoy a wide variety of foods and can tolerate larger amounts of dairy in your diet, however shellfish and shrimp may be an issue and reducing the amount of chicken and poultry would be beneficial.
General supplements for Bs:
- Liquorice (take care if you have high blood pressure)
- Gingko Biloba
AB blood types – 5% of the population
AB types have very strong immune systems and carry all the benefits of A and B types but avoiding chicken and poultry would be beneficial.
General supplements for ABs:
- Vitamin C
- Milk Thistle
- Valerian root
- Hawthorne berry.
You can learn more about the blood type diet and blood type proteins in Laurens’ book The Hidden Cure
Lifestyle choices for better digestive health
- Regular good-quality sleep
At the end of a good night’s sleep the large intestine meridian channel, which is the bowel movement channel, will open up — usually between 5 – 7am.
A good night sleep ensures that your body is relaxed, and that the stool has been processed ready for exit, resulting in a better bowel movement the next day.
Yoga is a good way of getting your body to stretch, and to open up the muscles.
In osteopathy muscle groups relate to viscera.
There is a net improvement in visceral function when you actively stretch out your muscles on a muscular skeletal level,
Keeping your spine flexible too will help the nerve conduction to your organs work well.
The same goes for making sure that you don’t have a chronic stiff neck, or chronic shoulder pain, as that can affect the vagus nerve which controls your whole nervous system, and your diaphragm.
- Walking every day
An easy-to-include low impact exercise, ideally for 30 minutes each day.
- Cut back (or cut out) refined sugar, dairy and wheat for a month
Cutting out these highly-processed foods for a while will give your body a break. Try it and keep daily notes on the impact on your body and how you feel.
- Try cutting out Yin food for a while
Yin food is typified as ‘cold’ food. Foods within the ’Yin’ spectrum encourage bacteria since they’re known to promote cold, damp conditions — perfect for the growth of bacteria.
Cutting out Yin food for a while can lower the bacterial populations within your gut, and help to rebalance your microbiome.
Common Yin foods include:
- fruit – watermelon and star fruit
- vegetables – watercress, cucumbers, carrots, and cabbage
- soy products, such as tofu and soybean sprouts
- some meats, for example crab and duck
- cold drinks and water
- Consider eating foods high in polyphenols
Foods containing polyphenols quite literally ‘feed’ good bacteria.
Foods containing polyphenols:
- Apple cider vinegar
Once again, take care of your friendly bacteria, and in turn, it will take care of you.
A supplement to support your gut everyday.
As part of our ongoing mission to help you to feel as good as possible, we asked Laurens for his advice on a great all-round supplement. Here’s his choice!
The Garden of Life Primal Defense, probiotic. In Laurens’ words, “it’s ‘good dirty!”
The best place to purchase it? Here at the clinic, Gardenoflife.com or Amazon.com.
Interested in learning more about microbiome and your immune system?
Check out these additional resources: Clinical Education and Institute of Functional Medicine
“I started a programme of diet changes and stuck to it for some months, but I am now fixed. I’ve found the perfect balance and am insanely healthy."
We are passionate about unpicking our clients’ health concerns and it is our number one focus to help our clients to achieve their optimal health.
If you are suffering from a gut or digestion issue, we can help.