Today we’re diving into the third part in “The GAPS Diet for Dummies” series. We’ll be talking about how the damage happens to gut flora.
The GAPS diet for dummies, part 3: how does the damage happen?
If you’ve been with me through my first two posts in this series, good for you! These three episodes are the more technical ones.
Although they might not seem quite as exciting as when we actually dive into the diet, it’s really important to have a strong foundation of knowledge before beginning the GAPS diet.
It’s really vital know why we’re doing what we’re doing, and the reasons behind it. Also, as this episode will point out, it’s important to know what sorts of things to avoid to keep any more damage from being done.
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Leave the past in the past
There is one very important thing to keep in mind as we talk about how this damage happens. I want you to be careful to not get down and beat yourself up over the past.
If you made decisions that damaged your own or someone else’s gut flora, you were just doing the best you could with the information you had at the time.
It’s vital to leave the past behind, and go forward with new knowledge. Now that you know better, you can do better!
A quick review
In part 1 of this series, we went over who GAPS people are. Part 2 talked about how our gut flora works. I recommend checking those out if you haven’t yet.
This is one of the main ways that gut flora becomes damaged, according to Dr. Natasha. Antibiotics are everywhere! They are prescribed so frequently, are fed to farm animals, and are even sprayed on fruits and vegetables.
I definitely believe that antibiotics have a place, and can be live saving at times. But it is the overuse of them that we need to be aware of, says Dr. Natasha.
They are prescribed so often, and for so many things. I think that a lot of us don’t realize how dangerous this can be, and the extent of the damage from antibiotics. It’s definitely something to keep in mind so that we can make informed decisions.
Like I mentioned, antibiotics are everywhere. When farm animals consume antibiotics, we consume the antibiotics also when we eat their meat, milk, and eggs.
Fruits and vegetables aren’t safe, either. They are often sprayed with antibiotics, and we eat them when we eat the produce.
How do antibiotics damage gut flora?
The first and most obvious way is that they kill our friendly gut flora. Unfortunately, the friendly, beneficial gut bacteria are the first to be killed off by antibiotics. Then, the pathogenic and opportunistic bacteria multiply and take over (source).
Another thing that antibiotics do is that they can actually change our gut flora. Antibiotics have the ability to change gut bacteria and fungi into pathogenic bacteria and fungi, where they weren’t pathogenic before (source).
These new pathogenic bacteria and fungi then have the ability to invade tissue and cause disease. That’s pretty scary!
Antibiotics make our gut bacteria resistant to antibiotics. This means that more powerful antibiotics have to be used, resulting in deeper and more extensive damage.
Antibiotics also damage our immune system. This means that we can get sick more often, and need more antibiotics… this causes a vicious cycle that is difficult to stop (source).
Drugs and medications also damage gut flora. These can include pain killers, such as Aspirin and Ibuprofen, especially when these medications are taken on a long term basis.
Steroids damage gut flora as well, and they also suppress our immune system.
Birth control pills have a devastating effect on gut flora. This is especially bad when a women who has been taking birth control pills later on has a baby.
Babies get their gut flora from their mother. If a woman has damaged her gut flora by taking birth control pills, she passes that damaged gut flora to her baby. This predisposes the baby to allergies, eczema, asthma, and learning disabilities, says Dr. Natasha.
What we eat definitely has an impact on our gut flora. This makes sense! A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates leads to an overgrowth of certain fungi and the opportunistic gut flora.
In this same diet category also falls infant formula. Formula fed babies develop completely different gut flora than breastfed babies, says Dr. Natasha. She says that nursing populates a baby’s gut with beneficial bacteria.
Other things that can damage gut flora
There are a few more things worth mentioning. Certain diseases and some viruses can permanently damage gut flora. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment all damage gut flora as well.
Dr. Natasha says that chronic, long term stress can even damage gut flora, as can alcoholism and exposure to toxic chemicals.
Know better, do better
Now that you’re armed with this information, you can make good decisions going forward. You know what damages gut flora, and what types of things to avoid, whenever possible.
See you next time
Stay tuned next time, because we’ll start talking about beginning the GAPS diet itself. We’ll dive into some hands on, practical topics, so we can start making progress!
Good for you for reading this far, and sticking with me through the technical stuff. It’s really important to have that foundation of knowledge.
The GAPS diet for dummies part 3 video
More GAPS diet resources
How many of these did you know about?
Did any of them surprise you? Share your thoughts and experience in the comments, I’d love to hear about them!
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GAPS™ and Gut and Psychology Syndrome™ are the trademark and copyright of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.
The information in this blog post is my personal experience and opinion. It is for general information purposes only, that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for your own physician’s medical care or advice. Always seek advice from your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding nutrition, medical conditions, and advice. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read on this blog.