When I was 50 years old, and I would experience symptoms of intestinal distress, I knew I would have to scrap whatever plans I had and stay close to the bathroom. At the time, I didn’t know that I suffered from Crohn’s disease, and autoimmune disorder that, left untreated, pretty much controls your life (it did mine). Crohn’s and other gastrointestinal diseases not only affect digestion, it can (and did) make my whole body sick and took a toll on my mental health. There is a direct link between the brain and the gut (the gut is often referred to as the second brain). When the communication between the brain and gut is unbalanced, depression and anxiety can ensue. A messed-up gut biome can also affect your heart as a build up of cholesterol has been noted.
I lost quite a few pounds because I was afraid to eat. I tried to find what triggered Crohn’s, but nothing seemed to add up. I even got to a point where I’d only go out when wearing diapers. Diapers-at 50 years of age! Thankfully, I’ve been in remission for almost 3 years, due to a combination of dietary changes and the immunosuppressant Humira. Over the years I’ve done a lot of research on what has now become a hot topic; the gut microbiome. I’d like to share some of the important healthy-gut boosters I’ve found along the way-you may have heard of some/all of these but they’re worth repeating.
Limit red meat, sugar and processed foods, margarine and lard.
Do eat fatty fish, veggies, fruits, garlic, nuts, olive oil, leafy greens, carrots.
Consume prebiotics such as bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, and artichokes.
Consume probiotic foods like aged cheese, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir. I have no confidence in probiotics in pill form.
Personally, I benefitted from eating an ayurvedic-type diet when my symptoms were severe. There are several good books on ayurvedic meals. In a nutshell, ayurvedic is consuming plants, seeds, spices to balance the body.
What really helped me both mentally and physically was exercise; whether walking, playing pickle ball, swimming, biking: Anything that elevates the heart rate and improves circulation and helps keep you regular.
Keeping stress levels under control is ideal, but I found it difficult when my symptoms were the worst. One of the stress hormones, cortisol, messes with the bacteria in the the gut and increases stomach acid, which is less than ideal with GI disturbances. I found yoga and Qi Gong helped.
If you are experiencing GI distress and would like to talk further, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
John R Blilie, MS, OSC