Happy Mid January!

I’m sure a few of you are still going strong with diets and a few have slid off the wagon and on that note, I’m ready to talk to you about my latest obsession!

Gut Bacteria!!

I know, I know. I’m such a nerd. But here’s the thing. Last year, I did some testing with Mel Hopper Koppelman about the state of my gut bacteria and we found some nasty stuff in there. An overload of candida (yeast) and some extra ugly bacteria that doesn’t belong there. It sent me on a journey of a 3 month Whole 30 elimination diet (yes, 3 f’ing months) and about 16 pills plus a few scoops of concentrated magic a day.

It changed so many things for me. On a mindset level, it taught me that I really can hold to a strict diet if I want to. I held it to 90% the entire time, which was way beyond what I thought I was capable of based on past experiences.

On a physical level, it showed me what discomforts I was feeling on a regular basis that I was ignoring.

It turned out that I had been floating along just slight bloated ALL THE TIME and after EVERY MEAL for years but because I wasn’t gassy, I didn’t realize I was bloated (Yes, I’m a healthcare practitioner.. I know). It also turned out that what I thought was a constant low grade hunger was just the bacteria (or yeast) speaking. I’m not nearly as hungry, nor am I afraid of hunger.

I used to be afraid of hunger. I’d eat ahead of time ‘just in case’ to avoid being hungry. I was overeating all the time, no wonder I was gaining weight and slightly bloated.

Ever since this diet ended, I’ve been in adjustment mode, figuring out the best things for me to eat. Somedays it works really well, others worse, but I’m okay being in this dance.

And it brought me back around to the fact that there are foods / ways of exercise / ways of thinking, etc., that work for some people and not for others. The diet that I’m using these days isn’t perfect for anyone else. Everybody needs something a little different. Chinese Medicine has known this for 1000’s of years. Western medicine is JUST NOW figuring it out and it’s figuring it out because of the bacteria in your gut.

No joke. The science that they’ve got so far is fascinating and it doesn’t even cover 1% of the information we will need to understand the gut microbiome. There was so much emphasis on genetics for so long. Scientists believed that once they mapped the human genome, they’d be able to fix so many health issues. It turns out that the human genome is less important than they originally imagined. It, like everything else, responds to its environment. It changes based on traumas (physical and otherwise), emotions, food, communities, etc.

So, they started looking further. What they have found so far is amazing. I won’t get into the sciency specifics, but just know that it’s official news that calories in / calories out is no longer a viable method of dieting for weight loss. It all depends on your gut bacteria. Some people will absorb more calories, some people less. So far, they still think it’s true that a largely plant-based diet is more beneficial to your gut bacteria. It also says that a high red meat diet isn’t the best, but can be balanced out if you’re eating enough fermented foods and a balanced enough diet.

Now, don’t go changing anything today, your overall gut bacteria is the sum of YOUR ENTIRE LIFE of eating patterns, antibiotic use, and all sorts of other factors.

When you improve your diet, it changes within 48 hours but those changes only last as long as you are on the diet. Changing the baseline requires long-lasting dietary changes. This, for me, explains why this diet that I did this time around had more of an effect than any other diet ever before in terms of shifting the types of food that my body wants to eat. Your gut bacteria demands to be fed and it demands it’s ‘normal fare’. That plus habit loops in the brain = dieting is very hard work!

Not only was I on a different diet to my normal for an extended amount of time, I was also on medicine designed to improve my gut bacteria. I crave sweets less than ever before, I am less hungry, I prefer an empty stomach when I go to bed, I like longer fasting periods overnight. I never thought I could be this person because I didn’t think that my mind was ‘strong enough’ to do it. It was never just my mind. It was always partly my gut bacteria.

It’s fascinating. They’ve also linked gut bacteria to moods (I’ve mentioned this lightly before) and overall mental health. They’ve linked gut bacteria to autoimmune disorders, Parkinson’s, and heart disease. I honestly believe that the deeper Western Medicine goes into studying the gut bacteria, the more holistic medicine will become because the gut connects with everything. In Chinese medicine, there is an ancient school of thought called the Spleen / Stomach school and its premise is that everything starts in the gut.

Since I started Chinese medicine, I’ve seen 100’s of times that Western medicine is catching up with Eastern thought and I love watching it happen. The closer we get to each other, the better for our patients.

If you had to guess what state your gut bacteria was in based on your diet, what would you think?