(Note: Parenting is a very personal topic to say the least. Throw in the idea that in some way we could have prevented some hardship in the lives of our family, and then we get REALLY personal. The intention of this post is to empower and to allow for new and better choices, and in no way is meant to place blame or pass judgement. If what you read here resonates with you, please pass this on and help others to improve their family’s health and well being. Please take the time to watch the video series posted below…it’s definitely worth your time!)
I’m sure that many of you have heard the saying that the gut is the second brain, but that’s not what I’m talking about in the title of this blog post. I’m talking about YOUR gut (‘you’ being mama) and the brain of your child. Two separate bodies but one very intimate connection.
To put it bluntly, according to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (www.doctor-natasha.com), autism is passed from the mother to the child. Not only that, she says that it’s preventable and largely reversible. And not only that , but that this goes for a whole host of disorders considered to be on the autism spectrum, including depression, OCD, bipolar disorder, ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and more.
Whoa. This is big.
How could this be? Autism passed on by the mother? Is it contagious? Can you ‘catch’ autism? You mean, it can be prevented? It can be reversed?
Maybe these ideas are not new to you, but I know for others that this information is a shock. Please DO NOT take this personally if autism, or other developmental or behavioural disorders, affect your life in some way. Please read on and see what you can do about restoring your child’s health and your own. In fact, many people can vastly improve their health with this information, perhaps even most.
Autism begins in the digestive tract with damage to the gut bacteria. –Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride
The health of a child’s gut is determined at birth, and this is dependent on the health of the mother. Babies are born with a sterile gut and during their first 20 days or so of life, their gut gets populated with bacteria. These first 20 days play a critical role in the maturation of their immune system. The quality of the bacteria (i.e. pathogenic vs. beneficial) that finds its way into baby’s gut depends on the mother’s own gut flora. Unfortunately, in this of day antibiotic use, processed foods, formula, contraceptives and toxins, there is a very good chance that the inherited flora will be abnormal, often severely abnormal. This is where baby gets the short end of the stick and starts life immune-compromised, leaving her a target for any infection that may be going around. Not only that, baby’s own gut, rather being a source of nourishment, becomes a source of toxicity for the child.
Let’s look at why this is important and why I harp on mamas-to-be about ensuring that they have a healthy digestive system, populated with plenty of beneficial, life-enhancing, immune-supporting bacteria.
The gut contains 85% of our immune system. If it isn’t populated with the right bacteria, then our health doesn’t stand a chance. These little guys are the protectors of the gut, taking care of the toxicity that enters it, digesting the food, producing vitamins and so much more. There are more bacterial cells in the gut than we have human body cells, and this community needs to be taken care of. When properly nourished and replenished regularly, they ensure our organs are nourished and our immune system strong.
So let’s go back to our baby who was the unfortunate inheritor of abnormal gut flora and immune-suppressed from the first day of life. Our baby, even when breastfed, does not receive the immune health that is her birthright, and as a result, she is at risk for many problems…indigestion, colic, ear infections, colds, allergies, etc.
Now add to the mix a host of toxic chemicals via vaccinations. Dr. McBride tells us that these babies do not respond to vaccines in a predictable manner. Donna Gates (www.bodyecology.com) tells us that rather than becoming vaccinated, these babies become infected. This infection starts in the gut and spreads to the blood. She also states that with the MMR vaccine, the blood-brain barrier opens and this infection further spreads to the brain.
Ah…you were waiting for it, weren’t you? The ‘v’ word. It had to come up at some point. And the debate rages on as to whether they cause autism or not. But what if this is only a piece of the puzzle? Take an abnormal gut, add the vaccines, and now the picture is more complete. This situation opens baby up to a whole host of disorders because the vaccines only further add to the damage of a system that has already been disabled from doing its job.
So it can’t be overemphasized how critical a mother’s gut health is prior and during pregnancy. Not only does she ensure the best possible start for her baby from the aspect of building the immune system, she will greatly improve her own health and her pregnancy will be all the more pleasant. Many pregnancy and even birth complications can be improved or avoided by the improvement of the gut flora. Additionally, many post-partum issues can be avoided with the support of a healthy gut.
And how does one ensure their gut is healthy? Before the days of antibiotics, formula, chlorinated tap water, processed foods and ubiquitous chemical use, a healthy gut used to be pretty normal. We live in a very different world than 100 years ago, and as such, we must pay attention to what we consume and expose ourselves to. Our children literally depend on it. First, we must learn to embrace fermented foods into our daily diet, preferably with each meal. Such foods include yogurt, kefir, miso, cultured vegetables, kimchi, kombucha and more. Fermented foods and beverages are a powerful source of potent probiotics, and the beauty of these therapeutic foods is that they are inexpensive and easy to make at home, not to mention delicious! Every society around the world has its own cultured foods, but these have slowly been going out of ‘style’ with the younger generations. In the future I will write more on how to culture your own foods at home, but for now you can simply look online and find hundreds of resources on how to brew your own cultured drinks and ferment your own cultured vegetables and condiments. These foods are a major key to a healthy gut, and in most cases, the commercial store-bought products are far inferior in quality and effectiveness. Favourites in our home are kombucha, water kefir, miso, sauerkraut and pickles.
In order to heal the gut, one must remove offenders that do damage to an already compromised gut lining. Such foods include food additives, sugar, gluten and casein-containing foods. However, the list is much longer than that, and is clearly listed in Dr. McBride’s book (see below). Foods that heal the gut include bone broths (love, love, love them!!) and those demonized saturated fats (plant and animal) that we’ve been avoiding for so long. That’s right…butter, egg yolks, lard, coconut oil…they’re not only good for you, they can help you heal! And then of course we want to eat our fruit and vegetables ), keep the grains low (especially if the gut is known to be compromised), eat only whole foods, organic and/or wild whenever possible, and fermented foods with most meals. Basically, we eat what nature provides in both its plant and animal form. (Note, the GAPS diet is not a vegetarian diet.)
OK, so it’s clear that it’s best for baby to have a healthy gut from the beginning. This we know, and in the near future I hope to see this vital piece of information become mainstream, thus preventing the potential resulting outcomes that so many families today suffer. Now what do you do if it’s too late? What if your baby is already challenged with digestive difficulties and recurring ear infections? What if signs of autism have already started to manifest? The good news is hat there is A LOT you can do.
Dr. McBride and Donna Gates have both worked with hundreds of autistic children and they have yet to meet one with healthy gut flora. Dr. Natasha states that “they simply don’t exist”. They both believe, and have had great success with, that the answer lies in restoring the gut flora and healing the gut lining. In fact, Dr. McBride’s own son was diagnosed with severe autism at the age of three, and at the time of the interview below, he was twelve and FULLY recovered thanks to her research and the protocols she developed.
What did she do? I think you can already guess…she healed his gut, which was the root cause of the whole problem. The resulting book and program that came out of her work is Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, ADD/ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Depression, Schizophrenia. The name of the diet described in the book is the GAPS diet, and has helped countless families restore their health and joy in life.
Donna Gates has her own book called The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity, which is very compatible with the GAPS, though the books were created completely independently of one another.
Below is an excellent interview with Donna Gate and Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, where they fully explain the gut connection and why our health is at risk. I highly recommend that you take the time to watch all 6 parts, and pass it along to your friends. This information needs to be shared as too many suffer needlessly.
These books provide step-by-step programs to follow to help you heal your child’s digestive tract. In fact, the method can be used to heal anyone’s digestive tract, and it turns out that, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola, MOST people can benefit from this program.
Repair of the gut lining can take up to two years, perhaps more. It’s a long haul, but if you look online and read stories of those who have done it, you will learn that it is completely worth it. Considering the alternative (i.e. not following a similar program and not getting the results), the effort that goes into restoring health is minor, in my opinion.
I’ve always been a big believer and promoter of supporting and healing the gut, and it seems that it is now more important than ever. We simply can’t thrive without maintaining healthy gut flora. Not only does it protect our future children, it also improves or own lives tremendously in so many ways, including proper nutrient digestion and absorption, bowel regularly, nourishment of the organs, improved energy levels, detoxed system, clear skin, anti-ageing, hormone regulation, clear thinking, no sugar cravings, balanced mood and so much more.
Of course there are other factors that can throw our health off, but if you don’t get to the root and address the gut, then all other attempts will fail as the body will simply not be able to absorb an assimilate what is being taken in.
Is it time for you to do a little internal house cleaning? If you are feeling a little overwhelmed, here are 3 things that you can do right now to start improving your gut health and that of your family members:
1. Go to your local health food store and grab the highest quality probiotic they have and start taking it with a glass of water on an empty stomach upon rising.
2. Make LATERAL changes to your diet rather than change it completely. Ditch the margarine and add the butter, ditch the white sugar and add the raw honey, ditch the factory farmed beef and add in the grass-fed beef, ditch the bouillon cubes and make your own bone broth, ditch the sodas and make your own water kefir or kombucha.
3. Start including fermented foods into your daily diet.
Do it slowly, at a pace that works for you and see your health transform.
Any of you have any experience healing autism or other issues? What did you do? How did it work for you?