This Is My Husband
This Is My Husband On Crack
Okay, not crack exactly. More like morphine and alcohol. Not that we have pills and booze laying around . . . they got into his system another way. Confused yet?? Keep reading, I promise I’ll explain by the end. I’m going to tell you more about why we chose to do the GAPS Diet.
As you already know, our modern lifestyle is full of influences that damage the ecology of our bodies: antibiotics whether we want them or not (they’re in our food and water), sugar in amounts previously unheard of, chemicals, toxins, stress, and the list goes on.
So what’s the big deal?
When someone has schizophrenia, what does the psychiatrist do? Give them a pill. Where does it go? In their gut. We’re well aware of the power of something we put in our bodies to effect our state of mind, but do most of us realize the potential of food to function this way? It thought I did, but after reading this book I realize I really didn’t.
It’s kind of gross to think about, but:
Our digestive system, skin eyes, respiratory and excretory organs are happily co-existing with trillions of invisible lodgers, making one ecosystem of macro and micro-life, living together in harmony. It is a symbiotic relationship, where neither party can live without the other. Let me repeat this: we, humans, cannot live without these tiny micro-organisms, which we carry in our bodies everywhere.
The largest colonies of microbes live in our digestive system . . . All these bacteria are not just chaotic microbial mass, but a highly organized micro-world with certain species predominating and controlling others. The number of functions they fulfill in our bodies are so vital to us, that if our gut got sterilized, we would probably not survive.
Gut & Psychology Syndrome, p. 15 (emphasis mine)
When the upstanding citizens of our digestive tract (such as bifidobacteria) are governing, all is well. Toxins that try to sneak into our bodies are detained and escorted to the exit. The food we eat is broken down and distributed to fulfill vital functions in our bodies. But what happens when the bifidobacteria are not in control? When they’ve been overrun by pathogenic microbes, parasites and fungi?
Long story short, the pathogens start looting. They hijack your food and begin using it to feed their colonies. Now wildly out of control, these once benign colonies produce toxic byproducts that flood the body and cause illness, brain fog, learning disabilities, eczema, fibromyalgia and other problems. And since they’re getting the majority of your food (not you), you end up deprived of the nutrients you need to function properly.
As I read the book, two offenders stood out to me as some of my husband’s main antagonists.
The Candida Albicans ~ Alcohol Connection
Until recently, the candida yeast lived in peaceful coexistence with us. Now, though, it’s considered invasive. What changed? Antibiotics. Antibiotics kill indiscriminately. Bad bacteria? Dead. Good bacteria? Also dead. Unfortunately, candida is unaffected. After a round of antibiotics it has no competition for food and begins to thrive, taking over the digestive tract.
What does candida love to eat? Sugar and carbs. People who have an overgrowth of candida love sugar and carbs, too, because they get a “payoff” when they feed the yeast.
Yeast [such as candida] requires glucose and other sugars as food. Sugars come from the digestion of carbohydrates. In healthy people dietary glucose gets converted into lactic acid, water and energy through a biochemical process called glycolysis. In people with yeast overgrowth candida hijacks the glucose and digests it in a different way, called alcoholic fermentation. In this biochemical process candida and other yeasts convert dietary glucose into alcohol (ethanol) and its byproduct acetaldehyde. This phenomenon was first described in adults, who appeared to be drunk without consuming any alcohol. Later on it was found that these adults had an overgrowth of yeast in their gut, which produced alcohol and made them permanently “drunk”. These people were particularly “drunk” after a carbohydrate meal, because carbohydrates are consumed by candida with the production of alcohol. Despite the fact that these people did not consume alcohol, they developed some typical symptoms of alcoholism.
Dr. Campbell-McBrides, the GAPS Diet guru, corroborates what my husband tells me: He experiences a feeling of intense euphoria after consuming carbs. In addition, he also has some symptoms typical of alcoholics: a fatty liver and weight gain, difficulty controlling his blood sugar.
So why not go with the candida diet? First, because the diet’s creators misunderstood a lot about what causes candida to thrive and therefore it doesn’t really work. Second, because there are always other colonies that need to be dealt with . . . way too many to cover in this little post, so I’ll just hit one more.
The Opiate Effect
Improperly digested grains and milk products can act like opiates such as morphine and heroin in the body. Say what? I know it sounds crazy, but I can tell you firsthand that I’ve seen my husband react to food in this way.
Gluten is a protein present in grains, mainly wheat, rye, oats and barley. Casein is a milk protein, present in cow, goat, sheep, human and all other milk and milk products. In the bodies of GAPS people these proteins do not get digested properly and turn into substances with similar chemical structures to opiates, such as morphine and heroin. There has been quite a substantial amount of research done in this area by Dohan, Reichelt, Shattock, Cade and others, where gluten and casein peptides, called gluteomorphins and casomorphins, were detected in the urine of patients with schizophrenia, autism, ADHD, post-partum psychosis, epilepsy, Downs syndrome, depression and some autoimmune problems, like rheumatoid arthritis.
Gut & Psychology Syndrome, pp. 53-54
I won’t get into other opportunistic pathogens for now, but they’re in the book if you’re interested. What I hope you’ll take away from this that even good, wholesome foods like fermented grains and raw milk are toxic to a damaged gut. If you have digestive symptoms like chronic constipation or diarrhrea, bloating or abdominal pain, symptoms of inflammation like eczema or asthma, or brain dysfunction like ADD, simply “eating organic” may not be enough. We’ve been doing that for years and it hasn’t resolved my husband’s health challenges.
Why GAPS Diet?
The short answer is GAPS Diet is recommended by a lot of people and organizations I respect: The Weston A. Price Foundation, Cara at Health Home Happy, and others. Now that I’ve read the book I understand why. As Cara said in her most recent post, “The Gut and Psychology Syndrome introduction diet is a diet focused on intensive rest and healing for the gut lining, as well as slow introduction of fermented foods to repopulate it with friendly microorganisms.”
The GAPS diet focuses on the restoration of digestive function so that we can be the vital, active, healthy people we are meant to be. I am amazed by the stories of healing I am hearing from GAPS patients, like this before and after video from an autistic boy after just three months on GAPS. His uncontrollable clapping disappears. He’s coherent. He makes eye contact. It’s amazingly sweet.
Other conditions such as autism, schizophrenia and depression are said to benefit from the protocol. Here are some tips from Dr. Campbell-McBride on getting started.
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and asking good questions yesterday. GAPS is still new to me and I’m thrilled to be able to share our journey with you. I’ll be posting updates as we continue doing this for our family.