Digestive Gas is a WARNING Sign
Hey guys, this is another fantastic post from one of my favorite guest authors — she answers questions I've often wondered about and I'll bet you have too! She starts with a story, then discusses digestive gas and solutions…
About three years ago I was saddened to learn that a friend's daughter, whom I had known as a deeply caring, sweet-natured child, had unexpectedly dropped out of college. Why?
Because bugs were crawling on her that no one could see…
Unfortunately, Sophia's anxiety and delusions have only deepened since that time, along with with her commitment to a raw vegan diet (she only eats organic raw fruits and vegetables with a few nuts and seeds), which she had started about a year prior to the onset of her delusions.
Yes, I tried to talk to Sophia's mother, my friend, about the critical importance of animal foods, especially fats, for the health of her daughter's brain and endocrine system, but the parents decided to go the more traditional medical route and instead eventually convinced Sophia to voluntarily commit herself to a psych facility that is rated as one of the “top” in the country.
I was encouraged by that choice, actually. I figured once Sophia was in that more structured environment, her doctors would identify her eating disorder and serve her a more nutrient-dense diet during her in-patient stay. Hopefully eating more biologically appropriate foods would lessen her delusions and anxiety enough that she would continue eating similarly once she returned home.
When Sophia left several weeks and about $80,000 later, I was shocked to learn the medical personnel never identified her as eating-disordered and so never corrected her bizarre food intake.
All they did was put her on pharmaceuticals.
And of course, as soon as she was out, Sophia stopped the meds and quickly returned to her previous level of delusion. So much for the real life effectiveness of the best psych facility in the country!
(This is Kelly jumping in… Sadly, far too often the meds only cause more problems anyway. They're not the “easy fix” that many hope for, instead they begin a lifetime of ups and downs and the continual need to “tweak” the meds again and again. Even more horrific are the times that the side effects lead to suicide or mass violence — this is becoming more and more common!!! It upsets me SO much that docs keep prescribing these meds willy-nilly instead of helping people find the root cause, and suggesting they use more natural means to provide long-term healing! I know this is not always easy, either, but the KEY is to address problems EARLY. Definitely seek advice from a professional, though, because there's a lot I don't know about all of this. Back to the post…)
Over the last couple of years, Sophia has become a social pariah.
Despite several attempts to live in far off exotic places, believing a raw vegan tropical paradise would solve her problems, not surprisingly, she's back home yet again.
She absolutely refuses any approach to her illness that is unnatural, so pharmaceutical medications are not an option. (Can't argue with her there.)
Nevertheless, Sophia struggles constantly with her intense anxiety, agoraphobia, OCD and delusions.
At this point, she virtually never leaves her bedroom except to get raw produce from the kitchen to eat, take a shower which she does three or four times a day, and change the bed sheets to get rid of “the bugs.”
And, unfortunately there's no end in sight to her suffering… (Unless… YOU may be able to help. Please read to the end of this article.)
The Leaky Brain
In preparation for this article, I interviewed Dr. Tom Bayne, a chiropractic physician and microbiome expert. Tom has developed over 35 highly successful nutritional products, the most recent one being the probiotic that Kelly and I take. Tom lectures nationally and internationally on how gut commensal spore bacteria clean up and heal the human microbiome, while he also maintains a clinical practice in the Chicago area.
To start the interview, I asked Tom about depression and the relationship between low serotonin and a gut microbiome imbalance.
I chose that topic because I'd heard him say once that he had a practitioner colleague whose practice was largely focused on treating anxiety and depression. After consulting with Tom about the gut commensal spore probiotic, this colleague was shocked at how many of her patients had vast improvement just from the probiotic.
That kind of outcome does makes sense, though, when you consider that 90% of serotonin is produced in our gut and studies have shown that spore-forming bacteria are key contributors to healthy serotonin production.
Tom's response to my question, however, kinda blew the depression door wide open.
Tom clarified that the toxic byproducts of pathological gut bacteria do FAR more than just create depression, that there is probably harmful bacterial overgrowth as the background to virtually all social, emotional and mental dysfunctions.
He named depression, anxiety, bipolar, OCD, etc. and next specified that basically any kind of problem, either reading social cues correctly and/or behaving appropriately socially, even “shyness” or having an eating disorder, can be an aspect of an alteration in brain chemistry that begins with a microbiome imbalance.
All these conditions are most likely differing aspects of the same common denominator: inflammation of the neurological system due to having an overgrowth of damaging strains in the gut. Tom calls this condition “Leaky Brain.”
Do you get gas and bloating? Did you know that digestive gas is a warning sign?
According to Tom, of all the toxins produced as a by-product of pathological strains in the gut microbiome (“bad bugs”), the most destructive is ammonia. Many strains produce ammonia, just some of which include Lactobacillus gasseri, Staphylococcus aureus, Ruminococcus gnavus, as well as some strains of the Prevotella family.
Ammonia, Tom says, is so toxic, it “punches through” the gut wall into the bloodstream where it is carried to the brain. By causing inflammation, this toxin can then interfere with the proper functioning of the brain and in his words, “cause psychosis.”
“What kind of psychosis?” I asked.
His response made me sit bolt upright in my chair.
“Oh, the kind like where someone thinks they have bugs crawling on them. Delusions. The kind associated with anxiety.”
The fact that he identified ammonia as particularly destructive also caught my attention because I had also heard him say in a webinar that digestive gas and bloating is actually a combination of hydrogen gas and ammonia, both of which are byproducts of pathological strains in the gut.
He added that the gut commensal spores have a fantastic track record in his experience eliminating his patients' digestive gas and bloating, often with the first cap. For more info specifically on gas and bloating, go to 1:04:55 in the webinar below, Under the Microscope.
But if you want to hear the full description of Tom's clinical successes including Anxiety/Depression, S.I.B.O., Histamine Intolerance, Leaky Gut, and more, start at 0:58:30.
OMG, I'm thinking, You mean digestive gas and bloating can be the first sign of what could eventually degenerate into some form of pathological-bacteria-induced psychosis? Wowowow.
Two ways a high carb/vegan diet can potentially worsen mental illness
In my opinion, a vegan and/or vegetarian diet has dangerously low or no levels of at least 8 critically necessary nutrients, deficiencies which can contribute to a psychological decline. See two articles for more: Chris Kresser's Why You Should Think Twice about Vegetarian and Vegan Diets and Vegetarians Twice as Likely to Be Depressed by Joseph Mercola.
Furthermore, based on over 3600 clinical cases, Dr. William Walsh has identified specific nutritional deficiencies and heavy metal toxicities that are highly associated with mental illness. For more on that, see my article Understanding Anxiety and Depression: 5 Hidden Causes.
Nevertheless, when a person experiments with eating vegan, what I see is a very wide range of physiological tolerance from person to person – at least in the beginning.
Some people have told me that eating vegan made them feel so bad almost immediately, they lasted less than a week. On the other hand, I've met many, many others who claim (and certainly appear) to feel fine after 3-5-10 years on the diet.
The most enthusiastic vegans usually report a surge in energy upon starting the change.
I believe an energy increase at the start of eating vegan most frequently happens when the new food restrictions have eliminated one or more unidentified allergens.
For example, the #1 most common food allergen is pasteurized dairy followed closely by #2 eggs. A vegan diet would immediately remove both problem foods.
Pull out the food allergens and initially, the energy goes up – until the dietary deficiencies kick in – which is probably why, over time, many vegans admit to not being able to sustain that “beginner's high.”
Also, to be perfectly honest, I have never met a truly long term (meaning a decade or more) vegan whose health, in my observation, wasn't clearly suffering some or all of the following:
- A “dried out” or gaunt look to their face,
- Brittle, dull hair,
- Osteopenia or osteoporosis,
- Bones that break easily,
- Muscles or tendons that rip and do not heal well,
- Sleep disorder,
- Anxiety/depression/hair trigger temper or possibly all, and
- Disordered thinking (somewhat phobic, inflexible mentality, etc.).
That last symptom of psychological denial and rigidity is much of the reason why vegan diets are highly associated with eating disorders.
Characteristically, the eating disordered individual exhibits a psychological disconnect from a realistic perspective about their bodies and health (see more about this in Campbell-McBride's quote below).
Just check vegan chat boards if you don't believe me…
You'll find that anxious, suffering vegans who vehemently deny that their diet could be contributing to ANY physical or psychological problems they experience are a dime a dozen.
However, while there is no doubt in my mind that eating 100% animal-free strains one's nutritional reserves, the much bigger question in my mind actually is…
What makes for the differences you see person to person, in terms of individual tolerance to eating vegan?
It's all about the gut microbiome
I'm guessing the difference is a reflection of the health of the individual's gut microbiome. The stronger the microbiome, the longer that person can continue to feel okay while avoiding all animal foods.
Unfortunately, however, no matter how strong the microbiome is to begin with, a vegan diet is by definition carb heavy. Grains and beans, even when correctly combined, are actually primarily carbohydrate-based and contain relatively low amounts of usable protein.
Which brings us to the second way a vegan diet can worsen mental illness…
The triumverate of A. how naturally we were birthed, B. the quality of our mother's breast milk, and C. our earliest foods, all foundationally define what microbiologists call the gut microbiome “signature.”
An essentially weak microbial “signature” will not be capable of successfully withstanding assaults from, for example:
- Glyphosate contained in GMO foods and through our environmental exposure to herbicides like Roundup, or
- A consistently high-carb-starch-sugar diet.
The reason a high-carb-starch-sugar diet is an “assault” on the health of the microbiome is twofold:
- Biologically humans are omnivores (meat-AND-plant-eaters) and a balanced human gut microbiome reflects that reality. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate whatever they could get their hands on. As a result, a healthy human microbiome and fully functioning immune system needs strains of gut bacteria that thrive on animal protein and fat (for example, immune supportive Bacteroides) AND those that live on complex carbohydrates (like Prevotella) – in the correct balance.
- What ancient humans never ate was either 100% animal-free all the time or a high intake of simple starches/sugars/carbs. The latter way of eating, in particular, has only become possible with the processed foods of modern, industrialized society and promotes an unnatural overgrowth of toxin-producing bacteria.
If a person begins a vegan diet already having an overgrowth of carb-sugar-starch loving strains (highly common in my opinion if you've been raised on the Standard American Diet), I believe that is a setup for creating or worsening gastrointestinal, physical and neurological/emotional problems.
For example, I wish I had a nickel for every long term vegan OR vegetarian who told me they have frequent digestive gas and bloating!
Being by definition carb-heavy, even a “high quality” (meaning no or low processed foods) vegan diet can create a decrease in the gut of the meat-and-animal-fat loving Bacteroides and increase in the Prevotella family of bacteria. Changes have been measured in as little as 24 hours after the diet is changed.
According to this rather small study by the NIH, it would appear that vegetarians and vegans living in an industrialized society have more of the carb-loving Prevotella in their gut than their fellow omnivores.
This finding is reinforced by another larger study which looked at the much stronger immune systems of adult sub-Saharan peoples as compared to European populations. What microbiologists found was much higher levels of Bacteroides in sub-Saharan guts as compared to Europeans who have higher levels of Prevotella.
Researchers found this difference linked directly to differing infant feeding practices.
First food for European babies is carbohydrates – mashed up fruits, vegetables and cereals (Yup. Basically a vegan diet.). Earliest food for sub-Saharan peoples is primarily meat, saturated fat and/or raw egg yolk. To learn more about other surprising lifelong influences on our immune system, see my article The BEST Way to Protect Your Immune System – It's Not What You Think!
Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride is very clear on how poisons produced by a harmful overgrowth of ammonia-and-toxin-producing strains cause Leaky Brain. In this instance she describes how an eating disorder manifests.
When an anorexic girl looks in the mirror, she does not see how painfully thin she looks; all she sees is fat and obesity. She is not pretending and she is not “deceiving herself”. The reason for that is her altered sense of perception, caused by toxicity in the brain…
Toxicity coming from the gut blocks various centers in the brain, so they are unable to handle appropriately the sensory information coming from the eyes, ears, taste buds, tactile nerve endings and other sensory organs. This information gets distorted and misinterpreted by the brain… (My note: Tom would describe this as “Leaky Brain.”)
(Emphasis mine, Source: Chp 6, Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride)
Would you help?
At this point, Sophia's mother and I have a very strained relationship due to difficulties entirely separate from Sophia. Currently, we're not on speaking terms. 🙁
Nevertheless, I did send her an email describing what Tom said and giving her his website so she can contact him separately on Sophia's behalf if she chooses.
Not surprisingly, I've heard nothing, so here's what you can do…
While I have changed all the identifying details for “Sophia” and her family to maintain confidentiality, God knows exactly who “Sophia” is.
Please pray for her healing, however that can be accomplished. I've never asked for anything like this before, not in such a public way. But I do know that prayers are powerful.
I don't care if the solution is in the form of gut commensal spore bacteria and Dr. Bayne… or not. I just want this young woman relieved of her intense psychological pain and returned to health and happiness.
So please, when you have a moment, send a prayer up for “Sophia's” healing. That's all you have to ask for. And I promise I will keep you all updated on any new developments.
Note from Kelly: I absolutely LOVE the idea to pray for this gal, and I'd also ask that you possibly shoot up another prayer at the same time for all of those people out there suffering from anxiety or depression who just don't have a clue that their diet and their GUT is all related, let's pray that they will be led to the truth so they can heal for real.
***And please share this post using the share buttons below the post to help get the word out more and more, so we can help all of those hurting people.
More you might like:
- Cowspiracy Film Farce — It’s Not WHAT You Eat, it’s HOW its GROWN! (And Why Allan Savory is my HERO)
- Is What You Feed Your Child Damaging Their Brain? How French Kids Eat and Why Picky Eaters are a Red Flag
- How to Help Heal Mental Disorders with Nutrition by Mercola
- Gut Bugs: They Are What You Eat by Park
Disclaimer reminder: Neither this author nor I are health professionals! Use what you read here for your own research and then maybe consult with a natural-minded doctor or health professional you trust to find what is best and right for YOU. Read my entire disclaimer here.
Picture Credits: top photo
Thanks, Cristoforo! Yes, I was a vegetarian for almost three decades and all my fellow vegetarians had very intense health issues going into middle age. What I’ve learned recently about the gut microbiome has put much of what was “mysterious” then into a whole new perspective.
Cristoforo Sartor says
Great article. I was eating a vegetarian diet for nearly a decade and vegan for about two years. Now i’m on a high fat, high (sea) salt and high cholesterol diet, and I can corroborate much of what the author says.