Fixing your digestion isn't a simple process. There's never any one missing food, or nutrient, or practice. Rather, digestion, as a series of interconnected processes and actions, requires a holistic, top-to-bottom approach. In this blog post, we tackle phase one: the mouth.
When people learn I have goats, they love to remind me that "goats eat EVERYTHING!" Don't believe it. Goats are incredibly picky. If their hay has touched the ground, for instance, it's deemed unfit for eating. Worse, they're not only selectively picky, but incredibly sensitive; just a few bites of the wrong thing can kill them within hours.
Counter-intuitive is a phrase I often use when describing a GAPS or SCD-style elimination diet. In a world where raw vegetables wear glowing halos and plant protein powders are the hottest thing since sliced bread, it’s hard to explain why these foods might need to be temporarily traded for a simple diet of braised meats and boiled vegetables. But does it matter how many micrograms of copper are in your bowl of vegetarian chili if your body can’t actually digest and absorb those beans anyway? Nope, doesn't. Here are the key reasons that an uber-simple diet may be the best.
Ketosis is actually a pretty rad thing. It's thought to be an evolved mechanism that allowed humankind to stay (relatively) healthy and functioning in times of famine or during long northern winters that were inhospitable to growing carbs (ie: fruits, vegetables, and grains). When the body is starved of carbohydrates, blood glucose -our body's primary energy source- dries up (figuratively). When glucose is severely limited over an extended period of time, the body responds by concocting little balls of energy called ketones, manufactured from fatty acids. These fatty acids come both from the diet and from the body's stored fat. What's unusual here isn't that the body is burning some fat, but that this particular form of fat is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and provide energy to the brain.
For many years, I subscribed to the popular belief that protein was something easily obtained from a "clean," plant-based diet. Nuts and seeds, quinoa (!), or the ole rice and beans combo were the answers to all the body's needs. I thought I was being the healthiest. Animal protein wasn't exactly banned from my table, but it was mostly relegated to the dinner slot. I had read that it was hard to digest. My vegetarian friend told me it could turn rancid in the gut. Neither of us knew what she was talking about but the implications were clear.
SIBO is like your adult sibling staying over in the guest room. Everything's going great; he/she tells funny jokes, loves your dog, and even washes the dinner dishes on occasion. Until suddenly one evening you realize that he/she has inexplicably relocated the air mattress to YOUR bedroom and, to make matters worse, invited their friends. And friends of friends. Talk about crowded and awkward.
Growing up, I never sat down for a meal without a book, magazine, or -in more desperate times- a shopping catalog to flip through. Unless it was dinner, of course, where I wasn't allowed to mentally check out with a good read. Fast forward through the years, and that distraction has morphed into a smart phone, with a side of NPR.