Like the health of your front lawn, the health of your internal “garden” reflects upon you! In feng shui (the ancient art of placement), your garden is where Qi accumulates before it enters your house. You want to make sure to attract good Qi into your home, not bad Qi! In your body, you want to attract good Qi, of course, and that takes place in your gut.
A turning moment in my health was a time when I read the “Body Ecology Diet” by Donna Gates and Linda Schatz. A huge eye-opener for me was that the “healthy” food that I was eating was really just feeding yeast and bacteria in my gut!
The health of your colon relates strongly to the health of your
- Brain Function
- Emotional State
- Digestion (duh!)
- Vitamin Deficiencies or Absorption Problems
- Nervous System
…pretty much everything!
Scientists are now calling your gut (the system of your esophagus, stomach, large and small intestines, all the way to the anus) your body’s second brain. This is not the brain that reads, reasons, and writes, but the brain that feels and just knows. There exists an intricate web of neurons – over 100,000 – in your gut that dictate in no small amount how you feel on an emotional level. There is a reasonable theory that Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – and other nervous system disorders – can be healed just by healing your gut!
My acupuncture teacher, Dr. Richard Teh-Fu Tan says he can tell the health of someone by three things: how they sleep, how their sex life is, and how they poop.
Regular bowel movements are important, as is the consistency of the stool (not too hard, not too soft). But a bowel problem is more of a symptom than the cause. In other words, taking something to make you poop when you’re constipated is not necessarily getting to the root of the problem. …and there could be other symptoms of a toxic or stressed colon that do not necessarily show up as a problem with bowel movements.
To ensure the health of your colon, there are several things I recommend:
- Probiotics: taken in a pill, drops, or as fermented vegetables or whole-fat, plain yogurt
- Low-sugar, low-carbohydrate diet: high sugars and carbs feed the bad bacteria and yeast; focus your diet instead on vegetables, nuts, butter and oils, hormone-free proteins and eggs.
- Gluten-free diet: gluten proteins create a thick mucous lining in your gut which inhibits absorption; if you have Chron’s or Ulcerative Colitis, avoid gluten as though your life depends on it!
- Drink plenty of water; enough to make your urine light-yellow to clear
- Digestive enzymes to help heal your gut, especially if you have ulcers or acidity: I prefer Standard Process Enzycore or Multizyme; Zypan is good for nausea or sugar-balancing; Okra-Pepsin is good to take for a couple of weeks to cleanse excessive mucous out; Chlorophyll also helps to heal your gut lining
- Avoid unnecessary drugs:
- SSRIs (anti-depressants) increase serotonin levels in your body which may cause irritable bowel symptoms as a side-effect;
- Antibiotics and hormonal birth control kill off healthy gut bacteria which encourages bad bacteria and yeast;
- Proton pump inhibitors (Tums, Prilosec, Nexium, et al) cause excessive acid to build up in your system which may lead to the very symptoms they seek to treat!
- NSAIDS (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.) always cause some type of internal bleeding – even if it’s microscopic.
- Those are the major ones, but I’m sure there are more I’m forgetting…
Another thing to note is that in Traditional Chinese medicine, your Large Intestine relates to your Lung. What that means is that if your Intestines are congested or ill, your Lung becomes weak and therefore vulnerable to sickness including colds, respiratory illness, skin disorders (a Lung function in TCM) and allergies. Sinus infections are really just a yeast infection in your sinus cavities! Again, antibiotics are going to make the underlying root of this problem worse over time.
Your Small Intestine in TCM relates to your Heart. So, you can imagine a sick Small Intestine causing a Heart imbalance, which could manifest as anxiety, heart palpitations, fatigue, or insomnia.
Your Stomach relates to your Spleen, which in TCM controls a lot of various functions including qi and blood production and “keeping your blood contained in your vessels.” A Spleen imbalance could manifest as a bleeding disorder, poor appetite, fatigue, weak musculature, anemia, insomnia, bloating, or a sugar imbalance.