Exploring the Gut Microbiome
Over the decades I have tried everything and a plethora of medical tests, some to which I have major episodes and once ended up in another ward, from gastroenterologist to neurologist and under the care of now retired Professor Ray Garrick in the 1990s. My gut continues to decline in function. I have also toured the Centre of Digestive Diseases in Five Dock under Prof Borody and immunologist Prof Clancy. Nothing definitive has been found, a bit of this and that. I refused the RPAH and the elimination diet as back then, the 1990s I had two friends go down that road and come out allergic to everything. I am convinced my gut issue began the day I was born and with the dx of hEDS and MCAD and the ageing process, it is a matter of daily management. Two doctors have suggested a poo transplant which could help some things such as a better microbiome but it does not help valves, arteries, sphincters and ducts that malfunction due to hEDS. A ton of money wasted and more suffering endured than I should have in hindsight. A sick gut is IMHO a driver of ME/CFS.
river last edited by
It's a high nausea day for me today so I'm living off sustagen. I can only manage about 60ml at a time but it's better than nothing. I recently got the chocolate flavored version and it's a lot nicer than the vanilla.
My dietician recommended Fortisip to get more protein in my diet. It's very rich and I can't drink it when I feel this nauseous but it is a good snack on better days. Again I can't consume much at a time - I usually only drink 50-75% of the tiny little bottle.
Does anyone else find these kind of meal replacement drinks useful? What's your favorite?
@river Sorry to hear you are having a bad time with nausea. Hope it eases off soon for you. I haven't tried sustagen or any other product like that before. If I did, I would probably go for chocolate. At least you ae getting some nourishment whilst waiting for your stomach to settle down, even if it is only small quantities.
Hi @River, on the days that I struggle to eat because of nausea and extreme fatigue I drink a plant protein from Botanika Blends. It's organic, dairy, gluten and refined sugar free, and has no artificial flavours or colours. It contains prebiotics, probiotics and digestive enzymes. They have a huge range of flavours and on the occasion Aldi sell it at a very reduced price. So far, I've had no stomach problems from drinking it. I can highly recommend the Mint Cacoa, Golden Chai Latte and Oh My Apple Pie flavours. Take care of yourself.
I'd like to share my experiences with Fasting and Gut function, discussion of which seems surprisingly negligible from a simple search given that GI impairment is a near universal symptom of ME/CFS
For some historical background, I was raised Seventh Day Adventist and thereby have been a healthy eating vegetarian most of my life so impaired gut function was always a mystery.
It was in my late 30's that CFS symptoms started to set in which included a stark decline in gut function. In particular, I could no longer digest sucrose, white flour or other simple di/polysacarides. It took 10 years for that realisation to click that it wasn't just bad gut flora but impaired absorption.
Di/polysacarides require enzymatic breakdown into glucose and fructose before they can be absorbed through the intestinal wall. Those enzymes are on the surface of the cells lining the intestines. If those cells are damaged or impaired the sugars don't get digested. Undigested sugar simply gets fermented in the gut promoting Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and Inflamatory Bowel, Leaky Gut and all it's knock-on effect.
Taking sugar was not just bad for my gut but would trigger violent and severe CFS crashes within 3 or 4 days together with serious mental health disorders which I simply had to suffer through until my gut cleared out again.
For this reason my only sweetener and significant caloric intake is honey, which is glucose and fructose and easily absorbed. This has made the gut more manageable but for a long time the question was how to heal the gut lining itself.
The second realisation of note is that the gut, being a long tube of very strong muscle, nerves and specialist tissues, is also subject to serious fatigue crashes and that it also needs absolute rest in order to recover. So it is by this reckoning that for the past few years I practice Intermittant Fasting - no breakfast, late lunch and early dinner with occasional prolonged multi-day fasts of 2 or more days.
It's effectiveness is such that, given a week's notice, I can pull myself out of a serious prolonged crash in order to be functional enough to attend some important appointment. The lead in is a day or two of more vigilant rest followed by a two day fast to empty my gut and let it rest. Sometimes I'll dry fast for 24 or more hours. It takes about 4 days to evacuate properly. This shifts the body into a ketogenic and autophagic state in which it's burning fat, damaged cellular material and foreign biota (particularly when dry fasting). It a very effective way of 'clearing out the old' and promoting full body healing.
By the end of the week, my body is fully rested, detoxed and generally functioning at 80-90% and I can go about the day's necessities with physical and cognitive confidence. If that involves significant excursion, I'll typically crash again on day 3 following leading to cyclic crashes if I have weekly appointments any distance away.
In early experimenting, my longest fast was 10 days which included 3 day dry fast. I believe this was very effective at crack out a lot of 'old junk' though I did suffer a lot more fatigue and dizziness throughout which I attribute much to poor metabolic function of CFS itself and lesser to low blood sugar. It was a very interesting experiment to go through and gave me a far greater awareness and experience of the various modes of metabolism and differing physical and cognitive qualities arising from those modes.
Having this practice and experience, together with breath-work and 'fostering' the release of disautonomic energy, I'm happy to say that my gut function has mostly restored to health. I can take sugar again in small quantities without to triggering a crash...but not too much.
Over the years I've used on vary rare occasion, a 'chocolate bar' test (Bounty or Chokito ) if I feel there's been any improvement. After learning some trauma release techniques before Easter this year which I felt healed gut function somewhat, I ate a Bounty and had no adverse effects. I enthusiastically reported this to my mum and we had a Cadbury Creme Egg each..... which completely crashed me days latter. Oh well. But I've gained ground!
Gut neurology (the Enteric Nervous System ENS) and endocrinology is one of the systems suffering a sinful neglect of enlightened research (called Gastopsychology). Given that it has half as many neurons as our brain and that it's neuro-topolgy is similar to that of a mollusc, I don't just think of it as a gut-brain but our Mollusc Brain in the similar sense as our Reptilian Brain (as they say). It's much less integrated, in the same sense an octopus' brain is distributed out into its arms, but has its own intelligence and communication channels with out brain and ANS. I tend to regard it as something of a creature in its own right. It's the primary source of our emotional dynamic, good, bad and disordered according to its health and function. Thinking in this way has greatly affirmed my relationship with gut health itself. It's like my own internal pet that loves me and needs proper care and attention. And if it's happy, so am I.
From the Moderators: While we're always glad to hear of people experiencing improvement, please take care when investigating fasting. While some people with ME/CFS have reported benefits from fasting, others have reported that it didn't help and triggered difficulties of its own. We recommend exercising caution when investigating fasting, and only undertaking it in consultation with appropriate medical support (eg, a GP or dietician).
Hey all, how are you going on your gut journeys?
I am looking into this atm.
Many years ago i hd th e'hunch' to eat organic, was often mocked for it, and over time it became too expensive anyway.
Well, this gut microbiome thing is now doing the rounds, and I just learned today that glyphosate (the main ingredient ie poison in roundup the most common pesticide used in conventional produce) can totally disrupt our gut microbiome on so many levels and have far reaching effects, i haven't verified this, but in my research today i learned its follow on effect can negatively impact ones use of amino acids, ability to form neurotransmitters, as well as cause immune issues. My jaw dropped to say the least.
here is one of the sources https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=167&v=TYTsQbahME0&feature=emb_title
again i haven't personally verified the but it does seem to be a repeated sentiment.
I am working towards using more organic produce in my kitchen but holy moly it is PRICEY.
yesterday i spent $10 for a small bag of salad leaves and 4 tomatoes. probably double what i would spend for conventional.
Cucumbers were $8 each! crazy.
Hi @coco .... yes there is a lot of buzz talk about the gut microbiome ... it is more prevalent these days than years gone by.... some of the information is very informative as it explains the digestive system and the good gut bacteria we all need, in a very scientific way ... I suppose the message has been around for generations; the language has changed though. I can remember being told not eat too many stone fruits, you will get a gut ache and the runs !!! .... Eat your greens or you can't leave the table!!! ..... Oh and that dreadful cod liver oil ....all the words of wisdom still ring in my head ... and yes I still dish up 3 veg and meat/fish/chicken etc ... but I prepare the foods differently now after having cellular well being consults with my nutritionist. I have learnt to identify the foods that just don't agree with me even if they are good foods and recommended for a healthy diet. I have added some new foods I didn't even know existed and so far after 4 months, I have discovered a better state of gut health. I know this as when I tried to reintroduce some foods, my stomach was in pain. Clean foods another buzz description for foods that haven't been processed was strictly adhered to in the first few weeks to get a gut balance, and blood sugars under control. The whole process is to target the cells and get them in a better state. I'm not usually into strict food eating but I tried it and now I am getting use to it. I do struggle with new recipes, especially ones 'I like. I said to my nutritionist "You are what you eat" and he replied not exactly... "You are what you absorb" .... I'm beginning to understand this. I was desperate to get my whole digestive system into some kind of friendlier state, hoping it may help with the illness. It has helped me with ME/CFS symptoms and at least allowed me to sleep better without digestive issues and stomach pain. I have to laugh at the cultural shift towards certain foods ... one can't help thinking it is to prop up emerging growers and food production in Australia. Almond milk is an example as well as blueberries, sweet potato, spinach leaves ... they are the greatest promoted foods at the moment and dominate the supermarkets. I have seen the changes over time and I'm still wondering where the squash has gone... we called it marrow but be darned if I can find it anywhere. As far as organic foods ... well they can be expensive unless you catch the supermarket grocer marking them down .... I've been lucky enough to live regional and our community garden is thriving with the best leafy greens ( all free for the picking) There are often wire baskets on front fences laden with fresh produce, grown on the property/or house block. Check out your community garden if you have one or one of those farmers markets ( when open ...they may be closed due to covid . I think I have practically written an essay here ... sorry everyone, I can get carried away in the moment ... totally understand if you don't make it past the first few lines ... or if it's all too much to digest ...heehee
@coco I am mystified by your statement that glyphosate is used on conventional vegetables as it is a herbicide and would kill the vegetable
@iris I realise now some glyphosate could drift across from weeds onto the vegetable
@iris organic produce is usually certified. With uncertified produce you don't really know what you are getting as the soil it is grown in could be contaminated
I saw a program that showed a lot of salad greens being grown in shipping containers in warehouses these days ...probably hydroponics ...
@iris good point ...
@iris oh, sorry genetically modified modified foods can be resistant to herbicide. Yuk!
Oh thank your your your essay @crashdummy. I digested (absorbed hehe) it well and appreciate your thoughts very much.
I'm glad you have found *some * relief!
I'll definitely keep an eye out for better prices for organic goods!
Dot last edited by
This is a very interesting topic as they are only just working out the role our amazing microbiome plays in our health and well being.
I have been reading research as it comes out. I really enjoyed a Catalyst special that was on a couple of years ago called Gut Revolution (2 of the episodes are still on ABC iview).
I know we want the best microbe colonies and a really diverse range of them.
My understanding is that, more than organic food, more than probiotics, are the benefits of eating lots of vegetables. They are the best prebiotics (feeding the good microbes) and if we can eat a wide variety of vegetables and more than 5 serves a day, we are doing the best thing for our gut microbiome. Especially hard when trying to cook and cope with ME/CFS.
Unfortunately for the people who have developed IBS, this is problematic because the FODMAPS that can cause inflammation and all the dreadful symptoms are found in quite a few vegetables. The people who developed the Fodmap diet https://www.monashfodmap.com/ are very clear that it should only last 6 weeks, and then foods containing fodmaps are re introduced one by one so the specific foods that cause the problems can be identified, and the ones that are okay can be eaten.
For the rest of us, it is important to gradually increase our vegetables, including beans and lentils. If we only have tiny colonies of the microbes that can digest lentils (for example) then other microbes will do their best to digest them but will produce gas and bloating and nasty poo! We need to gradually build up the colonies of the beneficial microbes by eating small amounts regularly and gradually building up.
Hence the old saying "Beans, the more you eat, the more you can eat".
Here is the official response about concerns with glyphosate @coco https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/chemicals/Pages/Glyphosate.aspx
Cheers from Ms Aiming-for-7-serves-of-veggies-a-day
@Dot when establishing a vegetable garden the advice is to get the soil tested as it can be contaminated with e.g. lead from old house paints
@coco Have you come across Dr Michael Mosley? I’ve seen quite a few of his doco’s and he has done some on gut health, and he’s written a book on it also. You can check him out on YouTube. And yes I agree that organic vegetables are ridiculously expensive. I’ll buy them occasionally when they’re on special.
@crashdummy Youve sent me down memory lane again with your mention of Cod Liver Oil. Yes it was a spoonful a day, but I actually didn’t mind the taste!
@Dot You’ve encouraged me to make a salad for lunch - if not today, maybe tomorrow ….
Dot last edited by
@iris True, sometimes organically home grown veggies can be more dangerous that commercially produced ones!