Monday, September 24, 2012

What is Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS)?

Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) is a collection of symptoms believed to be caused by poor digestive health and affects the brain. The syndrome was first introduced by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. Dr. Campbell-McBride has a degree in medicine and postgraduate degrees in human nutrition and neurology. She believes that poor diet and an unhealthy gut lead to serious conditions, but by making dietary changes patients can see notable improvements in conditions such as hyperactivity and autism.

GAPS Theories
Conditions such as dyslexia, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and dyspraxia frequently overlap. These psychiatric and neurological conditions may have a common root cause: GAPS. GAPS may begin in children within the first days of their lives. Parents, particularly mothers, pass on a unique gut microflora to babies. Microflora are bacteria in the intestinal tract. The right balance of bacteria creates a healthy gut. If bad bacteria overgrows, it affects people both physically and mentally. When mothers breastfeed, their babies develop natural microflora in the gut. Babies who are bottle fed have completely different microflora. Even a mother who breastfeeds her babies but was not breastfed herself can pass on a compromised gut microflora to her children, which predisposes babies to future health complications. As children age, they are vaccinated and generally take antibiotics, which destroys healthy gut microflora. Antibiotics kill all bacteria, not just the bacteria that cause infections. Without a healthy balance of microflora in the gut, around 500 pathogenic and opportunistic microbes are free to grow out of control in the intestinal tract. This growth is further fueled by diets comprised of unhealthy processed foods.

Eating a poor diet means that women have signs of abnormal gut flora by the time they are ready to have children. Many mothers-to-be have issues such as digestive abnormalities, chronic fatigue, skin problems, allergies, and auto-immunity. Almost all women who have psychiatric and neurological conditions demonstrate these signs of abnormal gut flora, also called gut dysbiosis.

GAPS Symptoms
People with GAPS and abnormal gut flora are likely to experience problems such as allergies, eczema, digestive issues, and asthma. Over time, their problems can develop into neurological and psychiatric disorders. Each individual will experience unique signs and symptoms due to the differences in microflora and bacteria, viruses and fungi that grow in their body.

Common bacteria groups found in the gut of people with GAPS are yeasts and Clostridia family. These microbes digest food, resulting in large amounts of toxins. The toxins get into the bloodstream and eventually end up in the brain, where they cross the blood-brain barrier.

The specific toxins that reach the brain affect the resulting symptoms and problems people experience. It is this link between the microbes in the gut, the resulting toxins and the toxic effects on the brain that led to the naming of GAPS. People with GAPS may show symptoms associated with disorders such as:

  • Obsessive-Compulsive disorder
  • Autism
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Allergies
  • Crohn's disease
  • Asthma
  • Dyslexia
  • Schizophrenia
  • Depression
  • Eczema

GAPS Treatment
Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends testing all children and adults with psychiatric or neurological disorders for abnormal gut flora. Using diet and probiotic supplementation to balance the gut microflora may treat GAPS. Following a GAPS diet is a natural treatment for the syndrome. Dr. Campbell-McBride worked with hundreds of neurological and psychiatric patients, both children and adults, before coining the term GAPS in 2004.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How to Treat MRSA & MRSA Recovery

What is MRSA?
MRSA is short for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Commonly known as Staph, this microbes is a type that causes infection in many parts of the body. Most of the time Staph infection is not serious, but this type of infection can turn deadly if not treated. MRSA is a mutated strain of Staphylococcus aureus that has developed genes that allow it to resist disinfectants and antibiotics, making it a serious health threat. The mutation is the result of excessive use of antibiotics and disinfectants. Microbes replicate quickly. As new generations grow and survive after exposure to antibiotics, they will pass along resistant genes to the next generation and so on. Eventually there is a strain of microbes that is completely resistant to these antibiotics.

What are some common symptoms of MRSA?
The symptoms of MRSA are wide and varied. Symptoms include: nose sores, blisters that may look like insect bites, boils that may look like spider bites, fluid, blood or pus-filled boils, itchy skin or nose, low-grade fever, fatigue, body aches, cuts that become infected easily or often, red spots or various types of rashes, diaper rash, chest cold, jaw pain, ear pain, sinus infection, mastitis (breast infection in nursing mothers), red, warm, swollen or painful area on the skin, and urinary tract infection. As you can clearly see, MRSA symptoms can often be confused with other infections and diseases. If experiencing any of the before-mentioned symptoms on a regular basis, it is a good idea to get a check-up for MRSA.

In addition to these, there are other symptoms that may occur. The following may indicate some serious issues and a lethal level of MRSA: pain or lumps under the skin, red streaks on the skin near an old or new wound, signs of infection on or near a surgical site, low or high fever, low blood pressure, chills, malaise, chest pain, shortness of breath, headache, muscle aches, rash, vomiting, vision change, and dizziness. These may be signals of significant infection and you should immediately seek out medical attention.

Who is at risk for MRSA?
The risk factor of MRSA infection for certain groups of people are higher than others. These groups include the elderly, infant health care workers, law enforcement officers, children the chronically ill Immune compromised lactating mothers, surgical patients, those with high stress lifestyles, drug addicts, prisoners, homeless, athletes, and surfers.

How can MRSA be prevented?
The best way to prevent MRSA is by living a healthy lifestyle along with good hygiene. Maintaining healthy habits will help prevent MRSA, including daily exercise, eating right, and a balanced diet. Washing hands after every meal and bathroom visit will help prevent an infection. Since MRSA is common in hospitals, avoiding elective surgeries will help as well.

Six steps to treating MRSA
Contracting MRSA does not mean life is over. The infection is treatable, and here are some steps to help.

1. Find an infectious disease doctor. These doctors are trained in the treatment of infections like MRSA. A specialist will be able to recommend steps a regular doctor may not even know about.
2. Use natural Antibiotics. These antibiotics will help work with your body to heal the MRSA infection. A person can take these along with pharmaceuticals, but make sure to ask a doctor before hand.
3. A change of diet. Eating healthy may not be enough. Contracting a infection like MRSA means that there are choices a person needs to make. Certain foods and diet plans will help with the infection.
4. Take a strong probitoic. Not recommended until after a person is in recovery, a quality probiotic can replace the good baceteria in the gut that is typically killed off by multiple antibiotic treatments and will help fight off future MRSA infection. A probiotic supplement is a helpful bacterium that can be used to fight off the bad bacteria that are present in the MRCA infection. Probotics are often added to food, though the bacteria can also be a natural part of fruit, vegetables, and other items.
5. Change of lifestyle. This is a step that hits all parts of life. The changes can be small or they can be large. These include washing hands and not taking any type of drug, including antibiotics and over the counter medication.
6. Use Herbal Supplements. Since drugs are not something that can be consumed, herbal supplements will help fill the gap. Most vitamins should come from the change of diet but sometimes a supplement is needed to help a body out.

Friday, September 7, 2012

How Gut Microbes May Affect the Brain

The human gut holds about 100 trillion bacteria, and many of these are beneficial strains that keep the intestines healthy and assist with nutrient absorption. These microbes also produce many substances on their own, including not only vitamins but also serotonin, the neurotransmitter associated with feelings of relaxation and contentment. In fact, the gut actually contains 95 percent of the body’s serotonin, and recent studies have begun to shed some light on the interplay between the microbial make-up in your digestive tract and mental health as well as brain development. Here’s a look at what we know about this connection so far.

Recent Studies
One study, published in Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences, found that animals fed probiotics for a few weeks had lower levels of stress and anxiety and improved mood. Another study, published in Molecular Psychiatry, found that brain development is altered when certain types of beneficial bacteria are lacking in the gut early in life and that these microbes help to regulate the brain’s serotonin levels. While these studies were performed on animals rather than people, they’re groundbreaking because they expose a gut-brain connection that scientists had long suspected, but had yet to prove. Now, researchers are trying to pinpoint which bacterial strains have the greatest effect on the human brain and exactly how this interaction occurs. Already, a study performed at UCLA showed that participants who ate probiotic yogurt were less affected by exposure to negative stimuli. These studies all point to gut health as essential in child development as well as adult mental well-being, strongly supporting the use of a raw, fermented probiotic supplement throughout the course of one’s life.

Scientists in Sweden and Singapore are looking at behavior and gene expression in mice with and without normal gut bacteria. They’ve found that mice without healthy levels of beneficial microbes during early development engage in more risky behavior and are more hyperactive as adults compared to the mice that had normal gut bacteria. When germ-free mice were given normal microbes early in life, they developed normally, but when they were given the probiotics as adults, their behavior remained unchanged, suggesting that probiotic supplementation is critical in the early, formative years. After looking at the genes of these mice, scientists found signaling pathways affected by the presence and absence of these gut microbes; when these bacteria were present early in life, they played a crucial role in brain development. While the scientists say that these bacteria play an important role in the function of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, they also say that it’s too early at this point to draw conclusions about the role of probiotics on the brains of humans.

With the numerous documented benefits of probiotics on many aspects of health in the gut and around the body, it’s definitely not too early to recommend the use of probiotics for anyone concerned about their physical and mental health. The connection between the gut and the brain is already very clear from a practical standpoint. Instead of waiting for years to see the results of a study, probiotics can be taken right away to improve overall health and digestion and, most likely, mood and cognitive function.

To encourage the growth of good gut bacteria, consumers should get plenty of probiotic foods that contain plenty of soluble fiber, such as the pulp of fruits and lots of green leafy vegetables (kale, chard, spinach, etc). Processed sugars and grains, the preferred food of candida, should be avoided as much as possible if not eliminated. Probiotic foods, such as unpasteurized sauerkraut and kimchi, work well for many people who enjoy their unique flavors and have the time to make them, but many consumers do best with a high-quality probiotic supplement. Since scientists don’t know yet which strains of bacteria contribute the most to mental health, a comprehensive mixture of strains is the best bet for people interested in the brain benefits of probiotics.