+ Well Nourished | Gut Reaction - all disease starts in the gut!

Gut Reaction – all disease starts in the gut!

Today I thought I’d share a recent report telecast by the ABC on Catalyst -called ‘Gut Reaction’.  Whilst there are parts, especially in the beginning that irritated me a little, on the whole, I think it was an insightful report about the importance of gut health, that most will benefit from watching.

First up, I have to say that I did roll my eyes when in the introduction, one Professor stated that it was a ‘revolution’ and that maybe  ‘we can prevent diseases by changing our diet.’  No kidding!  As a Naturopathic practitioner, food as medicine is the pinnacle of wellness and healing.

I also really don’t agree that there is anything ‘remarkable’ about the discovery that ‘our current eating habits could be making us sick.’  I’m also concerned that this information is an ’emerging new field of medicine.’  Hippocrates, the father of medicine long ago stated that ‘all disease starts in the gut.’  I have for the past 20-years, practiced according to this principle and ironically the medical establishment have openly mocked this approach. Until now.

Okay, I’ve finished whinging! If you want to watch the full story, I have included the link below. I have also taken the liberty of summarising some of the bits I think you will find interesting:

1) Bacteria are an essential part of our being from the minute we are born.  When a baby is delivered vaginally, the newborn inherits the microbes from the mothers birth canal, vagina and gut bacteria from traces of faeces around the anus.  It’s no coincidence that these two parts of a woman’s anatomy are found so close together!

2) Breast milk contains a lot of sugars which a newborn baby cannot metabolise.  But the babies newly inoculated gut bacteria need these sugars to multiply.  Breast milk also has its own range of bacteria which benefits the newborn.

3) The association between gut bacteria and health is a new science, as the medical community have largely viewed microbes as the enemy.

4) Bacterial cells outnumber our own by 100 to 1, and contain 100 times as many genes as our genome. Most of these live in our gut.  I have written about how we live with and need germs  in a past post, here.

5) The human digestive system has the greatest exposure to the outside world. Where the skin has about 2.5 square metres exposure, the gut is 200 times larger again (almost the area of two tennis courts).

6)  Intestinal bacteria educates the body’s immune defences.  Via the gut, the immune system identifies what to, or what not to attack.

7) Intestinal bacteria also affects mental health and the way the brain functions.  I have written a bit about that here.

8)  Currently one in three births are via c-section.  This procedure is a very new thing in evolutionary terms and early research confirms that this birthing procedure does affect health.

9)  C-section babies are not inoculated with natural bacteria like those delivered vaginally.  Current, albeit limited data, confirms babies born via c-section are more likely to develop allergies and asthma than those born vaginally.

10)  Formula fed babies have also been found to have different gut bacteria.  Breastfeeding is known to protect against asthma, alleges and perhaps even autoimmune disease, neurological disorders and other health conditions not yet fully understood.

11) Our gut bacteria changes depending on what we eat.  Bad, processed foods results in bad communities of bacteria, especially when dietary fibre is lacking.

12) One African community that lives as a hunter-gatherer (as close to our origins and a caveman), eats a wide variety of foods.  The main difference however, in comparison with a modern day diet, is that they consume a massive amount of dietary fibre (5-10 times more).

13) Antibiotics are “like dropping an atomic bomb on gut bacteria” and children are “especially vulnerable.”  The relationship between the bacteria in a child’s gut and the development of a healthy immune system is SO critical to a child’s development, that if you mess with that, then a child’s health will inevitably suffer (especially the  metabolism, immune and nervous systems).

14) So antibiotics and a low fibre, Western diet results in both low levels and poor diversity of bacteria.  This results in increased inflammation in the body.  Autoimmune disease, cancer, asthma, diabetes, obesity, or any disease ending in “-itis”, occurs as a result of inflammation.

15) Obesity is a complex condition.  Yes exercise and diet is critical, but so is good gut bacteria. I’m fascinated by the study quoted in the story (where it can be reversed by improving the health of intestinal flora in mice studies).

16) A whole food diet can shift the ecology of the gut.

Note – Before you rush out and stock up on bran – the fibre they refer to in this story is not the kind advertised on the label. Fibre from whole food sources (fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes) improves gut ecology (not processed forms of fibre like that found in boxed breakfast cereals).


That’s a summary, but I’d urge you to sit and watch the full report to really get a grip on just how important gut health is.  I have harped on about gut health repeatedly, but you can catch up on some of my ideas on ways to improve your gut health and intestinal bacteria here.

Seems Hippocrates may just be ‘proven’ right sometime soon!

Watch the full ABC Catalyst story here.  I think it’s well worth half an hour of your time.

Part two of the story has aired since I’ve written this,  If you’d like to view this also, click here.


Did you find this post useful?  Love to hear your thoughts and opinions, post a comment below!

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  • anon

    I have a son who was born via an emergency c-section. I was able to breastfeed but from your post I am unsure whether his gut flora can ever be healed/ improved?

    • This post was simply a summary of what was presented in the Catalyst story. They do have a follow- up story coming soon that I’m hoping will be solutions based.
      There has been a bit of discussion on social media about this great question of yours. My view is…emergency c-sections are life saving operations and in many cases very necessary. I think the aim of this report is to deter the ‘elective’ kind, so please don’t loose heart.
      I believe that the human body has an amazing capacity to heal and restore and in my professional opinion I think it is absolutely possible to restore gut flora and function given the right care. When I was practicing, I always prescribed probiotics from birth for babies delivered via c-sections (and sometimes even vaginal deliveries warrant infant probiotics). But it’s never to late to start. Speak to a good Naturopath to select the best strains for him. Also take a look at my post attached here for extra things you can do. Bone broth can be given to babies from 6 months of age. I hope this helps? http://wellnourished.com.au/you-are-what-you-absorb/

      • cel

        Thank you. He loves broth so that’s a help.

  • Veronica Wells

    I couldn’t be more excited about this ‘revolution’! 😉

    As a student Naturopath, I’m in the process of starting our very own in-house trial!
    My husband was born C-sect and formula fed. This was followed up with a very low nutrient, high-sugar, meaty diet for most of his life. As a result (?), he has suffered asthma, eczema and allergies his entire life.
    He is still reliant on various steroids to ‘manage’ his asthma and recurrent eczema.
    I’m fascinated by the animal studies shown on Gut Reaction which show a correlation between a high-fibre diet and improvement in asthma symptoms.
    So too, the inflammation healing abilities of ACV, even though its efficacy has been ridiculed for so long.
    Today, we begin a trial of increased whole-food fibre, 3X daily ACV and water kefir. We’re already very ‘clean’ eaters, low alcohol, no processed sugar, etc etc
    We’ll stop the Symbicort after a month and see how he feels.
    I’m obviously not going to be able to manage all of the variables involved or get the data required to compare before and after states but we’ll give it a go, anyway!

    • Hi Veronica, love to hear how you go. Not sure where you are at in your studies, but you might like to support him herbally at some point too? All the best, G x

      • Veronica Wells

        Only in my first year, Georgia- no herbal subjects just yet. Are there any you could recommend or is that a consultation question?

        • Sorry Veronica, I don’t consult at all anymore and I’m just not able to offer individual advice. Perhaps one of your lecturers may be able to assist or mentor you. Good on you for getting started in your own household, I wish you the very best. You’re in the hardest part right now, the fun stuff is yet to come! Good luck, G x

          • Veronica Wells

            Don’t be sorry! I thought that may be the case. I was just having a read of some of your other articles and saw that Turmeric is gut healing- we have just harvested about 3 kilos of it from our backyard so I’ll try and use that up! We do a fair amount of p’mint and cham tea, too. I might grab some slippery elm tomorrow. Thanks, again- I love your site- very inspirational. xx

  • Tracy

    My son was born naturally. But then both him and I were given IV antibiotics. I did breastfeed exclusively for the 1st month but then he was classed failure to thrive so I was advised to top up with formula. I continued to dual feed to 18months.
    He is very sensitive and last year when he received a 2nd lot of antibiotics (that were in a bright pink solution) he reacted very badly. he is very sensitive to colourings, favourings now. He drinks Kombucha. Can i do anything else to improve his gut bacteria? Thanks

  • Jo

    All my boys were c section births, my middle boy in particular from babyhood wld get massive ear infections and extremely high temps, that wld always take two rounds of antibiotics to get rid of, wld vomit paracetemol but keep down nurofen. His back teeth are very chalky as a result of this and at eight he is still skinny, tires easily and is quite tempermental. Wishing things had been different with him and dont know if any of the effects this can be reversed…any thoughts Georgia?

    • Hi Jo, I firmly believe in the power of the human body to restore – I’ve seen many children with the odds stacked firmly against them, thrive with the right treatment and nutritional support. My thoughts are that you should take him to a good Naturopath. In this short explanation it’s clear to me that his gut and liver need support – the good news is that they both respond very well to many natural therapies. As much as I’d like to, I can’t give you individual advice. This post gives you lots of great info too http://wellnourished.com.au/you-are-what-you-absorb/ All the very best, G x

      • Jo

        Thank you so much, Im glad there is still a way to get him on track. We dont have Natropaths where we live, but there might be one in the next biggest town. Thank you for your website and blogs etc, it’s an awesome thing yr doing x

        • Jo, many Naturopaths will do follow-up consults via the phone or Skype. From a practitioners perspective, it’s great to see a patient in the flesh first up, but follow-ups it’s not so important. So you should only have to travel the once.
          You’re very welcome, happy to make a small difference. G x

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