Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash

A few articles on a gut-busting topic with addition notes from my buddy Nurit

My hand got infected again, and that means antibiotics, and that means trouble. For anyone past 65, the kind of belly-sweep that a course of antibiotics means can mean  serious trouble or death, in the form of a virulent bad boy which lives in our guts called c.difficile.

Here's the thing: we all likely have it, or more likely, the condition lives in all of us for our bellies to produce it. Under normal circumstances it does no harm at all. When we overuse antibiotics, those drugs kill off untold billions of gut bacteria and pave the way for a very, very serious problem when c.difficile goes haywire. That happened to me back in 2016. I didn't know why I'd gotten so ill, but I had terrible gut-wrenching pain, then wicked diarrhea.

I nearly died. I took samples to the VA, they misdiagnosed the problem. Then I got weaker and weaker, and finally filled a plastic container with some unmentionables, struggled to the lab and stumbled home. I'd lost some thirty pounds and could barely function. The lab called literally minutes later and told me to isolate myself completely after I got my meds, and make friends with a bottle of bleach.

Why? This stuff is seriously infectious. Here's what to know:

C. Diff Infection: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention
If you’re taking antibiotics and develop a serious case of diarrhea, you could have a bacterial infection known as C. diff. Learn more from WebMD about the symptoms and what doctors can do to treat it.

I got well fast. That's the good news. The bad news is that having had it once, I am far more susceptible to getting it again. Well, shit. Being a good researcher, I looked into and inquired about having a fecal implant:

What is a fecal transplant? Everything you need to know
Fecal transplants are a recent development in the treatment of several conditions, including Clostridium difficile infections. Learn more about this treatment and the emerging research on it here.

Yeah, this sounds gross. In that way the American Sick Care System only cares about you AFTER you get really ill, their response was that I hadda get c-diff again before they would do this. I won't print my answer here. However, the good news is that increasingly, you can get this done via Medical Tourism, and it's on my list.

And this is partly why. The more I learn about the gut, the more I want to ensure that it's healthy. I've had too many surgeries, and increasingly we are finding out just how important healthy gut bacteria is.

For example, in case you missed this, here again is an article I found which addresses one key aspect of why America might be so mentally unstable right now, given the typcial American diet:

How Microbiomes Affect Fear
There’s evidence that microbiomes can influence the fear responses of their hosts, possibly by releasing compounds that affect the brain’s neuroanatomy and function.

Nurit Amichai, who works with aging folks to get them healthy body, mind and spirit fired off these two articles for me to add to this piece:

Your gut is directly connected to your brain, by a newly discovered neuron circuit
Find could lead to new treatments for obesity, depression

One of my favorite writers on Medium, Maria Cross, writes very intelligent articles about nutrition and health. Here's one on gut bacteria, one of her favorite topics for good reason:

How Gut Bacteria Can Lift Depression. Be Sure to Feed Them Well.
If you have ever thought that your innards appear to have a mind of their own, it’s because they have. Deep within your abdomen is a brain…

The point is that the belly determines the health of the brain in more ways than we ever realized. Many call it the second brain. It's no wonder America has gone crazy; we feed ourselves terrible food, and the brain is rebelling.

You might know this, too, but here’s the other way we get pumped with antibiotics:

Is Your Meat Safe? - Antibiotic Debate Overview | Modern Meat | FRONTLINE | PBS

Many of us probably read this stuff, or saw it, but may not necessarily have it register deeply. I have to manage another set of issues which keeps me from eating some of the foods which are best for the brain, but I take probiotics instead. In fact, now that I have to take another course of antibiotics for this damned hand, my response was to head to Natural Grocers and have the assistant walk me through the very best probiotics on the shelf which will give my beleaguered belly a fighting chance.

Most particularly as we age, we really do have to mind the belly which minds our minds. Over the last several months I've had the kind of pain and problems which caused me to be more sedentary for a while. My recent lab worked told me some bad news. The blood is very revealing, and while I'm not happy, the way forward is VERY easy. I have to give up some dairy products, switch to green tea more often and a few other key changes which my body will thank me for.

Food IS medicine IS food. The more I read, the more convinced I am that our nation's state of mind is driven by the state of our bellies. The research is inescapable. This morning I had certain strong strains of the right probiotic to help me balance the antibiotic (the "anti" in the word is telling, isn't it?).

Saga Supporter Stephen Fast just reminded me to add this reading recommendation: I Contain Multitudes, by prize winning science writer Ed Yong. I read it some years back and it rocked my understanding of the unseen world, and it will give you great appreciation for just how complex, marvelous and delicate we all are. AND why it's so damned important to feed ourselves properly.

Three more surgeries to go, each one with a gut-busting side-effect. I will do myself a lot of good with the right food and supplements, but I am serious about finding a way to get a fecal transplant. Americans seem highly resistant to the idea. I'm not. Not at all. The science is there, and I am not so squeamish.

Here is what I found online about the topic:

6 Diseases FMT is Treating and Where You Can Get a Fecal Transplant
Fecal Microbiota Transplants (FMT) are a treatment involving the insertion of stool from a healthy donor into the gut of a patient. The therapy is used to treat conditions associated with the microbiome. FMT treatment is still in trials for many conditions but the results are very promising so far.

Call it a gut feeling. Going into my seventies this might be one of those procedures worth having done after I get all my various bits and pieces repaired. A vacay on the coast of Spain, perhaps, with a minor procedure done as a side trip.

I'm not suggesting this is for you. I've had enough surgeries for twelve people, so I am likely an excellent candidate. For the rest of us, simply eating better goes a long way. To that I suggest Dr.David Perlmutter's series of books on grain, the brain, and much more. Please keep in mind that he also pimps his own line of supplements, which for my part makes me hold my nose, but otherwise his research is solid.

Finally, here's a list to get us started:

Best and Worst Foods for Gut Health
Your gut is full of billions of bacteria that have a profound effect on your health. Find out which foods are good for your gut and which ones aren’t.

Let's belly up to the salad bar, mind our intake of gut healthy foods, live long and prosper.

Photo by amoon ra / Unsplash

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