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Research has placed a spotlight on gut health in recent years and emphasized its importance to our overall health and wellbeing. However, many of us still don’t really know why our gut has such a large impact on the rest of our bodies.

Nutrition expert Madaleine Helm shares her insights on gut health.

Everything you eat and drink passes through your gut. About 90% of what we eat is assimilated into the small intestine. Without proper gut function, you feel sluggish, you feel bloated, and you’re probably more likely to be constipated.” Helm explains.

But the complications don’t end here.

Helm adds: “Gut health is extremely important. Not only is there more than 70% of your immune system directly related to your Gastro-Intestinal tract. But issues with gut health and your corresponding ability to correctly absorb nutrients affects everything in your body.”

And this has a lot to do with the fact that your gut is like your second brain.

So Why Can We Call The Gut Your Second Brain?

Gut health

Helm explains, “We all know that at the beginning of our lives, while we are growing from one cell into millions in our mother’s uterus, a clump of nerve mass forms into the brain. However, many people don’t know that at the same time a smaller, identical substance is grown in the gut.”

She continues, “Our thinking brain is creating a branch office in the tummy. A bundle of nerves called the vagus connects these two brains. Your gut is your ‘second brain’. And your gut bacteria transmits information to your brain via the vagus nerve. These nerves constantly send information to, and from, the gut and the brain.

There is a good reason why the gut is called ‘the other brain’. Both the brain and the gut share many similarities, including:

  • A limited-permeability barrier. Which separates these two systems from the circulatory system
  • The protein substances occludin and zonulin. Which help to determine the integrity of both the gut lining and the Blood-Brain Barrier.”

Tests that determine elevated antibodies for these proteins are one way to find out if you have both Leaky Brain Syndrome and Leaky Gut,” Helm shares.

Why Does An Acidic/Inflammatory Diet Damage Gut Health?

The way in which your diet impacts your gut health comes down to the structure of your gut:Gut health

The walls of the intestine have folds and contain structures called villi. These are fingerlike projections of absorptive tissue. What’s more, they are covered by microscopic projections called microvilli. All of these features help the small intestine to better absorb food,” Helm shares.

Villi normally allow nutrients from food to be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream. Without healthy villi, a person becomes malnourished, no matter how much food one eats. The individual ends up with inflammation in the lining of the small intestine. And inflammation in the blood.”

When you eat an acidic or pro-inflammatory diet, your villi sustain damage and fail to absorb nutrients. This results in myriad lifestyle and auto-immune diseases, such as diabetes or Hashimoto.

The pH of our blood is naturally alkaline. Therefore, a 75% alkaline-forming diet will greatly contribute to overall better health. Food and drink can leave either an acid or alkaline residue on your blood.

Acid Forming Foods Alkaline Forming Foods

  • All animal products
  • Vinegar
  • Heated fats and Heated fruits
  • All processed juices, teas, coffee, cocoa & alcohol
  • Sugar
  • Most nuts
  • Most grains



  • All raw foods
  • Sprouts
  • Almonds
  • Raw and cooked vegetables
  • Potatoes
  • Millet
  • Dried fruit (sulphur free)
  • Freshly squeezed fruit & vegetable juices


*This is not a complete list of alkaline and acid foods.

 Sugar is Highly Addictive and Acid FormingSugar

Sugar is a drug! Research shows that when sugar is removed from the diet, people become agitated. Experiencing similar symptoms to the withdrawal symptoms of smokers and morphine users.”

“For good gut health – eliminate sugar from your diet!

Helm continues: “We should aim to mostly eat foods that leave an alkaline residue on the blood. Diseases such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s can all be prevented by simply changing our diets.”

We must focus on anti-inflammatory foods and shift away from the easy, quick, and processed acid-forming foods that we have all become so accustomed to.”

Order A pH Test Kit

You can check your saliva pH or urine pH by using Litmus paper. This allows you to find out if your food selection is providing the desired balance. Check urine pH 3 times a day. A urine pH of between 6.2 in the morning and 7.4 in the afternoon is ideal. This will vary throughout the day depending on the foods you eat. As well as, allergic reactions and stress factors,” Helm explains.

“The immune system of the intestine is the largest and most important in the entire body. Over 80% of the immune defense reactions have their origin in the intestine. It guarantees an almost invincible barrier for bacteria, viruses, and other disease pathogens. And a barrier against other foreign proteins from food,” explains Helm.

What Impact Do Food Allergies Have?

When people with IgG Food Sensitivities like casein sensitivity, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, eat foods or use products containing these ingredients. Their immune system responds by damaging or destroying villi—the tiny, fingerlike protrusions lining the small intestine,” says Helm.

Classic IgE-based milk allergy is the most common food allergy, and so too is a hidden or delayed-onset IgG milk allergy. Cow’s milk is a contributing factor to middle-ear infections,” Helm explains.gut health

“Milk allergy also contributes to iron deficiency, by impeding the absorption of iron, and damaging the inside lining of the intestines. This causes slow blood leakage and a further loss of iron in red blood cells.

“Cow’s milk is also one of the top three food allergens found in children and adults with poor sleep, asthma, eczema, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, hyperactivity, bronchitis, bed-wetting, growing pains, colic, CANDIDA, heartburn, depression, indigestion, Hashimoto Thyroiditis and even type 1 diabetes etc.”

“If you are allergic to cow’s milk, goat’s or sheep’s milk is not a viable alternative. This is because they all contain casein, and your immune system is unlikely to be able to distinguish one milk from the other. It is also very important to realize animal milk leaves an Acid Residue on the blood. Rather replace Cow’s milk with nut- and seed milk like almond-milk; or rice-milk, quinoa-milk, coconut-milk! Seeds and nuts leave an alkaline residue on the blood and will help strengthen the immune system,” shares Helm.

“I firmly believe that a healthy gut is a key to a healthy body. By living a healthy lifestyle that keeps your gut healthy, balanced, and strong, you strengthen your immune system and your body as a whole,” says Helm.

Getting Tested For Food Sensitivity

Helm says: “I find Food Sensitivity Testing (Testing for Inflammation) to be even more important than Gene Testing. Therefore, I prefer an individual to be tested with the ImuPro Basic or the ImuPro Complete Blood test from MDS Laboratoriums.”gut health

“This is an extensive laboratory analysis. Your blood has been analysed for the presence of specific IgG antibodies to particular foods. If high levels of IgG antibodies are present. They could indicate the cause of certain symptoms due to a delayed food hypersensitivity type III.”

“Your individual ImuPro result for each food tested will help you identify which foods may or may not be associated with your symptoms. By avoiding the foods that might be associated with your symptoms, inflammatory processes can be reduced or even stopped,” Helm explains.

One of the amazing things about the cells in the gut is they regenerate every two to three days. So if you remove the triggers that are causing the problem, then the cells can regenerate. The tight junctions will also restore themselves and the intestinal permeability will go away,” says Helm.

Understanding Your Results

The test results show that you have raised IgG antibody to food(s). Every time the IgG reactive foods are consumed, an inflammatory reaction may also occur. It is, therefore, very important to stabilise your immune system by avoiding the foods to which elevated and highly elevated values of IgG antibodies have been found.

The high amount of IgG reactive foods identified indicates that your intestinal barrier may be strongly impaired and that you may have increased intestinal permeability. Therefore, the larger the number of IgG reactive foods identified, the larger the current imbalance of the intestinal flora.


Guest Writer

This post has been curated by a Longevity Live editor for the website.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.