You're only as good as your gut

PHOTO: You're only as good as your gut

You've heard it before: Death begins in the colon. Your gut is home to millions and millions of bacteria, good and bad. Keep it healthy and you'll create a balanced environment that will boost your immune system and help you fight off diseases.

Approximately 30 feet long, it is that tube that runs from your mouth to your anus and plays a vital role to the health of your mind, body, and spirit, said Dr. Teresa Bitanga Valeros, NMD and PhD.

Your colon has been working hard to keep you in good condition since you were born. When you eat meat, for instance, it takes three days for your stomach to digest. That's three days of meat sitting in your gut, fermenting and rotting away.

This is not about turning vegan, said Valeros. This is about keeping your gut healthy. It's not a detox diet but rather a remedy, a way to "reverse from illness to wellness," she said.

When you're healthy, that means the bacteria population in your stomach is balanced-there are more "good" than "bad" bacteria. If you easily contract diseases, then balance must be restored.

"Eat a princely breakfast, a kingly-or queenly, as the case may be-lunch, and a meager or pauper's supper," said Dr. Valeros.

Born a very sick child to a very ill mother, Valeros, now 62, is only too familiar with coping with diseases. Describing her childhood home as a virtual hospital-her mom had Parkinson's, she had celebral allergy and inborn scoliosis, among other diseases, and a sibling had brain damage-Valeros said she came close to death so many times she never thought she'd find peace until she changed her diet.

Finding the balance

"When I started to eat right I found the balance. I still get allergy attacks, but my body is able to deal with it better," Valeros said.

The stomach has often been referred to as the body's "second brain" by medical practitioners and professors. Ever felt queasy before a big interview? That, they say, is your stomach listening to your brain.

"Only 10-20 per cent understand how the mind-body connection is very important. What you eat can make you irritable or happy. There are even some foods that can make you feel suicidal. And this is proven by science. This is all about the immune system. My job is to strengthen it," Valeros said.

Every person has a unique biochemical individuality; not even twins are the same, she said. Valeros said a four- or seven-day nutrition diet can help strengthen your immune system.

Upon consultation, patients will be required to make a diary that includes not only food choices and diseases, but a list of genetically transferred diseases. Then she'll recommend either a barium enema or flat/supine preparation, and total abdomen ultrasound. The focus of the tests is the digestive system.

There are four factors that come into consideration during assessment: allergy, fungal infection, pollutants and parasites. From there, she can draw up a nutritional diet tailored specifically for you.

"Negative emotion can bring about uric acid so we need to heal the spirit, mind and body. When you talk about complementary medicine, the simple layman's term would be therapy. That includes music or art therapy. In fact, the principles of art have to be there," Valeros said.

Like music, she continued, the music of digestion is a waltz. Everything has a rhythm and a cycle. The goal is to achieve balance.

"Whether it's Traditional Chinese Medicine or Ayurvedic medicine, the goal is always balance-restoring balance in your being," she said.

Too rigid

Too rigid

A monotrophic diet, or eating only one food at a meal, can help restore a healthy gut environment, but it is far too rigid for many to follow. Valeros has come up with a diet program/chart that allows one to combine some food without disturbing the restoration of balance in your gut.

Carbs, she said, are digested with an alkaline condition in the stomach; protein is digested with an acid condition. Combining both starches and proteins at a meal is not good because it "confuses the stomach," she said.

So carbs such as potatoes, whole grain cereals, chestnuts, etc. are better off paired with greens and veggies. Proteins such as nuts, dairy products, seafood and "flesh" food (meat) are better paired with greens and veggies. Fruits should be eaten on their own, preferably 30 minutes before mealtime.

"Fruits should be eaten alone. It will be digested in 30 minutes. Never take fruit after a meal, except papaya, because this has digestive enzymes. Never take overripe fruits either because of the molds and fungus there," she said.

While fruits may be good, some fruits are not to be combined with other fruits. Rule of thumb is to never eat sweet fruits with sub-acid or acid fruits. Valeros said it is better to stick to one classification of fruit.

For instance, you can eat acid fruits like citrus with pineapples or strawberries or sour plums. Just don't eat them together with sub-acid fruits like apples, apricots, or grapes. Or with sweet fruits like bananas, dates, or prunes.

"Just focus on your good partners. A good mix is two or three types. If you overdo things, your stomach will get confused. One leads to wellness while another leads to illness. Heavy meals should already be eaten by lunchtime to give your body the chance to do its homework. The human digestive system is like sunrise and sunset," she said.

Eat six meals a day, with merienda in between. Valeros also recommends the Formula 8 for maximum energy: eight hours of sleep, eight hours of relaxation, and eight hours of work.

"The body can heal itself, but then again it's very subjective. It depends on how your body responds to the modification. Without a doubt it will get better, but probably not as good as your friend's. Nobody has the perfect colon."