What is Inflammation?
If I told you to close your eyes and think of inflammation, what comes to your mind? This is what my mind will conjure: redness, swelling, rawness, pain and infection. Even if you thought of two of the aspects I listed, we are on the same page. Inflammation is the body’s coping mechanism to outside elements that it cannot assimilate or recognize on the inside. Now imagine all that I told you happening to someone’s body over time. It turns into systemic inflammation. Modern medicine has not started recognizing the correlation between systemic inflammation and disease. You could have varying degrees of inflammation, and in many ways, the macrobiotic diet, by controlling certain factors—i.e., bringing in the balance of yin and yang—helps keep the body’s inflammatory response under check.
A healthy cell structure in the GI (gastrointestinal tract) tract, including proper functioning of the villi (small projections that protrude from the epithelial lining of the small intestine’s walls) and tight cell junctions (the spaces between epithelial cells that are sealed tight and allow only fully digested material to be absorbed) are important for the intestinal barrier. The human intestine, while absorbing nutrients from the food we eat, also functions as a barrier that prevents harmful pathogens (microbes) from entering our body or bloodstream. If someone has a ‘leaky gut’, it means the tight junctions are compromised due to increased use of antibiotics, exposure to bad bacteria and/or certain trigger foods. The toxic stuff which actually should be eliminated will then seep through the walls of the intestine into our bloodstream. This leads to an immune system breakdown, if not corrected. This then increases the toxic burden, which leads to inflammation and disease.
The result of leaky gut are irritable bowel syndrome (IBS),Crohn’s disease, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs or painkillers), altered flora in the gut, small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), coeliac disease (resistance to gluten), infection, food allergies, allergies, peptic ulcer disease, ulcerative colitis, chronic alcoholism, diarrhoea, strenuous exercise, increasing age, nutritional depletion, poor dietary choices, stress, depression and wired emotions, candida, systemic inflammation, low stomach acid and autoimmune disease.
The small intestine is where all the nutrients from the food are absorbed, it is the large intestine where water is absorbed. It is also where fibre is fermented by the microbes that live here, which passes undigested from the small intestine. The microbes here are considered to be the gatekeepers of our metabolism. Think of your immune system as the gatekeeper to your health. It protects you against external pathogens, parasites, viruses and most of all disease. Hence, prolonged imbalance of microbes in the gut eventually leads to inflammation or an autoimmune state. It is the microbiota that helps train the immune system to make the distinction. Our immune system is highly mobile. Immune cells living in the intestine and ‘conversing’ with the gut microbes can move to new sites anywhere in the body. A T-cell (one of the major classes of immune cells found in the body), which lives in your intestine today, may be in your lung or spinal fluid tomorrow. And that cell can remember its experiences with the microbes in the gut.
The microbes in our gut control the responsiveness of the entire immune system. They dictate the small processes of immune response like a fever, to a larger response like determining how long you will stay with a cold. A good microbiome is positively correlated with a strong immune system. An imbalance causes the T- and B-cells (also termed the killer immune cells) to attack harmless cells, triggering an autoimmune response.
How does Shonali help?
Shonali’s training in the area of ‘gut’ strengthening comes after her experience with different ailments that stem primarily from here. She has worked over 3600 cases addressing the ‘gut’ as a ‘gut health specialist’ and her research is backed by her book The Detox Diet, where is puts forth her theory. It’s a good idea to read the book, and understand how the ‘gut’ functions.
The Macrobiotics traditions cornerstone is including foods that strengthen the human microbiome, and this is what makes her specialized as a ‘gut health expert.’ The Macrobiotic approach is one of the strongest ‘gut health’ diets in the World. Disease or lack of immunity stems from many reasons, but if you’re immune barrier (namely your ‘gut’) is weak, then Shonali works towards reasons that weaken it by removing triggers: medication, NSAIDs (painkillers), sugar, refined carbohydrates, and many other foods that do not create a good ecosystem.
She follows the approach as outlined in her book The Detox Diet of adding high-fibre foods that feed the gut bacteria to nourish them and see them thrive and fortifies you with fermented foods (that’s if they work for you). She then adds wholesome, natural foods and strives to work with your condition tailor-making your diet suit you.
She specializes in ‘gut dysbiosis’ that is a breakdown of your gut which is the underlying cause of many ailments (especially autoimmune conditions, allergies, recurrent infection, food intolerances, degenerative disease and those ailments that have broken down cellular functioning).
She herself has survived candidiasis (the multiplication of a negative bacteria that could result in recurrent yeast infections, inflammation, depression, mood swings hormones, mental fogginess, infertility, autoimmune disease, leaky gut, inflammation and a lot more) using the Macrobiotic approach, it took her 2 years to knock it out of her system.