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Q&A with Gina Ruffa: The Gut Microbiome, Diet and CBD

Wednesday Mar 17th, 2021

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Gut health: It’s one of the trendiest focal points in the health community, flanked by influencers sipping kombucha and writing off gluten and dairy. So where does the buzz stem from, how does CBD fit into the mix and do you really need to say goodbye to bread and cheese? We consulted with Pharmacist and Health and Nutrition Coach Gina Ruffa to learn more.

Farmulated CBD: Thanks for chatting with us again, Gina! So... the gut microbiome. How do you describe it? 

Gina: I like to call it the GBA, the Gut-Brain Axis. 70-80 percent of our serotonin production and immune function stems from our gut. So yes, the gut is our second brain and second immune system and beyond that affects our skin, mood, lungs, heart and brain.

And what are the side effects of an unhealthy gut?  

So many people suffer from conditions such as small intestinal bowel overgrowth, leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, gut dysbiosis and ulcerative colitis as well as other digestive diseases. An easy solution to these problems is to eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, natto, lassi and Greek yogurt. Fermented foods contain probiotics, or the good bacteria, otherwise known as your friendly flora. Other potential remedies include drinking bone broth, taking supplements containing glutamine or trying immunity-boosting colostrum powder, which we know is a goldmine of nutrition for newborns.

What are people doing wrong to lead to so many digestive issues in the first place?

Here are the three biggest culprits that ruin your gut lining: gluten, sugar and dairy. These things are pro-inflammatory and promote acne, mood problems, immune issues and, of course, gut issues. With the Standard American Diet (SAD), so many people suffer from acid reflux. The medications to treat acid reflux are called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and one of the problems with these meds is we need some acid in order to absorb minerals. People treated with these medications can end up with Vitamin B12 deficiency and osteoporosis. Then factor in acne meds and birth control pills, which can also negatively impact the gut. 

So what else can the average person do to improve their gut health?

Many things! Intermittent fasting can be very beneficial, as can different types of diets. The gut and psychology syndrome (GAPS) diet, for instance, cuts back on grains, sugars and processed items to reduce inflammation and restore microbial diversity. And you can adjust the diet to be more KETO or more plant-based depending on your preferences. Fruits and vegetables are very alkaline and cleansing to our systems.

I always say to adjust your diet first, then make modifications from there. I like to exhaust natural alternatives before resorting to prescription medications, which oftentimes are accompanied by side effects. For instance, CBD helps reduce inflammation and regulates stress response by helping to reduce oxidative stress and cortisol. This helps prevent intestinal permeability which is often the root cause of many gut problems. What I would recommend to people newly incorporating CBD into their regimens is to go low and go slow, titrating up to the least effective dose to control your symptoms. This will minimize any potential side effects which almost always improves compliance.

I’m so happy you mentioned that! There are a few studies that support the idea that CBD may indeed be able to decrease inflammation in the gut, thus decreasing intestinal permeability. But how does that decrease in inflammation lead to improved mental health?

We have neurotransmitters in our brains such as norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine and serotonin and these affect our moods and how we function. Oftentimes people with depression or anxiety have imbalances and reduced serotonin levels. So, if your gut is healthy and not spreading bad bacteria via increased intestinal permeability, your serotonin production will be effective in both your gut and brain. Another thing to note is that only about five percent of health complications are genetic, despite what most people think. The other 70-95 percent are attributed to diet, lifestyle and environment. Thus, the body has an amazing ability to turn on and off certain genes via epigenetics if given the proper terrain.

70-95 percent? That seems so high! Why do you think there’s such a focus on genetics?

It is much easier to be complacent and take a pill for an ill than to restructure your lifestyle. We must be proactive instead of reactive regarding our health. For some people, they’re so conditioned in their normal routines they don’t know how or just don’t want to make the necessary lifestyle changes. Beyond that, some people just don’t realize they can change their genetic predispositions.

Wow, that’s empowering information, and really makes me think differently about my own diet.  

The overall takeaway is you’re as healthy as your gut: This includes your brain, heart, lungs and whole immune system.

~

To learn more about Pharmacist Gina Ruffa’s alternative approaches to wellness, visit her website at www.what-supp.org

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