“All diseases have their origin in our intestine”. “The food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.” “We are what we eat,” said Hippocrates, the “father” of Western medicine. After 2500 years, we rediscover that ancient wisdom. Internists, oncologists, even psychiatrists, health specialists in each subject area claim that equilibrium in our intestine and psyche are the basis of the wellbeing of our body, mind, social and romantic relationships. “Much of our visceral dysfunctions have their roots in nutrition,” said the oncologist Franco Berrino. The colleague Claudio Pagliara adds that “our brain is the largest producer of drugs and poisons and is a wonderful doctor.” Health, in short, is in our stomach. There are also people who, like Silvio Spinelli, uses an integrated approach to rebalance the “two brains”, that is, head and intestine, as a way of healing the body, mind and spirit. He is a member of the Popular International Academy of Clinical Nutrition and the scientific director of the Interdisciplinary Meeting to be held in Fasano on 28 May, on the topic: “Intestinal Microbiome, this Unknown Organ”. Interris interviewed him.
Dr. Spinelli, are there blood ties, as it were, between our psyche, intestine, and body health?
“Certainly. In addition to being the most important organ for our immune system, the intestine produces serotonin, a neurotransmitter known as ‘the happiness hormone’. The state of health of the intestine affects people’s mood, thoughts, behavior, and cognitive functions such as attention and memory, and the health of all organs. Moreover, there is a direct connection between intestinal flora and brain function. A sick intestine sickens our brain. Serotonin level in the brain is regulated by the amount of bacteria in the intestine since the early stages of our life. There are over 500 different species of microorganisms in our stomach. Intestinal flora affects our mental state and is influenced, in its turn, by our emotions and experiences. Sorrows, disappointments, and fears alter our microbiome and immune system. States of anxiety, tension, anguish, and negative thoughts poison our body, heart (physically and emotionally speaking), and our relationships. Therefore, intestinal cleansing, a healthy diet and a good smile is the best insurance for health and a long and happy life expectancy”.
Which foods should we avoid and limit, and which should we prefer instead?
“To stay healthy, both components of the intestine have to function in a healthy way: the intestine itself, as an organ structure and its intestinal flora. Our overfed Western civilization is actually underfed. We get an excessive amount of certain substances, most of which are harmful, whereas we lack others. Foods can be harmful, neutral, or healthy. Foods that contribute to the wellbeing of our body are called nutraceutical. Nutrigenomics studies the way food affects our DNA. “Junk” foods are those, which alter intestinal functions and bacterial flora and can even trigger variations in our genetic code. Above all, processed foods with preservatives, additives, dyes, synthetic substances and excess of sugar. Refined sugar is called ‘white poison’. We should eliminate also trans and hydrogenated fats (such as margarine), which increases the level of insulin and the risk of heart disease and cancer, and reduces sexual desire and fertility. We have to limit meat and dairy products and accompany them with vegetables, preferably raw. Consider increasing the consumption of vegetables, legumes and fruits, which contain vitamins B, C, D, E and omega 3. Fish is good for you, but in limited quantities.”
A healthy diet is an act of love towards ourselves…
“Without a doubt. For ourselves and for the others. If you are in health, your quality of life, relationship with the others, and your productivity improves.”
What is your advice to keep our psyche healthy?
“The first source of psychical disorders is certainly stress. A life always on the run is not beneficial to your health. It is a major cause of cancer and the most common diseases. Along with excess of sugar, it is the cause of type 3 diabetes, called specific of the brain, which causes damage to brain function, Alzheimer’s, and other degenerative diseases. A poor diet has a direct negative effect on the brain. But also negative thoughts and feelings alter the state of health of our body. Therefore, you have to feed a positive attitude towards life and towards the others, respecting the sleep-wake rhythm and cultivating internal and external order. Disorders – be their nature food-related, environmental, physical, mental, or moral – create imbalance and disease. The rule is to love yourself and love.”
Pope Francis’ love formula – be thankful for the good things, apologize and repent for your mistakes, use kindness and moderation, and forgive to rise stronger and healthier from your errors – is a good rule also for our health, isn’t it?
“Of course. Pope Francis’ formula is one of the best life formulas ever, also for the health and healing of our body and soul.”