An inside look into Brandon’s profound experience and his book, which shares a series of food and lifestyle changes for those with autoimmune conditions
When you look at Brandon Godsey, it’s difficult to imagine that he fought for his life in his early 20s. But in fact, he won a vicious battle with his autoimmune condition, Crohn's disease — not by chance.
After experiencing nearly 30 years of illness, undergoing extensive surgery, and nearly dying from Crohn’s complications, the handsome actor-turned-health-advocate who hails from L.A. set off to find his own solutions: An invaluable array of “simple changes” that involve clean eating and non-toxic living.
These changes not only spared Brandon’s life, but propelled him into vibrant health.
Brandon’s self-taught approach evolved from decades of personal experience, five years of combing every label, researching every ingredient, and understanding all aspects of how his body functions. His determination to find the answers eventually led to the diagnosis that everyone with autoimmune disease deserves to hear:
“No active disease.”
Now Brandon is sharing everything he learned in his book, “My Simple Changes” (which recently hit No. 1 on the Amazon Best Sellers list), so others can build these changes into their unique circumstances.
We met Brandon after he reached out to us to share his heartfelt story on how GutPro® probiotic by Organic 3 played an integral role in his recovery.* Here’s what Brandon had to say about his simple changes involving probiotics:
“Thank you (Organic 3), for making GutPro®, a product we all deserve to have. I've battled through a compromised immune system for over three decades, that developed into Crohn's disease, and really appreciate an honest/high-quality product.
Eight years ago, my disease progressed into having 18" of my intestine removed and carrying on with the meds then caused a terrible month’s-long battle with shingles. It was after this that I finally decided to heal on my own through lifestyle and food, and last year, after four years of dedication to figuring it out, my GI doctor confirmed I have no active Crohn's in my body. Meaning, I put in remission what is said to be impossible... and it's all because of lifestyle changes and products like yours.”
Like Brandon, over half of Americans live with a digestive disorder or autoimmune condition like IBS, Crohn's, colitis or celiac. It’s no wonder: Our modern world is set up with systems and processes that can cause weakened immune systems and depleted microbiomes, and eventually, serious health issues. Chemically engineered substances, environmental toxins, low-quality ingredients, overused drugs, and overconsumption of unhealthy food often results in chronic conditions associated with inflammation, autoimmunity or poor gut health.
And we at Corganic understand. Many of our customers have these digestive conditions, too. It’s a primary reason that we carry the full line of Organic 3 supplements that are in Brandon’s toolbox. This line was created with a different approach: With the most up-to-date science in mind, the folks at Organic 3 also gathered feedback from parents, people with chronic digestive conditions and those on very special diets, listening to their desperate calls for help when no one else would. The result is a collection even the most sensitive of the sensitive (like Brandon) can consume, as it’s highly researched, clean and sans fillers.
We’re honored to be part of Brandon’s incredible journey to recovery. We sat down and talked with Brandon, as he graciously shared even more insight on how he turned his “impossible” autoimmune disease into remission:
Q. Can you tell those who haven’t read the book yet how you started developing your “simple changes” based on your health history?
A. A tremendous amount happened to me and my health, but it was over the course of 25 years, all laid out in the book. It can be tough to comprehend the length of time of being unwell and how things evolve over time. For me, it clicked that the medicine I was being prescribed was weakening my immune system even more. And I knew the next health problem that comes along would be something I can’t come back from. So that's when I started to change.
Another thing is when you're growing up, a lot of these health decisions are in other people's hands. So I didn't have a choice in the matter as a child. Once you get older, the habits are ingrained in you, so it takes a while to come to that understanding. I grew up in the ‘80s, a popular time for formula, TV dinners and the like. We really are the test subjects of a lot of things and only time can reveal whether it was good for us or not. During that time, I was the test subject and it weakened my immune system and killed a lot of the bacteria I needed for the rest of my life. Instead of being a healthy child, I was fighting to survive because I had less overall bacteria that put me at a disadvantage.
Q. How did you come to this toxin-removing protocol?
A. The first step... I went to a holistic doctor/chiropractor and we started talking about Crohn’s. He recommended the blood-food allergy test. I found out I was allergic to tons of foods I was eating like tomatoes, cilantro and apples. I started to remove them. And over time, I developed habits of reading the labels. If I didn’t know, I would write down the ingredients and then conduct extensive research on how it affects the gut and immune system. Over the course of four years, I developed an understanding not only for the man-made substances, but the food substances that irritate, as well as the toxic substances we're exposed to in our environment.
Just starting out can seem like a daunting thing. All of the information out there on food and nutrition can feel diluted and cloudy, and you don't know who has your best interests in mind. So you have to do your due diligence on researching what companies are about and where their ingredients come from.
Q. So where did you start researching?
A. What I started to do was identifying that I had ulcers in my intestine and lower ileum and extreme inflammation throughout my body. When I had my intestine removed, the markers (for inflammation) were really high and when the doc said no more, the markers were zero. So I focused on repairing the lining of my intestine and then I focused on building up my immune system. Everything I researched went down to those three things. If you heal the trunk, you’re going to heal the branch that is Crohn's disease. And right now, the trunk is the problem (the immune system).
Q. Can your series of “simple changes” apply to people who do not have Crohn's?
A. Yes! Your timeline and your body are shaped in a different way than mine; even if you did have Crohn's, you're affected by various substances, foods and toxins. I tried to write the book giving you changes, steps and understanding so you can implement it into your own circumstances. So the book helps with autoimmune digestive issues. And it's also a guide of how to navigate through our modern times, because there’s so much substance in the world.
Q. How did you learn about the dietary portion of your “simple changes”?
A. A lot of research. Reading a lot of books, taking their understanding, developing it into my own. After four years, I’ve gotten to the point where I have control over this and I can incorporate one substance at a time. In other words, slowly incorporating one substance and different amounts of that substance and seeing how I reacted based on what I read.
Start by figuring out what your body is allergic to and by ridding the idea that those tests can give false positives, because if it showed you’re allergic, you might as well just get rid of it. Then start consuming a lot of water. And then find somebody else that can help you navigate. A lot of us don't have the time I was able to devote to this, so you need to make sure you’re putting your trust in the right spots. Low fructose fruits, a lot of leafy veggies and low FODMAP foods are a good starting place, because they digest in different parts of your intestines. If it digests in the lower parts of your intestines and that's where the irritation is, you don’t want to overwork an area you’re trying to heal. I still had fungus overgrowths, yeast issues even after recovering, and that's where low FODMAP diet came in. (FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols, scientific terms to classify groups of carbs that are known for triggering digestive symptoms like bloating, gas and stomach pain.)
My staples are turmeric and bone broth with probiotics and digestive enzymes.
I will be releasing a cookbook, “My Simple Cookbook,” that contains recipes of food groups in the right amounts. For example, I eat minimal amounts of meat, especially now that I can tolerate sprouted beans and grains.
Q. I loved how you not only addressed the physical part of healing, but the emotional too. Tell us about your meditation work and recommendations.
A. Meditation has been a significant factor in my healing. Your brain is directly fed from your gut, how much (nutrients) you're absorbing. If your mind is not healthy enough to make great choices, that's another route that's going to keep you sick. We live for a one-pill solution. But one thing you change at a time, over the course of time, evolves into the solution. And meditation is a huge factor in that.
Q. What about the enlightening part of your book where you discuss healing past wounds and depression via therapy?
A. We don’t give ourselves the space to have a clear mind to be able to understand there are two sides to the tree. I was sick for so long that I was constantly angry. It wasn’t until I put distance between myself and all of these emotional things that pile onto your sickness, such as what and who you allow to affect you, that I truly started to get better.
A lot of it was removing myself from everything and rebuilding myself from the foundation, and letting the things that were supposed to be attached, attach. This work with a therapist came into play before the remission. And that was a big factor for what really healed my body. We all go through stress, and many of us have trauma. But at least now, I have the routines built in so I can go to those places before they compile into what they were — my toolbox.
For example, an alcoholic who is recovering doesn't go back into the bar to meet up with his friends. He doesn't go into a bar and order water. He goes somewhere else and makes that water the drink and allows the friends to come to that place with him. For a long time, I kept myself in the situations that kept me in the illness. Once I started going to the right places and letting people in, I began to heal.
Q. Tell us more about how evaluating the relationships in your life can also help (i.e. your powerful reference to those who impart guilt, criticism or insensitivity while you are either suffering, making healing changes, or both).
A. Relationships are a two-way street. Maybe you are sensitive, but there are reasons. It’s all about putting yourself around people who have the understanding that you have and sensitivity to your feelings and circumstances. We’re all going through our own unique health growth. I wanted to empower my readers. Taking a look at the relationships in your life, who is supporting you and knowing how you need to be supported is really important.
Q. You talked about finding yourself a team of medical professionals. Tell us about how you found a team to best support your unique needs.
A. Western medicine and holistic can work hand-in-hand. But whoever is feeding you the info, you have to think about what they’re connected to. I advise my readers to get a variety of practitioners. Even if you have two GI doctors, they could still have different training, background and influences. They have different knowledge. Make sure you’re surrounded by people who are open to all forms of healing and non-invasive approaches. Start with your general practitioner. A lot of it is paying attention to the info they’re giving you and having someone with you who is an outsider. When you’re at the doctor, you’re thinking about 100,000 things.
I bet I've had 10 GI docs and not one of them recommended a dietician. Many told me that diet will not help my disease. That's why it’s good to understand that a doctor should support your ideas. The moment I bring something up to a health professional and they resist me, I know they don’t have my best interest in mind and that we are not on the same page. If I bring something up and we can talk through it, and then I know they have enough knowledge for me to feel comfortable. And if I need to seek someone else out to add to my team of medical professionals who support me, I will.
Q. Is your book geared at the younger generation, like millennials and those in college?
A. I can't write past 34 years old and wrote my book in a way to use my story and put it into your situation. I was 34 last September when my doctor told me there was no active disease in my body. Personally, I knew there wasn’t any active disease in my body for a year prior, because I stopped having flare-ups.
The Crohn’s wasn’t the only thing I was dealing with. Once the doctor told me “no active disease,” I was still having absorption issues and wasn’t absorbing fructose. That's when I was looking toward low glycemic foods so I could get my body to heal further. Getting rid of Crohn’s was key to getting fully healed.
Q. What about drinking?
A. I would not suggest drinking alcohol. If you’re trying to heal the lining of anything in your tract, you can't incorporate anything that’s going to irritate the lining. Even coffee or an additive like guar gum can be inflammatory.
Q. How is your healing going?
A. Honestly, I feel the best I’ve ever felt. And this is another thing. I've healed most of it and built all of these habits into my life and I need to continue to heal. I've never been able to put on weight. It's hard to explain to people that I can't absorb nutrients that can help you gain muscle. Now that's my goal, so visually you can see the changes.
Q. What’s your favorite product that Corganic carries?
A. GutPro® and Gutzyme™, both by Organic 3, Inc. GutPro® is a pure probiotic that helps me get the most nutrients out of the food I’m eating. And Gutzyme™ is a digestive enzyme formula that helps me break down food more easily. They both are clean and have no common allergens, which is crucial for people recovering from Crohn’s and autoimmune disease.
It’s important to note that you can't just make one change; you have to incorporate a lot of changes. So if I didn’t make my diet and lifestyle changes, the Organic 3 supplements wouldn’t be as effective. Like, if I were still drinking and having fast food, it wouldn't even feel it. One soldier is not going to win the battle for you if you don't make other changes.
Q. What is the top “simple change” you recommend?
A. People ask that all the time. I say if you are making your diet changes, then the one change would be taking a quality probiotic like GutPro®, because we in America have one-third less bacteria than underdeveloped nations.
For more from Brandon, such as his favorite products and resources, you can visit his website here.