Heal yourself by healing you gut
We are finding more and more chronic conditions are related to a bad(leaky) gut. Seasonal allergies, weight gain, hormonal imbalances, mood imbalances, autoimmune disorders, skin disorers, and more can all be linked back to a leaky gut in many cases.
The National Institutes of Health estimates that nearly 25% of us suffer from digestive issues: gas, bloating, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and nausea. In Functional Medicine it is believed that these symptoms may be displayed in your gut, but their effects are systemic and can affect the whole body. The gut is the center of our health and it is essential to have a healthy gut to have a healthy body.
It’s all about the gut!
A properly functioning digestive system (gut) is critical to good health. The majority of our immune system is located in our gut and 90% of our neurotransmitters (chemicals responsible for regulating mood) such as serotonin are made in our gut. Problems in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract can cause more than just stomach pain, gas, bloating or diarrhea they can be the root cause of many chronic health problems. Gut imbalances and leaky gut have been linked to hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and hashimotos thyroiditis, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema and rosacea, just to name a few.
The 4R program
The 4R program is a simple, yet powerful, way to repair your gut. The goals of this program are to eliminate inflammation, leaky gut, and dysbiosis(imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your gut). This program should be followed for a minimum of two weeks and may need to be used for four to eight weeks in more severe cases.
Remove any and everything that may be irritating the gut. The irritants come in three forms: first is the food(at-least what we are told is food) that we eat, second is chemicals from both internal(hormones) and external(preservatives, additives, herbicides, pesticides, beauty products, caffeine, alcohol, medication) sources, third is low-grade infections in the gut.
- Food – Some people recommend that you get a food sensitivity test done to know which foods you should avoid, and in severe cases this may be necessary. The easiest and least expensive method is to simply remove the foods that contain the major allergens(wheat, corn, soy, eggs, dairy, nuts, shellfish) and foods containing additives. It is also a good idea to break up your meal into multiple smaller meals throughout the day to lessen the stress on the GI tract. Here are a list of foods to eat and avoid.Avoid:
- No Coffee (I know. I know)
- No Chocolate
- No Alcohol
- No Eggs (I know! What are you going to eat for breakfast!?!)There is a substance in eggs that can bind to proteins and swoop them right out of your leaking gut. This is why we avoid this otherwise perfectly perfect food
- No Dairy – This one is tough for this reason: no butter OR ghee as well as other milk products, but coconut oil works super well, as does bacon fat and olive oil.
- No Grains or Legumes – This includes glutenfree grains, peas, and peanuts
- No Nightshades – Sorry, ketchup fans. This one’s for you. – Avoid white potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, all peppers.
- No Nuts – I know! This is probably your biggest snack food but the texture f them can inflamm the GI lining. Almond and cashew BUTTERS are Okay to eat.
- No seeds – There is some slight room for interpretation in this one, because the literature is not conclusive about needing to eliminate this. However, we have seen patients react to things that most people don’t, and you won’t know what you react to until you eliminate the substance long enough to be able to tell the difference. Most people still do well on this with flax and chia seeds in their diets.
- Limit your sugar intake and high sugar fruits.
Make sure you eat:
- LOTS of Vegtables and Fruit! Organic is preferred. Our next blog post will cover this in more detail!
- Meats – fish, turkey, chicken, beef, lamb
- Bone broths these have strong healing superpowers, they are full of collagen and minerals and other nutrients that give your gut what it needs to heal. Plus you can use it to cook meats and tasty greens
- Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha – they help you replenish your stores of good bacteria and good yeast
- Enough good fats, nut butters are OK just not actual nuts.
- Chemicals – You have to be a label reader. We need to minimize the chemicals that we expose ourselves too. It impossible to eliminate all of them and we don’t expect you to stop bathing or to give up on deodorant! We are most concerned with chemicals that cause endocrine(hormone) disruptions. There are a couple of good apps for when you are shopping to check household and beauty products: GoodGuide and Think Dirty. Here is a link to a website that will allow you to evaluate the beauty care products in your home. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
- Low-Grade infections – these are typically yeast and parasites that are ingested. They do not cause a specific disease but are irritants and need to be removed. There are stool tests that can be used to detect their presence. My experience has been that they are present in the vast majority of people with gut problems and it is a lot easier and cheaper to treat for them and not worry about testing. The product I recommend is GI-Synergy from Apex Energetics.
The most obvious part of replace is replacing your food with healthy whole foods. If this seems like an overwhelming prospect, then I recommend you pick up a copy of Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. She has a gut repair section that is perfect and she provides a menu and shopping list to make it easy.
The second part of replace is to help aid in digestion by helping replace digestive enzymes and provided the gut with the help it needs to replace the broken down(leaky) gut wall with a healthy one. I recommend another Apex Energetics product for this: Repairvite. It has all the items needed to help your gut repair.
This is done with time and the help of the supplement Repairvite. Fish oils are also a huge help in the repair process. I recommend fermented cod liver oil with vitamin D.
This is the probiotic and prebiotics that we are finding out have a huge impact on our health. Everyone should be supplementing with these, but when we are on a 4 r’s program, we need to go to the next level. There are a couple of rules when looking at probiotic supplements. First, the dose for Re-inoculating is 25-100 cfu’s/day. Second, we want to use a product that has a guaranteed live count which usually requires refrigeration. There have been some specific strains that have been shown in studies to help with different disorders and I will discuss that in our third part of this series.
Let us know if you have any questions about foods, supplements, or testing that you would like to do. We can either get these for you or send you to someone that can.