Do you suffer from seasonal allergies, weight gain, hormonal imbalances, mood imbalances or an autoimmune disorder?
If so, you may have a leaky gut. The National Institutes of Health estimates that nearly ¼ of us (about 70 million) suffer from digestive issues: gas, bloating, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and nausea.
Functional medicine physicians believe that these symptoms may be displayed in your gut yet their effects are systemic and can affect the whole body. They believe that the gut is the core of our health and that it is essential to have a healthy gut in order to have a healthy body.
It’s all about the gut!
A properly functioning digestive system (gut) is critical to good health. In fact, 60-80% 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 Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema and rosacea, just to name a few.
What it means to love and heal your gut
In functional medicine they use a simple approach called the 4R Program to heal your gut.
- Remove the Bad ~ The goal is to get rid of things that negatively affect the environment of the GI tract such as inflammatory foods, infections, and gastric irritants like alcohol, caffeine or drugs. Inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs and sugar can lead to food sensitivities. Many practitioners recommend IgG food sensitivity testing to determine if any foods are a problem for you. Infections can be from parasites, yeast or bacteria. A comprehensive stool analysis is key to determining the levels of good bacteria as well as any infections that may be present. Removing the infections may require treatment with herbs, anti-parasite medication, anti-fungal medication, anti-fungal supplements or even antibiotics.
- Replace the Good ~ Add back in the essential ingredients for proper digestion and absorption that may have been depleted by diet, drugs (such as antacid medications) diseases or aging. This often includes digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid and bile acids that are required for proper digestion.
- Reinoculate ~ Restoring beneficial bacteria to re-establish a healthy balance of good bacteria is critical. This may be accomplished by taking a probiotic supplement that contains beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacillus species, usually with dosing levels between 25-100 billion units a day. Also, taking a prebiotic (food for the good bacteria) supplement or consuming foods high soluble fiber is often important.
- Repair ~ Providing the nutrients necessary to help the gut repair itself is essential. A favored supplement among many practitioners is L-glutamine, an amino acid that helps to rejuvenate the gut wall lining. Other key nutrients include zinc, omega 3 fish oils, vitamin A, C, E as well as herbs such as slippery elm and aloe vera.
No matter what your health issue is, the 4R Program could be a valuable option for healing your gut. The course of many chronic and inflammatory illnesses has been reversed by utilizing this simple approach.
Stomach This ~ Super Yummy Gut Healing Smoothie
- ½ to 1 cup almond milk
- ¼ teaspoon probiotic (100 billion units)
- 1 scoop L-glutamine (5000 mg)
- 3 stalks red kale
- 3 stalks dinosaur kale
- ½ cup frozen organic berry mix (raspberries, blueberries and strawberries)
- 2 scoops protein powder