Seventy percent of your immune system lives in your gut. Now that’s a high percentage! Your gut and digestive tract essentially determine the health of your immune system. Without a healthy immune system you will have a host of chronic issues that can manifest in many different ways.
How do you know if your gut needs healing? You probably already have an inclination your gut is imbalanced. Maybe you experience obvious symptoms such a bloating after you eat meals or certain foods. Many experience vague symptoms such as fatigue, exhaustion and brain fog that may not necessarily occur right after eating. These vague and sporadic symptoms make it difficult to know what is causing them. You might be surprised to learn they can all stem from gut issues. If you want to get the root of your ailments you must start with your gut!
Healing your gut is not something that happens overnight. Gut issues such as Leaky Gut Syndrome happen as a result of years damaging your intestinal lining. Leaky gut is the breakdown of your intestinal lining allowing normally blocked particles such as food and toxins to get into your bloodstream. Your body then detects this as a foreign substance and attacks causing an immune response.
Some of the major culprits leading to Leaky Gut Syndrome include chronic stress, antibiotics, alcohol, birth control pills, antacids, Advil and other pharmaceutical drugs. It can and will take time to undo the damage. There is no crystal ball that can predict the amount of days, months or years that determine when you will be healed. It will take a minimum of 3-4 months but can take much longer depending on what other health issues you are dealing with. The good news is you can certainly feel better before your gut is completely repaired. Let’s get started with reviewing the step-by-step process to improving your gut health!
Step 1: Identify and Remove Allergen Foods
Most people dealing with chronic gut issues are suffering from food sensitivities. Food sensitivities develop as a result of Leaky Gut Syndrome. Identifying and removing foods causing sensitivity is a crucial step to healing your gut. Without identifying and removing the foods causing chronic inflammation in your body then unfortunately you cannot get better. On a positive note, you will likely notice an immediate improvement from removing the top inflammatory foods.
To test for foods sensitivities you will remove the below list of foods for 3 weeks and slowly introduce one by one to observe any reactions. It may seem like a long list but this is the most efficient way to identify which of the foods on this list affect you. It likely won’t be everything but it is important to identify all of them.
Night shade vegetables are foods that normally provide many health benefits. However, if you are dealing with leaky gut or autoimmune issues these healthy foods could trigger an immune response. It is best to include them in the elimination diet to test if any of these foods cause issues for you. This group is especially important if you already have a diagnosed autoimmune issue or suffer from arthritic pain.
- white potatoes
You may already know there are certain foods outside of this list that bother you. For example, I cannot eat spinach. It causes my stomach to be inflamed immediately after I eat it. It is best to remove all foods that bother you until your stomach has healed.
To successfully do the elimination diet you must plan ahead. This means cleaning out your kitchen of any foods that may tempt you on your 3 week anti-inflammatory diet. Be sure to fully stock your kitchen with fruits, veggies, high quality protein, healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil and ghee), nuts and gluten-free grains. Experiment with herbs and spices. Avoid eating out as much as possible. If you must eat out try to stick to the diet.
Step 2: Reintroduce Allergen Foods
Once you have completed the 3 week elimination diet you can slowly reintroduce the allergen foods one by one giving yourself a 2-3 day buffer in-between. Some foods may not have an immediate reaction so it is important to make sure you provide enough time in-between to assess. If you re-introduce more than one food at the same time and have a reaction then you won’t know which food caused it.
Keep a food log or journal to jot down how you feel every time you introduce a new food. No symptom should be left out! Even if you don’t think the symptom is relevant include it anyway. Foods can react differently in everyone and these symptoms are likely not just digestive. Headaches, exhaustion, brain fog, arthritis – it all counts!
Step 3: Cleanse the Gut
Now for the heavy stuff. Anyone suffering from gut issues is likely dealing with some level of dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is an imbalance of bacteria in your gut which can be caused from an overuse of antibiotics, alcohol, poor diet, stress and other pharmaceutical drugs. This leads to an overgrowth of yeasts, parasites, viruses and other pathogens. This overgrowth of bad bacteria can contribute to the systematic inflammation in your body. It is best to get tested by a doctor to evaluate your imbalance and figure out the best protocol for you. This can be done through a stool sample. If you go to a specialist, they can likely take a culture in their office (this method is more accurate).
I used Dr. Blum’s herbal protocol to address my dysbiosis. I took the combination of herbs and supplements for 30 days to clean out the bad yeasts and bacteria. Herbs are more gentle on the friendly bacteria than antibiotics which kill both good and bad bacteria. If you are suffering from a parasitic infection you may need western medicine to knock it out first. I know that might sound like the opposite of what I have been recommending but a long-term parasitic infection can wreak havoc on your body. It is best to get rid of it as soon as possible.
Step 4: Repair the Gut
The hard part is over! At this stage you will likely feel significantly better. Once you have assessed and eliminated all the garbage you can focus on repairing. There are a few supplements that are helpful in repairing your gut. I have outlined them below. With all supplements you should always check with your doctor to make sure they are right for you. I have personally used all of them in my healing process.
- Glutamine is an essential amino acid used to repair your gut lining. It is important to have adequate levels in your body. Choose high quality and pharmaceutical grade.
- Multi-strain probiotic with at least 15 billion CFU’s to re-populate your gut with good bacteria. Some probiotics were too strong for me.
- DCL Licorice Root helps to support your stomach’s mucosal lining
- Quercetin supports your gut-lining and helps to lower inflammation
- Aloe contains anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties
- Marshmallow Root supports gut lining by forming a protective layer
- Slippery Elm supports mucosal lining
There are foods you can incorporate into your diet to support gut health including fermented foods, ghee (clarified butter) and bone broth. Fermented foods such as kombucha and kefir contain natural probiotics. Bone broth can provide easily absorbed nutrients and contain glutamine, collagen and other vital nutrients to support immune and intestinal health. The combination of supportive supplements and food sources ensure you are covering all your bases.
Congratulations! By reading this article you have already taken the first steps towards improving your overall health. It may seem overwhelming at first but you can go at your own pace. There is always the option of recruiting a friend to do it with you! Your gut is the foundation that supports your whole body. Following these 4 steps will help you to feel better and gain more awareness around how foods affect you. Healing your gut is an investment that will take time and patience but will pay dividends in the future.
Please note, I am not a doctor and all content should be used as informational only. This article is to inform you of the step-by-step process I took to repair my gut and regain my health. It should not be taken as medical advice. All supplements I promote are products I have personally used.