Vital Steps for Restoring Gut Function
Whether you have a formal diagnosis of a gastrointestinal issue such as Celiac disease, an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis (UC), gastritis, ulcer, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulosis/diverticulitis, gastric or peptic ulcer; or if you suffer from more functional digestive complaints, such as gas and bloating, indigestion, stomach pain, constipation or diarrhea, this blog is for you!
Gastrointestinal disease does not ‘just happen’ for no reason. While prescription drugs are great at managing symptoms, they fail to get to the root of the problem and come with a variety of side effects.
That’s our job. Our job is to get to the root of your digestive issue.
In order to feel better AND function better here are the 5 steps we take to address digestive issues:
- Remove: In this step, foods are removed from the diet that are common allergens, inflammatory and any foods that you as an individual know yourself to be sensitive to. Gluten, dairy products, soy, nightshade veggies (white potato, eggplant, bell pepper, tomato), legumes (peanuts and beans), processed foods, dyes, guar gum, and white sugar can all be inherently allergenic and inflammatory and exacerbate digestive issues. It is also important to remove any infections that may be present. This refers to an overgrowth of bad bacteria, yeast/candida overgrowth, and infection with parasites.
- Reinoculate: We may not like to think about it much, but we have four pounds of bacteria that live in our large intestine! The gut flora are crucial for digestive health and well being. They provide a variety of functions including nutrient absorption and assimilation, vitamin production, digestion of sugars and proteins, hormonal signaling, prevent colds, flus, and yeast infections, decrease inflammation, help protect against food poisoning, help protect against and modulate autoimmune conditions, break down and rebuild hormones and bile acids, help with optimal body composition ? even improve heart health. These guys are the unsung heroes of our GI tract and they can be used to help with virtually every GI complaint under the sun. The arch nemesis of healthy gut bacteria is antibiotic use. Whenever you take antibiotics, make sure you take probiotics alongside to replenish your good guys. In the supplemental form, probiotics help allay a variety of GI distress and are a cornerstone of an excellent gut restoration program.
- Replete: Next we want to spark digestive fire and replace nutrients or compounds that may be missing. Supplementation with a broad-spectrum enzyme for the duration of your restoration program will help increase digestive strength. Nutrients like the B vitamins, vitamin D, fish oil and selenium may be indicated. In those with a significant bacterial overgrowth, HCL is often helpful.
- Repair: This aspect of gut restoration is one of the most important and unfortunately the one most overlooked. The lining of the GI tract takes a beating in all GI disorders. Even though the lining regenerates itself every 3 days, if there is chronic, low-grade inflammation in the gut (present in virtually all bowel disease) will keep the lining compromised until the cycle of inflammation is broken. We begin to break the cycle of inflammation with the above-mentioned steps, and by healing the lining of the gut we close the deal. Using nutrients like glutamine, mucin, pectin and anti-inflammatory and slippery herbs like boswellia, okra, cat’s claw, slippery elm and licorice we begin to build up the lining of the intestine and break the cycle of inflammation for good.
- Restore: There are more nerve cells in between the lower esophagus and the anus than there are in the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves combined. There are more receptors for serotonin in the gastrointestinal system than there are in the brain. The term ?neurotransmitter? is a misnomer because more of these compounds act on the gut than the nervous system! This nervous tissue in the gastrointestinal tract is called the enteric nervous system, and is often referred to as the ?second brain? of the body. It even functions independently of the brain! As such, in issues of nervous stomach, irritable bowel syndrome and constipation, it is imperative to begin to retrain the nervous system of the gut to be calm and to move correctly. Utilizing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga and meditation can be very beneficial here. Using self-realization techniques and cognitive behavioral therapy can also help. Exercise on a regular basis is one of the best tricks for regulating the bowel. Supporting adrenal function is the last vital key in restoring digestive function.
This type of approach requires that all of these steps to be initiated simultaneously. I recommend at least 90 days of intensive gut restoration as outlined above. Any program can be tailored specifically to your needs as you discover more about yourself, your body and your own unique sensitivities and preferences.
The gastrointestinal system is a highly textured and multilayered web, with connections and interactions in all body systems. I highly recommend working with an educated practitioner to address any type of digestive malfunction.