Why should you care about your “gut?”
Before you learn how to fix your gut, let me address those looking at this just out of curiosity. Whereas most readers interested in this information have a GI tract “issue,” some of you might be wondering “what’s up with having to fix one’s gut?” You might have a little case of heartburn, or maybe on and off irritable bowel syndrome. Perhaps you have allergies and have heard that there is some connection between allergies and GI health. Maybe you’re depressed, have “brain fog” or joint pains and have heard that there might be a connection. Well, you are right.
Your immune system function:
At least 70% of your immune system’s function is located in your GI tract, known as your “gut.” Not only that, but one of the most important anti-depressant neurotransmitters called serotonin is made in the gut, not in the brain. So, already you might be inferring that a messed up gut could lead to immune dysfunction and depression. You would be correct. Ten years ago, the medical community scoffed at the idea that a messed up GI bacterial balance or “microbiome” could lead to auto-immune disease. Now there is proof that small-intestinal bowel overgrowth, leaky gut and sometimes “just” irritable bowel disorder can indeed lead to diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease. According to some research, a damaged and imbalanced GI tract just might play an important role in diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases-as well as all auto-immune diseases.
So how does your gut become damaged?
Let’s review the type of damage we’re looking at here. First of all, it’s quite easy to develop a disordered microbiome. If your mother took antibiotics when she was pregnant with you or you had a bunch of the usual “kiddie ear infections” you started off with a disordered microbiome. If you have taken antacids including toxic PPI drugs, or antibiotics or have been eating the typical processed food and sugar-laden American diet you likely have a disordered microbiome.
Symptoms of this might be GI-related such as gas, heartburn and irritable bowel. Quite often, though, they are things that are seemingly very unrelated such as some brain fog or short term memory issues. Symptoms may also include mood disorder-usually anxiety or depression or, quite commonly, difficulty losing weight. A side note about weight: “thin people” microbiomes have been studies and compared with “fat people microbiomes” (not my expression!). The thinner test subjects all had a more varied and healthy bacterial population much as you would find in a good probiotic supplement.
In addition, there is structural damage. Some people will respond more severely to environmental insults than others. This is likely due to genetic pre-dispositions. Our world of toxins spews awful things at our body. Toxins are numerous, but a few notable ones include heavy metals, mold, or even chlorine from drinking tap water. These can all damage the lining of their GI tract. Gliadens from gluten are more commonly associated with cases of leaky gut-not just celiac disease.
When this intestinal lining is damaged, a syndrome called leaky gut occurs. Those with leaky gut may have GI symptoms from severe diarrhea to bloating and constipation. However, again, some have no GI tract symptoms and will develop, one after the other—food sensitivities, allergies, eczema, and then severe brain issues, joint issues and more. Testing can be done for this with a protein called zonulin, which will “leak back” into the bloodstream from the gut, in cases where actual leaky gut has occurred.
No matter what-this is how to fix your gut:
I didn’t go into a lot of details above because I assume those of you who have come here know you have a problem and want to review my article to see how to fix your gut the quickest and easiest way. So, as someone who has “been there and done that” with my own GI tract (mine was due to mold toxins, not bad eating), I’ll tell you how I fixed mine. I’ll also reveal how I successfully get AWS clients and personal patients on their way to recovery. Let me reiterate I said how to fix your gut in 3 easy steps-not 3 quick steps.
How long to relief?
If you are at the point where you are overweight and bloated or have an auto-immune disease or brain issues, and so on, this didn’t happen overnight. Although you will indeed see progress every 1-2 weeks, you will not heal your gut entirely for 6-18 months. I don’t mean you’ll have to sit in the dark and drink bone broth alone for 6 months. I am telling you that you will need a good overhaul. You’ll need to keep yourself honest or else you’ll flare up and “go backward.” With that said, I’ll give you the three easy steps, and you’ll need to do some additional research for exact food sequencing details. I promise to give you information here that you won’t find elsewhere.
Note if you get seriously “stopped up” and are looking for immediate constipation relief, you need to be super duper careful. You should have all of the “gut protectants” you’ll read about below on board. Then you can cautiously take magnesium citrate, one ounce, one hour at a time until you hit the 3/4 dose limit of 7.5 ounces. If you don’t see results, then you may try a Fleets mineral oil enema. This is all O.K. only if you do not have more than normal GI cramping, do not have a fever, and you DO hear sounds gurgling around.
If you have any question about the above or if you do not have results from the magnesium citrate and the Fleet’s enema overnight then you need to visit the emergency room. I’m sorry—I know it is awful, but most of you will not have to do that. Please do take every precaution and if you are in doubt, go to the E.R.
Your diet: Step 1
If you need to lose weight, you’re in luck! You’ll lose it eating a GI-healthy diet, and you can maintain your anti-inflammatory diet plan for lifetime health and weight management. You want to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, for sure. Here’s where I want you to take precautions. I want you to cut out grains, beans, and “nightshade vegetables” (lectins) which are just poison to an inflamed GI tract.
There is such a fine line between a disordered microbiome and leaky gut that I’d like you to proceed with caution and, if you do not have leaky gut, you can advance your diet quite quickly. Now that you have “digested” that information—unless you are positive you do NOT have leaky gut or an inflammatory bowel condition—I would like you to follow the GAPS diet plan. The website just referenced will give you step by step instructions on how to advance your diet. If you have multiple food sensitivities, there is no way to know what foods you can and can’t tolerate unless you take “the offenders” out and slowly put everything back.
Slow and Steady Steps:
There are many steps and I suggest beginning with organic bone broth (very key due to its high quantity of healing proline, hydroxyproline, and glycine) and organic meats. I have been a vegetarian my whole life but I ate the fish version to heal my damaged GI tract. The next phase is introducing organic vegetables, and then fermented foods and then fermented dairy. It looks daunting but take it one week at a time. Before you know it, you’ll be on the full GAPS diet which you should remain on until you are completely healed—I mean every symptom.
As someone who approached this “whole thing” with a high “yuk” factor, let me share things I found to be quite positive. The bone broth is soothing and tastes just fine with sea salt. It also has positive effects on your skin and hair. Further, if you read that gelatin is also healing, don’t get J-E-L-L-O! Just as you should avoid foods that are GMO, not organic, and not grass fed, you should avoid all additives and especially dyes and aspartame. So, no jello! (Why on earth do they feed that toxic stuff to hospital patients anyway?)
Get natural, unflavored, unsweetened gelatin (wisechoicemarket.com) and healing guar-gum free coconut milk (thrivemarket.com) to make coconut jello. Use stevia and add raw, shredded coconut. When you can, add berries. It actually tastes good! The coconut is a “healthy fat.” You’ll want lots of healthy fats (you won’t gain weight) for your GI tract, but a nice side effect is that good fats will sharpen your brain.
One of the best brain supplements is DHA—a part of the omega-3 fish oil duo EPA/DHA. Omega-3’s are also very gut-healing so use a supplement or be sure to eat lots of fatty fish. You should try sardines. They are tasty! For another fat that is absolutely delicious, I cook my eggs in ghee.
If you cook Indian food, you likely know what this is. I had heard of it but didn’t know what it was, exactly. It’s clarified, grass-fed, organic butter. It’s butter, but better. Also, it’s good for your GI lining and brain. Further, we’re discovering more and more that “good healthy fats” are also good for the energy producing cells we have in each organ called mitochondria.
You will discover how delicious your food is when it is fresh, organic, and not drowning in sauce. Squashes are delicious. Fermented foods are too. I still avoid all lectins and dairy. At the very least, I strongly recommend gluten avoidance for all. Next is a brief, but important section on stress management.
Stress management: Step 2
No, I’m certainly not suggesting that any of this is “in your head.” I’m saying stress creates high cortisol levels and interrupts sleep. These are two things that will hamper repair of your GI lining. Stress relief can come in many forms. There are breathing exercises, yoga classes, and in fact, so many techniques that I’ll ask you to search this website for everything you can find. There is a lot of material. If time is a factor (for me, it is always a biggie), you can learn some quick stress-busting techniques and then run a diffuser of stress relieving aromatherapy day and night as I do.
If stress is interrupting your sleep, remember sleep time is repair time, so you need to fix this problem. Whether it’s work swirling around in your head, a hormonal issue, or “something else,” please adjust your sleep patterns. Again, search this website, and you’ll find all sorts of helpful information.
Supplementation: Step 3
Interestingly enough, my medical training as an A4M “Doc” took me down the leaky gut and SIBO path, but no one has it “exactly right.” It surprises me that no one has all of the pieces of what is needed to heal leaky gut and repair the microbiome in one article or even one book! If you follow the GAPS diet (it’s the strictest but the best), reduce your stress and supplement as I direct, you will indeed heal your gut.
Assist your digestive process:
If you have any small or large intestinal issues, you need to take good digestive enzymes with each meal. You also need to chew your food super well. Don’t stress your GI tract to do more than it needs to do. If you have any heartburn, burping or any signs of indigestion whatsoever, you need to add betaine supplements to your before-meal regimen. If you have been using over-the-counter antacids, take betaine. Also, if you have been on a PPI medication, stop it (please!) and instead, take the betaine and digestive enzymes.
Clear out the bad bacteria:
Yes, the fermented foods (like sauerkraut) will do their job in killing off the bad bacteria in your gut. Here’s the reality of it. You have billions of bad bacteria. Not only do need to get rid of them, but you need prebiotic “phages” continuing to kill them so that the good, healing, nourishing bacteria can thrive. I personally just couldn’t eat the amount of fermented foods required. I also just could never tolerate any dairy. So, I added a prebiotic supplement to my regimen and usually do so for patients and AWS consultation clients too.
Add in the good bacteria:
There is no question in my mind that you cannot accomplish this with simple homemade kefir and yogurt. First of all, dairy doesn’t come in the picture right away and for some, not for a month or so. Others; never! You also need probiotics ASAP. You need the right kind and the right amount. A minimum of 6 different strains and 10 billion organisms is necessary. Preliminary research for those with an auto-immune disorder shows sporulating probiotic species such as the bacillus (subtilis, indicus, coagulans) species should be added to the mix. If you have a biotoxin illness (lyme, mold, blue-green algae), or inflammatory bowel disorder you will probably also benefit from adding some saccharomyces to your GI tract as well.
Coat your intestines:
I have seen “mentions” of slippery elm (more so) and aloe vera as gut-healing herbs. Indeed, they are. However, my intensive research on the subject includes a definitive yes on the use of other herbals such as Licorice and Marshmallow root. I would add Chamomille and Cat’s Claw, too. This is for the inflammatory bowel and leaky gut crowd. Real ginger tea is quite soothing as well.
Heal your intestines:
It is commonly accepted that l-glutamine is crucial. I would also make sure to add n-acetyl-glucosamine and MSM. While we have a national obsession with bone broth, I would ask “why is that?” The answers are numerous but the truth of the matter is it’s COLLAGEN that is being used from the bone broth to heal the intestines. So, why not simply add a couple of doses of collagen (also great for skin!) to your daily regimen? Lastly, this is controversial, but I have observed that people who require and use therapeutic doses of human growth hormone heal their GI tract issues faster.
Hang in there because this does indeed get better. Don’t forget to take care of inflammation and oxidative stress—a feature of all disorders and something most people have, anyway. You will love moving quickly to the phase where you can have organic nut butter. Sprouted, organic almond nut butter is simply delicious! I know that at first, this is an extensive list of tasks. Do remember I am here (see Ask Dr.Kim) if you want help organizing your regimen.