Did you know that about 70% of your immune system lies within the gut? Poor gut behavior poses a greater risk for diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and other types of autoimmune disorders. In fact, researchers at University of Illinois at Chicago found on 3/6/15 that people at risk for diabetes possessed fewer strains of healthy bacteria and had an overgrowth of harmful ones (Science Daily).
Impaired gut health can create hormonal imbalances, cause cravings for fattening and sugary foods (the very foods that make symptoms worse!), lead to insulin resistance and obesity, lower our serotonin levels and emotional stability, and weaken our overall immunity and energy stores. If you experience gut discomfort, use that pain as a warning sign.
When you have “leaky gut syndrome,” intruders are able to permeate your small intestinal lining and your digestive enzymes lose their efficiency to properly break down and absorb nutrients. Damaged villi and an overgrowth of bacteria can lead to malnutrition and inflammation.
By taking a few actions steps towards clearing your gut, you will be better able to cope with chronic autoimmune disorders and lower your chances of contracting additional illnesses.
Eat Fermented Foods: fermented drinks, such as kefir and kombucha, as well as foods, such as sauerkraut and yogurt, help balance out your digestive tract and promote restoration of healthy gut bacteria. The strains of good bacteria act as a prebiotic to regulate bowel movements and reduce inflammation. I eat a Greek yogurt with fresh berries and chia or hemp seeds every morning; the seeds add an extra hit of omega-3s, which is also a key anti-inflammatory. My favorite brands are siggis and fage. Make sure to look for a yogurt that says it contains active live bacterial cultures on the label, and opting for a plain version will free you of sugar additives.
Take a Probiotic: in addition to prebiotic foods, it’s wise to take a probiotic supplement, such as culturelle or align. Take one with breakfast, lunch or dinner, and talk to your gastroenterologist to find out how many doses you should take for your particular condition.
Try an Elimination Diet: Common triggers for excess yeast production within the gut are gluten, unfermented dairy, soy, corn and sugar. Eliminate all of these for two-three weeks, and then add one in at a time for a three-day period and see if you experience symptoms. Load up on healthy fats, such as coconut oil, olive oil, flaxseed/hemp/sunflower/walnut/avocado oil, and ghee. Coconut oil is especially helpful for leaky gut. Aim for fats that come from omega-3s, such as in oily fish, walnuts and chia seeds. Minimize gluten-free grains, but still enjoy a small portion a few days a week if you can’t resist; otherwise, fill your plate with land and sea vegetables, lean protein, and fermented foods.
Eat Fruit in Moderation: fruit is very sugary, which contributes to yeast production. Stick to low-sugar options, such as fresh berries, apples and melon, and avoid eating more than one or two servings a day. Also, eat fruit alone, without combining with other macronutrients.
Keep your pH Balanced: Eating alkaline-forming foods will keep your gut in a state of balance. Alkaline foods include sea and land vegetables, fermented foods and gluten-free grains, like quinoa, amaranth and millet. Acid-forming foods are lean meats, nuts and seeds, so be sure to limit portion control. Make 2/3 a plate alkaline and 1/3 acid-forming.
Practice Food Combining: some foods pair better than others. Eat vegetables and protein together, but avoid gluten-free grains or starchy vegetables with protein. The higher carbohydrate content and protein do not mix well for smooth digestion. Feel free to eat vegetables with gluten-free grains, as sea and land vegetables pair well with everything. Make sure to eat fruit alone, and avocados and tomatoes with low-starch vegetables.
Take a Fish Oil: fish oils and cod-liver oil supplements will give an extra boost of omega-3s and fight inflammation. I take VitalRemedy’sVitalOils1000 daily.
Supplement with Glutamine: available at Whole Foods Market and local health stores, this power nutrient supports repair and regeneration of the intestinal lining and microvilli. It also reduces sugar cravings and balances blood sugar, beneficial for those who suffer from diabetes, and promotes athletic performance through muscle strengthening.
Trust your “gut” as a second brain. If your intuition is telling you that something is wrong, it’s probably right.