If You Want To Be Able To Close Those Doors, You’ve Got To Fix The Foundation

Cracked concrete

If your home was damaged, would you fix it? If there were holes in the ceiling or walls, would you patch them? If the heating or air conditioning systems weren’t working, you’d call someone ASAP. Right? If you keep getting cracks in the walls and doors don’t close in your house, you eventually have to look at the foundation.

Your digestive tract is 24 to 30 feet long. That’s a lot of space for things to go wrong. It would be equivalent to a multi-storied house with multiple basements, lots of rooms, plumbing, and heating and air conditioning systems.

If your digestive system is damaged it also needs to be fixed. And, just like your house, the fix depends on what is wrong with it. You wouldn’t try to fix the foundation with a plunger, right?

When I work with clients, the main things I look at doing are:

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Repairing the mucus layer (remember your entire digestive tract has a layer of mucus to help keep the digesting food moving)
  • Strengthening and repairing the lining of the small intestine

The “repair” R of the 5Rs goes hand-in-glove with the other R’s (Remove, Replace, Reinoculate and Rebalance). Doing the work to repair the inflammation or the lining of the small intestine won’t work if you haven’t removed the foods that are causing the inflammation and damage. It’s like when you keep patching the cracks rather than looking at the foundation of your house.

How do you repair your digestive tract? Typically, it involves supplements because getting the nutrients needed to repair the digestive tract in food can be a challenge. The supplements I use with clients depends on a lot of things. Two of the key things are: what’s going on, and where the damage is. The key supplements I look at include:

  • Glutamine for repair of the lining of the digestive tract
  • Aloe Vera for mucosal healing and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Curcumin as an anti-inflammatory
  • DGL-Licorice root for gut lining repair
  • Demulcents to soothe irritated intestinal lining
  • Fish oil as an anti-inflammatory
  • Glutathione-enhancing supplements for mucosal lining repair and anti-inflammatory properties

There are a lot more supplements that come into play. I’m not saying you need any or all of these or other supplements. My goal is for you to be aware that the targeted use of supplements can help repair damage done to the digestive tract.

As with any other supplement, you want to be sure to buy quality brands and brands that have been tested for purity and contamination. (Here’s a link to a post about reading the supplement facts panel. And another post with a lot of details about supplements and how to check that you’re buying quality supplements.)

Repairing a damaged digestive tract is one of the steps of improving your overall health. The first place I start when working with clients is looking for foods and drinks that could be causing damage and removing it – the first R – Remove. If you’d like help identifying those thigs that could be causing your issues, using a food log is a great place to start. If you want to get the food log I use with my clients, click here to get your Symptom Log.

We interrupt this regularly scheduled program to bring you . . .

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Have you ever been going along and things are great. You are rockin’ it! Everything is falling into place. Then. Out of nowhere. BAM! Something hits you and you’re off track?

That happened to me last week.

Here’s the backstory: I’ve had Irritable Bowel Syndrome for about 14 years. In the past year or so I’ve gotten it under control. Every now and then something will happen that sends it, and me, off track. That happened last week.

Fast forward to last week: I tried a new breakfast. And, something different for lunch. Both contained packaged items. Both had ingredient lists that looked like they would be OK. Both were certified Gluten Free. But, something went wrong. And, I paid for it.

So, what to do when this happens? I look at the 5 R’s and figure out what I need to do.

I start with Remove. I get those things out that I think may have caused the problem primarily food and drinks. I go back to foods I know and trust.

Then, I look at Replace. Am I using my digestive enzymes consistently? Did I use them when I ate? Not taking those enzymes when I eat, since I have problems digesting and absorbing proteins and fats, can cause all sorts of problems.

Next, is Reinoculate. I start doubling up on my probiotics and ensuring I’m including fermented foods daily. When something is wrong in my GI tract, I’ve learned that it throws my microbiome out of balance. Getting it back in balance quickly is key to recovering.

Repair follows next. Do I need to do anything to repair damage that may have been done? If I think so, I add in some additional supplements and foods targeted at calming inflammation, repairing and protecting the GI lining and wall.

Rebalance is the final step. I step back and look at what else is going on – stress, sleep, and working out. Stress is also a trigger for me. Maybe it wasn’t the food. Maybe I was stressed. If so, what do I need to do to manage that better. Did I workout? If not, maybe I need to start working out more regularly. All of those things play into my GI health. What do I need to do to rebalance other areas of my life? I figure it out, then take action.

I’m still working on recovering from this last flare up. Still trying to fine tune the 5 R’s. And, each time a flare up happens, the recovery is a bit different. I have to step back and play detective to figure out what happened and how to fix it. I’ve also learned to give myself some grace. After something like this I tend to be a bit “foggy” and fatigued. I’ve learned to give myself some extra time to rest. To realize that I may not be as mentally “on” as I’d like. And, understand that in a week or two I’ll be back to normal. Things will start rockin’ again soon.

One of the things I did when I first started getting my symptoms under control was to follow an elimination diet and a structured reintroduction program. Honestly, it was a challenge doing it on my own. I know this process is key to helping people figure out what food and drinks cause symptoms. If you’re ready to start taking control of your symptoms, check out my new online program to help you figure it out.

Reinoculate Your Gut – The Third “R”

syringe

Do you remember going in as a kid to get your inoculations? Vaccines? Do you love going in to the doctor’s office to get a shot? I don’t.

When working through the 5 R’s of Gut Restoration, Reinoculate is the third “R”. (I skipped over the second “R” because I covered it a few weeks ago. Here’s the link to it.)

Fortunately, you can reinoculate your microbiome without using a needle. You can use food and supplements. That’s right, food can help your microbiome. And, it has to be the right kind of food. Specifically, fermented foods.

I’ve talked about fermented foods before (here’s a link to the post on The Magical Microbiome). Those fermented foods contain the microbes that help reinoculate your microbiome. Each different food contains different microbes. This is why you should eat a variety of fermented foods like sauerkraut, Kim Chi, yogurt with live cultures, kefir, and kombucha.

Depending on what’s going on with your microbiome, you may also want to use probiotic supplements. When choosing probiotics, I recommend looking for ones that are proven to have live microbes in them. Usually, these are refrigerated. If you are sensitive, intolerant, or allergic to dairy, do your homework! Many probiotics are dairy-based. This may mean spending time on the company/product website or even calling or emailing them. Honestly, I recommend calling. They respond quicker than an email or using a “Contact” form on their website. Also, if you’re going to use probiotics, I recommend alternating them every month or every-other month. And, be sure that when you alternate that you choose probiotics that have different strains in them. How do you know? Look at the supplement facts panel. It will (or should) list the strains that are included in the probiotic. If you’re only switching brands and not looking at the strains, there’s a good chance that you’re getting the same strains from a different brand.

Finally, once you reinoculate your gut, you’ve got to feed those microbes. What kind of food do your microbes need?  Typically, your microbes do well on foods that you can’t digest. That means fiber. Lots, and lots of fiber. Fiber isn’t just good for keeping you full and helping keep you bowels moving. They’re food for your microbiome! We want those little guys to work hard digesting all that fiber. What are good sources of prebiotics? Here’s a list of some of the best prebiotic-containing foods:

  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Onion
  • Bananas (greener ones are great)
  • Asparagus

The 5 R’s of Gut Restoration aren’t necessarily in order. Next week, I’ll talk about Repair, which usually comes before Reinoculate when working with clients.

If your tummy isn’t happy and you don’t know why, take a look at the new online program I’m offering – the Happy Tummy Bunch. It just may help you get a happy tummy. And, who doesn’t want that?

Removing What’s Bugging You – Part 3

If you find something where it isn’t supposed to be, you take it from where it shouldn’t be and put it where it should. Right? For example, if you found a sharp knife in a child’s toy box, you’d take it out of the toy box and put it where it belongs. Right?

This can happen with microbes in your gut. Yes, really.

(FYI – This is the third in a series of Removing What’s Bugging You. You can find the prior posts here: Got Gut Issues? The 5R’s Can Help, Removing What’s Bugging You – Part 1, Removing What’s Bugging You – Part 2.)

Sometimes the microbes in your microbiome, microbes that should be in your large intestine, move to your small intestine. Those sneaky little suckers. Some of them can actually swim upstream and move from your large to your small intestine.

Once they reach the small intestine, the party begins!

Remember the small intestine is where the final part of digestion happens and absorption of the food molecules occurs. If microbes end up in the small intestine, they start digesting the food they find there, rather than waiting until the leftover food gets into the large intestine.

Why is this a problem? Because after these guys digest the food, one of the things they produce is gas. This means that you end up with gas in your small intestine. And, you feel it. You’ll feel gas and bloating along with, potentially, all the other GI symptoms we’ve talked about – constipation, diarrhea, maybe heartburn, acid reflux, and nausea. And, other symptoms as well.

Again, these symptoms are non-specific. Which can be confusing when trying to figure out what is causing your problems.

This issue, microbes in the small intestine, is called Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO – pronounced See-Bō).

How do you know if you have SIBO? The best way is through a hydrogen breath test. You eat a restricted diet for a day, fast for 24 hours, drink a special drink, then blow into some tubes it given intervals for a period of time.

If it turns out you do have SIBO, you can work with your doctor to formulate a plan to address the issue and get those bad guys out of your small intestine. Some dietary interventions may help, too.

You can also start figuring out if SIBO may be an issue by logging your food, drinks, symptoms, etc. This will help you narrow down if it could be SIBO. Symptoms from SIBO appear within a couple of hours of eating when symptoms from other parts of your body happen at other times – earlier sooner or later after eating.

If you want to get the food log I use with my clients, click here to get your Symptom Log. If you want to learn more about food sensitivity testing, you use the “Contact” area on my website.

Removing What’s Bugging You – Part 2

Petri.

Petri.

If you’re at a party, and someone you’re talking to is being obnoxious do you look for ways to remove yourself from the conversation? I do.

The microbes in your gut are having one huge cocktail party. They’re getting together, digesting fiber, making vitamins and other things your body needs. What happens when one type of bug, one that isn’t helpful to you, starts getting obnoxious? What about if they start showing up in droves and outnumbering all the good bugs who just want to have a good time? All these bad bugs start bullying the good bugs. And, the good bugs leave the party.

What then?

This is another piece of the Remove puzzle of the “5 R’s of Gut Restoration”. Removing those bullying, obnoxious bad bugs. (Last week, I posted “Removing What’s Bugging You – Part 1“.)

Why get rid of the bad bugs?

These bad bugs can produce toxins that your body has to deal with.  A few things they can cause include:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Allergies
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue

These non-specific symptoms which makes figuring out what’s causing them difficult.

When there is an imbalance of microbes, like more bad than good bugs (or bugs that shouldn’t be there at all), it’s called dysbiosis.

Is there a test for dysbiosis? Some stool tests measure the type and quantity of microbes in your stool. This indicates the balance of microbes in your intestines.

If you find you have a dysbiosis what do you do then? It depends. . . . It depends on what is causing the dysbiosis. Depending on what is causing the issues – yeast, fungal, bacteria, or an overgrowth of specific bacteria – the treatment is tailored to what is causing the issue.

If you’ve logged your food or done an elimination diet and haven’t been able to figure out what’s causing the issue, dysbiosis may be the cause. In next week’s blog, I’ll talk about Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). It’s a type of dysbiosis that is often misunderstood, and either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

If you want to get the food log I use with my clients, you can do so here. If you want to learn more about food sensitivity testing, you use the “Contact” area on my website.