As we move into Spring its important to remove clutter. And in my head, that includes removing clutter from your body. One of the best ways to improve your overall health is by supporting your digestive tract. Digestive health impacts a number of body systems; your gut is the gateway for fuel to reach the rest of your body, so that actually makes a lot of sense. More importantly, a healthy digestive tract and regular bowel movements have been shown to improve self-esteem; healthy poops are important (yes, I said poop). Leaky gut is a very common problem, and one that plays a role in many disease processes. Healing leaky gut is step one to improving your overall digestive health.
My favorite tactic for restoring digestive health comes from the Institute of Functional Medicine and Dr. Jeffrey Bland. Dr. Bland’s protocol is known as the “4 R’s.”
Heal Leaky Gut with the 4 R’s:
Remove Phase: This phase involves the removal of allergy producing foods and bacteria. For most individuals, the most common allergens are grains containing gluten, soy and diary. A low allergy diet focuses on rice based products, legumes, fruits, vegetables, fish and poultry. It’s also important to address bad gut bacteria. Your digestive tract can easily become over run with bad bacteria.
Unfriendly bacteria are known to produce toxins, metabolic by-products and inflammatory molecules which can not only have a negative impact on digestion but also on cognitive function, mood, immunity and more.
Replace Phase: Digestive enzymes are the catalysts to breaking down your food so you can absorb the nutrients you need. The best indication of needing digestive enzymes is if you experience bloating, gas or reflux after a meal; seeing undigested food in your stool is another sign (so look at your poop).
The Fix: Klaire Labs Vital-Zymes
Reinoculate Phase: Reinoculating refers to bringing back good bacteria. Probiotics will not only boost your digestion, they’ll also boost your immune system and support healthy inflammation levels. You want to look for a probiotic with several strains and prebiotics. Prebiotics nourish gut bacteria and are critical to maintaining the health of your gut bacteria. Some of the most common forms of prebiotics include FOS, inulin and chicory root.
The Fix: Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic Complete
Repair Phase: The repair phase focuses on promoting the proper repair of the intestinal lining. The lining of the digestive tract is a porous surface, and contains spaces known as “gap junctions.” The gap junctions are tightly regulated – meaning only specific substances are allowed to pass through. This is important because passing to the other side puts a molecule directly into the blood stream and into the immune system. This makes it a target for attack if it’s recognized as a foreign molecule.
In a healthy gut, the molecules that make it to the other side are allowed to be there. The problem starts when a combination of poor diet, bad bacteria, stress and other things cause the gap junctions to separate, thus allowing larger, restricted molecules through and leading to leaky gut. Once the lining is damaged, anything can pass through the gut wall and into your body. Bad bacteria, food particles, toxins and more and can lead to autoimmune conditions, inflammation, joint pain, cognitive dysfunction, food intolerances/sensitivities and more.
Your turn: how do you keep your digestion on tract? What’s your tip for feeling like your best self?