Healing Your Gut
Over the last three months, sixty percent of the population has suffered from one sort of a digestive problem or another. Heartburn, gastritis, bloating, constipation, ulcers, and food allergies are just some of the ailments caused by faulty digestion. In the past, poor digestion was viewed as a minor health issue. Now, however, the importance of healing your gut has been shown through research into the human gut microbiome to be one of the most important steps you can take toward improving your overall health.
Gut Bacteria: Your Key To Good Health
Your gut is teeming with many different types of organisms - some good (like beneficial bacteria), some potentially harmful (like yeast), and others that are just plain bad for your health (like pathogens). What makes a gut healthy is a basically a mix of these three groups where the good bacteria have the upper hand, keeping the other groups in check. Various types of good bacteria digest your food, govern your appetite, help control your metabolism, orchestrate your immune system, influence your mood, and even determine how your genes are expressed.
Research has shown that too little good bacteria in relation to the amount of harmful bacteria or other gut microorganisms can set off a series of illness-causing changes in your gut. Irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and obesity are some of the disorders which stem from an overgrowth of abnormal bacteria and yeast. Antibiotics, improper diet, and stress are among the many factors which can lead to an imbalance of bacteria in your gut. If left unchecked, an inflamed gut can lead to numerous health problems far beyond the walls of your digestive tract.
The 3 Pillars of Healing Your Gut
If you are suffering from digestive problems, healing you gut involves three main steps:
Proper Diet: Eating the right foods will help to nourish your gut and restore health to your body. Healing your gut through proper nutrition has three components:
Identifying Food Allergies/Sensitivities: This is one of the first steps you should take to heal your gut. Food allergies and sensitivities are a major contributor to a leaky and inflamed gut. You can't heal your gut if your are continually eating foods or drinking beverages that irritate your intestinal tract. A simple blood test is able to identify foods to which your body reacts. These food sensitivities, when eliminated from your diet for a particular length of time, will aid in the healing of your gut. Once you have healed and sealed your gut, you may be able slowly introduce these foods back into your diet. In contrast, a food allergy can provoke a severe, life-threatening reaction - even after having eaten that specific food in the past with only a mild reaction. Thus, you will need to avoid that particular food lifelong and should consult your healthcare practitioner to determine if you should carry an EpiPen or other life-saving, emergency form of epinephrine with you at all times.
Cut out sugar and processed foods: Both feed the overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeast. Even if your gut lining is not inflamed, these foods can directly wreak havoc with the health of your heart, blood vessels, liver, and immune system.
Choose carbohydrates that are truly good for you: When you hear the word carbohydrate, do you think: pasta? Most of us do, but vegetables such as bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach and Swiss chard also provide us with carbohydrates - the healthy kind. Good carbohydrates are ones that don't cause a quick surge in your blood sugar and are generally high in fiber. Fiber is important as it acts as a prebiotic by nourishing the good bacteria in your gut. Inulin is one type of water-soluble fiber found in: asparagus, chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, Jicama, leeks, onions. Other forms of good carbs are legumes such as lentils, split peas, chickpeas, and beans.
Nourishing the Good Bacteria in Your Gut with Fermented Foods: Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles contain live bacteria and the prebiotics fibers that nourish the healthy bacteria in your gut.
Identifying and Replenishing Nutritional Deficiencies: An inflamed and leaky gut leads to a lack of important minerals and vitamins. Simple laboratory testing can identify your nutritional deficiencies and provide recommendations regarding the nutritional supplements and foods your body needs.
Taking a Probiotic Supplement: Probiotics should become a part of your daily regimen. Probiotics consist of various types of good bacteria which can be taken orally in the form of capsules or a powder or a liquid solution. Because there are so many different types of probiotics available, it's important to get professional advice regarding which probiotic is best for you. You can also checkout our blog on probiotics for more detailed information.
Detoxifying Your Body: If you have an inflamed and leaky gut, you've most likely been absorbing toxins into your body. Healing and sealing the gut will prevent more toxins from entering your body, but won't eliminate the ones already there. Healthy detoxification involves a cleansing diet like ClearChange that provides you with the nutritional support needed to safely eliminate toxins. It's important to have your healthcare practitioner advise you on how you can best detoxify. For more information or for a personal consultation, contact us and see our blogs on healthy detoxification.
Healing your gut will help to restore health and vitality to your body. If you would like more information, please contact us. To start you on your way, here's a recipe developed by Dr. Sarah Williams and Carole Murka of Heriloom Meals (see picture above) for their recent class on Healing Your Gut at the Nantucket Culinary Center. For more gut healthy recipes see our blog, "Meals That Heal Your Gut".
Cannellini Bean Burgers (6 servings)
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
1 can (15 oz) Cannellini Beans (white kidney beans)- Recommended: Eden Organic Cannellini White Kidney Beans, No Salt Added
1/4 Bunch Cilantro
1/4 Cup Gluten free oats
1 Tsp. curry powder
Salt & pepper to taste
Coconut Oil for frying
Rinse cannellini beans, cilantro, and leeks
Put beans, cilantro, leek and all other ingredients together in a food processor; leaving stems on cilantro. Process mixture until it comes together
Form mixture into burgers
Add a little coconut oil to a hot pan and fry burgers until they are golden in color
The contents of this blog are intended for educational purposes only. The information presented here is not a substitute for proper medical attention, diagnosis, or treatment by a qualified healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider before starting or making any changes to an existing treatment plan, exercise program or dietary regimen, and before using nutritional supplements.
~ Dr. Sarah Williams ~ Concord & Nantucket, Massachusetts ~