If all the gloom and doom of inflammatory conditions (Part I) and gut microbiome dysbiosis (Part II) freaked you out a smidge, have no fear! It’s never too late to take things into your own hands (literally). Here are some solutions to help cool inflammation and restore gut happiness! A happy gut is a happy you! (Also, quite literally.)
An anti-inflammatory Paleo Diet featuring gut supportive ingredients and probiotic foods, is key to healing the all-too-often-damaged gut system. To fix your gut, you need to remove potential toxic foods, while adding some (or all!) of the specifically gut-healing foods discussed below.
REMOVE TOXIC FOOD
- Processed Foods
- Personal Food Allergies
- Common food allergens: eggs, dairy, corn, soy, peanuts (The last three aren’t Paleo anyways.)
- Consider getting a blood allergy test
- To test for food allergies on your own, eat a single potentially allergenic food in the fasted state, and see if your pulse rises. If it does, it’s possible you’re allergic to the food. There are apps to test this as well, like Dave Asprey’s Food Detective.
- Personal Food Sensitivities
- Nightshades (peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, etc.)
- High Histamine Foods (avocados, alcohol, aged cheeses, dried fruits, mushrooms, smoked fish, sour cream, spinach, tomato, vinegar, etc.)
- Salicylates, Sulfites, etc.
- Caffeine and Alcohol (Potentially)
- While I adore my caffeine and wine, you may want to try omitting these, particularly if you are trying to heal Leaky Gut.
ADD HEALING FOODS
- Fermented Foods With Live Cultures
- Sauerkraut, Kimci, Kefir, etc. unless you have histamine intolerance problems
- Raw Unpasteurized Yogurt, unless you have dairy intolerances
- Bone Broth
- This is a miracle food for the gut, full of gut-healing minerals, healthy fats (especially if you don’t strain the broth), and collagen! We’re really just talking wonder food for healing! And while it sounds difficult to make… it’s not! You can just throw some bones in a crockpot, add water and apple cider vinegar, potentially some spices and/or veggies, and come home at the end of the day to some yummy goodness!
- Where to get the bones? You can try local farmer’s market for good prices. Whole Foods also sells them in the meat department – just ask! Make sure you get grass-fed bones, to maximize the nutrient profile and minimize toxins from conventional beef diets and farming conditions.
- For more on bone broth’s benefits and recipes, I whole-heartedly recommend Ariane Resnick’s The Bone Broth Miracle: How An Ancient Remedy Can Improve Health, Fight Aging, and Boost Beauty! She also discuss the miracle soup, and how she healed herself from Carbon Monoxide poisoning via holistic means, in episode #239 of The BulletProof Radio podcast.
- Grass Fed Collagen
- Today, we tend to eat a lot of chicken breasts and lean steaks, without the more sinewy, nutrient rich connective tissue meat. The anti-inflammatory amino acid profile of collagen balances out this potentially inflammatory abundance of muscle meat. Collagen comes from connective tissue, and can help heal the gut. It strengthens gut integrity and digestion, and helps build a healthy mucosal lining (which is key for healthy digestion). It also promotes good bowel movements by absorbing water in the digestive tract, keeping things moving! Beyond the intestinal track, collagen also supports healthy skin and joints. I adore Great Lakes Hydrolyzed Grass-Fed Collagen (Getting Grass-Fed collagen is key!)
- Adding collagen to my diet may have been the single most “obvious” addition, health benefit wise. You integrate it into your diet, and wake up the next day with noticeably stronger skin and nails, and more “cushioned” joints. Love this stuff!
- Turmeric and/or Ginger
- These wonder spices have potent anti-finlammatory properties, and support digestion. Scientific studies have found turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effects to rival NSAIDs, while Ginger can also function as a natural pro kinetic, stimulating contractions of the small intestine, keeping things moving!
Consider adding some of the following supplements to your routine, based on your particular needs, to maximize gut health! Avoid supplements with added fillers – which can potentially worsen your condition. I’ve provided links to my personal favorite versions of each one.
Many people have an overgrowth of nasty organisms in their gut, be it in the form of Candida (yeast), SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth), or other pathogens. If such is the case for you, consider using some of these compounds to turn the war in your favor.
- Grapefruit Seed Extract: Grapefruit Seed Extract is super awesome at naturally combatting bacteria and viruses. You can take the liquid drops in water to help combat SIBO or fight off a cold. I suggest Nutribiotic GSE Liquid Concentrate.
- Oil of Oregano: Oregano is a very potent natural antimicrobial, with potent antibacterial and antiviral properties. You can use oregano to support your immune system, fight off a cold, kill parasites, or combat small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Oregano’s active plant phytochemials include thymol (a fungicide which can combat toxins) and carvacrol, which can combat bacterial infections. Oregano also supports respiratory health. Some studies have shown Oregano is just as effective as antibiotics in combatting SIBO. I suggest the Gaia Herbs Liquid Photo-Caps. Check out my youtube video on oregano!
- Monolaurin: Monolaurin is made from lauric acid, which is found naturally in breast milk and coconut oil. Monolaurin has antibacterial and antiviral properties, and can help restore gut biome homeostasis. I suggest the Lauricidin pellets.
- Peppermint Oil: Peppermint oil has antibacterial properties, functions as an antispasmodic, and can sooth the intestine.
- Lactoferrin: Lactoferrin is a protein in human milk, with potent antimicrobial properties. It can help break down the protective biofilm which bad bacteria build to protect themselves. It can also regulate iron absorption, helping your body absorb it, while keeping it away from pathogens and bad bacteria in your body. I suggest the Life Extension Lactoferrin capsules.
- Digestive Enzymes: Many food intolerances, allergies, and digestive distress occur when the body is not producing the necessary enzymes to digest the proteins, fats, and/or carbohydrates. Taking digestive enzymes with your meal can help solve this problem. You may need to experiment with different brands to find the best enzymes for you personally. I love Renew Life DigestMore Ultra, Digest Gold, and Digest Basic + Probiotics (two birds with one stone!)
- Betaine HCL: Hydrochloric Acid is a digestive acid produced in the stomach to break down food (primarily protein and fat). A multitude of factors can lead to decreased levels of HCL, particularly age and acute or chronic stress. A common cause of gastrointestinal distress, including gas, bloating, and even heartburn, is not high stomach acid as often suspected, but rather low stomach acid. (In the case of heartburn, the lack of HCL causes the food to get backed up, allowing acid to flow backwards up into the throat.) Start with one or two capsules of Betaine HCL with meals, then slowly increase each time you eat by one capsule. When you feel a “warm” sensation in your stomach, plateau at that number of capsules, before eventually titrating off. (Using HCL will stimulate your stomach to start producing more HCL of its own.) I like TwinLabs Betaine HCL, which also contains Pepsin.
- Iberogast: Iberogast is an amazing digestive supplement which functions as a pro kinetic, stimulating contractions of the small intestine. You take the drops before meals, to aid digestion and help with healthy bowel movements.
- Colostrum: Colostrum is a compound abundant in the “first milk” of mammals (including humans!) It’s produced by the female right before birth, and contains important proteins, antibodies, growth-hormones, and immune-modulating polypetitdes. It helps build a healthy gastrointestinal and immune system in the baby, and thus is a pretty awesome supplement for gut health. It can help heal Leaky Gut, support gastrointestinal integrity, fight off pathogens and bad bacteria, and boost the immune system. It’s like going back to the beginning! Make sure your colostrum supplement comes from healthy, grass fed sources! Try Symbiotics Colostrum Plus Powder.
- Glutamine: L-glutamine is an essential amino acid found throughout the body, but particularly in muscle. It aids in protein synthesis and helps prevent muscle breakdown. It is notably important for maintaining strength integrity of the intestinal track by preventing atrophy and permeability. Stress can reduce glutamine levels, so supplementation may be helpful. I love the pure powder form made by Source Naturals.
- Magnesium: Adequate magnesium is vital for a healthy gut. Magnesium helps your body produce enzymes necessary for digestion, and also supports healthy bowel movements. Different forms of magnesium have varying effects and levels of absorption, but consider trying Magnesium Glycinate, Magnesium Gluconate, or Magnesium Citrate. In fact, you should probably supplement with magnesium even if you don’t have gut trouble, since most people are deficient. I adore Natural Calm – a magnesium “anti-stress” drink. It’s an awesome way to wind down at the end of the day, while supporting your digestion and health in general!
- Zinc: Zinc is a super important supplement for the gut and immune system, and helps build strong intestinal wall integrity. It can help heal Leaky Gut, while also supporting the immune system. Consider trying TwinLabs Zinc Caps.