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Did you know gut health is intricately linked to autoimmune conditions?

It’s true! The health of your gastrointestinal system determines what nutrients are absorbed into your bloodstream and what bacteria, toxins and allergens are kept out of your bloodstream.  With 70% of your immune system located in your gut, it is critical to keep this vital system working optimally.  There are some simple practices one should consider incorporating into their lifestyle when supporting the immune system.

A diet high in processed and nutrient deficient foods increases the probability that the good and bad bacteria in the gut will get out of balance.  This dysbiosis, as well as consuming foods that the body may be sensitive to, can damage the lining of the small intestine creating what is known as intestinal hyper-permeability in scientific circles, and referred to by many as leaky gut syndrome.

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

When someone has Leaky Gut Syndrome, the tight junctions that line the small intestines essentially become loose and allow bacteria, not fully digested proteins and fats and other wastes to “leak” into the bloodstream. This causes an immune response, which produces inflammation and may increase the likelihood of autoimmune disease development.

A leaky gut can lead to:

  • Inflammation
  • Bloating and Gastrointestinal Distress (IBS)
  • Fatigue
  • Skin Conditions
  • Food Sensitivities and Intolerances (known or unknown)
  • Malabsorption of Nutrients
  • Anemia
  • Autoimmune Disease….and more

There are many factors that can contribute to the development of Leaky Gut Syndrome, including: 

  • Poorly managed stress can lead to a compromised immune system, creating greater susceptibility to foreign invaders. Chronic stress is also known to slow the digestive process.
  • An insufficient diet, high in processed foods and sugar and low in fiber, has been linked to leaky gut. Without enough fiber in the diet, it takes much longer to digest food.  Adding insult to injury, highly processed foods are high in sugar, sodium, chemicals and unhealthy fats, all of which create inflammation in the digestive tract.  Note that gluten is a known irritant to the gut lining.
  • An overload of toxins in the system stresses the immune system and hampers the body’s ability to repair. Environmental toxins deplete the body of important trace minerals and create acidity in the body.
  • An imbalance of gastrointestinal bacteria, called dysbiosis, can be a real problem if the “bad” bacteria are out numbering the “good” bacteria. Yeast (candida), parasites, amoebas and other harmful bacteria irritate the gut lining and are suspected as contributing to leaky gut.
  • Overuse of NSAIDs and other drugs, including antibiotics, birth control, antacids, steroids, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, can disrupt gut bacteria balance as well as damage the lining of the intestinal tract.
  • Alcoholic beverages are not easily metabolized and put great strain on the liver. This can impact digestion and the toxins associated with alcohol are also known to damage the gut lining.
  • Consumption of the proteins found in conventional dairy, GMO and hybridized foods have been linked to damage of the intestinal lining.
  • Consuming grains that are NOT properly prepared has been known to irritate the gut lining, leading to damage if consumed with regularity.  When grains are properly prepared, (which includes soaking, fermentation and sprouting) the body is better able to digest them and absorb valuable nutrients.  Unfortunately, grains today are rarely prepared in this fashion.

 

 

Many doctors believe that an autoimmune disease diagnosis often goes hand in hand with a leaky gut.

In order to quell the inflammation and immune system response, consider incorporating some simple practices that are supportive to your gut health may be very beneficial to your overall health and wellness. 

 

 

Tips for Optimal Gut Health

  1. Eat an Anti-inflammatory Diet

    Consume an anti-inflammatory diet of whole, unprocessed foods rich in a variety of vegetables, fruits, lean, well sourced protein and high quality fats.  Remember, if you have a leaky gut, you likely have inflammation.  It is critical to quell this inflammation if healing is to occur.

    Consider eliminating the following highly inflammatory foods: Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Sugar and Processed Foods

  2. Make Bone Broth

    Remember when you were a little kid and your mom would make homemade chicken soup when you were sick?  For centuries, homemade bone broths have been common in traditional diets because they are a concentrated source of nutrients offering considerable depth of flavor, they are easy for the body digest and considered by many to promote healing. See, Moms know a few things!

    Bone broth can be made from chicken, beef, lamb, fish or other animal’s bones – just make sure you are getting the highest quality bones to make your broth.  It’s the long slow cooking of the bones with some form of acid (raw apple cider vinegar or lemon juice) that releases the therapeutic properties that are believed to be highly beneficial to the gut.

    This simple broth contains collagen, gelatin and the amino acids glutamine, proline and glycine, all essential for the health of your gut lining.   Bone broth also delivers numerous minerals in a form that is easily absorbable.  These include magnesium, calcium, sulphur, silicon, phosphorus and more.

    Bone broth is a delicious way to nourish your gut and support its optimal health each and every day.  I recommend sipping at least two cups each day and using your bone broth when cooking things like gravies, stews, soups, etc.

  3. Include Coconut Products

    Coconut products are believed to be particularly good for gut health.  Why?

    Coconut contains medium chain fatty acids that are much easier to digest than other fats. Fermented coconut products, like yogurt or kefir, add healthy probiotics to the intestinal tract. Coconut oil is antifungal, antimicrobial and antibacterial. Regularly consuming coconut oil can help with the absorption of nutrients by helping to control the proliferation of bad bacteria and parasites.

  4. Consume Soft, Cooked Foods

    It is often recommended that for the first few weeks primarily soft, cooked foods, such as soups or stews, should be consumed. These foods are easily digested and enable the body to take that time to repair and restore the gut.

    Once you feel you are ready to introduce raw vegetables and fruits, it is recommended that you do so slowly and methodically.  If at any point you experience discomfort, return to a more simple diet of soft, cooked foods and consult with your doctor.

  5. Healthy Gut Flora

    Having a good balance of healthy gut bacteria is important for optimal gut health.  Below are some of my personal strategies for making sure my gut flora is balanced.

    Talk to your doctor about taking a high quality probiotic. If your doctor approves, I recommend purchasing three different high quality brands and rotating them. As you finish one bottle, open a different brand.  This is beneficial because each brand will include different strains of probiotic bacteria.  You have thousands of different strains in your gut and it’s important to support as many different ones as you can.

    You can find good quality probiotics at your local health food store or order them online at Amazon, Vitacost.com or ThriveMarket.com.  Some of my favorite brands include: Primal Defense, Trace Minerals, Renew Life, and Prescript Assist.

    Try Kombucha, a delicious fermented tea rich in B vitamins and healthy bacteria. This is a great way to “drink” your probiotics, but BEWARE.  If you know or suspect you might suffer from candida overgrowth, then skip the kombucha as it is fermented with sugar and can have a higher sugar content that what is ideal.  I always recommend checking the sugar content of these drinks and choose the one with least amount.

    Coconut water kefirs, such as Kevita (my favorite!) or Inner-Eco, are delicious and a great alternative if you want to skip the sugars in kombucha. These drinks often have as few as 3 grams of sugar per bottle.  My favorite way to enjoy this healthy beverage is in a wine glass!  Like kombucha, they are also fermented and have an abundance of B-vitamins, probiotics and enzymes.  And, if you want to try your hand at making your own, there are loads of recipes you can find online.

    Fermented vegetables have been a main stay in many cultures for much of history. Not surprising as these foods are rich in enzymes, probiotics, B vitamins, Omega 3 fatty acids and help to balance the pH of your system.  They are super easy and a lot of fun to make!  Consider adding a tablespoon to 1/4 cup of fermented vegetables to each meal.

  6. Digestive Enzymes

    To support your gut health, it is often recommended to supplement with digestive enzymes at each meal.  These are believed to help your body fully digest food and aid in better nutrient absorption.

  7. Supplement with a Whole Food Vitamin

    Taking a high quality multivitamin is very important to ensure you getting all necessary nutrients.  When the gut is compromised, it is likely that nutrients are not being well absorbed.   I also recommend rotating your multivitamin, because each brand has their own “recipe.”

  8. Additional Supplements to Consider

    Before beginning any supplements, always consult with your physician and have appropriate blood work done.

     – Glutamine is an amino acid critical to rebuilding the intestinal lining.

    – Aloe Vera Juice is easy to add to your morning smoothie, and is very soothing the intestinal wall. It is anti-inflammatory as well.

    – Zinc is necessary for cell turnover in the body and is a critical component to a healthy gut. Zinc competes with copper, so if you plan to supplement, consult your doctor to be sure you balance these two minerals.

    – Collagen is not just essential for healthy looking skin, but also helps to restore integrity to the gut lining and contains amino acids that are essential for cell growth and repair. If you choose to supplement with a powder (works well in smoothies!), be sure to choose one from grass-fed, pasture raised cows, free from chemicals and antibiotics.

    – Slippery Elm is often used to support gut health as it is anti-inflammatory and coats the lining of the gut, protecting it from damage due to toxins and pathogens.

    – Omega 3 fatty acids are highly anti-inflammatory, beneficial to gut repair and support a healthy immune system.

 

 

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Why I fell in love with digestive enzymes









DIGESTIVE ENZYMES

When I started learning about all the toxins I was putting into my body through years of processed food, I was horrified. I started to ask myself, how can I help my organs to get rid of these toxins more effectively? How can I help my gut to repair itself so that I don’t have bloating and gas for the rest of time? The answer wasn’t far away. The answer in part, for me, was digestive enzymes, especially in the beginning of my gut health journey.

untitled-designHOW ENZYMES WORK

Our organs produce digestive enzymes and different enzymes work on different foods. There are specific enzymes for starches and carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

We can also access enzymes from external sources like raw fruits, vegetables, cold pressed oils and raw dairy. Yet when these foods are heated, the enzymes quickly denature and our organs are forced to carry the whole load. This is stressful to our bodies, and a lot of work. Mostly humans have had access to a certain percentage of raw foods but in the last 50 years we’ve transitioned into a highly processed {cooked diet}.

By incorporating digestive enzyme supplements and eating more raw foods, I quickly went from bloated and uncomfortable most of the time to energized and light. Giving my body exactly what it needed to break down and easily assimilate the food I was taking in made all the difference. Because when your body has to pour all it’s resources into breaking down the food you’re eating, there isn’t much space left for anything else.

Digestive enzymes were a simple addition that helped me so much in the early repair stages. Now that I’ve got my diet figured out I don’t supplement with them anymore but I think they’re a great short term solution to digestive issues.

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WORK WITH ME

If you’re seriously interested in getting healthy, restoring your digestion and boosting your energy then I would love to work with you.  Optimal wellness begins with the gut.  I offer 1:1 nutritional coaching where I can help educate you on how the digestive system works, and support your digestive needs with nutrition.  I have also created my signature RESTORE YOUR GUT HEALTH program perfect for those struggling with digestive issues.  Schedule your FREE 30 minute consultation and we can start you on your way to a healthy gut!