Hippocrates stated that “All diseases begin in the gut.”
In my first post in this 2-part series, I wrote about the gastrointestinal tract (GUT) and the role it plays in the health of your body. Since most of the common diseases affecting society today stem from the gut, it is important to understand how it works and what conditions affect our gut.
If you missed part 1 you can find it here >>
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If gut issues are ruining your life, then you will want to find a solution. Why should you continue to suffer from the pain and discomfort not to mention the embarrassment gut issues often cause?
As with any health concerns, I recommend that you speak to your doctor. Your symptoms could be part of an underlying problem that required further intervention that just changing your diet and relieving stress.
I recommend seeing a Functional Medicine Doctor if possible, since they use a systems-oriented medical approach that works to identify and understand the underlying or root causes of a disease, particularly chronic diseases such as autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases as well as, Gut disorders, diabetes and obesity.
They look at the patient’s medical history in detail and create a personalised healthcare plan unique to each patient. If you require specialist attention they will refer you to the appropriate specialist.
Treating GUT Issues With Diet
Functional Medicine Doctors will take your history and thoroughly investigate the root cause of your gut issues. They may ask you to eliminate the common food triggers known to cause inflammation and digestive issues.
They will suggest that you consume nutritious, therapeutic foods that are known to heal the gut. You may be able to reintroduce some foods after a period of time as long as you don’t continue to react to them.
Often, vitamin and mineral supplements as well as herbs, are prescribed by Functional Medicine Doctors. They will also look at your lifestyle and may suggest changes as well as offering natural therapies to reduce stress and tension in your body. The combination of diet and lifestyle changes are all part of a holistic approach to treating your unhealthy gut condition.
The low FODMAP diet is an evidenced based dietary treatment for the symptom management of functional gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome. (1) It is a 3-part diet which has become popular in recent times.
FODMAPs (Fermentable, Oligo-Saccharides Disaccharides Mono Saccharide Polyols) are small-chain carbohydrates commonly found in our everyday foods. But when you consume too many at once, they can cause unpleasant symptoms.
Simply put, Part-1 is eliminating FODMAP foods, Part-2 is reintroducing FODMAP foods to work out which ones trigger a response, it’s very individual to each person. Part-3 is establishing your own personalised eating plan with FODMAP foods that don’t trigger a response for you.
It is a short-term diet plan that may assist you in identifying triggers so that you know what foods to avoid.
If you want to learn more about this diet plan, a good read is this book by Lee Martin, MSc RD, Re-challenging and Reintroducing FODMAPs: A self-help guide to the entire reintroduction phase of the low FODMAP diet
Some Key Foods To Eliminate
- The standard western diet of high fat, trans fatty acids, cholesterol, proteins, sugars, salt intake, as well as frequent consumption of processed and “fast food”, along with Genetically Modified organism (GMO) food (2), have been targeted as a major cause for today’s increasing gut issues, and it’s the first thing that needs to be eliminated from your diet.
- Gluten causes inflammation in many people and it has now been found to produce zonulin, a gut protein that unlocks the tight junctions between the cell walls in your gut. Avoiding Gluten containing grains such as wheat, rice, spelt and soy can help prevent zonulin production and inflammation. (3)
- Dairy is known to damage the gut lining. Dr Amy Myers, M.D. Author of NY Times Bestseller, The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases believes that “dairy is one of the most inflammatory foods in our modern diet, second only to gluten.”
Dairy causes inflammation in a large percent of the population resulting in digestive issues such as bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea, as well as other symptoms including acne, and a stronger presentation of autistic behaviours, (4)
- Sugar (glucose), is food for yeast, candida and bad bacteria which produces toxins that can damage the gut wall. Sugars are a major additive used in processed food and studies have found glucose to be a factor in increase permeability and produce changes in distribution of the main protein of the tight junction in the gut wall (3).
- Refined oils such as canola oil, vegetable oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil and margarine have all been refined and treated with chemicals which can be toxic to your body. These polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) oils go rancid very quickly, they also break down when heated and yet they are often used in cooking! (5).
- Legumes (beans, peas, lentils and peanuts), are often quoted a being healthy, however, when it comes to gut health they’re not so great. Legumes are not particularly nutrient dense, but they are full of lectins (a group of proteins), some are good and some are bad. Some of the bad lectins like to bind to some carbohydrates in the gut wall and cause inflammation.
Other lectins function as a natural insecticide which can aggravate autoimmune conditions. Legumes also contain phytates, which impair mineral absorption.
- Nightshades such as potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes should be avoided because they contain the protein lectin which can damage the gut wall and promote inflammation.
- Alcohol has been proven many times to adversely affect the body, although there is argument that a glass of red wine occasionally can be good for you. However, if you already have a gut issue, alcohol is best avoided or eliminated altogether. (6)
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When you work with your functional medicine doctor, they will advise you on which foods you specifically need to eliminate. Some people can slowly add these foods back into their diet once the gut has healed and symptoms have ceased.
For some people though, adding these foods back in can initiate the gut issues again. The only way to know is to try it for yourself, because we are all individual in our response to food.
Gut Healing Foods
- Bone Broth (aka stock), is nutrient dense, easy to digest and taste delicious. Our ancestors drank bone broth and bone broth is a staple food in the diets of almost every culture today. It’s the slow simmering process which causes the bones and ligaments to release all their healing compounds. Amino acid, collagen, minerals and fat-soluble vitamins are all released to help reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. Learn how to make bone broth here.
Glucosamine found in bone broth and available as a supplement, is helpful for improving digestive function and repairing the lining of the GI tract to combat leaky gut, (7).
- Fermented foods such as Kefir, Sauerkraut, Kombucha, coconut milk probiotics and organic apple cider vinegar have many benefits. They work by re-balancing the microbiome. When you introduce nature-made salt and ‘good bacteria’ from fermented foods into your body, the ‘bad bacteria’ can’t survive, (8).
Taking probiotic supplements and eating fermented foods is a great way to improve your microbiome especially after completing a course of antibiotics.
- Steamed vegetables such as Broccoli for example, which contain anti-inflammatory sulphur compounds. Broccoli is best eaten when lightly cooked as it results in maintaining the nutrients (9), and produces less stress on the gut than raw veggies.
- Grass fed meats, ideally organic, are high in omega 3 fatty acids essential for good health. Grass-fed beef also provides a number of health benefits since it is rich in the many nutrients and minerals found in soil.Eating beef from an animal that has been fed chemically treated corn can negatively affect your health and trigger degenerative diseases, autoimmune conditions, and learning disabilities. (10).
- Wild fatty fish such as salmon contain healthy omega 3 fatty acids which cannot be made in the body so it must be eaten. Essential for metabolism, brain function, growth and development, omega 3 can help reduce both the cause of inflammation and reduce existing inflammation. Consumption of omega 3 helps with other conditions such as candida and many digestive gut issues. (11)
- Healthy Oils such as extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil and coconut oil. Flaxseed contain omega 3 called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which helps reduce inflammation. To learn more about fats and the importance they have in your diet,
I recommend reading Dr Mark Hyman, MD, his book Eat Fat, Get Thin: Why the Fat We Eat Is the Key to Sustained Weight Loss and Vibrant Health, explains in detail the myths and science about the good and bad fats, as well as providing an easy to follow advice and eating plan, (12).
I love this infograhic that was put togtether by blog.kettleandfire.com
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Remember that we are all different, and you may find that a food that is recommended to you as being “healthy”, may not be healthy for you.
Always listen to your own gut, pardon the pun. If a food doesn’t agree with you, then eliminate it from your diet, however “healthy” it may be claimed to be.
Use the advice here as a guide only. I am not a medical professional or dietician. I simply research for my own health and share what I learn from the professionals.
If you have gut issues, it’s time for you to take control of your health, be proactive, seek out a medical practitioner who will review your history and provide you with a plan to help you manage and treat your gut issues once and for all.
I hope that after reading my blog, you feel more confident discussing your gut issues with your chosen doctor who can support you through your journey. It’s time for you to find the treatment that you need to feel good about yourself and enjoy your life again.
If you have found this blog useful then, maybe you know someone else who will benefit from reading it. Please Follow this blog and share it now with your family and friends.
This is the last post in my 2-part series on Gut Issues, I truly hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, if so, then please pay it forward, please share with your family and friends on social media.
If you have missed the previous post in this 2-part series, you can find it here.>>
Thank you for following and sharing and look out for more valuable information coming your way.
You Are What You Eat, Choose Wisely.
Katherine Minett, a Blogger with Hashimoto Thyroiditis, who is on a mission to educate and guide others on the importance that good nutrition has, in preventing and managing autoimmune diseases. Specifically, how to manage the symptoms of weight gain and fatigue that are commonly associated with these conditions.
Disclaimer: “Essential Nutrition Tips Blog” does not offer medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have medical concerns please consult your doctor. See Full Disclaimer.
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Monash University. Low FODMAP diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Retrieved from https://www.monash.edu/medicine/ccs/gastroenterology/fodmap
Natural Solutions for Digestive Health Do GMO Crops Harm Gut Bacteria? Retrieved from https://www.drmattnd.com/digestive-health/do-gmo-crops-harm-gut-bacteria.html
Changes in intestinal tight junction permeability associated with industrial food additives explain the rising incidence of autoimmune disease. Aaron Lerner, Torsten Matthias. Autoimmunity Reviews 14 (2015) 479–489 http://ac.els-cdn.com/S1568997215000245/1-s2.0-S1568997215000245-main.pdf?_tid=3b3f2f7c-9065-11e7-8fb5-00000aacb360&acdnat=1504415192_91c9839cc1a3c3b32ef24a1a0349af76
Amy Myers MD.The Dangers of Dairy https://www.amymyersmd.com/2013/04/the-dangers-of-dairy/
Heron, J. The GUT Health Protocol. Ditch The Vegetable Oil. 26 October 2015 Retrieved from http://www.theguthealthprotocol.com/wp/ditch_the_vegetable_oil/
Darwinian Medicine. Is Alcohol Ruining Your Gut Health? 15 March 2015.Retrieved from http://darwinian-medicine.com/is-alcohol-ruining-your-gut-health/
Dr Axe. Glucosamine Heals the Body in 4 Major Ways — Do You Have Enough? Retrieved from https://draxe.com/glucosamine/
Don Tolman International. 6 Fermented Foods For A Healthy Gut. 23 August 2017. Retrieved from https://www.dontolmaninternational.com/blogs/blog/6-fermented-foods-for-gut-health?utm_source=Don+Tolman+International&utm_campaign=4438b3e017-DTI_Fermented_Food_Blog_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_156f0368ec-4438b3e017-206343477&mc_cid=4438b3e017&mc_eid=ecbdfca954
The Worlds Healthiest Foods. What’s new and Beneficial about Broccoli. 4-10 September 2017. Retrieved from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=9
Body Ecology. The Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef. Retrieved from https://bodyecology.com/articles/the-health-benefits-of-grass-fed-beef
The Candida Diet. The Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Lisa Richards. 7 September 2017. Retrieved from https://www.thecandidadiet.com/health-benefits-omega-3/
Hyman M. MD., (2016). Eat Fat, Get Thin: Why the Fat We Eat Is the Key to Sustained Weight Loss and Vibrant Health New York, NY: Little Brown and Company.