What's Up With Our Gut.....
Updated: Dec 2, 2020
The 5R guide to Resilience
What if I told you that what you ate, did, said and thought would make you more or less resilient and have a great effect on your health?
the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
One of the first conversations I have with patients is the importance of gut health. Why? Up to 70% of your immune system is housed in your gut. If your gut is unhealthy your resilience is threatened. A properly functioning digestive system is critical to good health. In fact, problems with the gastrointestinal (GI) tract can cause more than just stomach aches, gas and bloating or diarrhea. GI issues may underlie chronic health problems that seem unrelated to digestive health, including autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes, skin problems such as eczema and acne rosacea, and heart disease (just to name a few).
How can I keep my gut healthy? I am so glad you asked! In Functional Medicine we use a program that goes by the simple acronym of the ‘5Rs’: remove, replace, reinoculate, repair, and rebalance. When applied to various chronic health issues, the 5R program can lead to dramatic improvement in symptoms, and sometimes even complete resolution. Right now is a great time to establish some new gut-healthy habits to help build RESILIENCE!
Here are the steps to ensure a healthy gut and with that a healthy and resilient immune system.
1. Remove: It is said that the hardest thing to do is to change someone’s diet. I have found this to be true, until you explain what food choices do to overall health. Removing gut stressors includes getting rid of things that negatively affect the environment of the GI tract. These include processed foods, inflammatory foods (like gluten, sugar, and dairy), allergic foods, parasites and potentially problematic bacteria or yeast. Eating a “clean”, “whole foods” diet is paramount to creating a healthy gut environment. Take this time to get in the kitchen and start making some simple but healthy meals!
2. Replace: Unfortunately because of chronic stress or use of antacids as well as proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec, Protonix) our stomach acid levels have decreased. This low stomach acid makes it harder to digest things like proteins and fats. When we add back things like digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and bile acids that are required for proper digestion we break down our food enough for nutrients to be absorbed. Foods that contain natural digestive enzymes include: pineapples, papayas, mangoes, honey, bananas, avocados, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kiwifruit and ginger. Adding any of these foods to your diet may help promote digestion and better gut health.
3. Reinoculate: Help beneficial bacteria flourish by ingesting probiotic foods or supplements that contain the “good” GI bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacillus species, and by consuming the high soluble fiber foods that good bugs like to eat, called prebiotics. Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms found in the gut that are also called “friendly bacteria.” Use of antibiotics kills both good and bad bacteria. Probiotics in the form of supplements or food are often needed to help reestablish a balanced gut flora. Fermented foods, such as yogurt, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut and tempeh are food sources of probiotics. Prebiotics are food ingredients that selectively stimulate the growth of beneficial microorganisms already in the colon. In other words, prebiotics feed probiotics. Prebiotics are available in many foods that contain a fiber called inulin (a powder you can add to your smoothies), including artichokes, garlic, leeks, onion, chicory, tofu, and other soy products. I also like ground flax added to things like smoothies as well as sauces and granola.
4. Repair: Help the lining of the GI tract repair itself by supplying key nutrients that can often be in short supply in a compromised gut, such as zinc, antioxidants (e.g. vitamins A, C, and E), fish oil, magnesium and L- glutamine. L-glutamine is critical for any program designed to heal leaky gut. Glutamine powder is an essential amino acid supplement that is anti-inflammatory and necessary for the growth and repair of your intestinal lining. L-glutamine benefits include acting as a protector: coating your cell walls and acting as a repellent to irritants. Collagen powder also helps to repair the gut lining and is easily added to your morning coffee or tea.
5. Rebalance: Last but not least! As we have been addressing in the last couple of weeks, it is important to pay attention to lifestyle choices.
Sleep - getting good quality sleep is important
Movement/Exercise - moving your body even in small amounts multiple times a day
Stress Reduction- meditation, breathing, praying, spending time away from devices all play a role in a happy gut.
Balancing these activities is important to an optimal digestive tract.
Balance = RESILIANCE!!
Be well Bretton Woods!