Gastrointestinal or “gut” problems are a dominant feature in many chronic states of ill health including cancer, dementia, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Over the past 2 decades, gut issues have become epidemic in our children and co-exist or drive a range of childhood conditions including Autism, Allergies, ADHD, food sensitivities and other learning and behavioural disorders. Although gut problems do not stand alone as the only issues that need to be addressed, treating the gut is imperative as part of any treatment program. Gastrointestinal symptoms are diverse and include: bloating, flatulence, constipation, diarrhoea, poor appetite, cravings, stomach pain, smelly stools, faecal impaction, heartburn and reflux; as well as nutrient deficiencies and yeast, bacterial and parasitic gut infections.
When treating the gut, it is best to take a holistic approach. It is a very common trap to focus solely on the different pathogenic organisms, to chase symptoms, without addressing some of the fundamental issues that have led to the development of problems. It is important to take into consideration that infections are usually the result of lowered immune resistance and nutritional deficiencies. Only in a body that is depleted or weakened can a germ, virus, parasite or yeast gain a foothold. The aim of treatment therefore should be to strengthen and restore vitality to assist the body’s natural healing processes. Alongside vitamin and mineral supplementation, you should work to improve digestion, absorption and the assimilation of nutrients. Alongside antimicrobial and probiotic treatment, you need to change the environment in the gut and boost the immune system.
HEALING THE GUT
When healing the gut, we need to incorporate the following principles:
- Nutritionally restore vitality – remove problem foods, I highly recommend the Hair Test 500 to pinpoint exactly what foods are Friend or Foe using a Hair Sample. Also eliminate processed foods, foods with preservatives, colours & flavours and foods high in sugar. More importantly, add in healing foods and nutrient dense foods. The diet should consist of organic whole food where possible with a major emphasis on fresh vegetables and fruits – rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, whole grains (gluten free), nuts and seeds and quality proteins. – A ‘Primitive’ or ‘Traditional’ diet that alkalises the body is recommended; lots of dark leafy greens, a range of meat, seeds and nuts and low fructose fruits. Vegetable juicing is good however don’t blend multiple vegetables; keep it to 2-3 with one fruit for sweeting. It is not good enough to leave in high sugar & highly processed foods (pastas, breads, cereals and sauces) even if they are gluten & casein free. The immune system, the brain, all the cells in the body must be nourished to restore the body’s vital force. Addition research has shown that various bacteria produce toxic metabolites with high sugar diets.
- Enhance the immune system – stimulate the body’s own innate ability to fight off infections. There are many very effective herbal remedies that assist immune function; I recommend a therapeutic range of products from Neways International
- Transfactor – for gut healing, to build your immunity, antibacterial and to boost your energy levels
- Probiotics – which benefit the immune system, stimulating antibody production and interferon synthesis. Boost your good bacteria levels as bad bacteria are a major contributor for people with food and chemical sensitivities
- Aloe Vera – to help put the fire out, soothe and nourish the stomach lining right through to your bowel. Aloe Vera is excellent in assisting with regular bowel function
- Feroxin – minerals are our bodies spark plug. Studies show we are very mineral deficient as a race. We need over 40 essential minerals each day for our body’s optimal function and we can only get these from our food. The shortfall is that some of the essential minerals are no longer present in our soils, so we need to supplement.
- Toxicity – research has also uncovered that continual exposure to thousands of chemicals found in our every day personal and home care products provide the body with an incredible challenge in the 21st century. A study in 1994 revealed that over 884 ingredients used in our personal care were know to be toxic and of these 314 cause biological mutation, 218 can cause reproductive complications, 778 can cause acute toxicity, 146 can cause tumors and 376 can cause skin and eye irritations. Click here to What Can I Eat and print the Bathroom card to help you to audit your bathroom and see what ingredients you were unaware of.
- Change the environment – make it difficult for the Unfriendly Faecal Organisms (UFO’s) to gain dominance or remain dominant. Some important principles involved in this step are outlined below.
CHANGING THE ENVIRONMENT
Clear out the garbage – Purge
Once we have got some gut repair happening we need to CLEAR OUT THE GARBAGE in a clogged up colon. If you try to kill UFO’s when there are impacted faeces, you will have limited success. Certain parasites, bacteria and yeasts will be protected somewhat from both the immune system and any antimicrobials you use if they are able to ‘hide’ under a layer of faecal matter. For successful treatment of gut infections, faecal matter must not accumulate in the bowel.
Regular bowel movements are important for the body to get rid of its garbage. The bowel should move AT LEAST ONCE per day – in the MORNING. The stool should be formed but not hard, lumpy or pebbly. It should be passed with no pain, strain, blood or mucus. It should not be sticky and should be a medium brown colour. There should be complete emptying. If faeces remain in the colon for too long (slow transit time), then the body reabsorbs much of the toxic matter that should have been eliminated contributing to autointoxication. Organisms thrive in this type of environment. Dietary changes, probiotics as well as other various herbal and homeopathic formulas can be used to assist in helping to restore regular bowel movements.
Alkalise – Green Qi
By alkalizing, we are aiming to ensure that the average pH of the body is alkaline not acid. Excessive acidity is a widespread problem in the Western world. Both modern lifestyle and diet promote acidification. In general, the current standard diet is primarily composed of acidic or acidifying elements (proteins, cereals, sugars). Alkaline foods such as vegetables are eaten in too smaller quantities; their alkaline content is insufficient to neutralise surplus acids. Furthermore, stress, nervous tension, noise and other pressures contribute to acidification through the physiological disturbances they create. In addition, heavy metal toxicity, certain infections and inflammation all contribute to acidity.
The acidification of the internal terrain is the source of many health problems. There are a number of effects that lead to illness. Firstly, the activity of enzymes is disrupted. Enzymes are the “worker drones” behind all the biochemical transformations that take place in the body and on which the proper functioning of the organs depend. Enzymes can perform their task correctly only in an environment with a clearly defined pH. Otherwise their activity can be disrupted or even cease completely.
Secondly, the body can become ill due to the harsh corrosive nature of acids present in excessive amounts within the tissues. Before they are neutralised by alkaline substances, acids irritate the organ with which they come in contact. Inflammation as well as lesions or hardening of the tissues can result. The fragile state of the tissues resulting from the invasive presence of acid makes them vulnerable to microbial or viral infection. This is aggravated by the fact that the immune system’s effectiveness can also be lessened by acidity. Additionally, various infections themselves such as Streptococcus-overgrowth can produce acidic by-products that can overwhelm the body’s ability to maintain balance and a vicious cycle is set up. This is a major factor in gut dysbiosis.
Many compromised individuals are acidic. When we are acidic we need to place a greater emphasis on alkaline foods (vegetables and fruits) . This can be easily achieved with a green Superfoods blend such as Green Qi which contains 25 vegetables in a unique blend.
Improve the Digestive Process
To improve digestion and absorption of nutrients, there must be adequate stomach acid. Many people have hypochlorhydria or low stomach acid. A study of autistic children found 62% had low stomach acid.
Adequate stomach acid is essential for protein digestion. Poor protein digestion leads to low levels of the raw materials our bodies need to make neurotransmitters, immune cells and so much more. Poor protein digestion is also associated with an increased susceptibility to food allergies and sensitivities.
Adequate stomach acid is essential for absorption of Folic Acid, B12 and minerals. When acid is inadequate, there are typically deficiencies in Zinc, Iron, Calcium & Magnesium.
Stomach acid is essential for proper functioning of the pancreas and liver/gallbladder. The acidity of the stomach contents triggers a signal for these two organs to do their work.
Stomach acid also provides the first line of defence against pathogenic organisms that may enter the body with our food. Most organisms cannot survive in the acid environment of the stomach.
Strategies to improve stomach acid:
- Reduce Stress – especially at mealtimes
- Provide essential nutrients: Zinc, Niacin, Magnesium, B6 Celtic Sea Salt & Potassium
- Bitter foods before meals e.g. olives, bitter lettuce & rocket
- Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice drink, in warm water before meals
- Neways Digestive Enzymes or Releaze for more severe reactions
- Herbal Bitters before meals:
- Enhance upper digestive function / improve assimilation of nutrients
- Stimulate appetite
- Increase flow of digestive juices
- Increase flow of bile
- Regulate secretion of insulin & glucagon by the pancreas & liver
- Stimulate repair of gut lining
- Improve the micro-environment of the gut
Digestive enzymes are important for improving the digestive process. They chemically breakdown food so that nutrients can be absorbed. These enzymes are produced in large amounts at different stages along the digestive tract, for example the digestion of carbohydrates requires enzymes from the mouth, the pancreas and the small intestine. Fat needs lipase from the pancreas and bile from the liver. Protein needs enzymes from the stomach, the pancreas and the small intestine.
People who have allergies and intolerances have insufficient enzymes. Signs of this are bloating, flatulence and pain particularly near the belly button. There may also be undigested food in the stool. Light tan or yellow ‘floaty’ stools indicate that fat digestion is poor. Supplemental digestive enzymes relieve symptoms and improve absorption of nutrients.
Balancing Gut Flora – Probiotics – Lacto Flora
Probiotics are essential both in supplemental form and in the form of fermented foods. The number of functions the gut flora fulfils is so vital for us that if the digestive tract got sterilised we probably would not survive.
One of the most important functions of the gut flora is appropriate digestion and absorption of nutrients from food. If you do not acquire normal balanced gut flora, then they you will not digest and absorb nutrients from foods well, leading to the development of multiple nutritional deficiencies. Certain species of gut flora actively synthesise various nutrients: vitamin K, folic acid, vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, CoQ10, various amino-acids and proteins, all of which can become deficient in an unbalanced gut. Restoring the beneficial bacteria in the gut helps to treat these deficiencies.
Apart from taking a vital part in nourishing the body, beneficial bacteria keep the gut healthy. Certain species coat the entire surface of the gut protecting it from invaders and toxins by providing a natural barrier and producing a lot of anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal substances. At the same time they provide the gut lining with nourishment. It is estimated that 60 –70% of energy the gut lining derives, is from the activity of bacteria, which live on it. An unhealthy gut lining will substantially reduce the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food.
Additionally, gut flora are intricately involved in the functioning of the immune system. The beneficial bacteria in the gut ensure appropriate production of different immune cells. They also help balance the immune system. With dysbiosis the Th1 and Th2 arms of the immune system can get out of balance, contributing to Th2 overactivity. This causes the immune system to over-react to various foods and environmental stimuli leading to allergies.
The absence or greatly reduced numbers of beneficial bacteria in the gut flora leads to overgrowths of certain species of bacteria that produce toxins in these circumstances. These toxins can overwhelm the body’s natural ability to detoxify, which can contribute to the accumulation of heavy metals, pesticides & other environmental toxins as well as mimic certain food intolerances such as salicylate sensitivity. In effect the digestive system instead of being a source of nourishment becomes a major source of toxicity in the body. Alkalising & appropriate nutrition as discussed above are absolutely essential when working to restore a healthy balanced gut flora.
Another important issue to deal with when healing the gut is detoxification. This involves supporting the body’s natural detoxification systems. A discussion of this issue is too complex to address here. Treating bacterial & fungal overgrowths to reduce gut toxicity is an important part of this. In general more will need to be done…
“ It is a mistake, it’s half a therapy if you only treat the gut. The other half of the therapy is to detoxify.…..We have to get the toxins out to even allow the nutrients to get into the tissues. You can’t get the nutrients in there if they are full of poisons, you can’t get two things into one space.” Charlotte Gerson
Healing the gut is a complex process and there are many other important factors to consider. These are just a few of the fundamental issues that should be considered in any treatment program. Below is a table with some foods & wholefood supplements that can assist in gut healing. In summary you need to consider.
- Restore vitality
- remove problem foods
- Primitive diet
- Enhance the Immune System
- herbs, supplements, probiotics
- Change the Environment
- Clear the colon
- Improve digestion
- Restore beneficial bacterial balance (probiotics, fermented foods)
- Support detoxification
- Reduce exposure to Toxicity in your everyday products usage
- Specifics – Antimicrobials, antifungals, antiparasitics, nutritional supplements, anti-inflammatories, antioxidants.
- Wholefoods support overall vitality and in so doing aid in gastro intestinal healing
|Young Green Coconut||Enzyme rich, Nutritive|
|Turmeric||Anti-inflammatory, supports detoxification|
Blueberry, Raspberry, Blackberry
|Nutritive, Alkalising, Support Detoxification, Promote healthy flora|
|Bee Pollen||Nutritive, Enzyme rich, antioxidant|
|Coconut Oil||Antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, Nutritive|
|Chia Seeds (soaked)
Flax seeds (soaked)
|Nutrient Dense, Anti-inflammatory|
|Seaweeds||Nutrient Dense, Alkalising|