Gut Health 301: Replace & Reinoculate
Your gut has a lot of mechanisms for natural protection.
Stomach acid, bile, digestive enzymes, and good bacteria.
If our guts have been weakened by stress, aging, poor diet, or medications - to name a few - then we need to give our gut a hand with replacements in the form of supplements.
Once you've discovered what is causing your gut symptoms and eliminated the root cause (see Gut Health 201), it's time to support healing by intelligently replacing what your body is lacking.
Replace: Low Stomach Acid
When your stomach acid is low, your body can not break down and absorb the key vitamins, minerals and proteins leading to malnutrition, bloating, gas, and heartburn.
Stomach acid is also responsible for killing bacteria and neutralizing enzymes.
Stress, poor diet, eating too quickly, high sugar intake, zinc deficiency, antacid use, infection or chronic illness are all reasons you might have low stomach acid.
You can increase stomach acid through several strategies including:
1. Chewing your food
2. Limiting processed foods
3. Drinking a small amount of diluted apple cider vinegar before a meal
Replace: Low Bile Acid
Bile is produced in the liver then stored and released from the gallbladder to help digest fats and fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
If your liver health is poor, you are overweight, have high cholesterol or are chronically dehydrated you may have low bile acid.
Natural remedies include a lemon or lime and water mixture in the morning on an empty stomach in the morning to activate the liver and stimulate digestion. Eat healthy, raw oils – Fish oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados are good sources. Promote good liver health by reducing sugar, alcohol, and processed foods.
Add more foods believed to stimulate bile production including garlic, beets, radicchio, kale, endive, arugula, celery, and radish.
If you've had your gallbladder removed, you will no longer be able to store bile and you'll have less available at once. So, eat smaller, more frequent meals. You may also benefit from purified bile salts.
Replace: Digestive Enzymes
Lipase, amylase, proteases and peptidases help break down our foods into fats, proteins and carbohydrates into small molecules that can pass through our gut and into our blood stream.
The easiest example of a too low a level of enzyme is in lactose intolerance where the lactase enzyme is in short supply leaving lactose to travel through the gut undigested leading to bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea.
Other causes of low enzymes include injury to the brush border of the gut as in celiac, Chron's, or low grade inflammation caused by food intolerances, aging, stress, and low stomach acid.
Once offending foods and stressors are removed, digestive enzyme production will increase, but in the interim digestive enzyme supplementation with meals will
Reinoculate: Good Bacteria
100 trillion bacteria good and bad live in your gut.
If your diet is full of processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners and you've taken antibiotics recently there is a good chance your bacterial balance is off.
Signs of gut bacteria imbalances range from typical bloating and gas to depression and anxiety.
Promote a better bacterial balance by increasing organic fruit and vegetable intake, increase fibre, add fermented foods like saurkraut, and cut out sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Probiotic supplements in the bifidobacteria and lactobaccilus species may also be beneficial. Check with a health care professional to find out what is right for you.
After removing stressors, replacing and reinoculating are the next steps to restoring your gut health.
Bonus Recipe: Beet & Pineapple Salad
This salad is great to serve along with a nice organic protein like steak or chicken.
Pineapples provide a special digestive boost thanks to the enzyme bromelain that breaks down proteins.
4 cups chopped beets
3 cups chopped pineapple
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, to drizzle
Dash of ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup mint, thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). On a lined baking sheet, evenly spread chopped beets. Roast for about 40 minutes or until tender. Set aside to cool.
Chop pineapple in large chunks, about the same size as the chopped beets.
To serve, plate chopped pineapple and cooled roasted beets and drizzle with olive oil, dust with cinnamon, add a pinch of sea salt, and top with thinly sliced fresh mint.
Enjoy at room temperature.
Read parts 4 and 5 of the gut health series following this one to complete your gut health recovery.