Now that you’ve determined that you have a leaky gut (see part 1 if you haven’t already), whats’s the next step? From a holistic perspective, changes in diet and lifestyle are a must and there are also a few supplements that can help the body’s own healing process.
- Eliminate all sugars, starches, grains, and other foods that you are sensitive or allergic to (dairy, soy, gluten, corn and nightshades can be big offenders here). By removing known irritants, foods that are difficult to digest and restricting the food supply of bacteria and yeast in the gut, inflammation can begin to go down and healing can ensue. It’s also best to choose whole foods over processed foods as much as possible.
- Increase antioxidant rich foods – lots of colourful fruits and veggies and occasional nuts/seeds if you tolerate them.
- Include good sources of omega 3s, which are anti-inflammatory – wild caught salmon, sardines, halibut, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.
- Eat fermented foods on a daily basis (i.e. sauerkraut, kimchi, coconut kefir, etc.) to provide a healthy dose of good bacteria. It may be hard to find a reputable source for fermented foods, but they can easily be made at home. Click here for a helpful resource on fermenting your own foods.
- Bone broth and lots of it! Bone broth is easy to make and can be consumed with each meal. It’s high in several vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, especially calcium and magnesium. It’s also rich in proline and glycine, two amino acids that are essential components of connective tissue and play a role in wound healing, protein synthesis and regulating the secretion of gastric acid and bile salts. Find the recipe here.
Supplements and Herbs
- L –Glutamine is the main fuel source for small intestine for maintenance and repair. The powder is the ideal form and can be taken in between meals.
- Vitamins A, D, C, E and zinc are all essential for gut healing
- Fish oil – omega 3s reduce inflammation.
- Good quality probiotics will help to crowd out any bad bacteria and restore a healthy balance in the gut. The strain L. plantarum specifically soothing to small intestine and crowd out bad bacteria – check the label! (A few brands I find work well are Genestra, Garden of Life, Flora and New Roots)
- Quercitin prevents histamine released due to allergies
- Proteolytic enzymes between meals – supports immune function by breaking down immune complexes.
- Digestive enzymes with each meal containing HCl (if you tolerate it and do not have gastritis or ulcers), pepsin, pancreatin and bile. UltraGest by Vitamost and Super Enzymes by NOW are good options.
- DGL taken about 20 min before a meal can help soothe mucous membranes and reduce inflammation and pain.
- Reduce stress – Try incorporating daily meditation into your routine, attending yoga classes a few times a week, or finding an activity that you find relaxing and nourishing to your soul and participate in it regularly.
- Get plenty of sleep – Aim for 8-10 hours and make sure your bedroom is pitch black (wear an eye mask if necessary). A lot of our healing is done at night when we are fast asleep.
- Promote gentle detoxification – Epsom salt baths, skin brushing and castor oil packs over the liver/abdomen nightly.
I can tell you from personal experience that healing the gut can take time and is dependent upon the amount and severity of coinciding conditions. I’m still working on it and sometimes having the patience and perseverance to stick with a more restrictive diet and a supplement regime can be difficult and often alienating, but it is SO worth it! Have faith in your body’s innate ability to heal and your ability to aid in the healing healing process by making positive changes in diet and lifestyle. Good health begins in the gut – just think, over 60% of your immune system is in the gut and over 90% of the serotonin is in the gut – it’s all connected!