Four Steps To A Balanced, Healthy & Happy Gut
If you have been feeling funky and haven’t focused on your gut health yet, maybe our suggestions for lifestyle changes could help! Healing the gut can seem like a huge undertaking but like all things, there are many ways to approaching it. One of the methods Mountain Mel’s recognizes is the 4R program which breaks gut healing into four awesome and approachable steps!
1) Remove ~ Be gone stress, allergens, & pathogens!
This step requires us to look at what we are doing in our lives that may contribute to our symptoms. For example, many of us are familiar with the relationship between stress and food. Often times when we become overly stressed, we can not eat enough, eat much too much, or consume overly indulgent foods.(Can I get an Amen!?!) Irregular eating patterns can create problems with absorption and digestion of essential nutrients. Being conscious of how we are eating and making steps towards removing things that inhibit regularity in our eating patterns can lead to a happier tum!
Another tool to use is an elimination diet. You can work with your physician to create a plan to remove any foods you may be allergic to. Most of us consume many allergenic foods without even knowing that we may be truly allergic! Unfortunately, most of the common staples of our Westernized diet actual can be classified as potential allergens. Processed foods, dairy, corn, gluten, meat, soy, peanuts, coffee, alcohol, and refined sugars all can cause some serious inflammation in the gut! (All the good stuff-- I know!) An elimination diet allows our body to have a break by removing potential allergens for a period of time. After we have given our body a chance to exist without these culprits, we can slowly integrate one at a time while watching for any reactions. This allows us to find what our body can tolerate and what we should try to avoid.
Lastly, we have those funky little pathogens! As we mentioned in our previous post, there are both the “good bugs” and the pesky “bad bugs” that dwell in the gut. Pathogens are certainly those “bad bugs.” Anywhere from bacterial or yeast overgrowth, to a virus, fungus, parasite, or even toxic chemicals could be floating around in our stomachs. Sometimes it’s good to meet with your physician if you are having chronic symptoms so they can help run tests to identify what type of pathogens you are living with. This will help you to stay informed about what steps are best for you when trying to rid your body of them. Once you know what you are dealing with you can try the application of herbal remedies or different supplements that scare whatever type of bugs you have away!
2) Replace ~ Digestive enzymes to the rescue!
Once we become aware of the things that make our gut ache and eliminate them, we can move forward to create a more harmonious environment for digestion. This includes improving the contents that are in our stomach acid by introducing digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid. The four main digestive enzymes are protease, lipase, amylase, and pepsin. Many physicians also incorporate the application of hydrochloric acid (HCL) to improve the quality of stomach acid. HCL is a naturally occurring acidic substance in your stomach that helps break down essential nutrients such as protein. Without the right mixture of enzymes and acids in our stomach we may not be able to break down foods which can lead to a build up of particles. This eventually can lead to inflammation of the gut lining and can cause a series of uncomfortable problems that you may already be familiar with!
3) Reinoculate ~ Bring on those fermented foods!
After we create a balanced combination of acid and enzymes in our stomach acid, it’s time to start thinking about how to rebuild it with the “good bugs” or good bacteria. This is where prebiotics, probiotics, and fermented foods come to the rescue! Foods such as yogurt, pickles, kimchi, teas, and miso all are rich with good bacteria and probiotics. Filling our diet with them helps to build up an army of positive reinforcement by creating balanced intestinal microflora! Our intestinal microflora is all of those little microorganisms that help the digestive process stay afloat. Prebiotics are what feed those little guys a beneficial diet and keep them strong. Oligosaccharides and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), arabinogalactans, and soluble fiber are all prebiotics. These can all be found in whole foods! Oligosaccharides and FOS are both carbohydrates that are present in common foods such as bananas, garlic, and onions. Arabinogalactans are a type of soluble fiber that are found in foods like tomatoes, pears, and carrots. Soluble fiber sources can be apples, strawberries, and cucumbers. All of which are super delicious foods and turn out to be extremely beneficial to the human gut!
4) Repair ~ Heal that gut lining!
After taking the prior steps to create a balanced ecosystem in our stomach, it’s time to solidify the work by creating a strong stomach wall. That’s why the last step of the 4R program is repairing our stomach lining! When we have constant inflammation in the gut, particle build up can start to wear the stomach lining down and cause some painful problems like IBS or Crohn’s Disease. Maintaining a healthy diet free of allergens for sometimes up to six months reduces inflammation and will let the stomach restore its lining. There are also certain supplements that can aid in the restoration of the gut. L-Glutamine is one of the favorite foods of the cells that live in the small intestine. By feeding these cells their favorite meal, it can help speed up reproduction and encourage stomach lining to heal with more ease. As for an herbal approach, we recommend Marshmallow Root which is a demulcent. This means that Marshmallow Root is an anti-inflammatory herb that cools, soothes, and coats the gut wall; as it aids in healing the intestinal lining! How awesome!!
Thai Curry Carrot Soup
(this recipe has been adapted from the people over at Comfy Belly) ~ Serves: 4
- 2 TBL coconut oil
- 1 large onion
- 1 inch slice of fresh ginger, peeled and grated (equal to about 1 teaspoon)
- 1 inch slice of fresh turmeric, peeled & chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp curry
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 C broth of choice
- 2 lbs carrots, chopped into small pieces
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
- Add the oil to your pot, and let it warm to melted
- Add the onions and sauté for about 10 minutes, or until they’re becoming translucent
- Add the spices and salt to the onions, and mix well
- Add the broth and the carrots.
- Bring to the soup to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes or until carrots are tender throughout.
- Add coconut milk and stir until blended well.
- Optionally, add the lemon juice and stir to blend well.
- Blend the soup in a blender.
- Pour it into your bowls and serve it.
- You can try this recipe with goat cheese, lemon yogurt, pesto, roasted cauliflower rice, or just have it plain.
Looking for more help with your digestive health?
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*Always remember to contact your healthcare provider when considering the use of botanical medicine as a possible treatment option and the medical considerations. While the information in this article is absolutely relevant, herbs work differently for each person and each condition.
**I am a trained herbalist and not a licensed or registered healthcare practitioner. I cannot diagnose health conditions, nor prescribe medicines legally; I am not a medical doctor. However, I will recommend or suggest medicinal herbs for various health complaints, as I do believe in the safety and efficacy of botanical medicine.
***The information I’ve provided is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment. Please consult your medical care provider before using herbal medicine, particularly if you have a known medical condition or if you are pregnant or nursing.
About The Author: Katey Linkous
Katey was born and raised in the foothills around Mount Hood Oregon. She's a busy mama raising her new daughter, a yogi, an herbalist, and master tea blender. Katey has spent the last few years studying pre-med in preparation to become a naturopath, though she will be focusing on the joys of motherhood for now. She's passionate about sharing the powers of natural health and well being. She's awesome, and so are you!