A few weeks ago, we shared with you some of what we have learned about a functional nutrition approach to gut healing from content expert Dianne Rishikof, MS, RDN, LDN, IFNCP, and author of the “Health Takes Guts” e-guide. We discussed some key problems that can occur in the gut that may lead to further health issues.  If you would like a refresher, you can read the post here.

In part two this week, we explore the 5 R protocol for healing the gut.  This approach focuses on treating the root cause of a problem, not just addressing the symptoms.  Let’s take a look at the 5 Rs together and investigate some possible symptoms and solutions – fair warning, some graphic details about bodily functions are highlighted here.  Please note, it is important that you consult with a credentialed healthcare professional in identifying problems, causes, and solutions related to your personal gut health. You should not implement this protocol without advise from your practitioner:

REMOVE:  Remove the foods and microbes that compromise the gut, causing dysbiosis and inflammation. This includes removing irritants, foods which you have sensitivity to, and harmful microbes that may cause inflammation.

  • Irritants that can promote inflammation include NSAIDs, like aspirin and ibuprofen, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, highly-processed foods, refined starches, food additives, and artificial sweeteners.
  • An elimination diet may be necessary in identifying food sensitivities that can contribute to the root cause of an ailment.  Common sensitivities and trigger foods include gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, nuts, FODMAPs, nightshade vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, yeast, and histamine.
  • Removing harmful microbes may be necessary for some individuals, but not others. It is best to discuss your options with your healthcare practitioner. Your treatment may be guided by testing for harmful pathogens and infections.

REPLACE:  Replacing everything you need for optimal digestion and overall health may include replacing stomach acid, digestive enzymes, bile, and nutrients as well as restoring cleansing waves in the gut.

  • Adequate Stomach acid is essential for digestion.  Sign that you may be deficient include frequent belching, bloating, undigested food in waste, and constipation. Deficiencies in vitamins B12 and and iron could also be signs of low stomach acid.  Supplementation recommendations can be explored with your healthcare provider.
  • Symptoms of low digestive enzymes  may include bloating after meals that lasts for 1-3 hours, feeling of “rocks” in stomach, flatulence, and cramping.  Digestive enzymes come as supplements and can be taken while rebuilding gut health.
  • Indications that you may need to replace bile include gall bladder removal, sluggish gall bladder, foul smelling stools that float, diarrhea, and pain in left side under rib cage. There are many supplements that can help with bile replacement and gall bladder function.
  • People who have compromised digestion and absorption are at risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. A good quality multivitamin may be necessary and it is a good idea to get vitamin D levels tested.

REPAIR:  It is important to repair damage to the intestinal wall. Killing off harmful microbes and removing foods that irritate or inflame the wall will help, but specific repair work will maximize the healing of the gut. There are several foods and supplements that may encourage repair:

  • Gelatin and bone broth: These contain collagen and amino acids that strengthen the gut wall. They can be bought at some grocery stores and may also be found in the freezer section. You can make your own bone broth at home with cow or chicken bones.
  • L-glutamine: This amino acid is the fuel of choice for the cells lining the intestinal wall. One to three grams per day can help the cells repair.
  • Colostrum: This is produced by mammals shortly after giving birth and provides babies with highly concentrated immune and growth support. Colostrum from cows can be found in supplement form and can help to heal the injured lining of the gut.
  • Zinc carnosine: In doses of 75 mg per day, this has been shown in studies to heal leaky gut.

RE-INOCULATE:  After removing harmful bacteria, beneficial ones should be introduced to achieve the desired balance in the microbiome. This can be done in several ways.

  • Probiotics – Probiotics are live bacteria that have health benefits. Probiotics can be taken as supplements or can be found in fermented foods. Common fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, miso, natto, yogurt, kefir, and kombucha. The strains of probiotics that are supported by the most research include L. plantarum, L. salivarius, L. rhamnosis, B. infantis, B. longum, B. lactis, L. acidophilus, S. thermophilus, and S. boulardii.
  • Prebiotics – Prebiotics are food for probiotics. All plant foods contain prebiotics, but the richest sources of prebiotics include bananas (under ripe), apples, jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, inulin, onion, garlic, leeks, asparagus, berries, kiwis, pears, cherries, mangoes, leafy greens, flax seeds, lentils, quinoa, oats, chickpeas, black beans, and carrots.
  • Polyphenols are antioxidants that prevent diseases and can improve brain function, focus, and attention. They also feed the good bacteria and increase the diversity and strength of the microbiome. Some foods high in polyphenols include cranberry, pomegranate, black elderberry, dried herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme), ginger, quercetin, green tea (EGCG), black tea, green olives, black olives, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, kale, broccoli, cherries, and dark chocolate [yay!]

RELAX:  Stress management can help minimize the harmful effects of stress. Stress feeds the bad bacteria, contributes to leaky gut, and increases inflammation.

  • Exercise, sleep, meditation, cognitive behavioral theory, and some supplements can help manage stress. Here are some everyday relaxation tips:
    • Practice deep breathing. Breathe in for a count of 6, and breathe out for a count of 8. Repeat.
    • Listen to music
    • Get some fresh air and sunshine
    • Laugh
  • It goes without saying that in our digitally-driven world being “connected” 24/7 can take its toll.  Make a conscious effort to regularly disconnect from electrical devices for blocks of time.

If you would like to explore this functional nutrition approach to healing your gut, reach out to us and we will introduce you to a practitioner who is trained in functional nutrition.

If you are a healthcare professional looking to offer our Nutrition and Gut Healing Course to your clients, please contact us.