Yesterday we started a two part series on Restoring Digestive Health (READ PART 1). I explained that the functional medicine approach to restoring digestive health is called the 4 R's of Digestive Health. Here are the final 2 R's.
4 R’s of Restoring Diegestive Health, Part 2
Refers to the reintroduction of "friendly" or desirable gastrointestinal bacteria through the use of probiotics. Probiotic supplements contain high concentrations of beneficial bacteria. Not all probiotics are the same. The encapsulated bacteria must be able to survive the trip through the highly acidic stomach in order to be viable when it is time to implant in the intestinal lining.
- These guys are really important! You want a good strong probiotic supplement with a wide variety of strains.
- This is where the probiotic (fermented) foods also come in that I mentioned above. Eat plenty of fermented vegetables, kombucha tea, coconut kefir, yogurt and plain kefir.
Refers to nutrients which need to be provided for cellular repair and functioning of the gastrointestinal mucosal cells. In a normal, healthy intestine, the friendly bacteria produce molecules which directly nourish the cells lining the intestinal wall. With the loss of the beneficial bacteria, the cells lining the intestine literally starve to death. Small gaps between cells, normally sized perfectly to allow the transport of the proper sized molecules in and out of the intestine, then enlarge so that larger molecules, such as undigested food particles and pathogens, can infiltrate the body. This leads to allergies, fatigue, IBS, and other chronic conditions. In order to return your intestine to its healthful, well-functioning status, specific nutrients are required.
- L-glutamine is an amino acid that actually helps rebuild the lining of your intestinal tract. It comes as a powder that you should have first thing in the morning and at night before bed.
- Fructo-oligosacharides (FOS) are actually types of fiber that your body does not digest, but they are considered food for the good bacteria. This is what’s called a PREBIOTIC. Sometimes they come in a formula with the probiotics, but are usually taken separately. They help the good bacteria stick to your gut. Some people have a bad reaction due to some bad bacteria that feeds on FOS, so if bloating persists after 1-2 weeks of taking product, you may need to quit.
- Jerusalem artichoke, jicama and chicory are good inulin sources. Inulin is a prebiotic food.
- Ginger is naturally healing to the gut and can be used in food or in tea form. Drink it liberally.
I recommend following this plan for at least four weeks, but six weeks is better. If you were experiencing digestive distress prior to this program, you should see some signiﬁcant improvement in your digestion by now. Those with severe allergies, or possible gluten related conditions may need the program longer.