In this second part of the Leaky Gut Series, I’m writing up 8 ways you can remedy and prevent leaky gut. To get a basic understanding, go back and read Leaky Gut: A Simple Explanation.
These are things that work for me and my family. Most of them are popular remedies for leaky gut, but they might not work for everyone. I encourage you to do your research and create your own healthy gut habits. It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself and your loved ones!
8 Ways To Protect Digestive Health
1) Reduce grains, especially wheat
Grains are not in and of themselves bad, but if the intestines are inflamed, they can be irritating and abrasive. The peskiest of all is wheat, which is high in gluten and hard to avoid since it is so prevalent in our food system. For some tips on reducing wheat and gluten, read my post How We Reduce Gluten Without Strain or Deprivation.
Reducing grains may seem like a huge sacrifice, but once you get used to filling up on fresh vegetables, meats and healthy fats, it becomes second nature. In fact, while I was writing this post today at Whole Foods I noticed that the lunch I had chosen was almost entirely grain free! Meatloaf (probably included a little grain), collards, steamed cabbage & carrots, roasted cauliflower, kale salad, artichoke hearts and olives. Totally hit the spot!
2) Take a stand against sugar
Sugar feeds bad bacteria and is a major cause of inflammation. Indulge less frequently (and when you do, make it count). Replace refined sugars with natural sweeteners such as raw honey, grade B maple syrup, sucanat and coconut palm sugar.
3) Eat healthy, nourishing fats
As you reduce the amount of grains and sugar you eat you might notice that you are hungry. And this is where the healthy fats come in:
- Plop some butter on your potato. Or use ghee, a clarified butter that contains no casein.
- Find ways to use coconut oil, an amazing superfood. You can even eat it by the teaspoonful (start slowly!)
- Drizzle fresh olive, flax, avocado or walnut oil on your salads.
- Spoon some delectable fatty juices from your roasted chicken over your (small) portion of rice.
- Avoid canola, sunflower or safflower oils.
The caveat here is that you may need to transition slowly if you are used to eating a low fat diet. But once you get accustomed to eating natural fats, they are super nourishing on your digestive tract.
4) Incorporate collagen or gelatin
The amino acids in gelatin and collagen closely resemble the makeup of the gut lining. You can use gelatin to make gummies and “jello”, whereas collagen is better for mixing into drinks, warm or cold. It is direct nourishment. You can take it as a supplement, make fruit juice gelatin, or make soups from a homemade broth or stock.
The gelatin we buy is Great Lakes Gelatin, which the company claims is grass fed and free of hormones and antibiotics. It may seem pricey, but this stuff lasts FOREVER. We are still on our first container that I ordered last summer and have since used to make countless batches of fruit-juice gelatin. I also occasionally put a spoonful in my hot green tea (with a little lemon and honey).
5) Get your probiotics in
An unhealthy balance of gut bacteria will contribute to the deterioration of the intestinal lining. Good bacteria not only keeps the bad bacteria in check, but it physically repairs the gut lining. Be sure you include them in your diet!
When we take probiotics in supplement form, we use is this brand (still a great deal on Amazon!)
We also include many probiotic-rich foods in our diet including raw apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut and cultured pickles. Read my post 6 No-Work Ways We Get Our Probiotics In Every Day.
6) Use swedish bitters
My family has been using swedish bitters for generations. I really need to do a whole write-up about it. Swedish bitters work to relieve indigestion immediately. They also contribute to the repair and preservation of the gut lining. I highly recommend trying them out!
7) Reduce stress
What relaxes you and keeps you in balance? For me, it’s a little yoga, a hot bath, dancing (very unprofessionally) and reading. As for my spirit, the best way to nurture it is by spending time in scripture, prayer and reflection. Jesus lived a worry free existence despite carrying out an enormous amount of work under an extreme amount of pressure. This was because he prayed and always pursued the will of The Father. I do best by imitating him.
8) Research gut healing protocols
If you are dealing with major or longstanding issues, there are several amazing gut healing protocols out there. Look into the GAPS diet, the paleo lifestyle, or the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). Here are my top two book recommendations.
- Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia is an excellent resource written by Natasha Campbell McBride MD, MMedSci (neurology), MMedSci (nutrition). She developed this protocol to heal her son’s autism when she found no help within her own medical community. It’s pretty dense. You can also skip over all of the scientific background and just get to the protocol and recipes.
- A more accessible read (and a tad less pricey) is Digestive Health with REAL Food. It is packed with excellent information that is easy-to-understand and laid out in a clean, visually-appealing format.
9) And a bonus – glutamine in the form of cabbage juice
Oops! Soon after I published this I remembered a highly effective traditional remedy I wanted to include. According to this medical review, a lack of the amino acid glutamine can result in the deterioration of the gut lining. CABBAGE JUICE is a major source of glutamine. Read more about it here in this Kiwi-Apple-Cabbage Tonic post. It’s truly remarkable!
Feature photo credit: Dylan Luder