The digestive system is really the corner stone of our wellbeing, as it is involved in so many processes. If our digestive system is in order, we feel great and can push towards doing all the right things to achieve optimal health both physically and mentally. When it is not, we can end up with impaired immune and nervous systems and wreak havoc on hormone function.
The digestive and the other systemsof the body aren’t independent of one another. When your gut is unhealthy, it can cause more than just stomach pain, gas, bloating, or diarrhea. Because 60-80% of our immune system is located in our gut, gut imbalances have been linked to hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema, rosacea, and other chronic health problems.
So how do we heal our digestive system naturally? By applying what is known in functional medicine, as the fourRs – Remove, Replace and Reinoculate:
Remove all the foods from your diet that negatively impact the gut, such as inflammatory foods (gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, and sugar) that can lead to food sensitivities. Also remove irritants like alcohol, caffeine and drugs.
An overabundance of sugary juices and sodas, refined carbohydrates (e.g. bread, pasta, rice, etc.) and alcohol can cause harmful bacteria and yeasts to proliferate and “choke out” the beneficial bacteria, leading to symptoms like gas and bloating, belching, foggy thinking, low energy and more.
Replace the essential ingredients for proper digestion and absorption that may have been depleted by diet, drugs (such as antacid medications) diseases or aging. This includes digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and bile acids that are required for proper digestion.
Reinoculate your gut with healthy bacteria byincorporating fermented foods into your diet as a way to aid digestion and improve health through the immune-boosting benefits of the probiotics they contain. Dietary supplements are also the way to go with this step to ensure the “good” and “bad” bacteria in the digestive tract is balanced in a healthy way.
Repair the structural integrity of the stomach and digestive tract which is lost to a condition known as “leaky gut syndrome”. This is when the cells that create the barrier against food getting into the bloodstream become damaged, thus allowing large undigested food particles (and chemicals) to be released systemically. As a result, the body can mount an immune response in reaction to these “foreign” and undigested chemicals causing a whole host of symptoms, especially allergic reactions leading to systemic inflammation.
While everyone doesn’t necessarily need to go through all of these steps in order to feel better, implementing at least one (usually replace or reinoculate) can be the difference between success and failure. Changing the diet alone is usually not sufficient enough to feel and function better, especially if your condition is chronic.