Tag Archives: food sensitivities

Steps to Heal the Gut from Food Sensitivities

Since I help a lot of people with their gastrointestinal issues, I frequently get the question “Can we recover from our food sensitivities?”

The answer is yes and no. I often see people who are reacting to multiple foods. I explain that there is usually one major food like gluten that is creating inflammation in the gut. Because of this inflammation or leaky gut or some other factor we don’t understand yet, we can develop secondary sensitivities to other foods that we eat frequently like blueberries, coconut, or avocado. I have seen these food reactions decrease by avoiding these problem foods and using a gut healing protocol. Often, the original culprit like gluten or dairy still needs to be avoided, but the other secondary reaction foods can be added back after an appropriate time.

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Here are the basic steps of my gut healing protocol:

Step 1: Reduce Inflammation

In addition to cutting problem foods out of our diet, we sometimes need to examine the balance of organisms growing in the gut. Inappropriate bacteria and fungi growing in the GI tract can cause conditions such as dysbiosis or SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). These issues are often intertwined with food sensitivities and contribute to the inflammation that is fueling our discomfort. Depending on the case, I might use an anti-microbial herbal blend or encourage increased consumption of inflammation fighters like fish oil and turmeric.

Step 2: Replace Good Bacteria

Inadequate beneficial gut bacteria are often associated with food reactions. Rebuild these populations by taking probiotic supplements or emphasizing fermented foods in the diet. Also include foods that are rich in prebiotics, nutrients that help probiotic organisms thrive. Finally, cut sugar out of the diet. Not only does it increase inflammation, but it can also feed troublesome organisms in the gut.

Step 3: Strengthen Digestion

There are numerous ways to improve our digestion. Depending on the person, I might recommend digestive enzymes or bitters. Stress can also wreak havoc on our ability to digest our food, so choose appropriate stress reduction activities unless you are one of those few people who aren’t stressed out.

Step 4: Repair the Gut Lining

Feed the cells that line the gastrointestinal tract with glutamine powder. As their preferred energy source, glutamine can help these cells replicate and repair themselves. N-acetylglucosamine is also used to rebuild the protective mucus layer of the GI tract. Some probiotics like Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG actually encourage replication of intestinal cells and stimulates the production of this protective mucus layer.

I am not saying that this type of plan is either fast or easy, but with some diligence, we can turn around many of our health issues by taking care of our gut.

Food Sensitivities and Gut Healing

Food reactions come in different forms and depending on the type of reaction, can contribute to other health issues. Everyone knows about food allergies such as the well-publicized reactions some people have to peanuts. These reactions are similar to seasonal allergies but can be more extreme. There are also food intolerances where the person lacks the necessary enzymes to digest a food. The most common of these is lactose intolerance. Alternately, a person could be sensitive to the protein in milk known as casein. These reactions, called food sensitivities, are caused by antibodies being produced against a food and can lead to delayed reactions occurring hours to days after that food is eaten. The resulting inflammation in the gut can contribute to further reactions to additional foods. For instance, lactose intolerance frequently develops with celiac disease, a specific antibody reaction to wheat that causes the body to attack itself. Often with food sensitivities, there is additional damage to the gut such as inflammation and increased intestinal permeability, better known as leaky gut. In turn, leaky gut has been associated with numerous conditions such as asthma, eczema, and even depression.

After the offending food has been removed from the diet, it is often important to support a healthy intestinal barrier with nourishing supplements like probiotics, glutamine, and N-acetyl glucosamine. Probiotics have numerous gastrointestinal benefits, but in the case of food sensitivities, we use probiotics for their help in reducing inflammation and malabsorption. It has also been shown that children with food allergies tend to have different gut flora than those without the allergies. Glutamine is an amino acid that is the preferred food source of the cells that line the digestive tract. Thus glutamine helps gastrointestinal cells have the necessary energy for repair and healthy replication. N-acetyl glucosamine is a variation of the common joint support supplement glucosamine. N-acetyl glucosamine is a building block to help support the body’s creation of a healthy mucosal layer in the gut to protect the cells from enzymes, acids, and bacterial toxins while allowing the selective absorption of nutrients. Using a combination of supplements such as these can be an important step in restoring a healthy gut, which in turns supports overall wellbeing.