By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
June 06, 2012
- What you should lose instead of weight
- Get your gut healthy and the rest of you will follow
- Working the 5R program to good gut health
Most of the new patients I see have gut problems.
Of course, they don’t always know it when they make that first appointment. They come because they have problems their regular doctor hasn’t been able to resolve. Or they come because they are at their wit’s end.
They come because they can’t sleep, but are tired. Because they can’t lose weight, no matter what they do. Because their immune system has turned on them. Because they don’t want to live the rest of their lives bouncing from one prescription drug to another.
And in most cases, when we apply the gut health program I’m going to tell you about today, the long list of complaints that brought them in vanishes.
If you have any health complaints whatsoever, no matter how vague or seemingly unrelated to your digestive system, you owe it to yourself to consider using the 5R’s on your gut…
A properly working gut is the root of all health. It’s the backbone of your entire system. And it’s required before you can take any other steps. Which means before you try to lose weight, or address your blood sugar, or take medication for your cholesterol – or just about anything else that isn’t a dire emergency – you should address your gut health.
As a Functional Medicine physician, I know that nothing I recommend for any disease or condition is going to work if my patient’s gut isn’t healthy. This is why just about every course of treatment I prescribe begins with the 5 R’s.
Unofficially, I think of this as my “Get a Gut” Program. Because in this culture where everyone is obsessed with losing their gut – in terms of weight – we don’t spend nearly enough time doing what it takes to get a healthy gut.
Here’s how you can get started today…
Word of caution: I highly suggest working this program with the guidance of a Functional Medicine physician. You can find one near you by visiting this link.
Get a Gut Tip #1) Remove: This program starts by removing anything from the gut that doesn’t belong there. This might include identifying food sensitivities, like gluten or dairy. Or removing parasites or “bad” bacteria. The best approach is to eliminate potential offenders, and note how it changes your digestion process.
By paying close attention to how you feel before you start the program, and after you remove potential gut stressors, you’ll know what needs to go… and what can stay.
You might be surprised to learn during this stage that what you thought was “normal” actually isn’t. Many people put up with gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and other gut problems, thinking they are part of the game. Just imagine not living with digestive discomfort or difficulty any longer!
Get a Gut Tip #2) Replace: One of the most persistent myths about digestion is that we have too much stomach acid. The truth is, most of us don’t have enough. Especially after the age of 35, when our levels of hydrochloric acid begin to decline. Then, doctors prescribe pills that deprive us even further.
That’s why the second step of this program focuses on replacing the necessary stomach acid and digestive enzymes you need for proper digestion.
If you are working this program with a physician, they will identify a replacement tailored to you after you’ve removed your gut’s stressors. Or, you can take a comprehensive digestive enzyme supplement to restore a healthy overall balance. Be sure to take digestive enzymes 30 minutes before a meal to get the maximum benefit.
Get a Gut Tip #3) Reinoculate: If you have taken even two or three rounds of antibiotics or penicillin in your lifetime, odds are good that you wiped out your beneficial bacteria long, long ago. I can’t state this strongly enough: If your gut is not adequately populated with bacteria, it won’t function properly.
Include more fermented products in your diet, such as miso, sauerkraut, and kimchee (a spicy Korean cabbage). And also, supplement with probiotics to re-colonize your gut with the necessary flora it needs to properly digest your food. I suggest a probiotic that is enteric-coated, so it survives your stomach acid and makes it all the way to your lower intestine before the bacteria is released. And also, be sure it has a wide variety of strains of friendly bacteria.
Get a Gut Tip #4) Repair: Most people have had undiagnosed, untreated gut imbalances for years. Which means some damage had been done to the lining of you gut and needs repair. Start by getting plenty of antioxidants in your diet. And also, choose a daily multivitamin that is high in antioxidants and phytonutrients since it can be difficult to get enough in your diet – especially when you are doing the extra work of repairing your gut.
I also recommend fish oil (3-4 grams/day), which creates a protective mucous that acts like a salve for the lining of your stomach. And the amino acid glutamine (6-10 grams/day), which helps your gut absorb water. This also supports the pancreas, liver, mouth and esophagus by providing something called positive cellular hydration – which is essential for all elements of the digestive system.
This step is critical because it generates the primary fuel source for the enterocytes, which are the cells lining the intestinal tract. It also can play a major role in protecting your liver from drugs. Everything from ibuprofen to stronger prescription meds comes with side effects, and many are tough on the liver, which processes all toxins. A strong healthy gut gives your body the best chance at protecting itself against the inevitable side effects that come with most drugs.
The fifth and final step of this program is perhaps the most important of all…
Finally, once you have restored your gut to a healthy state, you’ll want to keep it that way.
Get a Gut Tip #5) Rebalance: This means making healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly. And also, take steps to relieve daily stress. Whether you prefer yoga, meditation, or just deep breathing while you’re driving – keeping your stress down is one of the most important contributors to your gut health.
Don’t forget… every choice you make lands squarely in your gut. Make sure to make good ones.