I’ve had my fair share of gut problems, just like the next American. When things are functioning well, it’s easy to forget about how important your gut is, but when things start to go wrong, you definitely feel it. Gut issues have been linked into autoimmune disease, migraines, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, allergies, gas, bloating, lethargy, acne, and obesity just to name a few.
So it’s no surprise that in functional medicine, doctors look at our gut first to heal a variety of health ailments and disease. This is the center of our health, or in eastern medicine our“qi” energy, second brain, or intuition. Our gut holds 85% of our immune system, and his home to 100 trillion bacteria which is our first line of defense against outside irritants and pollutants.
If you do anything for your health, heal your gut first, and your body will naturally take care of the rest. After years of experimenting, I have found the three best things that keep my gut super healthy, and that continue to fortify my immune system every day:
Follow functional medicine’s 4 R program: Remove, Replace, Reinoculate, Repair
No matter what your health issue is, the 4R program will help you heal. First, Remove the bad. Get rid of things that negatively affect the environment of the GI tract such as inflammatory foods – gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs and sugar. Caffeine, alcohol and drugs also irritate our gut lining and should be consumed in moderation. Second, Replace the good. Add back in essential ingredients to help aid digestion – this includes digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid, that are required for proper digestion. I also like Apple cider vinegar for this step. Third, Reinoculate and restore the beneficial bacteria to reestablish a healthy balance of good bacteria. Take a probiotic supplement, or kefir, plain yogurt, or fermented vegetables (more on that later in this article). Lastly, Repair with either supplements such as L-glutamine or even a good bone broth (more below) which helps to rejuvenate the gut wall lining.
It’s no surprise Bone Broth is a LA Lakers superfood and helps players like Kobe Bryant stay on top of his game. Bone broth is liquid gold, helping to restore healthy mucosal lining in the gut, maintain strong healthy joints, fight inflammation, and give you healthy plump, gorgeous skin. I like to make my own, because sometimes the stuff in the store isn’t the real thing. Try to drink 1-3 cups a day - the more the better. And you can freeze a batch or in ice cube trays for easy access. I love this recipe by Wellness Mama. Check it out!
Kefir and Cultured Vegetables
Even better than a probiotic supplements, cultured veggies and kefir are perfect for optimizing your gut flora and keeping the good guys in and the bad guys out. My husband and I have been experimenting with cultured veggies and kefir at home. Very easy, you can get the 32 oz mason jars and the kefir grain/cultured vegetable starter kits off amazon – and once you get the hang of it it’s inexpensive and fun to do with the whole family. I like Dr Mercola’s article How to culture your own veg and The Candida Diet How to make your own Kefir. Happy fermenting!