All you need to do is remove, replace, replenish and repair.
How to care for your gut with the four R’s
When it comes to healing the gut it can be divided in four stages called “The Four R’s”. The Four R’s are: Remove, Replace, Replenish, and Repair to help heal your gut–a concept created by Dr. Jeffrey S. Bland, “the father of functional medicine.” I have organized each tip to fall under one of the four R’s.
First step to heal your gut health is removing the things that could be irritating it! This step is critical because you could be providing your gut with all the right things but if you’re sensitive to certain foods or still loading up on unprocessed goodies, you may still experience problems. You wouldn’t fill a gas tank with some premium gas and then fill the rest with the worst kind, right?
1. Test for food sensitivities
If you have unknown food sensitivities you could still run into gut issues. If your body reacts to certain foods it often creates problems with your digestion, bloating, gas, headaches, and even inflammation (acne, swelling, pain). One way to figure out what foods could be irritating you is to keep a food journal. If you log your meals you could possibly notice a trend in what you ate and how you’re feeling. I recommend taking a food sensitivity test though because it allows you to be tested for multiple foods at once with lab results!
For example, when I got my results back I found out I was sensitive to dairy, green beans, brewer’s yeast (wine and beer), egg yolk, and even lamb! If I had recorded all this in a food journal I wouldn’t have known if it was the egg yolk in my omelet or the stuff inside. Taking a test helps you pinpoint the problem.
Although I had my original test done by my doctor, I plan to take EverlyWell’s At-Home Food Sensitivity Test because it checks how you react to 96 different foods! A wider variety than my first test.
2. Cut back on processed foods
Many processed foods are loaded with additive chemicals, sugar or artificial sweeteners, and have been stripped of the original whole food’s nutrients. When these foods enter your digestive system, it adds bad bacteria and feeds the ones that are already in there. This can result in leaky gut syndrome, inflammation, even chronic diseases!
I realize cutting back on processed foods can be tough because it’s a part of the common everyday diet, but the key is to find healthier alternatives. For example, instead of white flour choose whole wheat. Instead of sugar loaded granola bars choose minimally processed ones. Making this switch can be extremely helpful to heal your gut health.
You’ll notice as you transition off the processed foods, you’ll stop craving them as much and saying no becomes easier.
3. Eat a variety of whole-food plants
One of the easiest ways to improve your gut health is by EATING! Now that’s the prescription I want from my doctor. Plants have an amazing abundance of quality nutrients for our gut such as prebiotics. Prebiotics feed the good gut bacteria, helping to crowd out the bad. Plants are also the only source you can get quality fiber from, which is essential to sweeping the gut of parasitic bacteria and other gunk–becoming poop.
Some examples of prebiotic foods are asparagus, apples, bananas, and onions—mostly fruits and vegetables.
You want those parasitic bacteria’s out of your gut and one of the best ways to do that is to replenish it with billions of the good guys!
4. Eat Probiotic foods
One way to load your body up with bacteria that will heal your gut health is through fermented foods. These are yogurt, kefir, kombucha, refrigerated sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh and miso. It’s important to note though that you want quality versions of all these items. No added sugar, oils, preservatives, etc. or you could be doing more harm than good.
5. Take a probiotic supplement
The goal with the gut bacteria is to bring back harmony among the organisms that live in there. That’s why it’s often recommended to take a probiotic supplement if you’re experiencing an imbalance. It sends in the troops of good bacteria to help wipe out the bad.
When choosing a probiotic you want one that has about 2 billion strains of bacteria. It’s recommended to get one that has the strains of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces Boulardii in it. It’s also worth purchasing a more expensive name brand probiotic that has been researched.
Chances are if you’re taking your gut health seriously it’s because you’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. So as you go through the motions of replacing, repairing, and replenishing you also want to heal the damage that was already done.
6. Take a gut healing supplement
You can only get so many nutrients packed into your meal a day so although I promote eating foods to get most of what your body needs, sometimes supplements can give you those extra nutrients missing.
When it comes to healing or even simply maintaining a healthy gut, it’s worth taking a supplement like Thorne’s Enteromend. I personally take this powder because it promotes healing the gut lining with L-glutamine and Aloe Vera, decreases inflammation with curcumin (compound of turmeric), and helps the colon and digestive tract.
Once you start following these steps to heal your gut health, you may start to notice immediate changes! After about 3 weeks you could start to feel better and by 3 months of true commitment, your gut can be healed. Just remember that once you’re feeling better, you may want to keep with the new regimen to prevent problems from coming back.