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Gut health issues – fad or not fad?
Ten years ago, I would have told you that I thought this “gut health” fad was just that – a fad. (And I could absolutely not accept that everyone was suddenly coming down with “celiac” disease. As we advance medically, diseases should become less rampant, not more – right?)
And then my husband started having stomach aches every night and every morning. He started sleeping ALL THE TIME when he was at home. He was sort of… permanently unhappy. Not really depressed, but not himself either. He was too tired to do anything fun ever, and he was always sore all over (muscles/joints ect).
I really thought it must be stress from his job – I remember saying to him, “You can’t possibly have a stomach ache ALL THE TIME!” Eventually, it got so bad that he went to see a doctor. (And then I believed that it must be bad.)
And he got a diagnosis of Colitis – an inflammatory bowl disease.
Essentially, the doctor said, the intestinal villi were worn down in the lining of his gut, causing inflammation and ulcers. Even worse, in the long run though, was that the villi are supposed to absorb nutrients from your food.
Wrecked villi = wrecked nutrient absorption.
Wrecked nutrient absorption = nutritional deficiency = your body is getting weaker everyday.
Basically, the doctor said, unhealthy guts = unhealthy people. It’s not like having a broken wrist. The gut affects the entire body.
And what was the cause of this gut damage? Probably Grains. With their gluten. Maybe Antibiotics had thrown off his internal chemistry. Maybe getting E-coli (when we visited peru) had done some long term damage. A western diet high in processed foods and low in veggies could be to blame.
The fact was that it didn’t matter how his gut got damaged. A sick gut was making him sick. He wasn’t JUST having stomach aches, it was affecting his whole body.
So how come EVERYONE suddenly has gut health issues? (This was my question to the doctor.) And is it possible to heal your gut?
A LOT of things have changed in the last couple hundred years
What are just a few of the things we do now (that we didn’t do hundreds of years ago) that are damaging our intestines?
– Antibiotics are a big one. They’re an amazing medical advancement. Thousands of lives are saved every day thanks to them. But antibiotics can’t differentiate between the good bacteria in our bodies and the bad bacteria. They attack all the bacteria. The natural state of our guts are thrown violently off with even one course of antibiotics.
– Chlorinated drinking water is another. Chlorine also kills all bacteria, not just good bacteria.
– We are exposed to far more chemicals now than ever before – pesticides, medications, and even household cleaning products could be responsible for gut damage.
– We eat an excessive amount of processed foods. Pasteurized foods no longer contain bad bacteria – OR good bacteria. Studies are suggesting that our huge intake of saturated fats can mess with our internal flora and cause inflammatory bowl diseases (source). Bad bacteria feeds on our high sugar diets and flourishes in our guts.
– We eat genetically modified food. For some, the jury is out as to if this is affecting our digestive system, but I don’t see why there couldn’t be a relationship between GMO foods and the increasing incidence of gut disease.
There are other possible causes for our current gut health struggles, like excess alcohol intake, excess stress, a sedentary lifestyle or even past surgeries that caused damage to our intestines. Regardless of the cause of your unhealthy gut, you need to fix it if you want to feel good.
If you suspect you have a damaged gut, What can you do to fix it?
(Of course you should see your doctor and get a proper diagnosis, and talk to him about your issues.) But there are lots of things you can do at home to heal a damaged gut / imbalanced intestinal flora.
First of all, remember that if your gut is damaged you probably aren’t absorbing the nutrients from your food – even if you’re eating GREAT food! So switching cold turkey to a diet of salads and raw veggies isn’t even always the answer for healing your gut. Some raw veggies are actually really hard for a damaged gut to digest. Educating yourself on gut health is one of the most life changing things you can do.
For a COMPLETE gut health education for less than 50$, consider this Gut Health Super Bundle. It includes the Heal Your Gut Summit (which is regularly 99$), the How to Heal a Broken Gut Masterclass by Spark Health ($27.00 normally) and 23 other gut health courses and books. This thing is a steal – check it out here!
5 things you can do at home to help heal your gut
Replenish the good bacteria in your gut
You can supplement with high quality (preferably human strain) probiotic supplements (this is the brand my husband is taking re doctors orders). You can also help to populate good bacteria in your gut with foods that naturally contain good bacteria – fermented foods. Home made milk kefir (or water kefir). RAW apple cider vinegar, Kombucha, sauerkraut ect- but don’t cook them! Heating the fermented food kills the bacteria.
Cut back on sugar
Sugar feeds the bad bacteria in our bodies, and starving them out will only help you! It also increases inflammation, and inflammation is never good. Other “bad” things that generally weaken your body – like alcohol or saturated fats, are also detrimental to your gut. Cut WAY back on these.
Cut out difficult to digest foods
Allow internal sores to heal. Steam broccoli, cauliflower, carrots ect before eating, leave grains (including corn) out all together (phytic acid – found in grains – can irritate an already suffering gut even more), and limit red meats. These changes don’t necessarily HAVE to be forever. But you do want to let yourself heal.
Take good quality nutritional supplements
…until your body is able to absorb vitamins and minerals from food. Your body needs these nutrients to heal, but struggles to get them from food if your digestive system is really badly damaged. This has been the most expensive part of healing G’s gut – but it’s also made a huge difference in his energy levels and general body soreness.
He takes a liquid B vitamin, a liquid magnesium, a liquid mineral supplement, and L-glutamine. (Those links are to the specific brands that we use in our home.) L-glutamine, an amino acid, is especially powerful in helping to heal the gut. Studies have shown that it is essential to repairing damage in the intestines (source). It also has some other pretty awesome benefits, like muscle growth promotion, curbing cravings for sugar and alcohol, improving blood sugar and fighting cancer, just to name a few.
Try bone broth and aloe vera juice to sooth & heal
Neither one is necessarily going to be your favorite food – but these two things are incredibly soothing and healing to a digestive system that needs some love. Bone broth is packed full of healing, good for you things (- like collagen, proline, glycine, glutamine, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, chondroitin sulfate, and glucosamine, according to Dr. Axe). Make your own bone broth at home to ensure that you’re not getting any nasty MSG or other additives in it. Here’s a fantastic article on how to make your own bone broth (and why you should) by Jessica @ The Real Food Dietitians.
Aloe vera juice is the other one – particularly good for bad stomach ache caused by IBS, Crones, Colitis ect. It’s very soothing, but it also has a host of other benefits – it’s a natural anti-inflammatory (if your gut is damaged, you can bet that inflammation is a problem for you), it encourages the growth of good bacteria, and it helps to keep you regular (something you REALLY want while healing your gut – or anytime. Having food just hanging around in your digestive tract fermenting is NEVER GOOD!).
Recently I purchased Dr. Eric Zielinski’s Heal your Gut Summit – and I SO WISH I had this resource when we first started learning about Gut health. We spent over $2000 (and many many hours) on meetings with a nutritional doctor who taught us about gut health. This is the information I wished for, shared by more than 30 gut health experts from around the globe. They give you the evidence-based tools you need to heal your gut, and it’s less than 100 bucks. (But you should not purchase it on it’s own – it comes in that Gut Health Bundle I mentioned for literally half the price!)
The summit talks about how to address
- Allergies & Food Sensitivities
- Autoimmune Disorders
- Brain Fog
- Candida & Chronic Yeast Overgrowth
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Chronic Pain
- Depression & Anxiety
- Hormone Imbalance
- Inflammatory Disorders
- Irritable Bowel & Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Skin Conditions
- Thyroid Problems
- Weight Gain
- And more!
Learn more about Dr. Eric Zielinski’s Heal your Gut Summit here. (But remember, the Gut Health Super Bundle I mentioned is less than 50$ and the Heal your Gut Summit COMES WITH IT.)
Have you tried any of these methods to heal your gut? What else have you found that works for you?? While G is on his way to recovery – almost no stomachaches anymore – we are still diligent when it comes to what we eat and what we don’t, and at this point we still think the supplements he takes are a worth while investment. Life’s too short to feel crappy all the time, and I’m SO excited that we’ve managed to find the cause of his issues and take steps to fix them.
70 thoughts on “If Your Gut Is Sick, You Are Sick – 5 Ways to Heal Your Gut”
Great article! Thanks for the tips on how to heal a sick gut! I will be trying them. I would like to see you change one item though. Near the beginning of your article, you mention some causes of a sick gut. You listed Crones. Coming from someone that has suffered from this unforgiveable disease for over 35 years . . . it is Crohn’s Disease. Guess I am being sensitive. Had a friend (who I thought I was close enough to to know the difference) call it Chromes last night to my face. Just trying to bring awareness. It is a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease that was “discovered” by Dr. Crohn. That’s how it got its stupid name! lol! Thanks, Lori
I will change that Lori 🙂 (It doesn’t even offend my when someone gets MY name wrong – so I would never have noticed that I spelled it wrong.) I hope some of the tips can help you out.
Hi Carly Thank you sooooo much ,I’ve suffered with gut promlems ,heavy bleeding , anxiety n recently hiatus hernia so your advice makes me feel happier to get a sense of why I’ve been suffering for 7yrs Thanks???
O Claudette, that’s awful and I hope you can find some relief by learning about gut health! Interesting that you mention the hernia – my husband had a hernia as well and there are some doctors that believe that IBD of any sort makes your more susceptible to hernia!
Hopefully I’m asking this question clearly and don’t leave you scratching your head. Several years ago my annual blood test showed a low level of B-12. My doctor ask if I eat a lot of red meat and chicken. I do not eat much red meat, but do eat baked chicken and other fowl (turkey, Cornish Hen, etc.) He told me to eat more red meat (which I didn’t) and to take B-12 vitamin pills everyday (which I did). A blood test in six months returned the same result, low level of B-12. He told me some people have a condition where “something” in the upper intestines or lower stomach attacks and destroys the B-12 before it can be absorbed. I now get a B-12 shot every month to bypass the stomach. I have researched and can’t find anything about what the attackers are and my doctor can’t seem to explain it in an understandable way. While I do not have any of the symptoms you mention, I wondered if G’s doctor ever mentioned anything ‘attacking’ certain vitamins.
Where do I get aloe Vera juice to buy. Which is the best probiotics to buy
HI Juliet – I have links to both those thing in the post above, but your local health food store would also carry them 🙂 Human Strain probiotics are probably the best to buy.
Hi Sharon, I had a similar problem which I struggled with for more than 5 yrs where I had pernicious anemia and low B12. I took B12 shots every month and daily iron tablets. I was tired of the B12 injections I started to take the sublingual tablets. Eventually a friend of mine told me about his doctor who told me I had H Pylori bacteria in my stomach as well parasites. I was treated and the bloating and uneasiness disappeared. My B12 and my iron levels have improved and I am no longer on any treatment.
Hi Carly! I looked at the signs of an unhealthy gut and I suffer from most of them. I have been eating a diet based on my Blood Type which has helped so much. I am not able to use the ACV, but I do drink kefir and have been checked out by my doctor. I primarily eat fish, poultry, and non-starchy veggies and fruits. I avoid dairy because it causes allergies and avoid acidic foods because it causes acid reflux. Due to these changes, I have been able to stop taking daily allergy and acid reflux medicine. Since switching to the Eat Riight For Your Blood Type, I have also been able to reduce my pain medication and have increased energy. I’m implementing your ideas into my diet now. Thanks again.
Hi Susan!! I think MOST of us suffer with at least some unhealthy gut symptoms!! I hope you’re feeling better soon… (And ya for reduced meds! Those are NOT great long term hey?! )
that is very educative! Our health starts and ENDS in our GUT.
Wish All of You a lot of Health
Hi Carly! Thank you so much for the detailed article! Very informative. Can you tell me how you and your husband decided on the brand of probiotics and supplements he takes? There are so many choices to pick from, it’s hard to know what’s right. Did his doctor make the recommendation? Also, did he see a MD or a functional medicine doctor? Thanks so much!
-HI Meredith! The brand he takes was the brand that the dr. recommended yes – these are the brand I suggest in the post – and he sees a dr of nutrition, because we didn’t want to treat with steroids 🙂
Great post about how to heal a sick gut! Thanks for posting this informative content.
Sleeping better, exercising and eating healthier will also help lower your stress. When you’re stressed out what happens? You want to eat! So, getting your stress levels under control, keeping your goals in perspective and focusing on taking good care of yourself will help with your successful weight loss.
Yes these are all good tips!
You mentioned you guys suffered a bad case of e-coli. My family all had a really bad stomach virus that was food poisoning related about a year ago and ever since then my kids especially have been off track. They will get cycles of times where they are having gut issues like vomiting and diarrhea. And other times it will clear up and they will act fine. I’m wondering if it all went downhill after contracting the illness. They seem to be triggered by certain foods like dairy. I am thinking the illness wiped their digestive system (and yes they have also had antibiotics in their lifetime too) so all of that seems to be contributing to their health problems. I new to learning all of the basics to gut health and this is something that seems like a good source to try. Some of those links you posted were not working for me. I’m in the process of trying to get my son seen by an allergy specialist and he has been seen by his ped but she seems to be pretty clueless on what steps I should take to help them. 🙁
This was very helpful, I had a mesh hernia repair on 12/27/19, in Jan I started having anxiety panic attacks depression, bad stomach aches in the middle of night, long fight found out I have H pylori, a sliding hita hernia, now in mid April I was retested for h pylori they said negative but I’m still suffering from stomach aches pains and discomfort from the hitia hernia, I’m gonna look into what you’ve posted to start adding some changes, I barley eat nothing due to discomfort.
Now I’m reading about others with h prylori and the hitia hernia my doctor didn’t provide a lot of information I’m forced to do my own research, but sadly he mentioned a lot of Americans suffer from both of these, they did it say if one goes with the other(?) odd…