Our gastrointestinal, or gut, health is very near to our hearts—both physically and emotionally. It’s difficult to enjoy life to the fullest on an upset stomach. Even more important is the role that the biome, or beneficial bacteria, plays in keeping our system in equilibrium and free of serious disease.
Dr. Lida Aghdam, M.D., advises, “Avoid eating acidic food like gluten, dairy, red meat, caffeine that causes leaky gut and lowers your immune system. Take supplements good for healing gut like vitamin D, high-quality fish oil, high-quality curcumin and ginger. Stress releases cortisol that causes damage to patency of colon and worsens leaky gut, so try yoga, meditation or dancing to decrease stress levels. Minimize medication, especially antibiotics, that damages your gut health. Good normal daily bowel movements is important to keep your gut healthy.”
Natural Balance Clinic is located at 4819 State Hwy. 121, Ste. 14, in The Colony. For more information, call 817-488-7878.
Constantine Kotsanis, M.D., recommends the five R’s of gut healing and restored health.
“Remove: Antagonistic factors can inhibit proper digestion, absorption and utilization of nutrients, as well as elimination of waste products. Removing these is the first step in optimizing health and wellness—food triggers: sensitivities, allergies, FODMAPs infections: bacteria, virus, fungal, parasite stress: physical, emotional, environmental, hernia, fast eating, eating late and unnecessary meds (NSAID, PPI).
“Replace: There are many essential elements required for proper digestion and absorption. Adequate levels of these can be compromised by drugs, disease, aging and/or diet, and must be replaced for optimal digestion—digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, bile acids and nutrient deficiencies.
“Repair: The gut lining can be severely compromised during periods of inflammation, stress, disease and exposure to allergens over time. Repairing the gut lining is essential to ensure proper absorption of nutrients. Nutrients that may help are zinc carnosine, vitamins A, D and C, amino acids, particularly L-glutamine, deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) and serum-derived immunoglobulins (delivered orally).
“Reinoculate: A healthy gut flora population can help reduce inflammation. Beneficial bacteria can flourish by taking in food naturally rich in probiotics, as well as supplements that contain the so-called “good” bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus species. It’s also essential to consume foods high in soluble fiber called prebiotics. This helps feed the beneficial bacteria.
“Rebalance: This is where lifestyle comes into play. Pay attention to lifestyle choices that affect the GI tract—sleep hygiene, type and amount of exercise, stress management, mastication(chew for one to two minutes), avoid excessive fluid intake at mealtime, parasympathetic tone (external stressors can increase sympathetic drive and reduce and parasympathetic drive). With practices like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, good sleep and other mindfulness-based practices, you can help restore hormone balance that will protect your gut and subsequently, your entire body.”
Kotsanis Institute is located at 2260 Pool Rd., in Grapevine. For more information, call 817-481-6342.
Betty Murray, a functional medicine certified practitioner and certified nutritionist specializing in gastrointestinal disorders and autoimmune conditions, believes that good fences makes good neighbors. She says, “Protect your gut lining, and your microbes will protect your immune health. Here are the top five steps you can take to create a healthy gut. Eat a whole foods-based diet with lots of fiber. Modern life and foods may actually be the primary driver of gut inflammation.
“There is evidence that the standard American diet, low in fiber and high in sugar and saturated fats, may initiate a leaky gut. A diet high in fiber feeds our good bacteria and keeps our bowels regular. Eat Probiotic-rich foods, which are live probiotic foods. Natural, bacterial fermented foods like pickles, chutney, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, and kefir provide probiotics to your digestive tract. These can be found in the cold section of your grocery store. Or take a full-spectrum probiotic. Lower your stress levels. Chronic stress is hard on the body and can kill some of your most helpful probiotics and shut down one of the immune responses called immunoglobulin A that protects you from viruses and pathogens.
“Check for food intolerances or get your microbiome tested. Digestive issues, heartburn, bloating, gas, fatigue or sudden weight changes can be signs of a gut out of balance. Testing for food sensitivities and stool testing can help indicate imbalances in the gut microbes and digestive function. Limit medications that may damage the gut lining. Common medications may hurt your gut lining, including pain relievers such as NSAIDs, antibiotics and laxatives, and proton pump inhibitors.”
Living Well Dallas Functional Medicine Center is located at 17000 Preston Rd., Ste. 400, in Dallas. For more information, call 972-930-0260.
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