What is a Gut-Healing Diet & How Does It Work?
We hear all the time about gut healing diets and of people healing their digestive system but why is it necessary and how do you do it?
Gut healing diets are needed for those who experience symptoms related directly or indirectly to the digestive system. For example, you may experience bloating or it may be something indirect such as acne or hormonal disruption.
Simply put, a gut-healing diet helps to alleviate symptoms and creates the right environment for healing.
A gut healing diet can help reduce inflammation and restore proper gastrointestinal function. It can be as simple as removing a known trigger, like dairy, if you know that ice cream sends you to the bathroom. Or it can be as complex as removing multiple types of foods. It is purely dependent on the severity of symptoms and where the symptoms are located as to know whether a gut healing diet is relevant and the level of healing required.
I use gut healing diets all the time in clinic if after thorough case taking, there is a disruption I can see within the digestive system. A gut healing diet is beneficial when used in conjunction with a stool test or food sensitivity testing which are testing options I frequently use in clinic.
Gut healing diets should only be used in conjunction with a practitioner, especially when removing foods from your diet (to avoid nutritional deficiencies) and when looking at specific probiotic strains to supplement with.
So what does a gut healing diet look like?
There are 5 steps to my gut healing process, however everyone is slightly different and the process may be altered. In addition, I also work on multiple Rs at the same time depending on how enthusiastic and compliant the person I am working with is.
The length of time this process takes also varies on severity of symptoms, compliance and the level of damage within the gut.
The 5 R’s of gut healing:
1. Remove. Remove is the stage where we remove foods that could be causing symptoms.
This is where I see a lot of people go rogue and start removing a bunch of foods that Dr. Google/friends/family/magazine articles have suggested. I strongly disapprove of this as we could end up with nutritional deficiencies, limited diets and what I see regularly is people removing foods, seeing an improvement and then staying away from these foods for life. This leads to further foods that can cause symptoms as the main cause of the gut symptoms has not been addressed, and leads to a further limited diet.
The foods that need to be removed are well considered either by testing or specific symptoms or based upon on inflammation levels. I also offer substitutions for any food removed and a set timeline for how long these foods will be removed from the diet.
2. Replace. Replace with food that promotes proper digestive function. When foods are removed, the foods need to be replaced with foods that support gut healing so it is more of a substitution. The foods recommended have a strong focus on reducing inflammation, foods that do not exacerbate or irritate the gut and have a focus on soothing and healing the gut.
3. Reinoculate – Creating a more varied diet with probiotic rich foods and prebiotic fibre can help rebalance good gut bacteria. Prebiotic rich foods examples include: garlic, onions, asparagus, lentils, flaxseeds.
Probiotics may be supplemented also to aim for specific gut healing.
4. Repair. Repair involves flooding the body with nutrients that heal in order to restore proper function. It may be in supplemental form for specific nutrients but also using foods as medicine. Some probiotics may be used for repair also.
5. Rebalance – Rebalance includes incorporating some of the foods previously removed, rebalancing the diet, but also addressing some factors that support the gut: improves your response to stress, regulating sleep, encouraging moving more (or less).
Gut healing is a very individualised approach to supporting digestive function, increasing the amount of nutrients are absorbed and reducing symptoms not only isolated to the gut.
It can be complicated to try as an individual which is why seeing a practitioner is beneficial as this is something I do regularly with my clients and my role is to ensure you are not negatively impacted but also that your gut is given the support necessary to optimise healing. If gut healing is something you are feel you require, book a consult today HERE.