Thanks for checking out Part II of my blog post on food intolerances!
In Part I of this blog series I covered the different factors that contribute to the development of food intolerances and what’s really happening in the gut when we are reacting to multiple foods. In this post, I’m going to share the essential steps for calming down an overactive gut immune response to support healing and repairing of the gut and improved tolerance of a wider variety of food. So let’s begin…
The “5 R” approach
To rebalance the gut immune system and restore healthy gut function (as much as we can) we use a strategic plan known as the “5 R approach”, which consists of the following:
- Removing offending foods that are irritating the gut lining and triggering a heightened immune response. An elimination diet removes the most common offenders such as gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, sugar and all processed foods. A food intolerance test can also be used to identify specific foods that are triggering high levels of IgG (and IgE antibodies) which is a more individualised approach. It’s important to remove the foods that are causing irritation to the gut so that it can heal and repair itself.
- Removing pathogens if there is an active gut infection, parasite or overgrowth of bacteria or yeast, which could be the root cause of your gut inflammation. This can involve the use of herbs that kill bacterial or yeast overgrowth or parasitic infections. Garlic, cinnamon and oregano are common antifungals to use. Sometimes long-standing infections may have developed biofilm (a slimy film that forms over the top of a collection of micro-organisms – just like plaque on teeth) which needs breaking down in order for antimicrobials to work.
- Replacing digestive enzymes if digestion is impaired using appropriate supplementation. We can also support stomach acid production and bile flow with appropriate supplements, both of which are crucial for healthy digestion and nutrient absorption. Supporting digestion is crucial for the absorption of nutrients that we need to support healthy immune function. Furthermore, undigested food in the gut can exacerbate inflammation
- Repairing the gut lining using nutrients such as zinc, vitamin D, vitamin A and omega 3’ fatty acids which are all crucial for the health of the gut lining. Adequate protein in the diet is also essential for providing the amino acids which are the building blocks for healing and repair. Probiotics containing Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG can also be useful for improving the gut lining. A beneficial yeast known as Saccharomyces Boullardi has also been shown to improve the integrity of the gut lining
- Restoring the gut microbiota: often a forgotten step! After we have removed pathogenic organisms or bacterial/yeast overgrowths in the gut, it’s critical to support the restoration of healthy gut microbiota. After killing the pathogenic microbes and eating a restricted diet the gut microbiota can be depleted of beneficial bacteria. Using probiotic supplements, and eating probiotic and prebiotic foods can really help with restoring the composition of healthy gut bacteria. This is why it’s important not to stay on a restricted diet for too long, as it can cause certain beneficial bacteria to “die off”.
If you are reacting to a lot of foods and suffering from uncomfortable digestive symptoms, don’t worry – there is a lot that can be done to improve gut health! We can support healthier gut immunity and reduce inflammation in the gut, and consequently reduce food intolerances and reactions by using a therapeutic diet (which can look different for each person), supportive nutritional supplements, antimicrobials, digestive support and a nutrient-dense microbiota-restoring diet. Each stage of the “5 R” programme can vary in length depending on individual needs and some stages overlap. Of course, relaxation and stress management are also critical. Chronic stress has been shown to reduce the important anti-inflammatory antibody sIgA in the gut! So make time to relax, reduce stress and find your happy place.
Please get in touch if you have any questions or need support!
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