I have spent two years, studying the work of experts in the field of autoimmunity and have combined what I’ve learned, in 24 steps. I’ll be sharing one step every week for the next 24 weeks, on my website and social media platforms (starting Monday 18 May 2020). This is step 11 of 24.
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STEP 11: HEALING THE GUT BY REPLACING WITH THE GOOD
We know that 80% of the immune system is located in the gut. This means that if you don’t have a healthy gut, you won’t have a healthy immune system. Gut health is a critical step in reclaiming your health from autoimmunity.
Functional medicine has developed a very effective method of healing and protecting your gut. The method is called the 5R’s and consists of the following steps:
- Remove the bad (see step 10)
- Replace with the good (this step)
- Reinoculate with healthy bacteria
- Repair the gut
In this step we’re exploring the second R of healing the gut: Replace with the good.
The first step was to remove anything and everything that negatively affects your gut or contributes to your leaky gut. There is absolutely no point in replacing with the good, if you do not identify and remove the cause of the problem. The main culprits are foods, infections, toxins and stress.
So, before you think of moving to this step, be sure to first remove the bad (see step 10). Once you’ve removed the bad, you are ready to proceed to step number 2, replace with the good.
Start by restoring the essential ingredients for proper digestion and absorption that might have been depleted by diet, medications, disease or aging. A critical component of this is digestive enzymes. Without enzymes you don’t digest your food properly which stresses your digestive system and leaves your undernourished. Enzymes also restore stomach acid required for proper digestion. We recommend that you speak to your functional medicine practitioner to get evaluated for the sufficiency of digestive enzymes and proper stomach acid. If these are identified as being a problem, digestive aids such as digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, or bile may be prescribed.
Once you’ve restored the essential ingredients for proper digestion and absorption, it is time to consider the food you eat.
Hippocrates said it best: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine, be thy food.” Food can either fight disease or feed disease, it’s as simple as that. When you have an autoimmune condition, what you eat becomes your most powerful tool in the road to recovery. Food plays a huge role in achieving optimal health, providing essential nutrients to your body and immune system.
As much as food can change everything, food can also be one of our biggest sources of inflammation. By removing processed, toxic and inflammatory foods from your diet and by adding nutrient dense, whole foods, that support your health, you can reduce your inflammation and work your way back to recovery and possibly reversal of your autoimmune condition. The food to be avoided is discussed in detail in step 7.
Now replace the inflammatory food with nutrient-dense, gut-healing, real food. Always fill half your plate with a variety a vegetables. Add a good quality protein and don’t forget about the healthy fats.