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 12 of 24.
Facebook: Autoimmune Way
Instagram: Autoimmune Way
STEP 12: HEALING THE GUT BY REINOCULATING WITH HEALTHY BACTERIA
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 (see step 11)
- Reinoculate with healthy bacteria (this step)
- Repair the gut
In this step we’re exploring the third R of healing the gut: Reinoculate with healthy bacteria.
The first step was to remove anything and everything that negatively affects your gut or contributes to your leaky gut. The main culprits are foods, infections, toxins and stress.
The second step was to replace with the good by restoring the essential ingredients for proper digestion and absorption and by replacing inflammatory food with nutrient dense, gut healing, real food.
You are now ready for the third R, reinoculate with healthy bacteria.
The complex community of microorganisms in your gut is called the gut flora or microbiota. In fact, your gut contains hundreds of different types of microorganisms. This includes bacteria, yeasts and viruses — with bacteria making up the vast majority. The bacteria in your body outnumber your body’s cells 10 to one.
Most of the gut flora is found in your colon, or large intestine, which is the last part of your digestive tract. Your gut flora performs many functions that are important for health. It manufactures vitamins, including vitamin K and some of the B vitamins. It also turns fibers into short-chain fats like butyrate, propionate and acetate, which feed your gut wall and perform many metabolic functions. These fats also stimulate your immune system and strengthen your gut wall. This can help prevent unwanted substances from entering your body and provoking an immune response.
However, not all organisms in your gut are friendly. Your gut flora is highly sensitive to your diet, and studies show that an unbalanced gut flora is linked to numerous diseases. These diseases include obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, colorectal cancer, Alzheimer’s, depression and many autoimmune diseases.
The microbial ecosystem in the gut has to be healthy for you to be healthy. When your gut bacteria are out of balance, it makes you sick. Among all that gut bacteria, there are good guys, bad guys, and very bad guys. When you have too many bad guys, and not enough good guys, this becomes a problem.
The good bacteria are often depleted by antibiotics. steroids, acid-blocking medications, poor diet, stress etc. This is why supplementing with probiotics and prebiotics is so very important. Speak to your functional medicine practitioner about pre- and probiotic supplements.
So what is the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?
Where probiotics are the beneficial friendly bacteria, prebiotics are types of fiber that feed the friendly bacteria. Prebiotics are found in many common foods, and are essential for your gut health. Since your body cannot completely break them down, they reach your gastrointestinal tract undigested and end up being fermented in your gut by friendly bacteria. In this way, prebiotics “feed” your good gut bacteria, helping them to produce important nutrients for your colon cells, which in turn leads to a healthier digestive system. Eating plenty of prebiotics can improve your digestion, reduce your risk of GI infection and inflammation, and boost your metabolism.
Natural prebiotics include:
- Chicory root
- Dandelion greens
- Jerusalem artichoke
- Jicama root
If you want to learn more about gut health and natural ways to fight your disease, I invite you to sign up for the Autoimmune Way program. It is a 6-month online course that gently guides you through each step you need to take to reclaim your life from autoimmunity.