Step Four: Repair. This step is all about targeted nutrition and supplementation. In other words, this is where we'll be emphasizing the foods and supplements that provide the specific nutrients our bodies need to repair the intestinal tract. As always, we try to focus primarily on whole foods. For the sake of intestinal repair, we are going to be looking to increase our intake of fermented foods and gelatinous or collagenous meats and broths. The benefits of fermented foods are obvious: they're easily digested, contain beneficial bacteria, and the fermentation process reduces harmful compounds.
But what about collagen? Collagen is high in certain amino acids (like glycine and proline) that are directly used in the repair of the mucosal lining of the gut. The highest concentration of collagen is found in the connective tissues of animals, so focus on cuts like oxtail and shank and try to use tendon, feet, knuckles, or chicken backs/necks for your broths. This is my preferred source of collagen, as it's a great source out minerals as well. Bone broth is easily added to the diet via soups or stews, can be added to virtually any dish in place of water for added flavor and nutrients, and it actually tastes pretty damn good straight out of a mug with a generous pinch of salt (in fact, this is my first "meal" of the day most mornings), you can even make it "bulletproof" style by blending it up with a little coconut oil (my favorite recipe also includes turmeric, ginger, salt, and onion powder -- seriously, try this).
Collagen is also readily available in powdered forms, as both gelatin and collagen hydrolysate or peptides. The gelatin is great for gut-friendly desserts and can also be used to thicken sauces and stews. The collagen peptides/hydrolysate won't gelatinize or solidify, which means they're easily added to pretty much anything, from soups to salads to baking.
When it comes to supplementing there are a number of potentially beneficial products from which to choose, but the most popular seems to be L-Glutamine, and for good reason, as it directly contributes to the restoration of the tight cell junctions that characterize a healthy gut lining. I've experimented with many other products throughout my healing process, but supplementation can quickly get expensive, and added financial stress is often the last thing needed when dealing with leaky gut, so I feel very comfortable ending my general supplement recommendations here.
Step Five: Reintroduce. The elimination stage of the healing process may be the most difficult, but reintroduction certainly has potential for trickery. The basic idea is simple: once symptoms have subsided, you begin to reintroduce foods one at a time, beginning with the most nutrient dense and least problematic foods. Each time you reintroduce a food, you wait 72 hours to monitor for any returning symptoms. If you still feel good, you can continue to reincorporate that food into your diet and move onto another reintroduction. If symptoms return, however, you need to wait until they subside again until reintroducing the next food. This process can take quite a bit of time, so patience is king at this stage. Remember how you felt a month or two ago? Yeah, we don't wanna go back there -- take it slow!
That being said, it is important to begin this process as soon as possible. Most of these restrictive healing diets are not meant to be utilized long-term, and more issues can actually develop in these situations.
And there you have it! My five-step protocol for healing leaky gut syndrome and getting yourself back to optimal health! What do you think? Have you utilized any of these strategies in the past? Where has your healing differed and where have you found success. Let us know in the comments section below!
Above all, please keep in mind that this is not meant as a one-size-fits-all process, but merely a starting point for your healing process. A generic protocol may work for some, but in most cases, individual specificity is required. I highly recommend working with an experienced health professional.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and although I am a certified health coach, I am not your health coach. This information is given solely for educational purposes and is not meant as diagnosis nor treatment of any medical conditions.
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