Something important to remember when addressing health concerns is that the symptoms you encounter may not always be linked to the part of your body experiencing them. Acne, for example, doesn’t necessarily originate from an issue in your skin. Likewise, a headache doesn’t always mean that you’ve been straining your eyes or clenching your jaw.
Many commonly experienced symptoms are caused by a systemic imbalance that originates in the gut.
This can apply even if you do not frequently experience digestive concerns.
Want to maintain your gut wellbeing to alleviate ongoing health niggles, but not sure where to start?
The four R’s of gut health are typically used in functional medicine to heal the gut by addressing the root cause of imbalance.
Following them systematically requires dedication and patience (it can take up to six months for the gut to fully heal), but is one of the most important things you can do for your overall wellbeing…
This step includes removing factors that could be contributing to your gut imbalance. These include…
- Both acute and chronic stress are known to impair digestion.
- Stress eating (which often occurs too often, or in a rush) can affect the absorption of food.
- Speak to a nutritionist, dietitian, or healthcare provider about testing for potential food allergies or intolerances.
- You could also follow an elimination diet, cutting out different foods - one at a time - to see which could be contributing to your health challenges.
- If following an elimination plan, remember to reintroduce foods one at a time, two days apart, and keep monitoring your symptoms as you do so.
- Speak to your healthcare provider about testing and treating for any bacterial and yeast overgrowth, viruses, parasites, and other toxic substances that may be present in your body.
In this step, you will need to work with your healthcare provider to determine and replace what could be missing or lacking in your body.
This can include things like insufficient stomach acid, digestive enzymes, and deficient nutrients.
Supplements that can be particularly helpful at this stage are digestive enzymes (protease, lipase, amylase and pepsin) and hydrochloric acid.
This step requires you to reintroduce good bacteria into your gut for six to twelve weeks.
It’s when you will focus on rebalancing your microflora - the microorganisms that are housed in the gut and are responsible for supporting digestion and nutrient absorption. Foods and supplements that can help to reinoculate the necessary bacteria in the gut include fermented foods, soluble fibre, prebiotics, and - of course - probiotics.
Repairing the lining of your gut with nutrients is the final step of the healing journey. This process can be lengthy and requires consistency and patience, but is essential to reaching your end goal of overall wellbeing.
While there is no quick fix, adding the following supplements to your daily regime can be immensely helpful to this end:
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin D
In conjunction with an allergen-free, balanced, and varied diet, inflammation can be reduced and cell growth encouraged in the digestive tract - both of which are vital to ongoing gut health.