Modern times call for minor modifications to our ancient medicine. What we’re dealing with now is increased exposure to chemical toxins (such as endocrine disruptors) and a lot more stress than ever before. Along the lines of toxicity, if you live on the planet right now, you’re going to be exposed no matter how pure your lifestyle. We have toxins in our drinking water, which we can filter at home, but if you eat at a restaurant the reality is that your meal is not being made with reverse osmosis water. If you don’t live in a bubble, (literally, not the Denver real estate bubble), that means you’re exposed to the multitude of toxins in the air you breath. If you drive a car, take a bus or fly on a plane you’re exposed to toxins. If you ever eat or drink anything that was held in plastic, your being exposed. The list goes on. I’m not telling you this to scare you, because it’s okay, our bodies are miraculous. It just means that we have to take extra good care of ourselves in the areas that we do have control. Two thousand years ago our ancestors didn’t have this particular problem (this problem didn’t even exist 200 years ago!). Therefore, we need to update the strategies with ancient medicine in order to get the best out of it in today’s world.
In order to improve our chances of optimal health in the face of this modern dilemma, we first want to make sure that we have a healthy Gut. If our Gut lining is healthy then a majority of the toxins we ingest will travel through and out of of us. If our gut lining is not healthy, the toxins will enter our bloodstream and lead to a variety of inflammatory and immune responses that we don’t want. Here are 6 steps, or 6 "R's", to improving your gut health.
1. Removal of Irritants. Of course the best way to reduce toxicity is to stop ingesting it and eliminate it where you can. This includes food that you have a known allergy to, alcohol (a glass of wine with friends here and there is fine, but don’t drink every night. Just don’t.), Gluten if you have a sensitivity, NSAIDS (big one), and any possible pathogen like bacteria, parasites and yeast, which you would need to get tested for.
2. Reduce the usual suspects. This includes sugar, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats and red meat. Interestingly, red meat can induce bacterial enzyme activity that leads to an unhealthy gut lining. So all you Paleo folks out there, spare the grass fed cows just a little bit and eat some nuts instead.
3. Restore proper bowel transit time. This is the oldest one in the book. Increase dietary fiber and water. Based on observations from a man named Dr. Leo Galland different kinds of fiber affect intestinal permeability. He found that insoluble fibers reduce intestinal permeability (that’s what we want), and soluble fibers tend to increase it. That’s just kind of interesting, but both types of fiber are important! Here’s a breakdown.
Soluble fiber: oatmeal, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, blueberries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery and carrots.
Insoluble fibers: whole wheat, whole grains, wheat bran, corn bran, seeds, nuts, barley, brown rice, zucchini, celery, broccoli, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, dark leafy veggies, root vegetable skin, grapes.
4. Replace agents of digestive support: Here we’re talking about enzymes. If we’re insufficient, and most people over the age of 28 are, it tells us that the Spleen Qi is weak, and that it’s going to be tough to digest and absorb the health promoting nutrients in food and herbs. When food isn't digested properly it can lead to an unhealthy gut lining. Sometimes an awesome herbal formula can cure this problem. Sometimes direct intervention with good quality enzymes is the best answer. I have Vital Zymes from Klaire Labs on my shelf in the office and you can order it online from the "Order Online" button above (access code HEALTH, zip code 80112).
5. Reinoculate the gut with friendly bacteria. It’s all about a healthy microbiota! Take a supplement. Drink kombucha. Eat kim chi. Our body is made up of about 10 billion human cells and about 100 billion bacterial cells. That’s 10 times more bacteria than human cells! If you want to learn more about what bacteria do for us, read my blog post “Passionate About Probiotics” http://www.denveracuclinic.com/#!Passionate-About-Probiotics/ctu0/3
6. Repair the mucosal lining. There are many things that can help with this. You might consider l-glutamine, essential fatty acids, zinc, vitamins C and E, glucosamine and my personal favorite, Aloe Vera. Bioflavinoids, antioxidants found in most fruits and vegetables, help to strengthen the gastric mucosa and also help settle or reduce liver reactivity to allergies. Some wonderful sources are red bell peppers, strawberries (I love strawberry kombucha), lemons and limes (I've been starting my morning with a cocktail of filtered water, aloe vera juice, and fresh lemon juice), broccoli (the queen of vegetables!), Brussels sprouts, garlic, spinach and green tea.
When you have this plan in action, therapeutic tools, such as acupuncture, act like the conductor of an orchestra. Now that all the instruments are tuned and toned, and protected from the onslaught of toxins, the needles communicate to the organs how to perform their functions in perfect harmony. Then you can go off and sing your song to the world with a smile on your face. I want to hear it!