Friday, February 6, 2015

Gluten-Free Feature Friday: How To Heal Your Gut After Going Gluten-Free

For many years I dealt with tummy issues. My stomach was always in pain. On top of that, I could never concentrate, always felt sick, and I was always taking naps (more-so than I do now!) I knew something was wrong with my gut.

What exactly? Well, at first I wasn't sure..

During my undergrad one of my dietetic professors gave a lecture on leaky gut syndrome. Throughout that lecture I kept thinking, "OMG! This is me!!"After trying a few of her recommendations, I still was not feeling 100% normal. I finally decided to remove all the gluten from my diet. And that is where you find me today! :-) (You can read all about my gluten revelation here!)

However, once you eliminate the issue that is causing your tummy distress (gluten in my case), your gut still needs time to heal! Once it's healed, it can then begin to fully nourish your body (as it's suppose to do!) So it is important to remember:
Removal is the first step. Repair is the second!

Here are some suggestions that can help get your gut back in tip-top shape!

1. Probiotics
By now, I am sure you all know what probiotics are, so I will forgo the definition. Probiotics are great for restoring the healthy bacteria in your gut that may have been wiped out due to distress from gluten. However, after getting rid of what is causing the distress, you need to replace the healthy bacteria because it will not come back by itself! I usually find that eating yogurt with live active cultures is the best bet. But if you find a supplement is better for you (like if you have a dairy sensitivity, as well), I would recommend getting a probiotic with mostly Bifidobacterium strands, for this is the type of bacteria that needs to make up the majority of your gut army! 

2. L-Glutamine
When it comes to healing your gut, there is a lot of talk on how amino acids can lend a HUGE helping hand. It seems the most recommended amino acid is L-Glutamine. The reasoning is your body turns L-Glutamine into Glutathione, an amino acid that is needed to repair and patch up your gut. L-Glutamine is typical found in animal products like beef, chicken, fish, cheese, ect. However, to heal the gut, we need theraputic doses of L-Gluatime. To get this much, we would have to eat A LOT of meat... This is where a quality supplement can come into play. Taking about 1500 mg before each meal is usually best to help heal your gut. I would recommend NOW products, becuase I have always had good results with their products (and they are relatively affordable.)

3. Digestive Enzymes
Probiotics are great for digestion, but sometimes we need a little more help. This is where digestive enzymes come in! They are available as supplements and usually include protease, lipase, and amylase. These are some of the main enzymes that help break down and absorb you food. Taking digestive enzymes can take a load off your already overworked GI track. They help your gut be more efficient at absorbing nutrients, thus helping your gut to repair even faster! I have had really good luck with NOW Super Enzymes. I have used these a lot throughout dealing with my tummy issues and even since going gluten-free. As your stomach starts to get back on its feet, you can rely on them less and less.

If you decide to take any of these in supplement form, please be sure to check that it is gluten-free, as this is a sneaky place it likes to hide! Also remember that your gut may have been going through years, or even decades, of abuse so it will take some time for it to fully heal. This process will not happen overnight!!

If you wish to explore this topic further or see what supplements are best for you, be sure to find a local dietitian who can tailor a regimen specifically for you.

What has been your experience since removing gluten? Share below!!

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Source (unless otherwise stated): Balch, P. (2010). Prescription for nutritional healing: A practical A-to-Z reference to drug-free remedies using vitamins, minerals, herbs, and food supplements (5th ed.). New York: Avery.

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Also check out these other gluten-free post!

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