The saying goes you are what you eat; well you are what you can digest, absorb and assimilate. Digestion is extremely important. It is popular to blame food intolerances for poor digestion, and this may be the case in some people, however it may be just as likely that there is a bacterial infection, low stomach acid and digestive enzymes or poor gut micro flora that is contributing to poor digestion. Respected nutritionist Jeffrey Bland came up with the axiom of the 4 R's when trying to improve digestion.
R – Remove food sensitivities, parasites, fungus and bad bacteria.
R – Replace nutrients needed for digestion.
R – Re inoculate the bowel with friendly bacteria.
R – Repair the gut with important nutrients.
Always start by removing things from your diet and lifestyle that may be irritating the gut. Trying to health the gut or take probiotcs will otherwise be useless. Remove common food intolerances such as wheat, dairy, soy or eggs if necessary. If you think you are sensitive to a food or several foods, remove them from your diet for 2 weeks. If your symptoms improve you may have a food intolerance, if your symptoms do not improve it could be something else that is affecting your digestion.
Something else that may need to be removed from the gut is parasites and bad bacteria. To test for and remove parasites, fungus and bacteria is beyond the scope of this article. However there are good foods, supplements and herbs that help to kill parasites, bad bacteria and fungus. It is always best to have a stool test done and establish which agents kill the parasites, bad bacteria or fungus you might be infected with, otherwise you may be shooting in the dark. Genova Diagnostics produce a good array of stool tests for parasite infection.
Stress is another major disruption for digestion. Stomach acid secretion is importantly considering and it draws blood and energy away from the bowels and diverts it to the brain and muscles to either run away or fight. Stress comes in many forms – food intolerances, alcohol, financial stress, relationship stress, mental emotional stress, poor blood sugar regulation etc, so learning what is stressing you and how to manage those stressors is imperative.
Once you have removed all things that are damaging the GI tract it's time to start replacing things needed for healthy digestion. One of the most important things you can do is to test your stomach acid levels and support your stomach with HCL supplements. I explain in my book exactly how to do this. Other things that need to be replaced are digestive enzymes, water, fiber and foods that help to stimulate bile secretions.
Only after you have removed and replaced should you entertain re-inoculating the bowl with healthy bacteria and use foods and nutrients that repair the gut.