Problems with constipation, indigestion, heartburn, and bad breath?
These are very common symptoms for those struggling with gluten sensitivity. Because gluten and grains can contribute to changes in the microbiome as well as gastrointestinal inflammation, many people struggle trying to find an answer. The all too common medical solution is to medicate the symptoms without identifying the causes. Unfortunately this approach can leave a person in an even worse state of health.
In most cases these GI issues can be resolved naturally without drugs. Below I break down 4 of the best tried and true strategies for getting your gut health back on track. So if you struggle with IBS, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, or bad breath, pay attention. You might find the solution to your problem below.
4 Simple Strategies for Improved Digestion and Gut Function
- Don’t eat frequent meals and consider Intermittent Fasting. Fasting helps by allowing the GI tract to have longer rest periods. It is especially helpful for those with persistent GI problems who are not responding to diet change. Try intervals of 16-18 hour rest periods.
- Eat when you are at peace. Eating on the run or while under stress diverts blood flow away from the gut and contributes to sluggish digestion and slowed bowel motility. Bottom line, focus on your food, not your work. Also ensure that you chew your food thoroughly. This will help mechanically break your food down and allow for better digestion.
- Perform 5 minute deep breathing exercises before eating. This will help activate your parasympathetic nervous system and stimulate better digestion. Belly breaths-breathe in for 5 seconds, and breathe out for 5 seconds.
- Take a nap. Taking a nap after eating can be a very effective way to improve digestion. If you have heartburn issues, make sure to use a wedge pillow for elevation.
What Can Disrupt Digestion & Gut Function?
**Medications can have major effects on your taste, smell, digestion, and motility. Click here to view How medications affect gut function.
- Some medications can cause dry mouth, disrupt taste and smell, and can make it harder to digest food.
- Medications can slow down gut motility creating constipation.
- Antibiotics can wipe out good bacteria in the gut leading to a disruption in immune function, digestion, and neurotransmitter production.
- Common medications include, SSRI’s, ant-acids, pain medications, and blood pressure drugs. Have a talk with your prescribing doctor about medications to make sure he/she understands your needs.
Gluten Can Cause G.I. Problems
- Grains, the seeds of grasses, and the glutens founds within those seeds are known to cause gastrointestinal inflammation and hinder digestion.
- Grains can shut your gut down through specialized proteins that target and inhibit your ability to produce digestive enzymes.
- Be 100% grain free! Follow the No Grain No Pain diet in chapters 7 and 8 of my book.
GMO’s Can Trigger Leaky Gut
- GMO grains have been genetically manipulated to survive better. Some of them produce their own pesticides! Additionally, they are typically doused with pesticides before being planted, and sprayed again right before being harvested.
- These pesticides and are known to disrupt biochemistry in the G.I. tract.
- Meat glue, AKA – microbial transglutaminase, is used in processed meats, restaurant meats, processed foods, and dairy products. It has been shown to cause inflammation in the gut.
- Food gums commonly added to milk substitutes (almond milk, coconut milk, etc) can also create gastrointestinal inflammation.
5 Barriers to the G.I. Tract
Though eating is often a social and celebratory event, you should be aware that every time you put something in your mouth, your gut has to “go to war” with it. In essence eating can be summarized as a war between your food and your gut.
If you think about the process of digestion in a simplistic way, your GI tract (comprised of everything between your mouth and anus) is designed to physically and chemically break down your food.
- During this process your body uses extreme physical forces (chewing, peristalsis) to mechanically break down your food.
- During this process your body uses powerful digestive chemicals (stomach and bile acids and enzymes) to chemically break down your food.
- Your gut also employs an immune army to help separate and eliminate the toxins present in food, from your body.
Your gut has 5 primary barriers that are designed to protect you from the potential dangers in your food. These barriers serve to ensure healthy digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune support. When these barriers become compromised, big problems can arise that predispose you to a multitude of diseases.
- GALT, Gastro-Associated Lymphoid Tissue
- This tissue is like a huge set of tonsils surrounding your small intestine.
- It represents 70-80% of your entire immune system.
- Over exposure to food allergens, infectious micro-organisms, GMOs, meat glue, gluten, food preservatives, additives, and dyes can overwhelm the GALT.
- Tight Junctions
- Your gut is lined by a single layer of cells and there are small proteins in between these cells that keep the cells tightly compacted and compressed together. Their job is to prevent “leaking” of your intestinal content into your blood stream.
- Plastics, pesticides, gluten, molds, and infections can all cause a break down of the tight junctions.
- Mucosal Barrier
- Specialized cells (goblet cells) produce mucus as a physical barrier to protect your GI cells from damage.
- A number of medications are known to cause erosion of the mucosal lining in your G.I. tract.
- This barrier also consists of a specialized type of antibody called secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA).
- SIgA polices the GI tract acting like “hand cuffs” that bind to potentially dangerous elements (food proteins, bacteria, viruses, toxins, etc) allowing you to poop them out.
- This is your good gut bacteria.
- Prescribed antibiotics can destroy your microbiome.
- Antibiotic use can increase risks for yeast overgrowth or yeast infections.
- Ask your prescribing physician if they are sure whether or not you have a bacterial infection and if it is necessary to take an antibiotic.
- Stomach Acid
- Stomach acid kills germs and wipes out potential life-threatening germs and microorganisms that aren’t suppose to inhabit your lower intestine.
- Antacids and other medications can suppress your stomach acid and lead to major problems.
- Stomach acid is necessary to break down meat.
What are my top supplement recommendations to support G.I. health?
- A strong probiotic: Ultra Biotic Defense, salt based fermented foods (sauerkraut, carrots, cauliflower). Exposure to healthy bacteria is plays an essential role in health. Though it was once thought that all bacteria were the cause of disease, it is now well established that we need healthy bacteria to help regulate our digestion and immune function.
- Gut fuel: L-glutamine is an amino acid found predominately in meat and bone broth. It is the primary fuel source for small intestine cells and for immune cells.
- Digestive enzymes plus gluten protection: Gluten Shield is my digestive enzyme of choice. It contains a gluten degrading enzyme as well as a battery of other enzymes designed to help break down FODMAPS and difficult to digest carbohydrates.
- Acid Support: Ultra Acid and/or apple cider vinegar. Many people suffer with the symptoms of heartburn, but the actual problem is not excessive acid – but inadequate acid production.
- Gut relaxer: Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer. It is also an osmotic agent that can bull water into the bowel, helping support regular bowel movements. Magnesium deficiency is extremely common, and one of the symptoms is spastic colon.
- To support a health inflammation response in the gut: Detox C – Vitamin C has been shown to help support a healthy inflammation response in the gut. Some studies show that vitamin C can be helpful for those with gluten sensitivity.
Want to dive deeper into this article? Watch the live below:
Always looking out for you,
Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior