Digestive Health Series Part 6: Home Steps To Help Digestion

Hello again:

In this final installment, we will cover 6 steps to a healthier gut:

1.       Try an HCL supplement as outlined in Part 3.

2.       If you get some partial relief with taking HCL, you might consider adding a good digestive enzyme with the HCL. Remember, if you get any burning ache or pain, or any negative reaction (diarrhea for example) in your digestive tract from either step 1 or 2, then stop and get checked for a possible ulcer or infection. If you are a current patient, then call me right away.

3.       Try adding a good probiotic supplement to help reduce dysbiosis: If you have allergies, stick to a probiotic that has mostly lactobacillus acidophilus strains and avoid bifidobacter strains. If you have autoimmunity, avoid lactobacillus rhamnosus. This approach helps to alleviate dysbiosis and often assists with SIBO and SIFO. If you suspect Small Intestinal Fungal Overgrowth and/or have a history of yeast infections and/or autoimmunity problems, then consider trying the probiotic called Saccharomyces Boulardii, a beneficial yeast that can be of great help. You can take that with any other probiotic. If you have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, do NOT take Saccharomyces Boulardi.

4.      For vagus nerve stimulation, you need to both reduce stress and stimulate the vagus nerve. To reduce stress, make sure you are exercising, sleeping well and try to eat S-L-O-W-L-Y. Chewing your food slowly (put the fork down between bites) and about 25 to 30 times per bite will help to activate the vagus nerve and start the digestive process off right. Between meals you can practice mindfulness meditation, 4-7-8 breathing methods (see the You Tube video’s by Dr. Andrew Weil), and also try singing and loud, forceful gargling to activate the vagus nerve. For more information simply try a Google search with these key words: how to heal the vagus nerve naturally. For our patients with more chronic gut issues, we often employ a vagus nerve stimulator to assist the above efforts.

5.       For leaky gut concerns, do all of the above and consider adding gut healing supplements like L-glutamine (do not add this if you have cancer), de-glycerized licorice, Short Chain Fatty Acid supplements like calcium-butyrate, aloe vera gel as well as avoiding the most common irritating, allergic, immune sensitizing and inflammatory foods: Gluten containing grains; dairy; egg; corn; soy; and peanut. If you know that any particular food bothers you, stop eating it for 90 days, then try a re-introduction of one food per week and see if how it treats your digestion or other symptoms. We have previously covered the Modified Elimination Diet many times in other newsletters, so you can refer to those or do a search for this type of food plan that lowers inflammation/irritation by reducing inflammatory foods. If you know you have allergies and suspect high histamine, you can try a DAO supplement taken 15 minutes before a meal to lower digestive tract histamine.

6.      For GERD/reflux, do all of the above and avoid foods that tend to impair the lower esophageal sphincter muscle tone: Peppermint, garlic, onions, fatty foods, spicy foods, tomatoes, citrus, chocolate, coffee and alcohol. GERD and reflux are often seen in those with high levels of histamine, so be aware of that as a low histamine diet may give significant relief.

Bottom Line:  These are just a brief list of home remedies that you can try that over the years I have found to be very helpful. You will want to give these supplements at least a 4-week trial and the foods a 3-month removal before a re-introduction trial. While these approaches work for most, this may really be just a start for those with more chronic issues, and if these steps do not help, you should not hesitate to contact me and/or your primary care physician, or your gastroenterologist. Pay attention to the warnings in these past 6 newsletters, and take care of your digestion right away as digestive problems are often the major aggravating or perpetuating factor for almost all health problems, even if they don’t seem obviously connected.

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