Our intestines are designed to be impermeable (or resistant) to large protein molecules that our body may mistake as “invaders,” and launch an “attack” by producing antibodies, which lead to allergic reactions.
Modern diet — especially wheat products — lifestyle, and medications often compromise the permeability & strength of our digestive tract, creating what is known as the “leaky gut” syndrome. When the gut becomes permeable to larger protein molecules, they can get into our bloodstream and trigger an immune response, resulting in symptoms of food allergies.
Here are some strategies to help protect and heal the digestive tract
Maintain healthy gut flora:
- Increase intake of probiotics, eat foods such as yoghurt, kefir, natto, kimchi, and raw sauerkraut.
- Eat fermentable fibers (starches like sweet potato, yam, yucca, etc.)
- Avoid antibiotics (or get professional advice on what to take during your course to reduce negative affects), birth control pill, and NSAIDs (over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs)
- Use herbs such as slippery elm and marshmallow roots, which helps coat and heal the intestinal lining, and reduce inflammation
- Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids — supplement at therapeutic dosage, cold water fish, walnuts, and flaxseed to help support the immune system and reduce inflammation (EPA in particular helps reduce inflammation)
- Avoid refined carbohydrates, including refined sugar — which irritates the intestinal lining
- Avoid alcohol — which is an irritant
- Avoid caffeine — which irritates the gut and dehydrates the body
Positive lifestyle changes:
- Reduce stress (try meditation like this one, that is not only free, but really works)
- Practice mindful eating
- Chew well
While this list is certainly not exhaustive, it should give you hope that there is more that can be done naturally to relieve your digestive problems.
In all cases, your symptoms should be assessed individually by a health professional to rule out other possible causes. Remembering too that it takes time for these things to develop, and likewise, it takes time for recovery. The old saying that “prevention is always better than the cure” still rings true.
Provided by: Sheridan Genrich, CGP
Sheridan Genrich is a naturopath and nutritionist who received her health science degree from Charles Sturt University, and also received the Dean’s award for academic excellence. Sheridan mainly works with over-stretched professionals, entrepreneurs, and executives who struggle to be in their best health. For more information visit her page, Refresh now.