According to Chinese medicine, almost all disease begins through the degradation of the digestive tract. This ancient knowledge has been verified by many well-known researchers and alternative medical practitioners since the early 1900s. This theory is now becoming more widely accepted in western medicine, although there is still much resistance despite the growing body of evidence.
When the intestinal lining becomes compromised due to inflammation, it creates small gaps in the mucosal lining. This allows non-digested food particles and toxins to enter the blood stream. This often triggers the immune system to fight off these foreign invaders, causing increased inflammation throughout other parts of the body. An overtaxed and stressed immune system can begin mistaking bodily tissue for undigested proteins in the blood, leading to chronic autoimmune conditions such as arthritis, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and lupus.
Over time, other systems within the body can begin to break down on account of systemic inflammation, creating a cycle of inflammation and toxicity. It becomes a perpetual downward spiral. This is the root cause of most disease from a purely physiological perspective; inflammation and toxicity beginning in the intestinal tract, which spreads slowly to other parts of the body. In order to heal, it is necessary to first heal the intestinal lining. The degradation of the intestinal lining occurs over time as a result of a few different factors:
1) Gluten, Sugar and Dairy
Gluten, sugar and dairy are generally either difficult for many people to digest, or are directly responsible for causing inflammation in the body. These foods affect everyone differently, and may not increase inflammation to the same degree, depending on a person’s constitution and overall health. In order to get a baseline understanding of the health of your body, however, it is necessary to cut out all foods that are potentially contributing to inflammation.
There is ample research verifying the negative effects of each of these substances, showing a link between these foods and inflammation, as well as many diseases that often arise in the body on account of consuming excess quantities of these foods. In addition, Candida and other parasites tend to feed on sugar, simple carbohydrates, and dairy sugars. The proliferation of parasites in the intestines can perpetuate intestinal inflammation, cause nutritional deficiencies, and increase systemic inflammation, which is another reason why cutting these foods from your diet is so important.
2) Nutrient Poor Diets
The average American diet is extremely out of balance, lacking alive, fresh, and nutrient rich foods. A lack of vitamins and minerals prevent the systems of the body from functioning properly. Even for those with a largely plant based diet, malnutrition can be
quite common. Industrial farming has depleted soil quality, effectively reducing the nutritional value of most fruits and vegetables. This is largely due to a century of non-biodynamic farming practices—which often includes many organic farms. In addition, the synthetic vitamin supplements that many people take have been shown to have a very poor absorption rate in the body. Reintroducing a nutrient rich diet, as well as certain “living” supplements can deeply nourish the body on a cellular level, and aid in the process of detoxification.
3) The Accumulation of Toxins and Parasites.
Toxins from the environment, food, air, water, as well as prescription medication (particularly the excessive use of antibiotics) can degrade the intestinal lining, and contribute to creating inflammation in the body. Large amounts of toxins accumulate over the course of a person’s lifetime, reducing vitality and health, and setting the stage for disease. Parasites and Candida thrive in a toxic environment, often feeding on the acidity created within the body when toxins are present. Candida and intestinal parasites have been linked to numerous diseases, and can cause long-term health complications if left untreated.
There are countless examples of people who have suffered from cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and many other conditions, who have regained full health after healing leaky gut and detoxifying from chemicals in the body. I am one of them! Again, this is not new information. This diet and healing protocol are merely a culmination of what has been known for over 100 years in the alternative healing community.
Additionally, when the body is in a state of poor health and toxicity, it can adversely affect a person’s mood, causing depression, anxiety, fatigue, and irritability. It should be noted that approximately 80% of the body’s total serotonin production actually occurs in the cells of the intestines. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation, nervous system functioning, and proper digestion, which means that when the digestive tract is unhealthy it can directly affect the chemistry within the brain, as well as other important functions of the body. It is easy to see, then, how a downward spiral begins when the digestive tract is unhealthy.
Steps For Healing Leaky Gut:
1. Begin the Holistic Healing Diet as outlined in the next section
2. Begin taking the following supplements and herbs daily (according to the directions on the bottles):
– Slippery Elm Bark (to be taken at least 1 hour before food) -Marshmallow Root (to be taken at least 1 hour before food) -Deglycyrrhized Licorice
1⁄2 – 1 serving of an organic, raw, green powder
-Ginger and Garlic. Both ginger and garlic are extremely healing. I suggest chewing on a nub of ginger in the morning before breakfast, and consuming either a half or whole clove of garlic (finely chopped) swallowed with a small amount of water, either with your dinner or before bed. Consume ginger and garlic 4-5 days a week, giving yourself a few days off each week so as not to develop an intolerance to them. You can skip this if you include both of these in your daily juice recipe (to be covered in the “Juice Fasting” chapter).
-Probiotics. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, and kim chee are preferable, however, probiotic supplements can also be taken. Find a probiotic supplement that requires refrigeration, and has at least 50 billion organisms per capsule. Take up to 100 billion organisms per day, depending on your body’s tolerance.
-Cayenne Pepper Drink. Combine the following ingredients to make a healing digestive elixir:
-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
-1 to 2 cups water
-Drink at least once a day, 20-30 minutes before lunch or dinner. Though it may seem counterintuitive, cayenne pepper is one of the best remedies for healing leaky gut. While it might be assumed that cayenne is an irritant, it is not. The pepper is actually a stimulant, meaning that it does not harm tissue in any way, but rather stimulates blood vessels within the tissue. The active compound in cayenne, capsaicin, tricks the body into believing it has a wound. While no damage is actually being done to the tissue, the body responds as if there were, increasing blood flow and initiating the healing response.
-Turmeric Ginger and Cinnamon Tea—combine turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon into a cup of warm water and sip. Add a pinch of black pepper (which significantly increases the healing effects of the active compound in turmeric, curcumin). Drink this tea in the morning or before going to bed, stirring occasionally, as cinnamon has a tendency to coagulate. Each of these ingredients contains powerful healing properties that will help to reduce inflammation, repair damaged tissue, and cleanse the blood.
3. Begin a Liquid Diet
Put 60-70% of your meals through the blender with just enough liquid to blend it up (with a majority of your food being blended raw vegetables). You can also make blended soups out of cooked vegetables (remember, just enough liquid to blend it up).
Experiment with the liquid diet by doing either a full day of liquid diet for 2 or more days at a time, followed by 1 or 2 days of eating solid foods in between. You can also do a liquid diet for the first half of each day, and then have a dinner of solid foods. You may feel so good on a liquid diet, that you want to continue for weeks at a time.
However, you also may experience a healing reaction as your body adjusts to the increase in enzymes present in raw foods. Listen to your body, move at a comfortable pace, and go for it!
4. Less Food, More Chewing
Try to reduce the size of your meals between 10-20%. Most people, in general, overeat at each meal. If you know you overeat, you may need to reduce your food intake more than 20%. When eating, chew your food slowly and thoroughly. As soon as you begin to feel slightly full, stop eating. The body may be telling you to eat more, but this is usually due to psychological or emotional factors, more so than based on true physical need. After a few weeks of slightly reducing your food intake, your body will begin to adjust, and you will require less food in order to feel full. Research shows that slight caloric restriction is the healthiest way to live, decreasing the likelihood of disease, and prolonging life.
When eating meals, eat in a relaxing environment without too much distraction or stimulus. Eating slower and chewing more thoroughly will also allow your body to feel full, making it easier not to overeat. When you prepare meals, practice proper food combining, which most notably includes eating fruit separately from all other types of foods, not combining protein with starches, and limiting liquid intake during meals. There are numerous online resources for the specifics regarding food combining.
5. Intermittent Juice or Water Fasting
Fasting can be one of the most powerful ways to let the intestinal lining heal, as well as to begin detoxifying the body of accumulated toxins. Fasting gives the body a chance to repair itself, and rest from the processes of digestion. For the process of juice fasting, drink 1-3 glasses of vegetable juice a day, limiting the amount of sweet vegetables that you use (such as carrots or beets) to a minimum. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, relaxing and taking it easy. Although juice fasting allows the intestines time to heal, this type of fast will not detoxify the body to the same degree as a water fast.
The Holistic Healing Diet
The following diet eliminates all foods that potentially cause inflammation in the intestines which may be contributing to leaky gut. Healing leaky gut is essential for further detoxification and healing processes. By strictly following this diet for at least 30 days, you allow your body to begin repairing your intestinal lining. Though these guidelines are meant to be followed rather strictly, as time goes on, do not be afraid to modify them based on what your intuition may be telling you. And remember, this diet is not permanent. Once leaky gut has been healed, you can enjoy some inflammation causing foods in moderation. Try to buy organic, GMO free, and locally grown whenever possible.
Foods To Consume:
-Raw and cooked vegetables (except for corn, tomatoes, potatoes, or eggplant). Raw and cooked veggies should consist of roughly 60-80% of your diet.
-Organic chicken, turkey, eggs (in moderation, 1-2 times a week) beef, or lamb. No fish, due to high levels of heavy metals.
-Moderate amounts of grains and legumes such as rice, quinoa, buckwheat, beans and lentils.
-Fermented foods and drinks, such as sauerkraut, kim chee, kefir, kombucha and miso, all of which are amazingly beneficial for the intestines and body.
-Tempeh. If possible, find a brand that does not contain sweeteners or other additives. Do not consume tofu or other soy products.
-Fresh veggie juice. 1-2 glasses to be consumed every day, or every other day. Listen to your intuition, taking breaks when your body is telling you to.
-Nuts, seeds, and nut butters (in moderation). Rinse and soak nuts for a few hours before ingesting (this helps make them more digestible).
Avoid peanuts and peanut butter, due to the high mold content of most store bought peanuts. Be sure to use only fresh nuts, as nuts will go rancid if they are stored for longer than a few weeks.
-Hemp protein powder, rice protein powder, or pea protein powder. These are all a good source of easily digestible protein, which can be mixed with water, or added to smoothies or cooked dishes for an extra protein boost.
-Coconut oil, olive oil, flax seed oil, or sunflower oil. Coconut oil is the only oil to be used for cooking, and one of the best oils for reducing inflammation and reducing intestinal fungus and parasites. The oils listed here are healthy and part of reducing inflammation in the body.
-Unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened hemp milk, and unsweetened coconut milk. Use these in place of cow’s milk (avoid soy milk).
-Beneficial spices: garlic, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cayenne, coriander, nutmeg, basil, rosemary, and fennel seed. Use pink Himalayan salt, or grey sea salt, rather than table salt. Limit salt intake to 1-2 teaspoons a day. Absolutely no sugar or sweeteners of any kind. For a sweetener substitute use stevia in moderation.
Grains and Legumes
There is some research showing that all grains and legumes (including non-glutenous grains such as rice and quinoa) cause low levels of inflammation in some people. For this reason, all grains may need to be avoided completely by some individuals. For those who feel they tolerate grains and beans, be sure to sprout them first (this releases the phytic acid and lectins, which are linked to increasing inflammation in the body). Sprouting makes nutrients from the grains and beans more bio-available and easily digestible.
Salt Quality and Quantity
One of the most important minerals within the human body is salt. Salt is essential for countless processes, as well as maintaining energy levels, and good health. Salt has gotten an undeserving bad rap, and was previously believed to be the cause of health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease. It is now understood that it is not necessarily excessive salt intake that causes inflammation in the body, but rather salt in combination with excess sugar and unhealthy oils which contribute to inflammation.
However, what is of the utmost importance, is to be consuming the right type of salt in the proper quantity. Begin using pink Himalayan salt, or Celtic sea salt that have not been processed, heated, or treated in any way. There are many commercial Sea Salts that have been heated or treated, both which change the molecular structure of the salt crystal, and changes how your body is able to utilize it as well. In general, 1 teaspoon a day of Himalayan or Celtic sea salt will be adequate to provide your body with the proper amount of salt. However, if you are more physically active, sweating a lot, or under increased stress, than you may need between 1-3 teaspoons a day.
Foods and Liquids to Completely Remove From Your Diet:
If you are able to adhere to the diet previously listed, then you are doing fine and can disregard the information below. The following is a list of foods that should NOT be consumed (in case there is any question or doubt).
-Remove all dairy, gluten, wheat, bread, pasta, tofu (or other soy products aside from tempeh), sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup (or any other sweetener besides stevia) alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, tap water, non-organic food products, and all GMO’s.
-Remove all types of fats and oils, except for sunflower oil, olive oil, flax seed oil (not to be heated), and coconut oil (used for cooking).
-Really cold or really hot beverages, as both can aggravate digestion. Particularly avoid liquids with meals, as this will compromise your digestive juices, making it more difficult for your body to digest food properly. Wait 30 minutes after drinking anything before eating food, or 1-2 hours after eating food to drink liquid. When drinking tea, cool it down with a bit of cold water first.
-Be sure to read labels on processed foods to check for gluten, sugar, chemicals, and hydrogenated fats, as these are all common ingredients in tomato sauces, soups, almond and soy milk, and many other processed products.
-It is very important that all of these foods listed above be completely removed from the diet. Many of these substances wreak havoc on intestinal tracts and digestion. Some of these foods can be moderately re-introduced into one’s diet only after intestinal healing has occurred, but during the time of healing they must be strictly avoided.
Because most people are deficient in vitamins and minerals, it can be helpful to nourish the body with adequate levels of both. Even if you are taking a vitamin or mineral supplement in pill form, there is a good chance that you are still deficient. This is because most vitamin and mineral supplements are not sourced from living foods, nor do they exist in a form that is bio-available to the body. Research on the efficacy of most forms of highly processed supplements show that they actually have very little impact on health, which is why it is so important to take the proper kinds of supplements; those derived from living, raw, organic sources, which have not been heated, and have only been minimally processed. This ensures that the nutrients are alive and can be easily assimilated by the body.
The best way to get living vitamins into your system is through juicing and smoothies. In addition, begin integrating the following supplements into your daily regimen. If you have been suffering from serious digestive illness, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, you will want to make sure that you are on the mend first (through the previous steps outlined) before introducing any supplements. The supplements listed below will strengthen the intestines once they are on the mend, but can irritate them if there is still too much inflammation present. For anyone healing from a digestive disease, I would suggest doing the previous practices for a few months before moving on. It is essential to let the intestines heal before attempting to introduce any substance which may cause irritation or inflammation. This often times takes between a few months, and up to a year in some cases.
Supplements To Begin Taking:
-Vitamin C— between 500 and 1000 milligrams daily.
-MSM capsules—between 1000-3000 milligrams daily with food. -Liquid Mineral Drops—Follow the recommended dosage on the bottle.
-Krill Oil—follow the recommended dosage on the bottle. -Adaptogenic herbs, such as mushroom extracts, ashwaganda, schizandra, or ginseng. Follow the recommended dosage on the bottle.
Vitamin C- Vitamin C helps to heal the intestinal lining (when taken in moderation) and boost the immune system, promoting regular immune functioning, and overall good health. Vitamin C in conjunction with MSM will begin detoxifying the body in a gentle way. It’s best to find a natural and bioavailable source of vitamin C.
MSM- Methylsulfonylmethane is a naturally occurring sulfur based compound, which helps relieve inflammation, improve joint flexibility, reduce stiffness, improve circulation, and reduce pain and
swelling. The supplement is also believed to aid the body in detoxification. MSM is thought to increase cell permeability, allowing cells greater respiration, which is essential during periods of detoxification.
Liquid Minerals- Minerals are essential for thousands of processes in the body. Due to nutritional deficiency, industrial agriculture, and environmental toxins, most people are deficient in minerals. In order for your body to adequately absorb minerals, they must be in the proper form (ionic). In recent years new technology has been able to reduce the size of particles in mineral solutions, allowing the body to more readily absorb them.
Krill Oil- Krill are small crustaceans found in the world’s oceans, and one of the largest biomass on the planet. Krill oil is one of the best sources of EPA and DHA, also known as Omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega 3′s are hugely important for so many functions of the body, and is also a compound that the body is not able to produce on its o w n . Krill oil helps reduce inflammation, increase cellular respiration, and allows cells to maintain a greater electrical charge. Omega 3′s improve memory, circulation, concentration, increase mood, and help the body detoxify. Krill oil is superior to fish oil because it contains a potent antioxidant called astaxanthin, which prevents the oil from becoming rancid (a common problem with most fish oils).
Adaptogenic Herbs- The term “adaptogenic” refers to a compound’s ability to modulate and balance the immune response, nervous system, and to increase the body’s ability to handle stress. Adaptogenic herbs have numerous health benefits, which include lowering cortisol levels, reducing blood pressure, and increasing mood. Ginseng, Ashwaganda, and Schizandra are just a few examples. Do your own research and experimentation to find the adaptogenic herb that suites your body best.