How to Effectively Deal With Leaky Gut and Inflammation
Hello everyone! This is Dr. Bell, and today we're going to be talking about gut health and the importance of having a healthy GI system.
What are some signs of an unhealthy gut?
I think a lot of the time, people assume that it's normal to have gut issues or digestive issues, but there are some signs that this may not be a good health condition to be in. Some things that you would want to look out for would be: feeling tired, wanting to lose weight and trying to lose weight but not being able to, or having poor digestion — meaning you have either loose bowels or you're having trouble going to the bathroom (like constipation or you just don't go frequently enough). Additionally, fatigue is very common, along with intense food cravings (the most common being sugar). A lot of times, when insulin levels start to fluctuate in the wrong way, we can have these intense cravings for sugar. We also commonly see brain fog and, in some cases where we have hormonal-related issues, we can also see low libido because gut iss ues can affect our hormones.
The SAD diet
You might have heard of something called the SAD diet — or what we call the Standard American Diet. If you pay attention to any research on the subject or even watch the news, you'll see that very frequently, Americans get targeted as having poor diets or having high rates of obesity. If you ever travel to Europe, you'll see American fast food stores all over the place, and a lot of times, that's what's contributing to other societies becoming overweight as well. Our fast food restaurants are imparting the American type diet onto cultures that traditionally have never eaten these types of foods. A lot of things in the SAD are toxic to the body, but some of the big ones that are very common are msg, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, and sugars.
What Can Poor Gut Health Lead to?
It’s been said that 85% of all diseases can be linked to gut health, and in functional medicine, this is one of the most common things we deal with in patients regarding their complaints or conditions that are causing other diseases. We call that the root cause. One of the conditions you will see is IBS, which is a very common term you hear all over the place these days. IBS symptoms include a lot of gas, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea.
You can also have something called dysbiosis, which is an imbalance of gut bacteria. We use the acronym SIBO to describe this small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. In SIBO, the small intestine, which isn't supposed to have a large amount of bacteria, has a disproportionate amount, and you have trouble processing food as a result. As a result, you have a lot of food sensitivities and a lot of nutrient imbalances because many of the nutrients we eat in our foods are absorbed in the small intestine.
Candida is another very common condition, especially with antibiotic use. Other autoimmune diseases like Celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and general food intolerances and sensitivities can be linked to gut health. When we see patients improve their gut health, we also see their ability to eat more foods they were sensitive to before. Gut health can also be linked to joint pain and fibromyalgia, as well as allergies.
Anytime we're having a discussion about gut health, what we're discussing is an inflammatory process going on. You may have heard of a term called “leaky gut” or other conditions where we have inflammation in the gut or the bowels.
Ironically, inflammation is very beneficial to our bodies. It's one of the ways that our bodies signal stem cells to heal or signal our brain that we need to have some sort of a healing response happen. There are two types of inflammation — acute and chronic.
Acute Inflammation is necessary because that's the type of inflammation that helps the body repair itself. An example of this type of inflammation would be if you are using a hammer and you accidentally hit your thumb. Your thumb swells in response to being hit. Another example? You have a cut, and it becomes infected. The infected site swells, and that swelling (inflammation) will bring white blood cells and repair cells to help your body overcome the effects of the infection.
Where we start to run into trouble is when we experience the second type of inflammation, chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is long-term, low-grade inflammation. This type is linked to chronic disease and is one of the biggest epidemics in our society right now. When we talk about chronic disease, the types of diseases we're speaking of are going to be heart disease, diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, leaky gut, joint pain, and more. There's a whole list of chronic diseases, and, largely, pharmaceutical intervention does not do a very good job when it comes to dealing with them.
So we’ve mentioned the term “leaky gut” earlier in this article. Around the office here, you'll hear us talking about this all the time. Leaky gut isn’t largely understood in traditional Western medical practice. This isn’t because it doesn't exist but because it's subclinical, meaning it's very hard to diagnose by taking a blood test, getting a colonoscopy, or running other tests that would allow us to put our finger on it. Now, truth be told, there are some things that we can look at on a blood test that could indicate that you have a leaky gut, but essentially, the functional medicine approach is different.
What we understand and believe about leaky gut in functional medicine is that the intestinal mucosal cells are supposed to be very tightly connected together. However, as we ingest toxins, expose ourselves to chemicals, and take medications, the lining of the gut becomes irritated, and the cells in the gut start to swell. This swelling causes the cells to become misshapen. As the cells spread apart, toxins produced by bacteria and viruses (that aren't supposed to enter our bloodstream) are allowed out of our gut and into our bodies. Some of these toxins can cause autoimmune diseases. Others can lead to cardiovascular disease. They can prevent vitamins and minerals from being absorbed, and, in some instances, some of these pathogens, bacteria, and viruses can cross over the blood-brain barrier, leading to that “brain fog” that you can hear about so often.
Leaky gut is something that we strongly believe exists in a lot of patients. If we can help improve leaky gut, often, we see drastic health improvements in patients (sometimes within days or weeks of treatment) just by tightening up those junctions in the gut. We will break down some of the main culprits behind leaky gut below.
In any discussion of suspected leaky gut or digestive issues, we will first ask a patient how much gluten you consume and whether you have a known gluten sensitivity. But what is gluten, really? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.
Thanks to a very interesting research article published about 50 years ago, the government decided to issue a proclamation — so to speak — and it came out in the form of a food pyramid I’m sure we’re all familiar with. This food pyramid says that the largest portion of foods you should consume daily should be grains like breads, rice, and pasta. While rice will largely be excluded from this discussion, when it comes to things like wheat, barley, and rye, the gluten protein they contain is very resistant to the digestive enzymes in our stomachs and intestines. As a result, breaking down gluten in our bodies is very hard, leaving a very large amino acid chain that basically cannot be digested. Our body recognizes that amino chain as something foreign, which can trigger an immune response. This response has all kinds of ramifications for the body. So, the reason you're now seeing a lot of gluten-free products (like cauliflower crust at the pizza restaurant) is that so many people are sensitive to gluten. It causes a lot of issues in the body such as autoimmune disorders, constipation, diarrhea, skin issues, headaches, and joint pain and swelling.
Still not sure if you’re sensitive to gluten? If you ingest gluten and have any of those symptoms immediately or up to 48 hours after, it might indicate that you have gluten sensitivity.
Another product or group of products that can trigger leaky gut and IBS is dairy. Dairy has a protein called casein which, much like gluten, is a very large protein. It takes a lot of enzymes to digest casein, and most people don't have the enzymes to digest dairy at all after the age of four.
Again, much like gluten, if you have dairy sensitivity, you either probably already know it or you suspect it. After eating dairy, you’ll experience things like gas, bloating, and diarrhea. While you won't see the excess mucus production in your gut that dairy can cause, it would actually show up on some of our testing. Some common symptoms of dairy sensitivity or dairy intolerance are itching, hives, swelling of the face, wheezing, and coughing. This is especially true in kids if their parents are giving them a lot of dairy products and they are experiencing asthma, or they have trouble breathing. This reaction is usually because caregivers have continued to give them dairy after age four when the body stops producing the enzymes needed to break down the casein protein.
Again 85 percent of people cannot digest dairy after age four. In this 85%, dairy can trigger an immune response — noticeable or unnoticeable — and the leading cause of IBS and leaky gut is going to be dairy.
We could do a two-hour presentation on sugar and how it affects the body, but we'll keep it real brief here. Sugar drains energy and triggers a leaky gut.
The main thing with sugar is that it can cause insulin spikes if you're ingesting more than 40 grams of sugar per day — that's going to be the equivalent of one can of soda, one candy bar, or nine teaspoons of sugar. The problem with an insulin spike is that your pancreas is forced to produce excessive amounts of insulin. But why?
Sugar has to be broken down in your liver. So when we consume an excess of sugar — which most of us consume in America (anywhere from 150 to 300 grams of sugar per day) — these excess sugars raise triglyceride levels. When triglyceride levels are elevated, that's something that is going to show up on a blood panel. So if you have high triglycerides on your medical records, it's most likely because of a sugar issue. In many cases, sugar also feeds bacteria, leading to excess intestinal overgrowth or excess bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
When we have this excess sugar, it becomes toxic to our bodies, and our bodies remove toxins by trying to store them in cells. Well, in the case of sugar, those cells happen to be fat cells. So, excess sugar will either get stored as fat toxins or inside of fat molecules because this storage will allow the body to remove the toxins from the bloodstream and protect us from them. This storage leads to weight gain. Weight gain is a major contributor to inflammation and cardiovascular disease.
Traditionally, dietary fat has been made to be the enemy. But, as it turns out, the real enemy is high amounts of carbohydrates and sugar.
Ingestion of corn is an interesting one. Some people can tolerate it, and some people can't. However, there are some general issues with corn which puts it in the category of something that should be avoided.
The main reason is that — at least in the United States — we don't use what's called heirloom corn. Most corn in the U.S. is GMO (or genetically modified). The genetically modified makeup of corn is similar to gluten, so it has very similar effects on the body. It's a very high glycemic vegetable, so your body will convert the substances in corn to sugar. This raises your sugar levels, which causes insulin spikes. As discussed, any time that insulin spikes, it will also increase inflammation and lead to issues where we have to remove high levels of sugar from the body and store those in fat cells.
My research on soy would indicate that it should be something that should be avoided in most cases. Now, some products are soy based that are actually good as a prebiotic, and some people believe that fermented soy products like natto or even soy sauce are okay to consume. In general, however, I would say that we would want to avoid soy as much as possible. But why?
There is evidence that soy can interfere with thyroid function. Like corn, most soy in the U.S. is genetically modified, and it's well known that the phytates in soy can bind to nutrients and prevent nutrient absorption. Additionally, soy has a high amount of lectins. So, soy is very difficult to digest, like beans, grains, and legumes. These phytates can cause reactions in your body and contribute to a leaky gut.
Other Triggers of Leaky Gut and Inflammation
Here is just a short list of some of the most common things that we buy when we go to the grocery store, we'll cover these very briefly, but all of these items are some of the major contributors to leaky gut and inflammation.
Things like processed meats or deli meats — especially ones that contain nitrate or sodium nitrite — are believed to be carcinogenic, so if you can avoid deli meat, it's always best. If you need to have deli meat or just like it, try to find something that's nitrate-free.
Snack foods and junk foods are in the same category. Anything that comes in a box is going to be low in fiber and high in sugar. On top of that, it’s usually made with cheap oils and flour. These are all going to be gluten-type products. So while it’s best to just avoid these things in general, if you do have to choose something, try to pick something that's a gluten-free product.
- Vegetable oils, especially omega-6 fatty acid-containing vegetable oils such as canola, safflower, sunflower, and grape seed oil. Anything that's not olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil. Those are the only three oils that are good to ingest. In the U.S., we have a high level of omega-6 fatty acid consumption, and that comes from vegetable oils.
- Artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, are often found in sugar-free drinks and diet drinks. Those are really bad and cause huge insulin spikes.
- Alcohol — more than two drinks per day — and that might even be excessive because that would work out to be 14 drinks a week. Excessive alcohol consumption is very hard on the liver, and the digestive system and leads to a whole host of problems.
- Margarine — which is made from vegetable oil heated to a very high degree of heat. That high level of processing with heat actually turns the vegetable oil into a toxin, and then we ingest that toxin margarine. As an alternative, you want to look at grass-fed butter, which is very safe and actually has very good health benefits.
- Candies, breads, pastas, pastries, cookies, and cakes go without saying because they fall in the category of sugar, gluten, and everything else we’ve already discussed.
- Antibiotics will wipe out not only the bad bacteria but also the good bacteria, so we definitely want to make sure that we don't over-take antibiotics despite the fact that they are one of the most over-prescribed medications in our country.
- Antacids, which are very common to take when we have heartburn. We often “take a tums”, or take something else that is supposed to put out the acid in our stomach. However, when we really look at patients — and we look at blood testing — it’s far more likely that they don't have enough stomach acid, so it seems counterintuitive. Lots of patients say things like, “What do you mean I need to have more stomach acid? I already have heartburn.” The idea is your body actually isn't producing enough stomach acid, and that's why you have heartburn, indigestion, and all those other issues.
- Excessive avoidance of bacteria. This would be overusing hand sanitizers, antibacterial soaps, over-cleansing, and over-scrubbing. We have good and bad bacteria on our bodies, but when we use these types of products, they wipe out not only the bad but also the good.
Let's talk about chronic disease for just a moment. I already mentioned briefly that it's one of the leading causes of problems in our society, but it turns out that about one in two Americans suffers from a chronic disease. Seven out of every ten illnesses are responsible for, or a result of, a chronic disease. Arthritis is one of these chronic diseases, and it’s also very heavily related to inflammation. So when patients wonder why they have arthritis — even though they've never been injured — it's usually because there's some sort of systemic inflammation going on in the body. Heart attacks, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and obesity (which also have a very close relationship to diabetes) are all inflammation-related conditions. Essentially, if we handle inflammation, then a lot of chronic diseases can be reversed, and that's good news.
The majority of Americans have nutrient deficiencies, and it has to do with the types of foods that we consume. Of course, there are other things you could argue contribute, such as the rapid turnover of our crops, our farming practices, and all these different things that are happening with our food supply which are leading to a decrease in the nutrients in the foods we absorb. The big deficiencies that we see are vitamin D and zinc. Magnesium and B vitamins deficiencies are also very common and this is where multivitamins sometimes can have a positive effect. Supplementation can definitely be beneficial, but it can also create toxicities. When we look at patients, we take our Avexia blood panel, which gives us a good window into what specific nutrient deficiencies a patient might be suffering from. From there, we can tailor a program to help meet that patient's needs.
If a majority of Americans are suffering from nutrient deficiencies, then this lack of nutrients is going to lead to a breakdown in our metabolism. There's a process in the body called the Krebs cycle, which is how our body utilizes nutrients and glucose. When we have inflammation overload, then we have inefficient energy production. When we have inefficient energy production, then we have an overproduction of lactic acid. This lactic acid is going to cause chronic muscle and joint inflammation. It's a leading cause of chronic pain syndrome (sometimes called chronic fatigue syndrome), but it all circles back to inflammation overload which starts to affect the body in negative ways — especially metabolically.
Fight or Flight
As our body deals with toxicity, our body is put into a state of stress. Some call this the fight or flight response. There are other words for it, but what's happening is that glucose is being broken down inefficiently. Our body is able to make glucose from several sources, carbohydrates being the most obvious one. Our body can also recycle proteins and break those down into carbohydrates and fats — to a lesser extent — but fats do provide a large amount of energy for our body. When we have an inefficient metabolism, however, we have more waste and less energy produced directly from glucose. All of these issues combined lead to a really a lot of breakdown of the body's metabolism. That's why you always hear things like “Take this fat burner,” “Take this thing that speeds up your metabolism,” or “Drink coffee or take caffeine.” These are all these different things that we like to try in order to compensate for this system breakdown. However, if we can just get the inflammation down in our body and get that Krebs cycle to work correctly, it makes things a lot easier. You actually fix the system. You can produce 32 times the amount of energy that you're normally making, and you can reduce the amount of lactic acid by 19 times, just by improving the body's metabolism.
Liver & Kidneys
It requires two main organs to assist in the purification of our body. Just the act of simply metabolizing the foods we eat can produce toxic waste — not to mention things like ingesting pesticides that are on our foods, or bacteria, pathogens that naturally exist in the foods that we eat, things that we ingest, stuff in the air, etc. — are processed by the liver. I always say the liver is the filter for the body. The liver filters these toxins. Additionally, it metabolizes fat, protein, and carbohydrates. It takes all of these substances (good and bad) and breaks them down into harmless particles or into particles that we can actually utilize in our bodies. Now, the kidneys also assist in this; the kidneys are responsible for things within the blood. Not only do they filter waste from the blood, but they also have the very important function of regulating the release of sodium, phosphorus, potassium, proteins, and things like that. We have ways to check this process with blood testing. We can test the kidney filtration rate and you'll sometimes hear us talk about this. But what that really means is if your kidneys are having trouble filtering, then your kidneys are having trouble removing things from the bloodstream. That can potentially be a very serious issue. We want to make sure that both your liver and your kidneys are working as optimally as possible.
Obesity & Chronic Fatigue
When we suffer from a metabolism breakdown, we still have to function, thrive, and survive. The way that we do this is by ingesting large amounts of sugar — so it's no coincidence that when we have a toxic situation in our body, our bodies are suffering from obesity and chronic fatigue, AND we have high consumption of sugar. I always make the joke that you have to go for your latte or your sugar-laden frozen coffee at two in the afternoon because your body starts running out of fuel. What really happens is that two in the afternoon is about the time your adrenal glands kick in and start to panic. It tells your body that you need to get something in quickly because it’s running out of fuel. This process is exhaustive for your body. It leads to fatigue. It leads to difficulty sleeping. It leads to storing excess toxins as fats. This is where obesity comes from. If you feel like you can't eat enough food and you continue to consume, it becomes a vicious cycle. The trick, again, is to improve the metabolism. When you get the body to start burning the excess fat, you go into a state of “keto” or ketosis. Now, that doesn't mean the “keto diet.” Instead, what has happened is that your body has taken fats — that it got from sugar — and stored as fat in the fat cells. Now, the body has to reverse that process, and we have to go from stored fat and break it back down into sugar that your body can use as energy. Admittedly, this is a lengthy process that we go through with patients, but it's amazing to watch when people start to actually tap into that system because they start feeling better, sleeping better, and of course, losing excess weight, as well as, experiencing relief from the number of negative symptoms that go along with that. At the same time, we see inflammation go down. When inflammation goes down, we see fatigue, pain, and joint aches, and pains all go away. Truth be told, It's really a fun process to watch unfold.
I want to talk for a moment about the adrenal glands. I like to refer to this as your body's backup system. You may have heard of cortisol levels, and you'll hear us talk about cortisol levels a lot in the office. The standard fight or flight response — there are all kinds of different things that the adrenal glands are responsible for. One of these is glucose management. When we start to have high glucose (hyperglycemia) or low glucose (hypoglycemia), or we have stress which can happen in a whole bunch of different ways (that's a whole other talk that we could have), then the adrenal glands take action.
What healthy adrenal glands do is move sugar out of storage when needed. However, if we have too much fight or flight, or too much stress, or — like any hormone in the body — you overutilize them, then they don’t have a chance to regenerate, and you start to get adrenal stress or adrenal overload. These are all subclinical things that don't show up on blood tests because when you talk about adrenal overload in the traditional medical world, you're talking specifically about Addison's disease. This disease is not what we're talking about. We're talking about adrenal fatigue as a result of the body having to constantly use this system. This system will keep you alive and will keep your thyroid alive, even if your thyroid isn't working properly. The adrenal glands are capable of compensating for a malfunctioning thyroid, so there are all kinds of extra things that the adrenal glands do, and we need to make sure that we support them by allowing them to go and get some rest. That way, when stress does present itself, your body will be able to handle it a little bit better.
What organs assist in purification?
We have two main organs in the body that assist with purification. Of course, you’ve heard of the small intestine. We talked about SIBO earlier in this video which refers to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. In addition to the small intestine, we have the large intestine. These two organs serve two separate functions, but they work together. The small intestine digests food so that nutrients can be absorbed into the blood and then transported to the liver. The small intestine is also a barrier that blocks toxins from the rest of the body. On the other side of the team, the large intestine acts as a kind of garbage disposal. That's the organ in the body that actually gets rid of waste. It absorbs water and electrolytes out of the waste, and then you excrete it from the body. Additionally, antibodies are produced in the large intestine along with bacterial compounds that create fatty acids and vitamins for nutritional support. It’s very important that both of these organs work in conjunction with each other and that they're functioning properly because they are the first line of defense and the first part of the body where nutrients are processed and absorbed.
Are your labs normal?
I can't even count the number of times that patients have come into the office and they say, “I have such bad brain fog” or “I can't figure out why I'm gaining weight if I just look at food even though I'm eating healthy and exercising” or “my stress levels are so high that all I want to do is just eat everything in sight.” So we'll explain to patients that, if tested, those labs are going to show up normal. The reason is that normal labs only screen for pathology. Those lab ranges are the ranges that most people are going to function in. It's also the reason why you feel bad, and you're being told that there's nothing wrong with you. This is what I mean when I say that the labs can be normal even if you're still feeling like there's something wrong. If you look at this diagram, you can see on the bar the red area. That's what's outside of the normal lab range. Inside the lab range, there's this thing called the inaccurate lab range. This range is when things are not normal, but it actually doesn't show up on the lab test. Most of the time we function in what we call the functional lab ranges or the optimal ranges within this, which you'll see on some of the reports that we do when we run our functional lab tests. This means that you could be telling your doctor you're sick but, based on the lab work, the doctor would not know necessarily why you're sick because they're only looking at those standard ranges that are designed to cover a broad base of patients and not an individual's specific problems.
Traditional medical approach
So in a traditional medical approach, or what we'll call a Western Medical Approach, the philosophy is based on the treatment of symptoms. In the Western Approach, you have a problem, and then you're given some sort of drug, injection, or surgery to address the symptom, which has usually only occurred after something has been going wrong for quite some time. If symptom treatment fails, then the approach is to look at what condition you have and then what drugs do you need to address that condition. This is how we are educated. This is why sixty percent of the commercials on TV convince you that you need a drug for a certain problem or issue that you’re suffering from. The public, by and large, buys into this sort of philosophy. Because drug companies are a business — they are for-profit — this philosophy benefits them. Thyroid issues and diabetes symptoms, to them, mean that you need to have prescription drugs for life, and that makes you a great customer.
In functional medicine, we look at what the underlying cause of a problem could be.
There are four main things that influence your health that we'll always want to consider first — at least from a historical or a health history perspective — and that's going to be:
- Physical traumas; car accidents, slips, trips, and falls, or things that have physically happened to your body.
- We also look at emotional stressors, job stress, getting on social media too much, or if you’re having trouble at home with your spouse or your loved one. There are a lot of things that fall into the emotional realm, especially these days.
- We also have to consider what you’re doing to yourself chemically. That could be drugs that you're taking, it could be food that you're eating, or it could be environmental exposures that you've had. Maybe you’ve been in the military, or perhaps you work in a job where there's a lot of industrial exposure, and so chemicals can affect the body very severely in some cases.
- We also have to look at your immune system and how healthy your body is. Factors such as how run down you are and what your body can or cannot do because of a properly functioning or malfunctioning immune system are important to consider.
Is there a better way?
At this point, you might be asking yourself, “Is there a better way to do this?” or perhaps you've been asking yourself, “What if there was a better way?”. “I know there's something wrong with me, and I know these labs aren't accurate”, and, of course, that’s exactly what we're talking about today. The whole purpose of functional medicine is to get to the true cause of what's going on with the gut and say, HEY… don't just treat the symptoms, don't just take antacids, antibiotics, stool softeners, or cleanses. Let's run those lab tests and see if we can find out what the problem is in the gut. Once we’ve done that, we can often help uncover some other potential health issues and things that could be contributing to the gut issues. So ultimately, what we're trying to do, is we're trying to heal the gut. Everything that is done in this office is going to be done without prescription drugs and with the avoidance of surgery if possible. This is a huge part of our mission statement and our core values — we don't want to be invasive. We don't want to be doing anything more than just helping the body learn to function on its own as it's meant to be. The good news is that we've figured out a simpler way to help you recover gut health and reduce inflammation.
Proactive vs. Reactive
There are two ways that you can approach your health. You can take a reactive approach, which essentially means that you're going to wait until something shows up; high blood pressure, cancer, or diabetes, before you decide to seek a health professional's advice and do something about it. The other way that you can choose to take charge of your health is to be proactive. What that means is you function in a realm where you try to get out ahead of a problem — you run regular labs even though you're not sick, you look at things periodically on testing, and you perhaps even opt for some genetic testing. There are all kinds of things that you can do to be proactive, avoiding ever having a problem in the first place. We like to help our patients in that proactive realm. We want you to feel empowered to take control of your health and teach you that it's important to listen to your body. If we can find the root cause of health problems, you really don't ever have to treat symptoms, and that's the beauty of this whole thing.
So I said a little while ago that I had some diagrams of food pyramids. The food pyramid on the right versus the food pyramid on the left is very different, as you can see. The food pyramid on the left is the one that I said was more grain-based, and that's the one that came out in the 1970s. It said we should eat more grains and more starchy carbs and that fats are bad. It we should eat a small or moderate amount of vegetables and a moderate amount of fish, chicken, and dairy. Then sweets and junk food are at the top. This model led to the high consumption of grains and glutens that we've been talking about today.
What we really want to advocate for our patients — again, it's not really a question of which one is right or which one is wrong — is deciding what's going to help the body function better.
You can see, with the pyramid on the right, a larger focus on vegetables, greens, and proteins. Water is even in there, though you don't see water on the other food pyramid. You want to focus on the omega-3 fats — not omega-6 fats — that you get from wild Alaskan salmon, or from taking fish oils, or from EPA DHA.
Herbs and spices are important! Organic teas, coffee, and dark chocolate also have a lot of benefits. We feel that a grain-based diet is not the way to go, and we find that eating vegetables or following a diet that focuses on vegetables (essentially low-carb, moderate-protein) and higher ratios of fats, that seems to be what moves the needle for patients by keeping the inflammation low, keeping the weight under control and still having the foods that you like so you don't feel like you're suffering. You CAN live a healthy life in a way that's positive and rewarding.
The inflammation transformation process we've talked about today involves diagnostic testing to identify the causes of poor gut health, and there are several different things we can do. Primarily, we can run the functional blood chemistry test. That's the number one thing we start with for suspected gut issues. There will also be some sort of stool and saliva test that we do. There's also some genetic testing that we can do, depending on what the symptoms and complaints are. Regardless, we'll custom-tailor our testing to whatever needs to be addressed and the issues you're looking for. After testing, the first thing we need to do is to get the nutrition right. We have to remove and reduce pathogens. We want to balance gut bacteria and repair the intestinal lining. We will have the ability to reintroduce foods and test certain foods that you may want to eat because you like them or they taste good to you. There’s a myriad of reasons why you would want to try certain foods, and you'll find that some foods work for you and some foods don't. That's called an elimination diet — which really isn't a diet — but you take away all of the known problems with foods and then reintroduce one at a time so you can figure out if that particular food is good for you or bad for you. Lastly, we want to feed good gut bacteria. If we do this in the right order, we can very quickly turn things around for you. We'll administer the correct supplements that unlock healing, with the ultimate goal being your long-term health. We do it all through coaching and lifestyle changes.
If you want to find out how to improve your gut health or even be proactively tested, we would love to talk with you. Feel free to book an appointment with the front desk receptionist. During your appointment, you can sit down and talk with one of our functional medicine experts. You can also give us a call at 951-225-4419, and we can book that appointment for you over the phone. We love to speak with spouses, friends, and family members as well! We have a lot of families that do this together, and they all get healthy at the same time. It's really an amazing process if families do it together. If you want more information check out our website, www.vitalityintegrativewellness.com. You can also follow us on social media through Facebook and Instagram at @vitalityintegrativewellness.