Healing the gut with functional approaches and my post C-section Gut Healing
HEALING THE GUT WITH FUNCTIONAL APPROACHES AND MY POST C-SECTION GUT HEALING
As a functional medicine dietitian, I spend a lot of time with clients discussing and examining the role the gut has on their whole body health. Your gut or GI tract influences your digestion, immune health, nutritional status, stress response, mood stability, inflammatory response, and so much more! I use a 3R approach for best clinical outcomes focusing on: Remove the Irritant, Restore Optimal Function, and Repair the GI lining.
When talking to clients I need to assess chicken-and-egg what is the driving cause in their imbalance. For instance is it HPA-axis and adrenal fatigue which is throwing the GI tract to have digestive distress? In this sense the individual may have a low cortisol level with excessive epinephrine (adrenaline) where their body is not able to have a natural anti-inflammatory support from the steroid effect of cortisol and yet they are over reacting to foods further by an excitatory adrenaline surge which causes the enteric nervous system to go into overdrive often leading to urgency, loose stool, and bloating. For this individual my first line of defense would be GabaCalm Chew to support relaxation to the vagus nerve which goes from the brain stem all the way down to the colon. GabaCalm Chew aids in reducing excitatory stress signals acting as an inhibitory neurotransmitter aka a mellow-er outer! This is a great formula for public speaking, dealing with stressful work situations, a first date, etc. it takes the “edge off” of your nerves and thus may reduce your nervous stomach if that is of concern! This step would fall under Restore Optimal Function and Removing the Irritant would be coping mechanisms or lifestyle change to remove the stressor.
For another client, the irritant may be food or chemical. This is most common with GI distress as food sensitivity is on the rise due to increased exposure to antibiotics, chlorine and other sterilizing agents in tap water, changes in the food system with GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and hybridized inflammatory foods including: corn, short dwarf wheat, conventional soy, and canola to name a few. Food sensitivity symptoms are often chronic because the mediators that make us feel sick are released every time you eat the (often unknown) reactive foods. Often a staple food consumed daily is keeping a client from feeling optimal! The impact of a sensitivity can be unpredictable as it may be dose dependent or interact when two trigger foods are eaten together. To make things worse, some reactions occur 72-hours after ingestion which makes determining trends or patterns difficult. Using a lab test to determine a starting point for identification of dietary and chemical irritants allows for strategic elimination diet to reset the system allowing your immune system and inflammatory pathways to cool and reset. Once irritants are identified and removed, and the GI tract has been supported with enzymes, probiotics, and GI lining support, the client can systematically reintroduce foods tracking reactions or undesired symptoms. I run a Mediator Release Test (MRT) to work as a GPS of the body determining an individual’s kryptonite and then wring out their body’s inflammation by creating a meal plan focused on rotation of the least inflammatory ingredients.
MRT accounts for both Type 3 and the more common Type 4 IgG (immune system tagging) pathways while layering in inflammatory chemical response. MRT results include reactions 150 foods and chemicals. Independent studies confirm MRT is the most accurate and comprehensive blood test available for food and food-chemical reactions. This blood test can serve as your jump-start to improved wellbeing and systemic balance while providing structure to feel in control of your body again!
MY WELLNESS JOURNEY: POST C-SECTION DIGESTIVE DISTRESS
After my c-section with Stella, I dealt with severe abdominal distention, bloating of up to 4″ within a day, and irregular bowel movements with constipation and gas. She was breech and fused into my uterus so I know there was some mechanical distress to my intestines and a big hit to my microbiome with the sterility of the surgery. I actually used the MRT test to aid in fertility and had run a year and a half prior to aid with my inflammatory autoimmune condition both times with successful outcomes. I started my third MRT protocol in July, excited to get going with the protocol as Stella reached an age where I felt I was able to practice some form of self care and a “high maintenance” diet!
As with the prior 2 rounds, it was important I was ready to commit to honoring my body with foods that support it vs. hinder it or drive disfunction. It really sounds simple enough, but you have to be mentally there. “I mean, what’s a little almond butter going to do to me really?” (yes I was reactive to almond this go around which includes almonds, almond butter, almond milk….I think what made up about 20% of my diet haha!) These sabotaging thoughts will find you if you aren’t ready and you will often get mucky results if you aren’t able to abide by the protocol of strict avoidance. This time, I was ready, I was excited, it was a treat to take the time to look at myself at my body and how I could support it.
I was taking Digestaid as a constant support which did help with my bloating and GI pain, but I was excited to layer in a structured approach to heal my body from the trauma. This digestive enzyme formula aids in the breakdown of starches, vegetable fibers, fats, proteins, combining HCl- for stomach acid regulation and ox bile to support bowel regularity as well as providing DPP4 for inflammatory casein and gluten compounds. It is the bomb! I recommend taking 1 10-15 min prior to meals and snacks to reduce bloating, cramping, and reactivity while enhancing nutritional absorption! Beyond the enzymes which would fall into the Restore Optimal Function, I wanted to Remove the Irritant. Per my results this round, I had to Remove 17 food ingredients as well as remove a biological compound, Candida Albicans. I started my elimination diet while I waited for Stella to wean before I could start the Candida Cleanse Bundle of supplements following the Beat the Bloat program.
Now I am in the phase of Restoration with both diet and supplementation. I have completed the first 3 months of my MRT protocol where now I am now re-introducing foods that were eliminated 1 week per food to assess for reactivity. I also have completed my 6 week candida cleanse and am rebuilding my microbiome with probiotic support via the Bacteria Rebuild Bundle. Throughout the entire process even prior to my pregnancy and literally in the hospital recovery room, I have been sipping bone broth to repair my gut lining with glutamine, collagen, and gelatin. Bone broth aids in sealing the gut preventing reactivity to foods and repairing the gut lining. Check out my step by step recipe for bone broth here!
Beyond its gut restoring properties, bone broth also supports relaxation and can actually be a driver for GABA production! Yes, the same neurotransmitter referenced above that reduces anxiety and stress response. Sipping on bone broth in the evening can help you to find your mellow and to support your gut in the healing process while building healthy skin, nails, hair, and joints! To further support gut restoration, I take GI lining powder which includes L-glutamine, DGL, and aloe to provide oopy-goopy delivery of the L-glutamine to therapeutically Rebuild the GI lining. This is a great tool to more directly address leaky gut and coat and soothe the intestines while reducing food reactivity.
In this past year and process of recovery, I now experience digestive peace! No more bloating, 1-2 bowel movements daily that are well-formed, easy to pass, improved energy and brain function, as well as stable mood and sleep patterns. The anti-inflammatory protocol of MRT diet has also reduced my swelling and inflammation in my hands and joints while bringing my thyroid values back into range. I have my body back and that in turn makes me a better momma! More present, more connected, and feeling well puts me in a happier mood. It is a process and often an uphill journey, but working the process works!
I hope sharing this inspires you to practice self care and take the leap to invest in your body and start somewhere. Don’t accept “getting old” or “just feeling ok”. Start with my basic anti-inflammatory diet supported by the Naturally Nourished cookbook or take things up a notch with my Virtual Ketosis program as foundational support. If you know you are dealing with food reactions, I would strongly recommend the MRT test. You can purchase it as the test in MRT A with a 15-min clinical review as a passive lab interpretation or as MRT B with a 75-min thorough functional medicine assessment and clinical review where you will get thorough recommendations and become a patient in my clinic with an intake of medical history, interventions, meal plan, specific supplement recommendations and more. Wherever you start via diet, trying a therapeutic supplement, or running the panel, I hope all of you reading this take a moment to commit to how you are going to start healing yourself today.