Regain Your Terrain Digestive Protocol:
Digestive disorders can be extremely embarrassing and debilitating. Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, small bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and colitis are extremely common and can be hard to get under control.
What most people don’t understand is that the gut plays an enormous role in brain and emotional health, joint support, skin health, immune function and so much more! Many individuals never deal with digestive symptoms, in spite of many health problems that originated with intestinal breakdown.
Good health begins and ends with the health of your gut. If your gut is damaged or you have an abundance of pathogenic microorganisms it is impossible to be healthy. The gut must be addressed daily in order for one to live a lifestyle that builds health. The stool test I use looks in detail at the makeup of the gut and if parasites, yeast and/or bad bacteria are elevated and what the best anti-microbial agents are for this.
A Leaky Gut Results in a Leaky Brain
A leaky gut equals a leaky brain as the gut has a direct connection through the vagus nerve to critical centers in the brain. Chronic inflammation in the gut also creates an inflammatory process that lights up key centers in the brain such as the limbic system, basal ganglia and anterior cingulate gyrus.
The blood brain barrier is also weakened when the gut lining is weakened. So when the gut becomes damaged it opens up the blood brain barrier and makes it more permeable to toxins and circulating immune cells that create more inflammatory stress. When the key brain centers are hyperstimulated from chronic inflammation they create symptoms of anxiety, depression and negative thinking.
Leaky gut syndrome also damages regions of the temporal lobe that are associated with memory, language and temper control. Frontal lobe damage leads to poor attention span and hyperactivity. If you heal the gut you are about 60% of the way towards optimizing the brain.
Breaking The Vicious Cycle
The goal of the reset phase of the Digestive Health Protocol is to break the “Vicious Cycle” as described by Elaine Gottschall in her book. She describes this cycle as a constant pattern of diarrhea, constipation, acid-reflux, gas, indigestion, bloating, fatigue and many other digestive symptoms.
This vicious cycle is basically a process in which inflammatory damage to the intestines causes poor digestion which leads to bacterial overgrowth. These bacteria then release waste particles after consuming the undigested or partially digested food.
There are some microbiota who eat toxins and produce key nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin K. There are other microbiota that eat valuable nutrients and product toxic material. When we have poor digestive processes, we create an environment that is ripe for the development of the type of microbiota that consume valuable nutrients our body needs and produce waste particles that affect our brain, stomach, intestines, liver, skin and many other organs.
10 Common Digestive Symptoms:
3. Diarrhea &/or Constipation (less common than diarrhea)
4. Abdominal pain or cramping
5. Skin disorder such as eczema and rosacea
6. Diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease
7. Food intolerances such as gluten, casein, lactose, fructose and more
8. Chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune diseases, diabetes and neuromuscular disorders.
9. B12 deficiencyas well as other vitamins and minerals (iron and magnesium are common)
10. Fat malabsorption
The Digestive Breakdown Process:
- Poor Digestive Processes due to poor diet, chronic stress, eating too fast or on the go, taking anti-biotics, antacids or NSAID medications.
- Intestinal Inflammation: The inflammation of the intestinal region creates swelling and fluid (like a sprained ankle) and often increases the mucous content. This reduces nutrient absorption further.
- Overgrowth of Bacteria: The bad bacteria, yeast and sometimes parasites come in and feed on the undigested food particles.
- Bacteria, Yeast & Parasites Produce Toxins: The overgrowth of these microorganisms leads to high levels of waste material release that causes more inflammation and gas. This accounts for the stomach pain, distension, gas, change in bowel movement patterns (diarrhea and constipation), etc. that many experience.
Healing the Gut:
It is vital to remember that when one has this sort of health condition, the intestines are inflamed. Think about this like a sprained ankle. If you are trying to walk on your sprained ankle, it will swell up even more and will never heal as it was designed too.
The same pattern works with your gut. If we are constantly challenging our gut with foods that are tougher on the digestive processes, than we are only irritating the injured intestines even more and we can forget about truly healing.
The only way to heal a sprained ankle is to stay off of the ankle. You need to rest it, ice it (reduce inflammation), maintain compression and keep it elevated. The best way to heal a damaged and inflamed gut is to reduce food stuffs that are going through it and use nutrients that help to soothe and de-inflame the gut lining.
The 3 Phase System to Heal the Gut:
The Reset Phase:
Trouble Shooting the Reset Phase:
The most common complaints that I get during this phase is fatigue, nausea & cravings. This is very common on a fast.
Since a fast is essentially a low-carb diet (or no carbs), the body excretes a lot of sodium. It is important to add a lot to your broth. The broth should taste mildly salty but good. Don’t over salt to where you dislike the flavor.
Nausea: This is very common during this phase. Using ginger or peppermint tea and fresh ginger that you can grate and add to the broth can be very helpful for reducing nausea.
Cravings: Whenever you deprive yourself of food you have a natural tendency to have food cravings. Your body and mind are so used to chewing food and consuming sugar, carbs and protein that cravings are a very natural result.
When we eat food, we release dopamine and endorphins. This creates a natural feel-great experience. This neurophysiological process creates a strong emotional component to eating.
If you experience food cravings, hang tough and realize that this is a normal detoxification process that will help you grow stronger physically, mentally and emotionally.
To Beat the Cravings:
- Have a Success Partner: This could be someone you are doing the program with or a supportive friend or family member. There job is to encourage you and hold you accountable to following through with what you set out to do.
- Journal: Journal about your feelings and how strong you are for overcoming these. Keep your journaling super positive…continue to reaffirm how you are an overcomer, a champion, that you rise in victory, etc.
- Have a Visualization Board and/or Process: You can create a vision board that shows you rising above challenges, feeling and looking great and experiencing life fulfillment. Keep looking at the board. Additionally, practice visualizing yourself strong and healthy. Vibrant life is flowing out of you! This will help to reenergize and refocus you to accomplishing your goal!
Think of this process as a short-term challenge that strengthens your self-control and will power and will lead to a more enjoyable and fulfilling life.
The rebuilding phase is a combination of the GAPS diet and low-FODMAPS nutrition plan. We want to utilize this dual approach to get the best gut healing food based nutrients into the body with the least amount of stress on the digestive system.
The major theme here is to cook the vegetables well and consume them in soups and stews to continue to take in the enormous health benefits of bone broth.
Additionally, you can make berry shakes with coconut milk as a side option to give you liquid nutrition and variety.
Meat: Wild-caught Salmon, Organic Chicken, Turkey or Duck meat
Use Collagen protein powder
Fats: Organic animal broth (grass-fed beef, lamb, duck, chicken or turkey), coconut oil, coconut milk, grass-fed ghee and olive oil
Seeds: Pumpkin Seeds, Hemp Seeds, Chia Seeds & Flax Seeds
Fruit: Berries, lemons, limes, small amount of granny smith apple
Vegetables: Low-FODMAP group
Bamboo Shoots Bok Choy Butternut Squash
Carrots Chives Cucumber
Fennel Green Beans Green Onion (Scallion)
Olives Parsnips Radishes
Pumpkin Sea Vegetable Squash
Spinach Sweet Potato Zucchini
These are all good vegetables during this plan. During this phase these all (except cucumber and olives) need to be cooked in a soup/broth.
Small amounts of raw cucumber slices with apple cider vinegar are permissible. You may add olives to this.
Meals must be small and spread out throughout the day.
Meals: Protein Shake with organic coconut milk, fresh or frozen berries (no more than ½ cup per shake) and 2 scoops of grass-fed collagen protein or Super Digest Protein.
Stews: Organic bone broth
Orange Vegetable: Carrots or Squash or Sweet Potato
Green Vegetable: Kale, spinach or green beans
Sea Vegetable: Small amounts of kelp, dulse or nori flakes
Meat: Organic (ideally pasture-raised) chicken, turkey or duck
You could also do wild-caught fish such as salmon
Herbs: Italian herbs such as oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, etc.
Fats: You can add coconut oil and/or grass-fed ghee
*Avoid Any Ingredients you are allergic or sensitive too*
*If you are allergic to coconut than you can use hemp milk*
After the rebuilding phase you move into the reinnoculation phase where you consume lots of good fats and fermented and steamed veggies. This period lasts for fourteen days while you slowly add in new foods and see how the body tolerates them and what is going to support your microbiota and body the best. Be sure to watch out for how your body responds to the various higher FODMAP foods.
The only foods consumed on this part of the plan are small amounts of steamed cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussell sprouts, etc. Small amounts of steamed carrots can be nice too. You want to find the veggies your body is able to tolerate.
If you notice gas, bloating, cramps, heartburn, etc. after consuming something be sure to journal that and try it again the next day. If you notice 2 days in a row of this sort of reaction eating the same thing than stay off that particular food for a while (a month) before retrying.
Fermented veggies and beverages such as sauerkraut, kimchii, beet kvaas, kombucha and coconut water and coconut milk kefir are good foods to try in small quantities and see how your body tolerates these as well.
Using small quantities of chia and/or flax seed is really good for fiber and essential fats. Continue with coconut oil and you can also use coconut butter, coconut flakes and coconut milk in small quantities are good during this stage and make sure you apply all the rules above to see if they are disturbing your gut.
Best Foods For the ReInnoculation Phase
All foods that were tolerated well during the ReBuilding phase
Additional Foods to begin adding
Meat: Red meat – grass-fed beef, lamb, bison, venison
Vegetables: Higher FODMAP group (Fructans and Polyols specifically)
Polyols: Cauliflower, mushrooms, avocado (most fruit is in this category). Sugar alcohol sweeteners are on this list but I would recommend waiting until the 2nd month to begin adding back those.
I recommend the first 7 days focusing on Fructans and the 2nd week focusing on Polyols
How To Implement:
You can choose to stick with soups and stews and if you are still having symptoms at this point, I would highly recommend it. If you are feeling a lot better, begin to have these vegetables steamed or sautéed.
Take one vegetable each day, such as asparagus and try it for lunch in a sautéed form with grass-fed ghee or coconut oil and herbs. Then try it with dinner steamed with grass-fed ghee or coconut oil and herbs.
Assess how you feel during the 24 hour period from consuming lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 2 and see how much gas, bloating, fatigue, etc. that you notice.
Rank This Food on a scale of 1-10
In the morning the following day, try some fermented food such as 1-2 tbsps of sauerkraut or kimchi or coconut water kefir. Use only one type of fermented food at a time and see how you feel in the next couple of hours that morning.
Use the same scoring chart for the fermented foods and drinks you are trying. For each type of fermented food I like to give 3-days and 3 different measurements. This is because when you first begin to add in fermented foods, there is often a little bit of digestive discomfort but as your body gets more used to them, they should help you feel very good!
If after a few days you are still having symptoms with the fermented foods try a different one. If the symptoms are very bad, take them out all together. This could be due to a histamine intolerance and you may need some histamine metabolism support.
Scoring Sheet For Foods:
The foods that digest in the 8-10 range are the main foods you want to be consuming on a daily basis. Foods that are in the 5-7 range you want to eat only on occasion. Anything ranging under a 5 should be avoided completely for another month.
Each month you can try a lower scoring food and see how you respond. If you are responding higher than previous than you may be able to consume that food either on occasion or if it scores high enough you may be able to have it regularly.
The Probiotic Lifestyle
This is where we get into the lifestyle phase of the program and we begin to incorporate more foods and test your tolerability to them. We want to create a nutrition plan that is full of real foods that are rich in prebiotic fibers, good healthy fats, clean proteins and anti-oxidants.
In this phase, you should be able to tolerate more fermented vegetables and tonics. Be sure to check how you are reacting to these foods. If you notice increased flare-ups of cramping, diarrhea, eczema, acne or fatigue try cutting down a bit. Overtime you will find the right amount for yourself.
Do the same with the various “fringe foods” that are not allowed on the first 30 days but have some health benefits if they are tolerated by the body.
These Fringe Foods Include:
Eggs (pasture-raised) Raw, grass-fed dairy Chocolate (Raw Cacao)
Nightshade Veggies Higher Oxalate veggies Nuts, Beans & Legumes
When or if you introduce any of these, be sure to use the same scoring chart above. If you notice you don’t feel as well on a consistent basis when consuming these foods than eliminate them for at least a month or two before trying to reintroduce them.
*If you notice you have an allergy or extreme sensitivity to any of these, it would be better to stay off of them for at least 6 months if not longer before reintroducing them. In some cases, you may never be able to tolerate one of these normally healthy foods.
You may also want to add in a lot of prebiotic veggies such as radishes, jicama, leeks, onions, artichoke, Dakon radishes, celery, cucumbers, carrots and tomatoes (if you can handle them – some people have more inflammation when they consume nightshades like eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes and bell peppers).
These foods provide great prebiotic fibers to help feed your microbiome and produce short chain fatty acids that keep your gut healthy and strong. As you improve the health of your gut you will begin to crave these vegetables.
A great meal is to have a bowl of guacamole with an assortment of these prebiotic veggies that help to feed and strength a healthy microbiome. You can also add in some flax crackers for more good fibers and a tasty crunch.
For some individuals, they thrive off of these prebiotics while others struggle with too many of them. Have keen awareness of how you tolerate them.
Ideally, these should give you more energy, better brain function and consistent bowel movements. If you notice a lot of gas and bloating and other unwanted symptoms that reduce your intake.
Twelve Steps to Keep Your Gut Healthy:
- Avoid Processed Foods and Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Processed foods contain dangerous environmental chemicals that alter the microbiome and favor the development of bad bacteria and yeast species.
- Drink Filtered Water: Only drink water that has been filtered – ideally through a high quality carbon filter or even better through a reverse osmosis system system.
- Consume Lots of Small and Medium Chain Fats: Small chain fats (SCFAs) such as butyric acid and medium chain fats (MCT’s) like caprylic and lauric acid are powerful support for the microflora. You find butyric acid in grass-fed butter and ghee and caprylic/lauric acid in coconut oil.
- Anti-Microbial Herbs: Some herbs such as oregano, thyme, peppermint and basil help to kill off bad microbes and favor the development of healthy microbes. Consume these generously in either a fresh, dried or essential oil form on a daily basis. You can also use supplemental antimicrobials such as berberine, bayberry and grapefruit seed extract. I have my clients use GI Regulator to reduce microbial counts.
- Practice Intermittent Fasting: Go a minimum of 12 hours between meals overnight. Try to work your way to 16-18 hour daily fasts. Be sure to drink as much clean water as possible in order to flush your system and save off hunger.
- Drink Coffee or Tea with Butter: Coffee and herbal teas contain powerful anti-oxidants that favor the development of a healthy microbiome. Be sure to get organic varities and use grass-fed butter/ghee and coconut oil in them in order to get more small and medium chain fats.
- Use a High Quality Probiotic Supplement: Taking a high quality probiotic on a daily basis is especially beneficial to improve your gut health. I recommend Probiocharge as a general wellness probiotic and Prescript Assist for challenging digestive health conditions who are unable to tolerate lactobacillus strains of probiotics.
- Consume Healthy Prebiotic Foods: This includes dark green leafy veggies, asparagus, leeks, carrots, onions, garlic, radishes, artichokes and jicama. Include these in your daily diet. If you have an increase in gas and bloating consider reducing certain FODMAP groups. Read this article for more info.
- Move Your Bowels: You should be having 2-3 solid bowel movements daily in order to flush out all the food you consumed the day before. You want to eliminate food waste with a 12-24 hour period or the material becomes a breeding ground for bad microbes. If you are having trouble with bowel motility, follow all of these steps and drink extra water and add in 10 grams of L-glutamine
- Carminitive Herbs: Carminatives are herbs that stimulate the digestive system to work better. These herbs contain a high content of volatile oils that are effective at expelling gas and easing griping pains from the stomach and intestines. These herbs also tone the mucous surfaces & increase peristaltic action within the esophagus, stomach. This peristaltic action propels food and wastes through the system. The major carminative herbs include coriander, cinnamon, ginger, juniper, anise, fennel, cloves, caraway, dill, peppermint, thyme and licorice. These carminatives are often combined with aloe. Aloe is a cathartic herb that increases intestinal transit time and is used to alleviate constipation. These herbs help to tone down the powerful gripping effect that aloe often promotes in the gut. This combination helps stimulate effective and comfortable stools for those with chronic constipation.
- Smooth Move Tea: Used for thousands of years to get your “movement” moving again, senna works by gently stimulating your intestines and aiding your body’s natural elimination process. This tea combines senna the carminitive herbs fennel, coriander and ginger to reduce the potential for unpleasant feelings like cramping. Smooth Move tea is best taken at bedtime to help improve bowel movements the following morning.
- Gut Repair Powder: If you are struggling with leaky gut issues, consider using Gut Repair Powder and/or a straight L-glutamine powder (if you struggle with Aloe Vera, DGL and arbinogalactan fibers as some with SIBO do). I do often recommend 20+ grams of L-glutamine to support individuals recovering from severe leaky gut syndrome
- Digestive Support Pack: If you have mild-moderate digestive health issues, than I would recommend using our basic digestive health support pack here
- Utilize an Advanced Leaky Gut & SIBO Support Supplement Program: If you have moderate-severe digestive issues than I would recommend using an advanced SIBO support supplement program and strongly considering working with a natural practitioner who is trained in helping people overcome SIBO naturally.