You can improve digestion issues with the right approach as Gemma Hurditch, College of Naturopathic Medicine lecturer and Naturopath, explains…
Poor digestion and bloating can be due to intestinal gut flora imbalance, ’dysbiosis’ as it is known. Naturopaths will often favour a three-phase, ‘weed, seed and feed’, approach.
Eliminate the bad bugs (weed), introduce more of the positive ones (seed) and promote the growth and the health of the intestinal cells and good bacteria (feed). A basic weed, seed and feed protocol could look like this:
Weed, seed and feed
1 Weeding herbs include oregano oil, Pau d’arco, wormwood, and red thyme oil. Berberine extracts are also effective.
2 Re-seeding the gut with beneficial bacterial strains; look for billions of colony-forming units (CFU) in your supplements. Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum are commonly cited beneficial species.
3 Good quality supplements will tell you the specific strain used – e.g. Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM, whereby NCFM is the strain. You can research online strains that have demonstrated positive effects for various conditions, such as hay fever or IBS.
4 Regular intake of probiotic foods is best for long term gut populating. These contain beneficial microbe colonies and help increase these in your gastrointestinal tract.
Try fermented food
5 Get into fermented foods such as tempeh, miso, kombucha, sauerkraut, yoghurt and kefir. Choose products that are not pasteurised or homogenised as these processes destroy most of the useful microorganisms. Look for products in the fridge, not on the shelf.
6 Recent research suggests eating organic food is better for your gut. It cuts exposure to pesticides, which disrupt the gut flora.
7 L-glutamine is a preferred fuel for cells which line the gut. Cabbage juice is rich in glutamine so can help rebuild the gut.
The power of prebiotics
8 Feed the good bacteria ‘prebiotics’. These are types of fibre – such as leeks, onions and garlic – that nourish and promote the growth of beneficial microbe colonies.
9 Be mindful though, some of these foods can be problematic. Food sensitivities can play a big role in gut inflammation. If you are FODMAP sensitive for example, then you will need to choose low FODMAP prebiotic alternatives. Investigate food sensitivities such as FODMAPs, gluten, dairy/lactose/
casein, sulphites, salicylates, amines and lectins.
10 Try digestive aids. Digestive enzymes such as papain from papaya and bromelain from pineapple can be useful, chamomile tea is gut soothing and a mild bitter stimulant for the liver.