Healing from Within: Top Three Gut Healers
When digestion is impaired, life pretty much sucks. We can experience pain, gas, bloating, irregular bowel movements, or worse. It may be no exaggeration to say that the quality of our digestion largely determines the quality of our life.
It perhaps comes as no surprise then that there is a direct connection between your digestion and your mental state. Many people have noticed that their mood turns sour when they are plugged up or bloated, and it is very common for stress or extreme emotions to provoke anything from mild butterflies to loose bowels or extreme pain and cramping.
This is because the gut is full of nerves that communicate directly to the brain. Did you know that 95% of the body’s serotonin (our “feel good” neurotransmitter) is found in the bowels? No wonder many health educators have nicknamed the gastrointestinal tract, “the second brain”.
Certain health conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disorders like Crohn’s or Colitis, or autoimmune conditions such as Celiac disease can take a toll on the gut, and therefore on health.
With these conditions, as well as a range of other digestive disorders, inflammation is present in the gut which can lead to pain, swelling, degeneration of the gut tissue, and bleeding which may be apparent in the stool. These people generally have an impaired ability to breakdown and absorb nutrients from their food and their digestive systems are very, very fragile. Sometimes something as benign as a cup of raw salad greens is enough to throw an impaired individual into an attack meriting a visit to the hospital.
I will say that pretty much across the board in any situation involving digestive system impairment, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND A PROBIOTIC. The reason I didn’t highlight it below is because I feel like everybody knows about that already. If you don’t, well, that’s why I just wrote it in capital letters. Now you know. Take probiotics, and then add these other digestive gems as needed…
L-glutamine is an amino acid that is the preferred fuel source of gut cells, which means gut cells will gobble it up to become stronger. L-glutamine has been shown to help repair and rebuild damaged mucosal tissue. L-glutamine can even be used as a mouth rinse to help heal ulcers in the mouth associated with Crohn’s disease or chemotherapy.
This amino acid can also improve the formation, number, and height of villi, small finger-like projections found in the lining of the intestinal tract that help to absorb nutrients. It is the villi that are destroyed in conditions like Celiac disease.
L-glutamine also has the benefit of being excellent for post-workout muscle recovery, increasing the calming neurotransmitter GABA, and boosting the intracellular antioxidant glutathione.
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL)
DGL is fairly well known for treating issues of the upper GI, including healing stomach ulcers. However, DGL has also been shown to improve the lower GI by decreasing intestinal irritation and associated symptoms. DGL can help regenerate the cells lining the intestinal tract, increase formation and secretion of lubricating intestinal mucous, and improve intestinal blood flow.
Regular licorice root also has this healing property but contains a compound (glycyrrhizin) that can potentially raise blood pressure. The DGL form has removed this compound and therefore is the safer choice, particularly for those prone to hypertension.
DGL is naturally sweet and malty tasting so it is pleasant to take and even kids will like it!
Saccharomyces boulardii, while often thought of as a probiotic bacteria, is actually a non-pathogenic yeast strain. It has been used primarily for the treatment and prevention of acute and chronic diarrhea resulting from microorganisms such as C. Difficile and parasites, as well as “Traveler’s Diarrhea” and antibiotic-related diarrhea. However, Saccharomyces boulardii has also shown some promise for a wide range of digestive issues including Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It is thought that it works by improving the integrity of the intestinal walls and increasing the function of the immune system.
I think Saccharomyces boulardii makes sense in combination with a high dose probiotic, especially if the impaired individual is prone to diarrhea.
While the best course of action is to work with a nutritionist or a naturopath to give a person the individual attention they need, there are some wonderful remedies that, when taken regularly, can help to heal and strengthen the gut and greatly reduce symptoms. Many companies have come out with effective formulas for the growing number of people in digestive distress.
Pop into the Wholistic Dispensary to speak with one of our consultants to help you find the supplement you are looking for.
Alex Picot-Annand, BA (Psych), Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Certified Life Coach