The 4 R's to Gut Healing: Replacement (Step 2)

This is Part 7 of my 12-Part Series on Leaky Gut and Family Health.  Part 1: Leaky Gut: What Is it, And Do You and Your Child Have It?  Part 2:  Leaky Gut According to Chinese Medicine  Part 3: The 4 R's to Gut Healing:  Removal (Step 1)  Part 4: The Feingold Diet for Behavioral Problems  Part 5: Real Food 101  Part 6: Autoimmune Paleo Protocol for Leaky Gut  Part 8: Reinoculation Phase for Healing Leaky Gut  Part 9: Repair Phase for Healing Leaky Gut  Part 10: Challenges of Going Through Dietary Changes and How To Succeed   Part 11: Raising Kids with Healthy Cravings   and Part 12: Leaky Gut: Tying It All Together

If you haven’t read the first six articles in this series, please go back and read those first. Otherwise, this article will not be very helpful for your gut healing journey!

Recall that the 4 R’s of healing your leaky gut include: Removal, Replacement, Reinoculation, and Repair. I have found in clinical practice that many individuals who “fail” at healing leaky gut tend to either focus intently on the Removal phase with little to no regard to the Replacement, Reinoculation, and Repair phases, or they “cheat” at the Removal phase and only focus on the latter phases. While removal of gut-damaging processed foods, genetically modified foods, gluten, grains, and other inflammatory foods that harm your intestinal microbiome is imperative for healing a leaky gut, the other steps must not be ignored or taken lightly.

So what is involved in the step of Replacement? This includes replacing digestive enzymes that are likely not being produced in optimal amounts: hydrochloric acid and pepsin for digesting proteins, lipase for digesting fats, amylase for digesting carbohydrates, and cellulase for breaking down the cell walls of bacterial biofilms and yeasts. The Replacement phase may also involve the use of amino acids for detoxification and tissue repair, vitamins and minerals for addressing micronutrient deficiencies, and Chinese herbs for addressing zang-fu (organ) imbalances. Because the ability of the gut to sufficiently digest and absorb micronutrients may be impaired, higher dosages and vitamin injections may be required. In a healthy gut, some vitamins such as the critical B vitamins are produced by beneficial bacteria for their human host. However, in an unhealthy gut that has been damaged by antibiotics, NSAIDS, inflammatory foods, and genetically modified foods, these B vitamins must be taken exogenously in the form of supplements or injections. The Chinese herb Gan Cao (licorice root) is almost always used in gut healing protocols either in the form of a decoction (herbal tea) or tincture.

Indications that you need to take digestive enzymes can include GI symptoms such as acid reflux (GERD), frequent belching, mucus in your stool, and a feeling of heaviness in your stomach several hours after eating a meal. If you have been a vegetarian or vegan for several months or years, you will also likely require a digestive enzyme containing pepsin or hydrochloric acid if you decide to start eating meat again. The body stops producing the digestive enzymes that digest proteins when you’re on a low-protein diet such as a vegan or fruitarian diet. This is one reason why long-time vegetarians can get sick if they eat meat.

So how do you know which nutrients need to be replaced, and in what amounts? Symptoms of nutrient deficiencies are quite varied, and can include any symptom in the book, from graying of hair to belly fat, headaches, and fatigue. There are a variety of functional lab tests that can help answer this question, but the most comprehensive is definitely the NutrEval test from Genova Diagnostics. This sample requires both a blood and urine sample, and can provide insight for malabsorption and dysbiosis, neurotransmitter metabolism, cellular energy and mitochondrial metabolism, fatty acid balance, toxin exposure, vitamin deficiencies, and detoxification need. If you have ever wondered whether you’re getting enough omega-3 fatty acids, if you need to take a CoQ10 supplement, if you need to do a detox, or if your multivitamin is really working for you, this test provides those answers and more. This is an excellent test for individuals with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, autism, inflammatory bowel disease, and conditions that have responded poorly to conventional treatment. The insight it provides can be life-changing, and it takes the guesswork out of your supplementation regimen.

However, the caveat is that it isn’t paid for by most health insurances and the cost is similar to paying out-of-pocket for a root canal. Until insurance companies catch on that testing for metabolic and nutritional biomarkers through tests such as the NutrEval can prevent extremely high future medical costs in the form of prescription drugs, surgeries, and hospital stays, such lab testing is only available for those who can afford to spend several hundred dollars on their own health care expenses.

I recommend you go to a Naturopath to get these tests done and they may have other tests they can conduct to get more thorough testing.

Also be mindful of that fact that the Replacement phase of healing leaky gut also involves other things beyond nutrition. This will be discussed more in future articles in this series, but qigong, meditation, exercise, acupuncture, and moxibustion have all been clinically proven to help heal leaky gut syndrome. If you’ve been leaving these methods out of your health strategy, it’s time to start adding them in.

Stay tuned for the next article in this healing leaky gut series, in which I will discuss Reinoculation.

This is Part 7 of my 12-Part Series on Leaky Gut and Family Health.  Part 1: Leaky Gut: What Is it, And Do You and Your Child Have It?  Part 2:  Leaky Gut According to Chinese Medicine  Part 3: The 4 R's to Gut Healing:  Removal (Step 1)  Part 4: The Feingold Diet for Behavioral Problems  Part 5: Real Food 101  and Part 6: Autoimmune Paleo Protocol for Leaky Gut  Part 8: Reinoculation Phase for Healing Leaky Gut  Part 9: Repair Phase for Healing Leaky Gut  Part 10: Challenges of Going Through Dietary Changes and How To Succeed  Part 11: Raising Kids with Healthy Cravings   and Part 12: Leaky Gut: Tying It All Together

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The Feingold Diet For Behavioral Problems

Many individuals are still not aware that the food they are eating and feeding to their kids has a strong impact on their behavior as well as mental and physical symptoms.  It goes far beyond simply having “too much sugar”.  Minute amounts of food coloring, artificial flavorings, preservatives, and other food additives are known to cause the following conditions in susceptible individuals:

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Learning disabilities
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Developmental delays
  • Asthma
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Extreme sensitivity to lights, noise, or touch
  • Nystagmus and crossed eyes

Chemically sensitive children and adults alike may seem like they “have a short fuse” when they are exposed to environmental toxins and food additives. Paying close attention to the ingredients in foods can prevent angry outbursts and other behavior-related symptoms.

The Feingold Diet dates all the way back to the 1960’s when Dr. Feingold began to link diet with behavior. At that time, conventional doctors believed that some children (usually boys) were just naturally hyperactive. Any parent who has seen their child’s behavior transform when using the Feingold Diet can attest that the old conventional medical wisdom was just not accurate. Now most conventional medical doctors have revised their beliefs about the connection between diet and behavior.

Medications for ADHD were not typically prescribed for children because these medications are amphetamines. It was also believed that dietary change was the best method of treatment. Beginning in the 1990’s, however, stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall entered the mainstream and were prescribed with little thought about addiction and side effects.

For parents seeking Oriental Medicine and other natural therapies, the amphetamine route to treating ADHD is definitely not their first choice! I strongly advise you to try the Feingold Diet, which eliminates any foods containing:

  • Artificial coloring (Yellow #5, Red 40, Blue #1, etc.)
  • Artificial flavoring (Vanillin, etc.)
  • Aspartame (Nutrasweet)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • Artificial preservatives (BHA, BHT, TBHQ)
  • Undesirable food additives (MSG, sodium benzoate, nitrites, sulfites, etc.)
  • Aspirin (very high in salicylate)
  • Minimize foods high in salicylates (dried fruits, dates, canned olives, peppers, tomatoes)

It’s true that food additives are not new to the food supply, but cases of ADHD and other behavioral problems have been on the rise. However, in the 1960’s, children did not consume food additives at each meal or even on a daily basis. They might have eaten the occasional lollipop or cupcake with red sprinkles only at birthday parties or the occasional trip to town for a special occasion. Today, children are getting a dose of food additives for breakfast in their Pop-Tarts or breakfast cereal, in their Sunny-D orange beverage, and during snack time at school in the form of a cookie or donut. Then at lunch, they eat nitrites in their lunch meat, preservatives and dough conditions in their sandwich bread, and MSG in their bag of chips. Finally, at home for their “home-cooked” meal of the day, they may have vegetables with artificially-flavored margarine, rice laced with an artificial seasoning, and fish that has been preserved with TBHQ. What may seem like a healthy dinner at a glance could be a behavioral outburst just waiting to happen.

Your first step towards having a “new” child by tomorrow is to read all ingredient labels before you buy anything at the store (even vitamins and over-the-counter medicines). If there’s an ingredient you’re not sure about, don’t buy the product until you find out more about that “questionable” ingredient. If an ingredient sounds like a chemical name instead of a food, a good rule of thumb is that it’s probably not something you want to feed yourself or your child.

Here is a very educational video from the Feingold institute that illustrates how pervasive and toxic processed foods, preservatives, and food colorings are for children today.  

Next up in this series: how to transition to a Real Food diet.

This is Part 4 of my 12-Part Series on Leaky Gut and Family Health.  Part 1: Leaky Gut: What Is it, And Do You and Your Child Have It?  Part 2:  Leaky Gut According to Chinese Medicine  Part 3:  The 4 R's to Gut Healing:  Removal (Step 1)   Part 5:  Real Food 101  Part 6: Autoimmune Paleo Protocol for Leaky Gut  Part 7: The 4 R's to Gut Healing: Replacement (Step 2)  Part 8: Reinoculation Phase for Healing Leaky Gut  Part 9: Repair Phase for Healing Leaky Gut  Part 10: Challenges of Going Through Dietary Changes and How To Succeed  Part 11: Raising Kids with Healthy Cravings   and Part 12: Leaky Gut: Tying It All Together