In functional medicine, we believe that every system in the body is connected. Your digestive and hormonal systems, for example, aren’t independent of one another. At the center of it all is a properly functioning digestive system.

When your gut is unhealthy, it can cause more than just stomach pain, gas, bloating, or diarrhea. Because 60-80% of our immune system is located in our gut, gut imbalances have been linked to hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema, rosacea, and other chronic health problems. Here is a four step processes to repairing and healing the gut naturally.

1.) Remove
Remove the bad.  The goal is to get rid of things that negatively affect the environment of the GI tract such as inflammatory foods, infections, and gastric irritants like alcohol, caffeine or drugs.  Inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, and sugar can lead to food sensitivities.I recommend an elimination diet as the starting point to identify which foods are problematic for you, in which you remove the foods for two weeks or more and then add them back in, one at a time, taking note of your body’s response.

2.) Restore

Restore the good. Add back in the essential ingredients for proper digestion and absorption that may have been depleted by diet, drugs (such as antacid medications) diseases, or aging.  This includes digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and bile acids that are required for proper digestion.

3.) Reinoculate
Restoring beneficial bacteria to reestablish a healthy balance of good bacteria is critical. This may be accomplished by taking a probiotic supplement that contains beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacillus   Also, taking a prebiotic (food for the good bacteria) supplement or consuming foods high soluble fiber is important.

4.) Repair
Providing the nutrients necessary to help the gut repair itself is essential.  One of my favorites supplements is L-glutmine, an amino acid that helps to rejuvenate the gut wall lining.  Other key nutrients include zinc, omega 3 fish oils , vitamin A, C, E as well as herbs such as slippery elm and aloe-vera.