Karen (names changed to protect client confidentiality) had been struggling with digestive issues for years. She had gained a lot of weight recently; she suffered with acne and skin rashes; and her periods were so bad that she often had to call in sick to work. Karen had also been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune hypothyroid condition. She was feeling pretty miserable and was highly motivated to change her diet.
When I started working with Karen, I noted several commonalities that pointed to gut imbalance and inflammation: her autoimmune condition, acne, weight gain, and constipation. I recommended that she remove processed and inflammatory foods, and we tested for pathogens, parasites, and dysbiosis (bad bacteria overgrowth in the gut). Fortunately nothing too serious showed up on her stool test, so we focused on a gut reset foremost, and the results were dramatic. Her periods improved, her skin cleared up, and she lost nearly 100 pounds over the course of a year.
Jamie was always bloated and struggled with chronic candida. She’d tried cleanses, sugar free diets, and anti-fungals, but the candida always recurred. I recommended a stool test like the one Karen did to see if there was a gut infection that was causing the chronic candida, but it came back clean. I also recommended she do a lactulose breath test for SIBO, but that was also clear. Because Jamie had been struggling for a while, I knew we had to be aggressive with our treatment plan. I recommended a customized anti-candida gut reset focusing on an anti-inflammatory and low sugar diet along with a protocol of anti-microbial herbs, digestive enzymes, a biofilm buster to break down the candida cell walls, and diatomaceous earth. It worked! After 8 weeks Jamie felt a huge turnaround; her brain fog cleared, and her energy levels improved.
All Disease Begins in the Gut
There’s a saying in holistic medicine: All disease begins in the gut. If you’re a holistic practitioner, there’s another saying: When in doubt, start with the gut. What this means is that the health of your gut dictates your overall health status. Your inner ecosystem, known as your microbiome, is the trillions of cells that help you digest your food, modulate inflammation, manufacture vitamins, and strengthen your immune system. Your gut bacteria may even dictate how fat or thin you are. (source) If there’s a problem in the gut, sooner or later overall health suffers.
Do You Struggle with These Conditions?
- Digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, heartburn, constipation, loose stool, bloating
- Candida, thrush, yeast infections
- Acne, rosacea, eczema, skin issues
- Autoimmune disease
- Joint pain
- Weight gain, difficulty losing weight
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Brain fog
- Increase in food intolerances: you notice an increase in foods to which you react unfavorably
- Undigested food or mucous in stool
- Chronic fatigue
The most common complaints I hear from my clients are indigestion, bloating, gas, and constipation. Many have candida overgrowth from overuse of antibiotics and too much sugar. These issues may not yet be causing other problems, but they’re all signs that something is amiss in the gut. Chronic indigestion symptoms (and the conditions listed above) are your body’s way of telling you that your microbiome is unbalanced. There is likely inflammation present that, left unaddressed, eventually contributes to leaky gut syndrome which puts you at higher risk for autoimmune disease, weight gain, nutrient deficiencies, and hormone imbalance.
Why You Need a Gut Reset
I see cases like Karen and Jamie weekly in my practice. I address gut health with all my clients, because nearly every health condition has its roots in gut dysfunction. Up to 80% of your immune system lives in your gut, so a healthy gut can help you fend off illness and disease–even cancer. If you want to get rid of nagging symptoms, improve overall health and hormone balance, and prevent disease, start with a gut reset! You’ll feel better, your skin will glow, you’ll achieve unicorn poops, and your focus and mood may even improve.
What is a gut reset? A combination of diet changes, gut healing supplements, lifestyle modifications, and rebuilding your microbiome. You can read my blog post in more detail all about the traditional 4-step gut healing process, but I’ve amended the traditional “4-R” to include lifestyle modifications. In my experience, it is virtually impossible to heal your gut and achieve long lasting results without addressing lifestyle, stressors, sleep, and daily habits.
The Gut Reset Includes these 4 Steps:
- Elimination Diet: this will look a little different for everyone depending on your physiology and symptoms, but you’ll need to remove inflammatory foods and add in gut healing foods. After 60 days or so, you can begin adding in the foods you eliminated to see which are contributing to adverse reactions. This will help you curate your healing diet. You can choose between gluten free, paleo, autoimmune paleo, or low FODMAP, depending on your symptoms. Find out everything you should eat and avoid on the gut healing cheat sheet (you can download below).
- Supplements: For this phase it’s useful to do stool testing to find out if there are parasites, pathogens (such as h pylori), candida, or dysbiotic bacteria that are contributing to symptoms. I have my clients order DNA stool tests that are super accurate and easy to do at home. Then I design an anti-microbial protocol to get rid of whatever shows up; this usually takes 6-8 weeks and involves a combination of herbs and botanicals to kill off the offenders. Follow this up with leaky gut repair: anti-inflammatory compounds that heal and seal the gut lining. I also recommend enzymes to help your body digest and absorb nutrients while you’re healing.
- Probiotic therapy to rebuild your microbiome. Think of this as a brand new garden plot that you’re seeding and planting to produce beautiful flowers. You’ll do this phase after cleaning out the bad guys and while you’re sealing up the gut lining. You’ll also want to focus on a microbiome-building diet during this phase.
- Lifestyle: Address stress and cortisol imbalances. High cortisol and chronic stress adversely affect the gut lining and contribute to inflammation and microbiome changes. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Addressing stress is so important to healing that I wrote an entire post about it.
- Supportive elixirs: There are many beverages that support gut health. My favorite tonic is hot water with lemon along with a splash of apple cider vinegar. This drink benefits skin, gut, and digestion and is best taken upon waking in the morning. Also, did you know tea benefits gut health?! The polyphenols are excellent for your digestive tract. Read more about that + my favorite digestion supporting teas here.
Gut Reset Options
Ideally you’ll test to find out what’s going on in there. Gut issues are treated using different herbs.
If you have candida, this post will tell you all about how to do a proper candida cleanse.
If you suspect SIBO, go here.
If you have h pylori, this post is for you.
If you need a general parasite cleanse, check out this post.
And if you have dysbiosis (general bad bacteria), you can do a general gut cleanse.
If you have IBS, go here.
More on healing leaky gut here.
Consider joining my 21 day gut reset program!
Gut Healing Diet Cheat Sheet
To help you get started on your gut healing journey, I made you this easy-to-download gut healing cheatsheet! It tells you what to eat and what to avoid to get started on your gut healing journey. You can download it here absolutely free. Enter your email below and the PDF will magically appear in your inbox shortly!
The million dollar question is always, how long does it take? That depends on your symptoms, history, and compliance. You should feel better soon after changing your diet, but the real healing takes about two months minimum.
The good news is that once you learn how to heal and then feed and care for your microbiome, you can expect nagging symptoms and conditions to clear up, and you’ll feel so much better!
Want Even More Support? The 21 Day Gut Reset is for YOU!
Please consider joining my 21 day gut reset program. You can join at any time, as it’s a self-paced e-course. All you need is a little motivation and an email address to join! Check out everything you’ll get:
- get rid of bloating, constipation, heartburn, gas, and indigestion
- have more energy, better focus, a flatter belly, glowing skin!
- receive a daily email for 21 days to help you heal your gut
- includes a 21 day meal plan: gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar free
- 80+ easy & delicious gut healing recipes
- shopping list
- access to our private support group where you can ask questions and get even more info!
- a chart to help you build meals
- info on supplements you may need to enhance your journey
- Click here to join us!
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.