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My Gut-Healing “Protocol”

My Gut-Healing “Protocol”

If you read yesterday’s post, you found out that I have been having some very frustrating digestive issues lately.  This was difficult for me to admit, because I am striving to be a solid Paleo role model!  However, a lesson learned is a lesson learned, and I decided to share it with all of you (learn from my mistakes, please!).  Thank you for all the wonderful, encouraging comments!  I love the support that the Paleo community offers!

So that you can fully understand what I’m talking about, check out my “Digestion Woes” post.

At the end of that post, I listed several ways that I plan to re-heal my gut (it is definitely feeling more than a little damaged!).  Throughout yesterday, I kept thinking of more and more things I could do to encourage healing.  Now believe me, I am no Chris Kresser, Robb Wolf, or Diane Sanfillippo.  I do not claim to be an expert in the world of health.  I don’t even claim to be an expert in the Paleo community.  BUT… I have listened to all of Robb’s podcasts twice (he would say that I’m a glutton for punishment, but I heartily disagree!), I have listened to a ton of Chris Kresser’s show, I have heard all of the Balanced Bites podcasts, I’ve read Robb’s book twice, I’ve read several other Paleo-oriented health books, and I stay very up-to-date on the websites of all those mentioned above, and more!  So I have probably graduated from the “Stalker of Paleo Experts” course.

That said, let me assure you that the “protocol” below comes from bits and pieces of retained gut-healing tips and strategies that I have learned from the experts!

So here it is… feel free to use what you like for your own health (gut-healing or otherwise!).

 

Jennie’s Personal Steps to Gut Health

(a three-week program… though most will remain in place even after three weeks)

100% Paleo Diet.  This should go without saying, right?  I agree, but I’m saying it anyway.  Trace amounts of gluten can destroy every effort you make toward healing your gut.  It is the chief of gut irritants.  I’m sure that my involuntary gluten consumption last week contributed to the pain I’m experiencing this week.  Aside from not eating gluten, it just makes sense to eat natural, whole, REAL foods.  This means no sugar, no preservatives, no dairy (although I make exception for local, pastured goat cheese), no alcohol, etc.

No Nuts.  This step may not go for everyone, but I can definitely tell that I have a sensitivity to nuts right now.  As I stated in yesterday’s post, I really over-did it on the nuts over the last few weeks.  When I did a test and left them off my menu for a day, my stomach pain decreased substantially.  If you do not feel that it is necessary to cut out nuts completely, you should at least limit them to around one closed fistful each day (keep in mind that almond butter, almond meal, almond flour, etc., are all made from nuts!).

No Eggs.  This step is definitely more of a personal one for me.  I have noticed that when I have consumed eggs over the last few weeks, I have developed a stomach ache almost right away.  I eat a lot of eggs, so I’m really hoping that I have not developed an egg allergy.  Time will tell…

Three “Square Meals.”  This is a big one for me.  Lately, I have gotten into the habit of skipping breakfast, snacking for lunch, snacking during the afternoon, and then having a big dinner.  This is unacceptable, and not the best way to consume plenty of nutrients.  It’s time to get back on track… a good-size breakfast, a good-sized lunch, and a good-sized dinner will keep me feeling better, and more regulated, all day long.

LOTS of Vegetables.  The reason for this is obvious: vegetables are packed with wonderful nutrients, and they are incredibly low in natural sugars. 

Bone Broth.  What else needs to be said, really?  If you have been around the Paleo community long enough, you have heard this idea tossed around a lot.  Aside from the fact that it is incredibly rich in minerals, bone broth is a great way to consume gelatin!  Balanced Bites has the best article I have seen on bone broth. Check it out here.  If you’d like to make some yourself, try my favorite recipe: Quick Pressure Cooker Bone Broth.

No Acidic or Spicy Foods.  My stomach pains have felt like burning, so the thoughts of adding things like tomatoes, chocolate, hot peppers, coffee, or even raw sauerkraut really makes me cry inside!  

Limited Fruit.  This is a habit that I want to carry with me from now on.  Fruit is such an easy go-to snack item, but in my life it tends to replace more important foods, if I’m not careful (and I haven’t been careful enough!).  Therefore, when I do eat fruit, it must be surrounded by protein and fat (for example: diced mangos on my fajita salad, topped with guacamole).

More Beef than Chicken.  I know and trust my beef source, Little Creek Ranch.  When we run out of beef, I can definitely tell that I don’t feel quite as great as I usually feel.  So during the next three weeks, we’ll be eating mostly beef… not so much chicken.  And besides that, there are so many amazing health benefits of grass-fed beef!  Check them out here.

Low-Stress Workouts.  During this protocol, I want to put as little stress on my body as I can.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that stress played a big part in the downward spiral that lead me to the place I am right now.  I will still do regular workouts, but they will be more empowering than strenuous.  For more of my thoughts on stress, click here.

SLEEP!  This is important for every area of life… for more information, read this article!  My goal for the next several weeks will be to go to bed EARLY, and get at least nine hours of sleep each night.

Chew Your Food.  Have you ever stopped to think about how quickly you eat?  I know people who seem to swallow their food whole.  I chew, but I don’t really think much about it.  Since all this stomach pain has been happening, I’ve thought a lot more about how much I chew.  Did you know that chewing is the first step in digestion?  Read this fascinating article to learn more.  I heard Chris Kresser talking about this recently, and it really made me think (to listen, click here… in fact, just go ahead and listen to the whole thing right now.  It is amazing).

Cod Liver Oil (Butter Oil Blend) and Beef Liver.  Vitamins, vitamins, vitamins!  All you need to know can be found in this article and this article.

Probiotics, Kombucha, and Fermented Foods.  Good gut health requires that you have a healthy gut flora.  Chris Kresser explains that much better than I ever could… check it out here.

Again, these are the steps that I am taking for my personal gut-healing.  Not all of them will be right for you (although most probably are!).

Overall, I am really excited about getting better.  Dealing with stomach aches on a regular basis has made me realize how much I take my health for granted.  And, as I said in my last post, I am just glad to know that this is in my control!

Take a step toward gut health with me!

24 Responses to “My Gut-Healing “Protocol””

  1. Deb says:

    Congratulations, you just intuitively realized you need to follow the Gut and Psychology Diet (GAPS) – there is actually a protocol developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride and there is a slew of people supporting each other all over the internet – http://www.gapsdiet.com/

    The GAPS diet is meant to be a temporary healing diet that a person follows up to two years, depending on their health issues. Personally, I plan to return to paleo when I am finished. I’m working on 10 months now. (Paleo is great but, like you, I needed to tweak it)

    Differences between Paleo/Primal/GAPS diets http://www.wellfedhomestead.com/gaps-vs-paleo Many people following the GAPS diet do not consume dairy, eggs, or nuts for various reasons

    The thing is every person is different and needs to listen to their own body – which, it seems, you are doing. : )

    I would like to add one more thought – a pressure cooker is not recommended because the best quality stock is made by simmering it -(more healing nutrients) Also, simmer without a lid so water can evaporate and the stock can become more nutrient dense. If it is too rich for you, you could always add a little more water when you drink it or put it in your recipes.

    Don’t forget to add fats (I know paleo does not advocate fats, so you may want to do a little reading on this) http://www.naturalnews.com/033438_GAPS_diet_healing.html http://wholenaturallife.com/2012/02/07/gaps-for-beginners-series-fats/ http://www.mamaeve.com/caring-for-baby-a-toddler/best-baby-food/gaps-diet-embracing-fat-bacteria/ http://judytsafrirmd.com/healthy-fat-is-your-best-friend-2/ http://redandhoney.com/2011/05/why-i-eat-a-high-fat-diet-and-why-i-think-you-should-too/

    Good luck on your health journey.

    • Jennie says:

      Deb, thanks for taking the time to provide all of that information! I’ll definitely do a little research on GAPS. I’ve heard of it, but have never really taken the time to look at the details. And I’m really interested in trying slow-cooking for my bone broth now to see if I can tell a difference. Thanks!

      Paleo definitely advocates good fats, so that is totally a huge part of my diet. :)

      Thanks again, Deb!

      -Jennie

  2. David says:

    I’ve had my fair share of gut issues. Have you considered supplements to smooth digestion, upper and lower GI? I don’t know if they are all considered Paleo, but they helped me a great deal. Mastic Gum (it’s a capsule) helps heal the stomach and can even kill H. Pylori bacteria. DGL protects the esophagus and stomach from the natural acid in the stomach. Digestive enzymes help to break down food and take stress off of your digestive system. And L-Glutamine helps heal the intestine walls.

    Like I said, may not be exactly Paleo, but I believe they helped cure much of my indigestion and IBS.

    Good Luck.

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks David! I have actually heard Robb Wolf mention a few of the items you listed. I’m currently using Now Foods Super Enzymes right after eating to assist with the breakdown of fats and proteins. And I’m starting on a probiotic supplement today. I’m hoping that these, combined with my “protocol” will be helpful. After a while, I may add L-Glutamine (that’s the one I’ve heard mentioned by Robb).

      I appreciate your comment! Hope you continue to feel well!

      -Jennie

  3. Kirsten says:

    This is the 2nd blog post I’ve read this week that touches upon non-stressful workouts. I’d be interested in knowing what your workout schedule is and what it consists of. I was concerned about finding a balance between effective workouts that aren’t too stressful on the body.

    On another note, I’ve tried eating fermented kraut, but I find that after I eat it, it causes me quite a bit of distress. I wonder if the kraut is just too much for me. Kombucha doesn’t have that effect though, and I quite like the original flavor!

    Good luck to you and please keep us posted!

    • Jennie says:

      Kirsten,

      I am a firm believer in walking and hiking. I do that whenever I can. Other than that, I will sometimes do 45 minutes of balanced weight-training (usually just dumbbells in my home)… 20 minutes of lower body (squats, lunges, step work, etc.), 15 minutes of upper body (bicep curls, tricep kick-backs, french press movement, pushups, pull-ups), and 10 minutes of abs (crunches, planks, etc.). I usually break a sweat, but I’m never too out of breath, and I certainly never feel the need to collapse on the floor!

      Yes, sometimes kraut does that to me too… but only sometimes, so it’s a little weird!

      Thanks for the well-wishes!! I really appreciate that!

      -Jennie

  4. I discovered within days of starting my Paleo lifestyle (October, 2011) that eating nuts or seeds of any kind would have me doubled over with stabby tummy pain. Once I eliminated both from my regular diet it’s been smooth sailing for me.

    I’ve always been (since my childhood years) a “eat when I’m hungry, drink when I’m dry” sort and scheduling 3 meals a day has never worked for me.

    I’m finding that I’m eating, on average, twice daily now. Once mid to late morning (usually 3-4 hours after waking) and again early evening with IF occasionally on the days when I’m not feeling particularly hungry during the day.

    I’ve also stuck to my natural sleep pattern which has me sleeping approx 7 to 7.5 hours nightly. (I should add here that I work from home so I don’t use an alarm, just get up when I wake up).

    Good luck with the gut-healing – there’s absolutely nothing more miserable than an unhappy tummy.

    • Jennie says:

      Hi Merlene,

      Glad you’ve done better without the nuts in your diet! Good to hear!

      Yes, that part of the post was definitely more for my own practices. I usually wake up hungry, feel hungry around lunch time, and feel hungry around dinner time. I had gotten into the habit of ignoring my hunger, and that is not good! I believe that you should eat when you’re hungry as well… in fact, I know several Paleo experts who never eat breakfast. Works for them! I’m glad you know what works for you! Listening to your body is so important!

      The same on the sleeping toping… 9 hours is what makes me feel the BEST, so that’s my number. Whatever number causes you to wake up feeling refreshed is fine with me!

      Thank you so much for the kind words!

      -Jennie

  5. Gerri says:

    Hey Jen,
    Like you I’ve read and watched and tried to learn all the tricks of eating properly. I’ve been eating Paleo for over 2 years now and have experienced many of its benefits, but like you I continued to have some digestive issues until I added Coconut oil to my diet. I literaly stumbled upon a book called “The Coconut Oil Miracle” in a health food store one day and started reading about how it helps with digestive health. I gave it a try, with my usual dose of skepticism (like I did with the Paleo Diet) to see if I’d notice any difference, and within a few days my gut was feeling much better. There is much to learn about Coconut oil. There are different types, different qualities, different usages and you have to build up–if you use too much at first it might cause you some grief, but it’s well worth learning about. Like you I’m not a doctor or an expert, just another fellow Paleophyte who has experienced some benefits from something that doesn’t seem to get talked alot about in the Paleo world. Incidentally, I stopped using Coconut oil for a week because I’d run out and had been too busy to go to the store and get some more and all of the previous problems I’d experienced returned with avengance. Needless to say I’ll be keeping an ample supply on hand from now on. Hope you find the health and healing you seek. Thanks for your site!

    • Jennie says:

      Hi Gerri,

      Thanks for that info! I have heard those things about coconut oil as well, and it definitely makes up a HUGE part of my diet, and has since I started Paleo-eating. I often just eat a spoonful for good measure. :) Robb Wolf talked a lot about coconut oil in some of his earlier podcasts.

      So glad to hear that it has been helpful for you!!

      Thanks for your comment!

      -Jennie

  6. Sharon Cole says:

    I hope your plan works quickly. Gut pain is something to deal with right away. I am not an expert either but, like you, I study and restudy the experts and I think your plan looks like a tummy healer!!

    Keep us posted please!!
    Sharon

  7. Here’s to you, Jennie – with the hope being that you find relief from the things that are making you feel less-than-great. (but certainly hope for your sake it’s not an egg allergy!). Best of luck to you, and keep us posted!

  8. Lisa says:

    Hi Jennie –

    Just a couple of notes that you may or may not find helpful:

    I’m *really* prone to heartburn/reflux and go through cycles where it plagues me. I took medication for years, though I didn’t care for the side effects. Since I’ve started taking a tbsp. of apple cider vinegar with water in the evening things have been much better! And the benefits seem to extend all the way through my digestive system.

    Raw almonds are a favored snack around here, especially with my husband and even with my 13yo son. I like them too, but I find if I eat them too frequently I get that stabby pain in my stomach. I have a much easier time with raw cashews.

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks Lisa!

      My stomach pain was burning in my lower gut… not really reflux/heartburn. But that is a great suggestion for those who do suffer with that. I read that on a Paleo blog recently too! I’m excited that it has been a good solution for you!

      Yes – I am definitely thinking that laying off the almonds/nuts has been helpful for me. I was definitely over-doing it in that area!

      Thanks for commenting!

      Jennie

  9. You are very close to the GAPS diet! I have summarized it and have links to resources on my website. Our family has been doing the GAPS diet for over a year and experienced tremendous healing! It sounds like you might benefit from trying the intro.

    It does allow nuts and eggs, but they are not introduced right away, and nuts are always soaked and sprouted. For a while I stopped being able to eat eggs, which I had successfully introduced in the first place. It turns out the issue was that my partner had changed our chickens’ feed. When our hens’ feed is soy and corn free, I can eat the eggs. Otherwise I get the symptoms you describe!

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks Joy!

      Right now my modified Paleo approach (as part of my protocol) is working great. But I have heard some great things about GAPS, so if things do not continue to improve, I will definitely check into it further.

      I really appreciate your comment, and I’m so happy to hear that your family has found success!

      -Jennie

  10. lindsay says:

    I agree with Joy. I have a friend with a severe soy allergy and she has had to eliminate eggs from her diet unless the chickens are soy-free (such as Tropical Traditions offers) I certainly hope you haven’t developed an egg allergy!

    Also, thanks so much for your website! I’ve found it super helpful over the past year that I’ve been eating Paleo.

    • Jennie says:

      Funny, I was just looking at the TT eggs when you made this comment! I might give that a try in a few weeks. Right now, no eggs for me!

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Lindsay! I’m so glad that you enjoy the site!

      -Jennie

  11. You should take part in a contest for one of the highest quality websites on the internet.
    I am going to highly recommend this blog!

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