Following an Autoimmune Paleo protocol is a great way to start healing from Autoimmune conditions, and other health issues associated with having poor digestion. Did you know that even if you have the most perfect diet, you still not be fully digesting the foods you are consuming? Autoimmune Disease is associated with having poor digestion. Therefore, you may not getting the nutrients from the foods you are consuming, and you might not be feeling better.
Following an Autoimmune Protocol and removing hard to digest foods is the best thing you can do for your health! However, there are some supplements that when taken with an autoimmune protocol, can help ease the burden of digestion, and give your intestines a chance to start healing. We are going to talk about healthy digestion, as well as three digestive supplements that work synergistically with a healthy real food lifestyle, and can get you on your way to feeling better!
Digestion starts in the mouth. We have enzymes in our saliva that help to break down sugars in the foods we eat. This is why you need to chew your food slowly and thoroughly, to begin the process of digestion. Once food passes through the esophagus and into the stomach, the acidic environment of the stomach churns, and further breaks down the proteins in food. However, most Americans have chronically low stomach acid. The stomach needs to be very acidic, 1.5-3.0 on the PH scale.
Do you feel like food is just sitting in your stomach? Are you “turned off” by eating meat? Do you get bloated after meals? Struggling with acid reflux? These are all signs of low stomach acid. If undigested food is passing through the stomach due to low stomach acid, this can lead to more digestive trouble in the intestines.
The first supplement I recommend for people struggling with low stomach acid is called bitters. What are bitters? Bitters is a tincture that tastes bitter in flavor. Bitters are associated with healthy digestion. Our ancestors consumed bitter tasting foods all the time: dandelion greens, bitter roots, bark. In fact, most wild foods do have some bitterness to them. Nowadays we consume mostly sweet and savory foods. Due to the high consumption of processed foods, we are not regularly getting “bitterness” in our diet. Bitters stimulate the flow of saliva, therefore more enzymes to break down food. Bitters also stimulate the production of digestive juices, including HCL (stomach acid). One dropper of bitters on the tongue before meals tells your body to wake up! and get ready to digest food. Therefore, I recommend bitters to my clients before even introducing HCL (stomach acid) supplements. The brand I recommend is Urban Moonshine.
When dealing with food sensitivities and intolerances associated with leaky gut, the best thing to do is to remove the offending foods (grains, dairy, and soy being top offenders). However, we also want to give our digestion a break, and help with some intestinal healing. This is where digestive enzymes come into play! Digestive enzymes taken with meals helps to break down food more thoroughly, and play a proactive role in healing leaky gut associated with Autoimmune Disease. Digestive enzymes begin to work in the stomach, and continue to break down food in the small intestines. This is critical, as undigested proteins can easily pass through the small intestines when the gut is leaky. The small intestines do produce some enzymes. However, anything that disrupts the small intestines, also disrupts the production of enzymes. If you are struggling with leaky gut and inflammation, you are likely not producing enough enzymes to thoroughly digest foods. Therefore taking digestive enzymes with every meal, will allow your small intestines to begin healing and absorbing more nutrients from the foods you are consuming. The enzymes will work synergically with your own enzymes, and healing can begin.
What brand of digestive enzymes do I recommend? There are many awesome brands out there. My favorite is Digest Gold by Enzymedica. I like this brand because it contains multiple strains of enzymes in high doses, that work at different PH levels in the digestive tract. I recommend my clients take 2 with every meal, and take 3-5 when there is a chance of cross-contamination with gluten (such as eating out at a restaurant).
When you get further down in the digestive process, small intestinal healing is necessary for nutrient absorption, and decreased inflammation associated with Autoimmunity. L-Glutamine is an essential amino acid for leaky gut, and small intestinal repair. L-glutamine “heals and seals” the hyperpermeable junctions in the small intestines, and helps to develop a protective layer of mucous as well. It is a great supplement for repairing gut damage. However, l-glutamine does not work overnight, so it is an important supplement to be on it for the long term. One bonus? L-glutamine also helps with sugar cravings when switching to a paleo lifestyle! I recommend my clients take 1 tsp dissolved in water on an empty stomach, 2-3 times per day.
There are many other supplements that can help, depending upon your particular health concerns. However, these three can be very beneficial and work synergistically with a paleo lifestyle to start on your way to feeling better!