How to fix your guts…

What can you do to repair your damaged digestive system? The first step is one you’ve already taken: eliminating those items that cause the damage in the first place! But there’s more you can do to help  your body heal. At the recent Paleolithic Solutions seminar, Coconut was mentioned as a contributor to healing the digestive system; in fact, coconut in many forms (fresh, oil, water, milk) has many healing properties, which you can read about in this article from the Coconut Research Center. There are several other articles there that are well worth checking out. Sally Fallon and Mary Enig wrote a marvellous piece on digestion which includes this description of coconut:

Coconut Oil for Digestion

Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain fatty acids that provide unique benefits for the digestive process. They have anti-microbial properties; that is, they fight against pathogenic viruses, yeasts, bacteria and parasites in the gut. These special fats are also the preferred food for beneficial bacteria in the colon.

For those who have gall bladder problems and difficulty in digesting fats, coconut oil can be very useful because the medium-chain fatty acids do not need to be acted on by the bile salts. And for those who have trouble digesting milk and cream, coconut milk and coconut cream can serve as substitutes.

Best of all, the body uses the medium-chain fatty acids for energy and rarely stores them as fat. Coconut oil aids digestion and boosts metabolism—wonderful benefits that come in a delicious package.”

In that article, Sally & Mary also give us great information on nutrients for the Digestive Tract (just ignore the references to grains and dairy, and replace them in your mind with Paleo sources 🙂 ).

It takes just 48 hours for your digestive system to begin repairing itself, and if you don’t screw it up by ingesting those foods which cause the damage, within about 2 weeks you are well on your way to a healed and fully functional digestive system. Unfortunately, one lapse can set you back immediately.

My 83-year-old mother arrived in the US 4 years ago to live with me, and was in horrible shape, digestively speaking. In her 70s she had developed sensitivity to glutens, dairy and the tannins in tea (a nasty development for an English-woman!). She had had 2 courses of strong antibiotics within the previous 2 years (which had killed off all her intestinal flora, good and bad), and had lived on a diet heavy on carbohydrates, low in fat and low in protein (in addition she was vegetarian)  which had re-populated her system with the “bad”, Candida-based bacteria. My wonderful chiropractor (also a nutritionist) put her on a grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free nutrition plan, which she followed for several months; the goal of this plan was to eliminate all the “bad bacteria” lining my mother’s gut, and to make a fresh “fertile environment” for the new, “good bacteria”. She began to eat vegetable broth made out of beets and greens, and to take a pro-biotic supplement called Primal Defense which contained lots of the “good bacteria” to get her system populated again; here’s a great primer on pro-biotics. Those “Green Shakes” that I mentioned 3 weeks ago also featured in her “digestive recovery”, as the green, leafy stuff also helped to re-populate her system with good bacteria.  This is a very good overview of “Leaky Gut Syndrome” which explains the importance of intestinal flora, and the roles of enzymes and probiotics. My mom also took a  digestive enzyme supplement, but unfortunately I can’t remember which it was (it was a Pancreatin supplement). There are quite a few available, and you can find many at the local health food/natural foods store. Today, she is healthy and happy, and has adjusted well to life without many of the staples she was accustomed to eating (and she loves my Paleo meals, especially the “Veggie Critters”!)

So, although your gut/intestinal system is most likely damaged from eating grains and other irritants, all is not lost. Eliminating the “bad stuff” is a good start, which you need to follow by  helping your system to heal and to re-populate with the “good stuff”. Pro-biotics and a broad-spectrum digestive enzyme will help. Glutamine and Zinc also can help heal your guts, as can Omega-3 supplements (you ARE taking your Fish Oil, right?).

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by T H E O on March 22, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Another great article!
    When we have those cheat days, sometimes we forget about those things that can disrupt our stomachs, because we get so consumed in cheating…

    Thanks for the friendly reminder!


  2. Posted by Jojo on March 23, 2010 at 5:54 am

    Since you asked and I just responded to this issue the other night at CFSC’s blog site, I think I’ll repost it here as well — regarding Fish Oils.

    “I’d like to chime in on this subject since dosage information for O-3 fish oils are so difficult to find.. I consume Fish Oil from either the (Costco)Kirkland brand or the Nature Made brand, which can also be purchased from Costco– it just depends on what is on sale.

    The dosage that I go by comes from Rob Wolff. He recommends anywhere from .5g – 1g of O-3 EPA/DHA per 10 lbs of bodyweight daily. .5g is set for the athletic type and the higher scale of 1g is set for the non-athletic type. What does this mean??

    In my case let’s say, I weigh approximately 160#. That’s 16 X 10#BW. I require 16 X .5g of O3, which equals to 8g daily (also equivalent to 8000mg).

    Next, calculate capsule content. Each capsule (Nature Made)contains 720mg of EPA/DHA O3 (even though it is advertised at 1200mg.. only count the EPA/DHAs by reading the ‘supplemental facts’ on the bottle).

    8000/720 = 11.1 capsules

    Thus, I’d take 6 in the morning and 5 at night. Eventually, this can be reduced by half for maintenance sake after 4-5 months depending on how you’re feeling after your workouts, recovery, etc.

    Listen to Rob Wolff’s podcast on dosage suggestion here. >>> @ 22:00 minutes

    Btw, Dr. Barry Sears suggests the same dosage.”


  3. Posted by Stacey M. on March 23, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Do you eat less nuts or other types of fats because you have so much fish oil? I was reading our fish oil bottle last night and figuring out how much I would have to take. Because right now I’m not active, I would have to take something like 19 fish oil pills a day and that is quite a few calories.

    My goal is to lose about 5 more lbs so I’m not sure I’m willing to reduce my food intake for fish oil pills…


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