When I realized that I was gluten intolerant 6 months ago, I initially had no idea what I needed to do to help my situation beyond stop eating anything with gluten. I didn’t realize that there was a healing process that had to happen to not just stay in the limbo of malnutrition, inflammation and what I’m calling “gluten fear“.
After a lot of reading and looking into numerous reports of what science is saying about healing your gut, I’ve learned that just removing gluten from your diet is not enough. While gluten abstinence is also essential to healing, your gut is already in a state of chaos and requires some extra help. Your body does have the ability to heal itself, but sometimes it needs extra help.
Think of this process as three stages: Remove, Repair, Refortify
Once you Remove the gluten from your diet, you need to repair. Here are 4 ways to start healing your gut:
We know that probiotics help restore healthy bacteria to your gut. This should be part of any healthy lifestyle, gluten free or not. But probiotics become extra important when your gut needs to heal. There is a good amount of growing evidence that suggests non-celiac gluten intolerance is due to not enough of the correct bacteria in your intestines. There is also research showing that gluten intolerance wipes out bacteria in your gut after you eat gluten. In either case, it is essential to add good bacteria to your gut to help it heal and help with digestion.
If you’re healthy, you can get good probiotics from sources like yogurt or sauerkraut but if you’re staying away from milk products or need more while you heal, a supplement would be best.
The probiotic supplement I take is called HMF Forte by Genestra. Its gluten and dairy free and also contains a bacterial strain called Bifidobacterium lactis, which has been studied for its effects in reversing gluten intolerance. This may be just hopeful thinking, but the more help you get the better is my thought.
L-Glutamine is an amino acid that is very abundant in your body, but when it comes to healing your gut, adding L-Glutamine to your suppliments is key. L-Glutamine is found in foods like beef, chicken, fish or cheese. Your body takes L-Glutamine and makes another amino acid called Glutathione out of it (and a few other parts). Glutathione is known to be essential in repairing the lining of your gut. While your body does naturally make this in times of stress, like after a surgery or when healing from a gluten intolerance, excess Glutathione is needed.
You can consult a nutritionist about the amount to take daily, since suggested doses range from 1500mg to 30-40g per day. Right now I take about 15-20g per day myself. The best form of L-Glutamine is powdered, and you can add it into shakes or other non-acidic drinks. Taking it on an empty stomach before breakfast and dinner is normally the recommended procedure.
I personally just throw a scoop into a glass of water and gulp it down (it doesn’t taste the best) about 5-10 minutes before a meal.
3. Digestive Enzymes
Adding probiotics to your system is a great way to help with digestion, but sometimes, especially when healing, your body may just need a bit more help. This is where digestive enzymes come in. These enzymes temporarily add to your digestive tract, and put less stress on your system to digest some foods. They can help your gut break down food better, which leads to better absorption and healing faster.
I don’t take digestive enzymes for every meal, but use them when I’m eating something heavier (gluten free pasta or if i’m feeling like a steak or burger), or whenever I eat out or at someone else’s house. This includes when I know things are supposed to be gluten free – its more of an insurance policy. Just in case something touched gluten, these enzymes can help your body break it down faster and get it out of your system. Some gluten free friends also suggest using digestive enzymes when you can’t get away from eating gluten (which you should really try to get out of but things happen!) – like when your Grandma invites you over and makes her signature pasta. I’m not keen on purposely eating gluten, even with enzymes, but if it has to happen, these will help.
You can also take them after accidentally eating gluten, like when you eat a piece of chocolate that someone says is gluten free but then read the label after and notice it says ‘may contain wheat’. Taking enzymes after is still better than never.
The ones I take are called Digest Gold by Enzymedica, which were strongly recommended by my local health store. I’ve been in a few situations where I’ve had gluten in small amounts, but had taken these before, and the side effects were minimal.
4. Easily Digestive Nutrients
This is where you start to refortify your body. When your gut is healing from gluten intolerance, it is very important to keep your body healthy. One of the side effects of being gluten intolerant and not knowing it is that your intestines get pretty damaged. The microvilli in your intestines get flattened and damaged, and with this, they absorb less nutrients. I noticed this as part of my sudden gluten intolerance, that I was eating enough but not getting enough nutrients out of what I ate.
To combat this, while you’re healing, you need to add as much easily digestible nutrients into your system. This can be in the form of homemade juices, shakes or supplements like Amazing Grass Green Superfood (read my review of this supplement here). These drinks are already broken down, so your body doesn’t have to work as hard to digest it, and you should be able to absorb it better.
On a normal day I start off with an Amazing Grass drink first thing, about 10 minutes before eating breakfast, then also make a green juice for a mid-morning snack. I then normally have a blueberry and protein shake in the evening. Getting as many good organic nutrients into your body will help you heal faster and keep you healthy.
If you’re gluten intolerant and still suffering from lack of energy, painful joints, upset stomachs, etc, and you’re not taking the steps above, its time for a change. You can heal yourself, but you need to help your body out. Get on the right track with your nutrition and you’ll start feeling better. Just remember, your gluten intolerance didn’t happen overnight and healing from it won’t either. But the more intensely you try now, the faster it will be, and the faster you’ll be feeling better.
Notes on supplements – When adding supplements or probiotics to your daily routine, make sure they are gluten free. If you like to take such supplements or try natural alternatives you can visit mankindhealed.com to find healthy remedies that will improve your well being. Be aware that sometimes gluten gets snuck into supplements (sometimes in the capsules themselves), so make sure everything you take says it’s gluten free.
What is your experience since going gluten free? Is there a healing factor not listed above that has greatly helped you? Please let us know in the comments below! You’ll not only help us, but help others reading!
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