9 Steps to Perfect Health: How to Heal Your Gut Naturally | Chris Kresser
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9 Steps to Perfect Health: How to Heal Your Gut Naturally

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how to heal your gut naturally
Regular exercise can help heal the gut naturally. iStock/PeopleImages

This content is part of an article series.

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All disease begins in the gut. — Hippocrates

Hippocrates made this profound statement more than 2,000 years ago, but we’re only now coming to understand just how right he was. Gut health is critical to overall health, and an unhealthy gut contributes to a wide range of chronic diseases, including diabetes, obesity, autism, depression, and anxiety. Many researchers, myself included, believe that supporting intestinal health and restoring the integrity of the gut barrier are two of the most important goals of medicine in the 21st century.

If you’re experiencing issues, learning how to support gut health naturally could make a difference in your overall health and well-being. If you’re working in the health and wellness field as a nutritionist, health coach, or another allied provider, understanding gut health could help you support your clients as they work to restore and maintain a healthy microbiota. Read on to learn why a healthy gut is essential for creating a healthy body and how you can restore and maintain a healthy gut for life.

Finding natural methods to heal the gut can help you get relief from a wide range of distressing symptoms. Find out how to support a healthy gut through diet and lifestyle. #optimalhealth #changeagent #chriskresser

Health Coaches: Why Focus on Gut Health?

If you’re in the health coaching profession, you’ll undoubtedly encounter clients with existing gut problems and chronic diseases. Some may struggle with obvious gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, gas, or bloating that clearly point to gut issues. However, others may have extraintestinal manifestations, such as blood sugar dysregulation or mental health issues, that are also rooted in gut dysfunction. No matter who you’re working with, supporting your clients as they take steps to heal their gut naturally should be a priority due to the profound impact of gut health on overall health.

The idea of the gut affecting overall health may seem far-fetched to some people. Therefore, I recommend beginning any discussion of gut health by briefly describing the two related variables that determine gut health: the intestinal microbiota and the gut barrier.

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Are We More Microbial than Human?

The human gut is home to approximately 100,000,000,000,000 (100 trillion) microorganisms, collectively referred to as the “gut microbiota.” (1) The gut microbiota harbors a gene set 150 times greater than that of the human genome. (2, 3)

These microbes aren’t just passively living their lives; they have a profound impact on our health. Within the GI tract, gut microbes promote peristalsis (the movement of food through the intestines), protect against infection, produce vitamins, and maintain a healthy gastrointestinal mucus layer.

Outside the digestive tract, gut microbes influence other organs and tissues through neural networks and signaling molecules. Through these complex communication networks, gut microbes regulate 70 to 80 percent of the immune system and influence blood sugar control. (4, 5) They also modulate the function of the brain, bone, heart, skin, eyes, and muscle tissue. (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

When the gut microbiome is disrupted, processes normally regulated by the gut microbiota, such as immunity and brain function, are impaired. This ultimately may lead to the development of chronic conditions such as autoimmune disease, metabolic dysfunction, and mental health issues, among many other health problems.

What Disrupts the Gut Microbiome?

There are many features of the modern lifestyle that disturb the gut microbiome. Exposure to these harmful factors is pervasive in our society.

Processed, Inflammatory Foods

The Standard American Diet, packed with processed, inflammatory foods such as refined carbohydrates and industrial seed oils, is an established risk factor for gut dysbiosis. (12) The Standard American Diet reduces bacterial diversity and induces inflammation in the gut, thereby contributing to a slew of downstream adverse health effects.

Low Fiber Intake

Our gut microbes ferment dietary fiber to fuel their activities. A lack of dietary fermentable fiber, which is quite common in the United States, deprives gut bacteria of this fuel and leads to reductions of beneficial bacteria. (13)

Stress

Chronic psychological stress alters the gut microbiota; in fact, this may be one of the critical mechanisms by which stress contributes to so many chronic health issues. (14)

Chronic Infections

Bacterial, fungal, and viral gut pathogens alter the composition of the gut microbiota. (15) Importantly, a gut infection does not need to be acute to cause problems in the gut microbiota; some infections fly under the radar for years. Stool testing is a valuable tool for identifying both acute and subclinical gut infections.

Antibiotics and Other Medications

Antibiotics and non-antibiotic medications such as birth control pills, proton pump inhibitors, and NSAIDs significantly alter the gut microbiota, according to research. (16, 17) Repeated rounds of antibiotics and the use of non-antibiotic meds are important risk factors to identify.

C-Section Birth and Lack of Breastfeeding

During vaginal birth, a baby passes through the birth canal and is “seeded” with a mother’s beneficial bacteria, setting the stage for optimal gut microbiota development. Babies born by Caesarean section, on the other hand, are first exposed to microbes present on the skin of those who touch them during the C-section delivery (doctor, nurses) and immediately after (mom), as well as whatever limited microbes are floating around a sterile hospital environment. A newborn’s lack of exposure to a mother’s beneficial vaginal bacteria alters the course of gut microbiota development in infancy and childhood and may be associated with future health problems, even into adulthood. (18)

Breastfeeding provides infants with breast milk rich in probiotics, prebiotics, and immunoglobulins, which facilitate the development of a healthy gut microbiota. (19) Infant formula lacks many of these nutritional factors and is associated with suboptimal development of the gut microbiota. (20)

Circadian Rhythm Disruption

Circadian rhythm disruption, induced by factors such as abnormal sleep/wake schedules and blue light exposure at night, causes imbalances in the gut microbiome. It also compromises the integrity of the gut barrier, the second essential variable that influences gut health. (21)

How Does the Gut Barrier Impact Our Health?

As I mentioned earlier, two variables influence gut health: the gut microbiota and the gut barrier. But what exactly is the gut barrier and why is it essential for our health?

The gut is a hollow tube stretching from the mouth to the anus that passes out anything that is not digested. The gut barrier, a multilayer system made up of intestinal epithelial cells and proteins, prevents the escape of non-nutritive (and potentially harmful) substances from the intestine into the bloodstream. When the structural integrity of the gut barrier is compromised, large proteins and other molecules escape from the gut into the blood; this phenomenon is referred to as “leaky gut.”

The leakage of undesirable and incompatible substances from the gut into the bloodstream causes the immune system to launch an inflammatory response. The chronic inflammation resulting from leaky gut is an underlying cause of many chronic health conditions. Leaky gut could, therefore, be playing a role in many health conditions.

What Causes Leaky Gut?

We’ve learned that many of the factors that harm the gut microbiome, such as antibiotics and an unhealthy diet, also contribute to leaky gut, a predisposing factor in the development of many health issues.

In addition, there are particular substances that can compromise the intestinal barrier and cause abnormal permeability. Research has identified a protein called zonulin as one primary culprit.  

Zonulin increases intestinal permeability, including that of the tight junctions between intestinal cells. It has emerged as a critical link between leaky gut and adverse health consequences such as autoimmune diseases. (22) Gliadin, a component of the gluten protein, promotes leaky gut by increasing zonulin production. You can learn more about the connection between gluten, zonulin, and leaky gut in my podcast with researcher Dr. Alessio Fasano.

The Health Consequences of Leaky Gut

It is possible for someone to have leaky gut even if they don’t have gut-related symptoms. In fact, studies indicate that it can manifest as eczema, autoimmune disease, obesity, and many other chronic health conditions. (23, 24, 25)

If leaky gut is left untreated, it will be nearly impossible to improve other health issues, such as blood sugar control and cognitive function. That’s why it’s so important to focus on promoting a healthy gut barrier.

Seven Ways to Heal the Gut Naturally

The first step in healing the gut is avoiding the disruptive factors I listed earlier that harm the gut microbiome and gut barrier.

While it’s not always possible to completely steer clear of those factors (an adult cannot control, for instance, whether he or she was born by C-section or breastfed), there are still many ways in which you can improve gut health.

1. Remove Processed, Inflammatory Foods from the Diet

Transition to a whole foods-based, nutrient-dense diet. Identify and remove foods that are causing inflammation, such as gluten and dairy. Inflammatory foods can be identified via food sensitivity testing or an elimination diet.

2. Add Fermentable Fibers

Eat plenty of fermentable fibers, found in foods such as artichoke, onions, garlic, and plantains. These fibers fuel the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and help heal leaky gut.

3. Add Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are rich in probiotics that help restore a healthy gut microbiota and intestinal barrier. Unpasteurized sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, and kefir provide probiotics in abundance. However, make sure you’re not struggling with histamine intolerance before increasing your intake of fermented foods, as fermented foods can exacerbate symptoms.

4. Seek Treatment for Any Intestinal Pathogens

Gut infections are an important cause of gut dysbiosis and leaky gut. If you—or your clients—are currently seeking treatment from a Functional Medicine practitioner, ask about testing like the Genova GI Effects test or GI-MAP. These can identify specific bacterial, fungal, or parasitic imbalances causing gut dysbiosis.

5. Emphasize Healthy Sleep Habits

Get seven to eight hours of high-quality sleep a night to support your gut health. I recommend sleep hygiene practices such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule and avoiding blue light exposure at night. Blue light exposure can be minimized with blue-light-blocking glasses and the f.lux and Iris apps.

6. Develop an Exercise Routine

Develop a sustainable exercise program that will keep your gut microbes in shape. If you’re an endurance athlete, you may need additional gut support to mitigate the adverse effects of frequent endurance exercise on the gut microbiota, such as increased intestinal permeability. (26)

7. Manage Stress

Make stress-reduction practices, such as yoga or meditation, a part of daily life. Mindfulness apps such as Headspace or Calm can be helpful for people who are new to meditation.

791 Comments

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  1. I second Felicia’s comment on the negative aspects of birth control. I am currently on the pill and curious of any negative factors.

  2. Interesting to see more detail on this. In the 90s I had severe IBS symptoms, from stress and eating chicken-mushroom-mayonaise sandwiches for lunch for nearly a year (well, almost 😉 In desperation I ended up doing strict Hays diet food combining and avoiding dairy, yeast, alcohol (and as a consequence very little wheat) and after a few months I was able to get back to eating just about anything; I’ve often wondered what the mechanism was for defusing the food senstivities and ‘leakiness’ could fit.

    Any thoughts on whether this issue would have an impact on asthma, especially adult onset? my husband has coughing (rather than wheezing) asthma irritated by nasal drip (no more adenoids), and while the leukinase-inhibitor immunosupressants are a huge help it would be interesting to see if diet can help reduce the minor attacks he still has…

  3. I was on antibiotics for a good number of years so I can definitely attest to the ‘powers’ these drugs have on me — a weak digestive system, loose stools and lots of gas. Unfortunately, I only knew about the link much later. The doctors that put me on this path were most probably as clueless as me about the consequences and the alternative safer treatments available (there are as I found out years later). So if you’re on long-term antibiotics, you should really question why and find out other less destructive alternatives. If you look hard enough, there usually are. Don’t rely 100% on your doctor; do research on your own. Thankfully, the damages I’ve sustained were not so severe to the extent that they were completely irreversible. Now I regularly take probiotic foods like tempeh, kimchi and natto to restore my gut flora and avoid foods that give me bloating and gas (like beans). Thanks for writing about this topic, Chris. More people should be aware of the consequences of taking antibiotics for prolonged period of time.

  4. Excellent post Chris,

    Can you hazard a guess why sauerkraut might be problematic for some? I seemingly get instant brain fog, stimulation, salivating and oddly cravings. The best I can come up with is a possible histamine, suplhur reaction.

    Due to also avoiding dairy, are there any other whole food probiotics you would recommened?

    Thanks,

  5. I think you mean yuca (YOU-kah) rather than yucca (YUCK-ah). It’s almost impossible to eat a yucca root…very fibrous and not really edible. Yuca, on the other hand, is delicious.

  6. Hi,
    You said that birth control can contribute to unhealthy gut flora. I have been trying to look up exactly how that happens, but I haven’t found an answer. So how does taking the pill harm your gut? I have long questioned whether or not birth control is really a good idea, so I would really like to understand this aspect as well.

    • Oral contraceptives contain oestrogen which makes Candida grow. That’s a simple answer; it’s probably much more complicated than that.

  7. Hello everyone. I have had psoriasis for the past 22 years.

    I have just come off a drug called cyclosporine which gave me around 90% clearance, however I didn’t get on with the side effects.

    On Saturday I am starting a gluten free diet to see if that will help. I am writing about my successes/failures with this approach at http://www.healthyhappieryou.co.uk/2011/02/can-a-gluten-free-diet-clear-my-psoriasis-part-1

    I would be interested in getting any tips or advice from any of you that have tried this approach before Smiley

    Warmly,

    Richard

      • Guess it didn’t work out for Richard since he shut down his whole website, it don’t even exist now.

  8. Hi Chris,

    Great article! I’ve been following a custom version of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet where I eat about 3,000 calories a day of 60% fats, 30% proteins, and 10% carbs consisting of fats, meat, veggies, and very small portions of raw fruit (like 10 raspberries). I’ve been following this very strict regimen for almost 2 years now.

    Before the diet I was a mess from Celiac Disease with severe leaky gut and bacterial overgrowth. Going gluten free didn’t work at all. But now that I’ve been on my version of the SCD Diet I feel incredible with more energy, mental clarity, and better health that I’ve ever had in my life. Perfect poops everyday.

    My friend and I even wrote a book about how we tweaked the SCD Diet to heal our guts and have helped many people with Celiac, Crohn’s, UC, and IBS do the same. This stuff works for so many people with autoimmune and digestive diseases… especially if you avoid dairy and egg.

    I also wanted to add that I made huge strides with digestion once I started taking Vitamin D3, digestive enzymes, Betaine HCL, and 200 CFU’s/day of an 11 strain probiotic. And you’ve written some great content about that in the past.

    So thanks for doing what you do! I always look forward to your knowledge.

    Jordan Reasoner

    • Hi Richard, just came across email on Chris’s site where you stated that you had just got off the drug”cyclosporine. I was curious if you had a big glare-up after going off the drug and how the gluten free diet is going. I know it’s been a couple of years but I just came across it now. Thanks, lisa

      • funny my name is lisa gordon as well and I do suffer from psoriasis and was curious if you had any tips for me?
        thank you

    • Jordan, what is the name of your book? Do you have a website? I am interested in how you tweaked the SCD? It is so nut based?

    • Hi Jordan,
      I just read the chapter of your program. I am confused about why you say your program is good for people who avoid dairy and eggs…” This stuff works for so many people with autoimmune and digestive diseases… especially if you avoid dairy and egg.”
      In the Intro Diet, eggs seem to be one of the main food items. I cannot eat eggs. What would you suggest?
      Thanks

      • Jordan and Steve’s website is scdlifestyle.com

        It was what helped me get started on my own journey of taking charge of my health and navigating my personal issues.

        They explain in their book, emails, videos and website the background of how the SCD diet works and who it can help and why. It also tells you how to tailor the diet and lifestyle to your own needs (including the many who have sensitivities to foods such as eggs, dairy, nuts, etc.). So, although the intro diet says to go ahead and have your eggs for breakfast, it may not be the best idea for everyone (including me). My husband can eat eggs every day. If I have one bite I get flu-like symptoms that last an hour or more. However, my husband is sensitive to dairy, and I can tolerate butter and heavy cream.

  9. Sauerkraut would be a very good food, if ‘they’ did not insist on pasteurization. The salt in making it becomes part of one’s intake requirements and basically, if one ingests too much salt, the body responds by making one thirsty in order to bring the salt content of the intercellular space back to the .09 percent level.

    • Nope, there is plenty of non-pasteurized brands of sauerkraut to buy out there. Wholefoods sell several and they also carry non-pasteurized Kim Chi. But it’s expensive. Of course Chris is talking about non-pasteurized sauerkraut though. And it’s super easy to make. You really do not need that much CELTIC SEA SALT (which by the way does not make you thirsty if too much is ingested, unlike refined supermarket crappy salt) in a batch to make a good sauerkraut.

      • I’m making sauerkraut at the moment in a mason jar, it is very inexpensive to make yourself. You can determine how much salt you use and there is no pasteurization involved, just let it sit for a week and it’s ready to eat!

  10. HI Chris
    Thanks for your response about fermentable fibers. What would you recommend in lieu of fermentable fibers since they are not allowed on a low carb/GAPs diet?

    Angela

    • Yes I am also on the GAPS diet and wonder about the same issue. Are there probiotics or an alternative you suggest? Or do you include some fermentable fibres in your version of GAPS for your clients?

  11. Hi Chris.
    Thank you for your article, which points the way to improve one’s habits. –
    I have an issue with the numbers; in North America, of course, it is customery to call a number with 6 zeros a million, with nine zeros a billion and with 12 zeros a trillion and so forth. This is incorrect, strictly speaking. When a million acquires another set of six zeros it would become a billion i.e. twice the group of zeros. A trillion would have 3 sets of 6 zeros. This is the custom in Europe including Britain. Enough said about this. –
    Diabetes type 1 is often caused by the ACT of vaccinating, or any other violent act by a ‘grown-up(?)’ upon a small and helpless child. The child suffers a DHS, a biological conflict forming a Hamerscher Herd (HH) and effecting the Langerhans cells of the pancreas. It LOOKS like an autoimmune response, but it actually is a part of a SPECIAL Biological program of Nature we are all born with. The reasoning is, that there is not enough insulin production to have an effective defense response, therefore more of these cells need to be made. This would take place upon resolution of the conflict and this part of the pancreas would have more cells to enable the body to mount a more effective defense of itself. –
    Generally speaking, while a lot of research is being done, the initial perspective is more often than not, backward. The responses of the biological body, are being looked at as the causes and a hypothesis is made to explain something, which for all intents and purposes, has been mis-identified.
    Germanic New Medicine has been propagated using only 5 Biological Laws of Nature, whereas the conventional ‘wisdom’ works with over 5000 (and counting) hypotheses. Learn more about this here:
    http://learninggnm.com .

  12. Great article Chris. Sums up my experience with autoimmune issues. Once I started avoiding toxins (specifically gluten) and taking a quality pro-biotic, my psoriasis and eczema went away for the most part (occasional flare-ups when I stray from diet). Both also improved my hypothyroid symptoms to the point I experience less brain fog and can go through most days from 5:30am to 10pm without a nap.

    I added high quality colostrum from grass-fed cows about two months ago, and it’s really helped too. Not sure what your thoughts are regarding that supplement, but I recommend it.

    • I suffer from psoriasis and was wondering if you saw a flare up when you drink coffee, diary meat? How long did it take to clear up your psoriasis. I hear coffee enemas help but have not tried that yet.
      thank you

  13. Great post, and great blog Chris! Thanks a lot for a ton of useful information! I love this series especially. I have a question – is the idea behind taking fermentable fibers to promote the growth of good bacteria?

    • I know people might think its gross! But the best way to restore your gut flora is by getting a fecal implant by a healthy donor! Research it they are having great success in Europe best health to all!

  14. Great thorough info… as a colon hydrotherpist I see how poor nutrition lack of good bacteria and overuse of antibiotics r aiding in a very sick world. I enjoy ur site.

    • Not very much salt at all…it’s added in the process as it breaks down the cabbage cell walls. Its easy to make yourself once you get the hang of it. I found a recipe online. Good quality salt should be used anyway ie: like Maldon

  15. Angela: fermentable fiber = soluble fiber. They are long-chain glucose polymers (polysaccharides) so they’re not allowed on the GAPS diet. By definition, anything with a prebiotic quality is not allowed on GAPS because they’re all polysaccharides.

    • Hi Chris, and thank for your v.helpful blog and list of tips to heal the gut. BUT From reading most of the posts it seems there’s a catch 22 situation: How can a leaky gut be improved or better still healed by introducing fermented foods if the problem is also histamine intolerance. (Can you recommend anything ? Is cutting out wheat and eating a personally tailored ‘pure’ diet or broth fast enough without replacing ‘good’ gut flora from fermented foods or pro-biotics ( from ‘fermented’ dairy products). I ask because I’ve developed severe hives on my face and chest after a course of antibiotics. It was double triggered after an hour gardening in the spring sun ! It gets worse after the usual histamine rich foods so I ‘m trying to manage it by eating my personalised version of a histamine free diet and fingers crossed the red bumpy welts have subsided enough to make me feel I can face my students (I’m a teacher) but I feel that a leaky gut is the route cause. I have ordered some probiotics (and quercetin) but I really don’t want a histamine flare up by taking them ! Would appreciate your professional advice and/or the readers comments…(By the way I read an interesting bowel cleansing tip that taking a castor oil capsule after it’s been in the freezer it bypasses the stomach and goes straight to the end of the gut where it purges – what about doing the same thing with a probiotic ? it would bypass the stomach and go straight to the gut with less chance of an allergy – no ?)

      • Arabella, I discovered my histamine intolerance when I was taking probiotics, drinking water kefir and eating lots of fermented veggies to heal my leaky gut. It was horrible. Food would go right through me and the generalized pain was intolerable. I became depressed to the point of considering suicide. Thanks to my inner voice I discovered the problem. I took an antihistamine right away and it was like magic! All my symptoms disappeared.

        I knew I needed a probiotic so I went searching for a low histamine brand and found Prescript-Assist. It is soil based. I love it! Expensive, but well worth it. A bottle lasts me a couple of months as I don’t need to take it everyday. I also take about 12 grams of l-glutamine daily and have just started taking a couple teaspoons of diatomaceous earth. I’m doing quite well now as long as I maintain a low-histamine gluten free diet.

  16. If you read the attachment parenting/pro-breastfeeding literature you will find discussions of the development of the infant gut. Apparently, babies come with leaky guts–the cells of the mucosa have spaces in between them, naturally. Those gaps close at about six months of age. Breastmilk coats the mucosa and plugs up the gaps, as it were, without causing harm. It is believed this also helps train the infant’s immune system.

    Now think about all the parents out there giving solids to their babies at four months of age. What’s the most commonly introduced first food?

    Not that formula before six months of age is a tremendous idea either. It typically contains corn syrup solids and vegetable oils.

    • Dana, the breastmilk provides lots of things to the baby’s gut, which if baby has NEVER ingested anything but human milk, is already well lined with tons of intestinal flora of the best kind. The breastmilk contains something like 150 kinds of HMO’s (Human Milk Oligosaccarides) which are not for the baby, but for nourishing the intestinal flora in the gut. This healthy gut, well-nourished because nothing else is given to disturb it (eg: water, artifical milk, foods before age 6 months…) will not let germs, bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc. through to be absorbed. They might attach to the flora, thinking they have reached the baby’s cells, and then turn up in the diaper. This is the first line of defense that babies have against disease and why exclusively BF babies are statistically much less likely to be sick. Some foreign matter can never-the-less cross into the blood during the digestive part however, like cow’s milk protein, which has been ingested by the mother and it passes into her milk to the baby. His symptoms (eczema, for example), should lead to the mother eliminating milk products from her diet. The immature gut matures when the baby is around 6 months, as you say, and there is less chance that unwanted proteins will pass into the baby easily. This is why one should not give solids to babies before they are ready.

  17. Hi Chris
    I’m on a low carb/GAPS diet to deal with chronic yeast overgrowth and h.plyroi overgrowth and I can’t have sweet veggies or starches like yams, sweet potato, etc. Are there other sources of fermentable fiber? Also, I have not come across this term before, can you describe what you mean by it?

    Thanks for another great blog post!

    • Try water kefir, try brands such as Kevita found in natural food stores. I am DF and rely on this. I now make it myself, google it and learn more. It’s good stuff! In addition to this add raw sauerkraut to your salads or meals along with digestive enzymes. This regime has helped me tremendously.

    • Hi, Angela, Sorry that you are experiencing high yeast growth. I too had yeast. I overcame my yeast problem by taking two Probio5s in the morning and two at bed time on an empty stomach. I also cleanse daily. I became an ambassador for Plexus Slim just because of my results from our amazing products. Please take time to go to my website at http://www.plexusslim.com/cheryl56 to read further about our products. They are all natural. If you want to discuss our products further, please call me at 985-320-2132 or email me at [email protected]. I would love to have you have the same experience as I have.

  18. Hello Chris,

    I have been following your series with great interest. I have followed a strict paleo diet excepting the inclusion of a small amount of high fat pastured dairy products for about 5 months. I have struggled with chronic facial hives and rash for several years and, if anything, these have gotten worse on the paleo diet. I started a dairy-free challenge a few days ago, and if I don’t see an improvement within the next couple of weeks, will try an egg-free challenge. Because of the dairy-free challenge I am reluctant to add kefir or yogurt to my diet. Any recommendations on specific brands of probiotics? There is a bewildering assortment out there.

    • You may have luck with using a milk kefir scoby (“grains”) to make your own coconut milk kefir. I currently have rash from dairy but can use this very well. If you decide to try it, get the grains (not starter) and put them in a little more milk for one day, then rinse them and put the grains in coconut milk (I recommend the canned kind with just coconut milk and guar gum). Let it sit until you just see some clearish liquid on the bottom (this is ‘whey’). Pour through a strainer and put the grains back in their glass jar. add some fresh coconut milk, leave it for another day. Drink the semi-liquid that got through the strainer. Also, we use Ultimate Flora and have worked up to 50billion dosage.

      • I am not sure if you will get this as it has been awhile since you posted but check into the histamine intolerance. Some foods have alot of histamine in them and cause symptoms. Fermented foods are one of them along with proteins such as meat..especially leftovers! A google search will bring you lots of info on this. Good luck!

        • You hit the nail on the head here. Histamines. This is the first thing my naturopath told me to try and eliminate.

          I get severe sinus swelling as a result of eating foods that contain gluten. Had it for years and never knew what it was despite all the trips to my regular doctors, GI examinations, etc…

          First day I went to a naturopath, they told me to do an elimination diet and slowly add back histamine containing foods one by one to see what caused a reaction.

          Also they had me start taking Pharmax fish oil for anti inflamation, Pharmax probiotics 25 billion, and acacia fiber.

          I think many people do not realize that something as simple as a tomato can cause problems from releasing histamines. Definitely look into histamine releasing foods!

    • Hi,
      I strongly recommend checking out the book “The Plan” by Lyn-Genet Recitas. It is a specific and speedy elimination diet, which allows you to discover which foods cause an inflammatory reaction with your body chemistry. I am currently un-employed, so I haven’t been able to afford to complete the 20 day process. But the 6 days I was on it were amazing. I have Hashimoto’s and Fibromyalgia and IBS, the symptoms from all three were gone or greatly improved. I discovered one of the foods that gives me immediate trouble, corn. Hope this helps. You can get the book on amazon for around $20. And if you google Lyn-Genet Recitas she has a website that offers consultations, and you can email them for advice on getting started.

      • Have you ascertained if there is a difference between corn from heritage seed versus BT or GMO seed?

        dn.

        • I have. I loved growing up on New England heritage corn. Alas, it is a cereal grain and has many issues as an allergen, as a source of spiked blood sugar, more… I’ve spent 30 years in clinical research and more recently in practice of clinical nutrition (*not* the dietitian/nutritionist dogma). Plants from the grass family, GMO or heritage, e.g. corn cane, sugar from corn or cane no matter how raw… all have an inflammatory property.

    • I’d say you can make almond, soy, sunflower, cashew basically and nut milk from the fresh raw seeds. You won’t be having any issues with hives on your face or mucus for that matter.

    • Would fermented goods work? From my understanding so far though, they use sugar or milk in the cultures-both theoretically problematic. So, I don’t understand how it converts to beneficial for our sensitive system. I’ve been struggling with how to keep natural cultures in my diet while eliminating my problematic foods. Milk, corn, glutenous-grains, soy, and certain fruits. D’Adamo’s blood-type diet chart’s have really helped me understand why my body does good/bad with different foods. I’m currently on my journey to figuring out if I can heal my leaky gut and get back to digesting my nutrients better. I was hoping to find a guide that thoroughly describes the process of healing the gut barrier, and regenerating villi and micro-villi. Onward with my search.

      • Oh, also, I had read somewhere that whole foods tend to contain beneficial bacteria in their natural state (vs. being fermented). So, for now, I’m banking on that and just doing my research on the rest of the healing process.

      • Casey, if you’re sensitive to milk, try fermented vegetables like sauerkraut instead. Heck, try fermented vegetables even if you’re not sensitive to milk. They have a lot of beneficial bacteria, and it’s a different selection of bacteria than you get in the fermented milk products.

        However, you should understand that just because a ferment calls for sugar, that doesn’t mean you’ll be eating a bunch of sugar. The sugar is for the bacteria. They eat it and then it’s mostly gone.

        In addition, fermenting hard-to-digest foods like milk or soy gives bacteria a chance to break down the problematic substances (like lactose), making the resulting product much easier to digest. Extensive fermentation can even substantially break down gluten.

      • The GAPS book might be helpful to you. Goes into great detail about how the GAPS diet heals your digestive system.

      • Read the body ecology diet by Donna gates ! She also has a web site! By learning and following the diet restored my gut and villi. But it takes time and your discipline to eat real food it the garbage we where born into.. Best of health to you!

    • Make homemade bone broth at home with the bone marrows exposed.

      Live off the broth and your gut will heal and seal!!! You are inflamed because of all of the things you are eating.

      See more information at

      http://www.gapsdiet.com

      • Hi…I was told broth is VERY high in Glutamate, so avoid it. At this point, I basically can’t eat anything! I’ve attempted to avoid certain foods but if it’s not the food I’m reacting to it’s the environment. Nothing seems to work or change my skin from getting hives or being inflamed …no dairy, wheat, corn, eggs, grains, sugar, histamines, salicylate…you name it; I’ve eliminated it & no improvement. I take probiotics, digestive enzymes & colostrum for my gut…nothing 🙁

        • Hi Clarissa,
          It seems you have a super trigger-happy inflammatory response so I would suggest taking (purified) EPA & DHA omega 3 fish oils in a 70:30 ratio. Aim for at least 500mg EPA & 150mg DHA every day. As EPA has the most powerful lowering effect on ‘pro-inflammatory cytokines’ in the body and improves the balance between Omega 3 and Omega 6, I hope this could eliminate your facial hives within 10 days.
          Good luck!!
          Daniele

        • Clean out your gut entirely, get a hydro-colonic. Read “Clean Gut” by Alejandro Junger

        • L-glutamine heals the gut lining. It is an amino acid & works! Dr. ohhirra probiotics is the best to take. Speaking from personal use & experience.

        • Sounds to me like your stressed. Stress plays a major role in all illnesses. You have to learn to reduce your stress or you will never cure a leaky gut or anything for that matter.

        • Hi,
          Saw your comments on the website. Just wanted to let you know that I had hives all of a sudden and for 8 months the doctors and specialists could not figure out what it is. The only thing that worked was an anti histamine “T-Day” and “singulair” .
          I was taking T-day twice a day, with Singulair at night (cos it causes drowsiness). This just kept the hives at a distance , but anytime i miss a dose, they come out with a vengeance.

          Anyway, my life had been miserable to put it lightly !

          So after all the allergy tests and vaccines, other medical and dermatologist visits,I searched the net and found out a lot of interesting things.

          Firstly, I tried apple cider vinegar , diluted in a glass of water daily for a week. It did not do much. But when I rubbed the apple cider vinegar on the hives, they stopped itching. I stopped this after a week as it was not really helping or even making a little bit of difference to my condition.

          Secondly, I started Probiotics 12 Billion(per capsule) x 3 per day for 4 weeks.
          In addition, a mouthful of Honey daily in the mornings.
          This made a lot of difference. I reduced the anti histamines dose to just a tablet of T-day daily.
          My life changed, i felt more energetic, increased libido, more alert, less fatigue and joint pains etc.

          However, after 4 weeks, i decided to reduce the dosage of the Probiotics, and the hives started re appearing, but i must say not as vengeful as before the probiotics. So I’ve re-started the probiotics again and feeling much better again.

          Anyway, I hope my experience would help you.

          If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

          Regards

          Oumayer

        • Hi, I just want to send my support! I’m going through the exact same thing. I’ve pared down my diet to basically just low histamine, low oxalate, low starch veggies, but now my stomach is constantly bloated. I know we’ll find a solution. Stay strong!

        • I’ve just started taking probiotics and have developed terrible cystic acne along my jaw line – NEVER had anything like this in my life, but just read that a few people do have this reaction to probiotics – maybe they’re what’s causing your hives?

        • Hi —

          If you have severe sensitivities to foods, that’s an indication that your gut flora is extremely messed up and that usually happens after taking many antibiotics (such as clindamycin and other powerful antibiotics which I can’t remember the names of at the moment), or through a really compromised immune system.. I’ve been there and I’m still trying to “heal” my gut from the damage from the past 8 yrs. I’ve got a mild form of colitis and crohn’s and all these other digestive disorders which have not been diagnosed officially but I know they exist. The most important thing is get to know your body, study it, study the foods which help and hurt your body.

          I’ve gone on very simple meals, such as mostly home cooked dishes and only simply foods. Some examples of foods that I eat are:
          1. Baby banana food for age 1-2 yrs (this really helps w/the healing and I always keep several of these on hand in case of an emergency or any pain/discomfort I experience). In addition I try to eat a banana every day.
          2. Baby rice cereal which comes in banana and apple flavor, I eat this in the morning sometimes. For some reason, I can’t eat anything that’s made from oats.
          3. California sushi rolls (w/o avocados) – I can only tolerate “cooked” fish. I try to avoid the risk of stomach cancer by avoiding raw fish since my body’s inflammation is already really high most of the times (determined by the sedimentation rate) and I can’t digest fats from avocado very well either.
          4. I make use of lots of different lentil flours (Dumplings in yogurt, bread, fritters, etc). They can be purchased at any South Asian/Middle-Eastern grocery stores.
          5. Lactaid whole milk and coconut milk (anything w/o carrenegan, not sure if I spelled that correctly).
          6. Grilled/baked fish/chicken. If I’m making anything w/gravy, I use very simple ingredients such as 5-6 spices (ginger/garlic, cayenne, salt, cumin, blk peppercorns, etc).
          6. Rice grains/rice noodles.
          7. I can only tolerate white breads n w/o HFCS and if I’m using any condiments, like ketchup or anything, they have to be w/o HFCS as well. I try to make my own sauces/condiments or get light mayo/mustard when eating outside.
          8. When I get hives, I drink green tea (2-3 cups a day), although it makes me lose a lot of weight, but my hives clear up. Topically, I rub the inside of the banana skin, it helps a lot w/hives healing/soothing process.
          9. Cooked/steamed vegetables (due to my colitis issues). Baked yams/sweet potatoes w/cayenne/blk pepper/salt/olive oil, green beans, turnips, eggplants, etc.
          10. Most importantly, I drink yogurt shakes or eat sauces made from yogurt, frozen yogurt, (try to have some yogurt everyday). Even though I’m lactose intolerant, I don’t have issues w/yogurt. For centuries, my whole family generation grew up on eating yogurt, and they all have/had great immune systems and my aunt said it’s due to the yogurt. My mom used to make yogurt at home , but I haven’t tried that yet.
          11. I can tolerate almond and walnuts in small quantities.
          12. Last but not least, I avoid any foods more than 1-2 days old. I cannot tolerate yeast very well and that increases the bad bacteria in my gut and anything that’s even one day old will start growing yeast, unless it’s kept in air right container.

          I’m not a doctor but I’ve been to all the specialist you can name in the directory w/o any results that are helpful. I chose not to live on steroids and antibiotics. I’ve researched a lot on my own and I’ve become my own doctor and that’s what we all have to do, especially if there’s anything chronic we are suffering from. Study your body, your symptoms and what your body reacts to and learn to “manage” your illnesses. Start your day w/water, just even 1 glass and give your body time to “fast” for couple of hours so it heals a little bit.. I do not believe in eating small meals through out the day because I think our organs need some rest too .. I try to eat a balanced meals 2-3 times a day (good fat, some protein, light fiber, and some carbs (non-sugary)). If I get hungry, I snack lightly on nuts. Fasting definitely starves the yeast overgrowth in our bodies and helps to make our bodies absorb the other nutrients well (on an empty stomach), therefore, healing and helping the gut restore the good bacteria.

          Best of luck in health and God bless!

        • I have had chronic urticaria and angioedema for the past 2 years. I have been to doctors all over the world and have been misdiagnoesed several times. My hives are so bad that they are more like welts and every doctor I have been to says they have seen nothing like it… so I understand the pain you are in. I am currently Gluten Free, Dairy Free and on a Low Histamine diet, along with taking Probiotics, Digestive Enzymes, DGL, L-Gluatmine and Quercetin. If you haven’t taken Quercetin I highly recommend it. I also recommend you trying a Low Histamine diet. I am still battling with my hives but have only been on this new lifestyle for about a month and I am seeing slow improvements.

    • Hi there –
      I have often heard it said by nutritionists that sauerkraut is THE BEST probiotic, especially if you make it yourself. It’s super easy to make – just get a head of organic cabbage, chop it up, punch it in a bowl, sprinkle salt on it, let it sit for half an hour, then put it in jars with a bit of salt water and let it sit on your counter for a week. If you’re looking for a drinkable probiotic, you can make water kefir with just organic sugar and water. The grains are easy to deal with and you can buy them at culturesforhealth.com. I have made both of these and they are incredibly easy.

    • hives sounds to me like some sort of reaction to a food your body does not like…can be anything. Bio-individuality! I would do coconut kefir and coconut kefir water. Also an elimination diet to find out what is causing the hives….or an IgG test.

      • Sorry, but an IGg test is just a snapshot. One could test for hundreds of foods, additives, seasonings and still not get valuable info. Btw-some foods are cross-reactive and may bother you primarily when consumed with another trigger.

        In the time it would take to see an allergist, get blood draw and then wait for test results you could implement the early phase of GAPS. Good luck!

    • Hello !!! I was reading your comment …
      I suffer from dermatitis.. & I mostly get it on my face.. It’s painful when u don’t know how to treat it… It’s know as a chronic disease but u can control that as so u know managing your stress & with diet..
      I keep it under control with a organic, gluten free & 90% vegan diet ( I say 90% because sometimes I eat eggs, but they are organic & free range )… Besides that, I DONT eat a bite or sip anything with dairy & gluten since are known to trigger a leaky guy.. I take enzymes & probiotics, I do a lot of green shakes… & it happens sometimes that I’m under a lot of stress, then I get a dermatitis flare up. I fight it with water fasting and ACV or/& juicing for a minimum of 3 days, then I start reintroducing solids but must be mostly raw… Basically I do a detox … Then on the outside I take care of it with coconut oil, calendula cream & baths with baking soda … I like to share my journey because I know how hard it is to live with this…
      Anytime any recipe for cooking or advice, contact me.
      [email protected]
      Or follow me on Instagram
      ELLIE_YADI_GUZMAN

      • You may want to also clean out your liver with liver flushes or coffee enemas. A lot of times skin conditions can result from liver congestion. The other issue could be that you have not fully killed the bad bugs in your gut. I had perioral dermatitis and eczema on my face for 6 months, despite my super healthy diet. I went to an integrative doc who does kinesiology and he told me it was bad bugs in my gut and gave me oil of oregano to take twice a day under my tongue. On day two, the perioral dermatitis and eczema cleared and has not returned for 3 years.

    • Try the raw vegan diet and if you feel you can’t let cooked food go then do a mostly raw stricty vegan diet(no animal product whatsoever) and get into juicing at least once a day(fitlife juicing site will help you get started).I hope this helped.if you are interested in some science facts on the vegan diet and why animal foods are bad for you then visit nutritionfacts site

    • You might be histamine intolerant. I am and I find it’s very difficult to pin down because it builds up in your body to a spilling point instead of triggering a reaction right away. Also the histamine load of foods varies greatly, though these are the food mostly considered with reactions: fermented foods! cured, smoked, canned and leftover! meats and fish, aged cheese, alcohol, especially wine, chocolate, tomatoes [especially canned and not to fresh soups and sauces], spinach…So as you see, a lot of paleo/primal staples.

      People report different symptoms. I personally get bloated, tired and a runny and stuffy nose. But I’ve heard a lot people talking about skin rashes and hives!!! So I was alarmed when I read your post and thought this might be helpful.
      [Sorry for false grammar and mispelling, english is not my mothertongue]

      PS: Dont be shocked by how many foods contain histamine. You should try a low histamine diet to calm your body down and see if it helps, but on the long run I could personally get away with eating very fresh meat & veggies…and can throw in some higher histamine foods now and then. But everyone is different, mine is not so severe I guess..

    • So the just of what he is trying to represent is complete. What you need to do is that once your gut is comprised it’s possible to react to things that you are sure are good for you but make you feel the same. Go take the Elisa antibody test. The Dr can order it. It most likely isn’t covered by the insurance but it saved my life. I was unable to get around and going down hill fast. Diagnosed with RA Endometriosis, IBS, and adenomiosis. Basically I hurt BAD ALL THE TIME. The rheumatologist suggested I stop nursing my infant (which I now know helps you to produce important hormones that helps you heal) to start a regimen of A HEAVY drug. Twice monthly blood tests to ensure that my kidney/liver function was adequate. I was frustrated and read until my eyes hurt. I wasn’t sleeping then anyway. Stumbled across a study about pediatric RA and it stated that the effects could improve with allergy assessment. I personally asked for it and to my surprise. .. I am allergic to eggs, bakers yeast, brewers yeast, bananas (which I was eating daily), wheat and apples. I was floored. Sad . And in denial but I removed this from my menu and presto remission. PLEASE PERSIST … NEVER GIVE UP B-)

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