Healing the Gut

Healing the gut begins with Hippocrates’ concept of “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates, the Greek physician in 400 BC, also stated: “All diseases begin in the gut”. The concept has definitely been around for a while, so food is the first place to start when trying to heal the gut!

Healing the gut is a multi-faceted approach consisting of:

Eating a Clean Diet

Eating a clean diet means eating organic whole foods that are uncontaminated and free of additives and preservatives. A clean diet consists of:

  • Non-genetically modified (GMO) foods
  • Organic foods
  • Grass-fed/pastured animal proteins
  • Wild-caught, not farm-raised, fish
  • Unprocessed, whole foods
  • Foods free of preservatives and additives
  • Clean, filtered water

Click here for more information about what eating a clean diet entails.

Eliminating Food Sensitivities and Intolerances

Hidden food sensitivities and intolerances are often a main driver of an unhealed gut. Because they are typically undetected, they are a main cause of chronic inflammation in the body. Food and food ingredients such as gluten, casein (found in dairy), eggs, corn, soy, nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish, citrus foods and chocolate are common sources of food sensitivities and intolerances. An elimination diet is the gold standard for identification of these foods, and it is one of the most important things that you can do to improve your child’s health.

In addition, these laboratories can also help you discover which foods your child is sensitivite or intolerant to:

Following a Gut-Healing Diet

Sometimes more than one diet is necessary, especially if your child has a complex medical condition such as autism spectrum disorder. Even if your child does not show a significant amount of improvement on a particular diet, then try another diet.

Here are some of the more common healing diets to help children recover from symptoms of autism, ADHD, allergies, asthma, mood disorders, autoimmune disorders, eczema, gastrointestinal disorders and other chronic health conditions:

Click here to learn more specifics about these healing diets and foods.

Eating Foods Specific for Gut Healing

Here are basic healing foods to include in your child’s diet. Items may or may not be excluded depending on which specialized healing diet you’re following:

  • Fermented vegetables and foods:
    • Sauerkraut
    • Kim chi
    • Miso soup
    • Boiled umeboshi plum tea
    • Apple cider vinegar
    • Umeboshi plum vinegar
    • Sprouted seeds
    • Kombucha
    • Fermented pickles
  • Kefir yogurts (preferably coconut-based)
  • Bone broth (can be chicken, turkey or red meat bones)
  • Algae and seaweeds:
    • Wakame
    • Dulse
    • Kombu
    • Chlorella (fresh water)
    • Spirulina
  • Cruciferous veggies:
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Cabbage
    • Broccoli
    • Cauliflower
    • Broccoli rabe
  • Root veggies and squashes:
    • Rutabaga
    • Turnips
    • Summer squash
    • Winter squash
    • Onions
    • Garlic
    • Sweet potatoes

Potentially Incorporating Nutritional Supplements

We recommend working with a knowledgeable functional-medicine practitioner, naturopath or homotoxicologist for nutritional supplements that are specific to your child’s gut issues. Some of these could include the following:

  • Glutamine for healing a leaky gut. Do not use glutamine if your child has high glutamates or a glutamate sensitivity because glutamine converts to glutamate and is an excitotoxin.
  • Slippery elm for coating and soothing inflammation of damaged gut lining.
  • Aloe vera for healing leaky gut and coating the intestines and starts healing process
  • Butyric cal-mag (butyrate) for healing the gut lining.
  • Licorice DGL for balancing cortisol levels and maintaining mucosal lining.
  • Quercetin for improving the gut barrier and reduce histamine release.
  • N-Acetyl-Glucosamine (NAG) for helping stop gastrointestinal irritation
  • BiCarb by Klaire Labs for relieving symptoms of reflux, gas and acid indigestion.
  • MSM (MethylSulfonylMethane) for improving allergies, healing gut permeability, aiding in detoxification and helping with constipation.
  • Zinc for rebuilding the intestinal lining and aiding in growth and healing.

Eating Good Fats

Good-quality fats are NOT derived from vegetables or seeds, as they are highly inflammatory due to their high processing and large amounts of linoleic acid. Instead, good fats come from the following:

  • Avocados
  • Butter or ghee
  • Wild fatty fish such as salmon and sardines
  • Coconut oil
  • MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides) oil
  • Cold-pressed olive oil
  • Animal fats such as tallow from grass-fed beef
  • Cod liver oil, which includes EPA and DHA

    Optimizing Stomach Acid

    A common misconception is that people who have acid reflux do so because they have too much stomach acid. Instaed, people who suffer from this condition often have too much stomach acid generated after they have eaten. There’s a timing mismatch because the stomach should start making it earlier, rather than later, in the digestion process.

    Optimal amounts of stomach acid are crucial for:

    • Breaking proteins down into amino acids
    • Digesting and absorbing key nutrients such as vitamin B12 and magnesium
    • Destroying pathogens that enter the gastrointestinal tract. If these pathogens aren’t taken out by stomach acid, they could possibly move into the intestines. Thus, having optimal amounts of stomach acid is a key to a healthy immune system.

    Taking acid reflux medications such as proton-pump inhibitors can be dangerous in the long term because it can lead to deficiencies of key nutrients discussed above.

    Work with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner to look into the following supplements to optimize stomach acid production:

    • Betaine hydrochloric acid (HCl)
    • Zinc
    • Salt
    • Apple cider vinegar or water before a meal but not with a meal

    Potentially Taking Enzymes to Improve Digestion

    Many children with chronic health conditions tend to have lower pancreatic output of digestive enzymes, which are necessary for lowering food sensitivities, relieving gastrointestinal symptoms and eliminating biofilm. If your child’s pancreas doesn’t produce enough of these exocrine enzymes, a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner may choose to to have your child supplement with different kinds of enzymes such as:

    • DPP-IV enzymes for gluten and casein sensitivities:
      • Vital-zymes Complete by Klaire Labs
      • TriEnza by Houston Nutriceuticals
      • DPP-IV Forte by Kirkman Labs
      • DPP-IV by Enzymatica
      • Similase by Integrated Therapeutics
    • Proteolytic enzymes for inflammation:
      • Wobenzyme
      • Pancreatic Enzymes by Vital Nutrients
      • Serrapeptase
      • Nattokinase
    • Enzymes to help with phenol sensitivities:
      • No Fenol by Houston Nutriceuticals
      • Phenol Assist by Kirkman Labs
      • Enzymes to help with fat digestion:
      • Lipo by Enzymatica
      • Lipase by Integrative Therapeutics
    • Enzymes that help with protein digestion:
      • Theragest by Klaire Labs
    • Enzymes that help eliminate biofilm (encapsulated microbial cells):
      • Interfase and Interfase Plus by Klaire Labs
      • Bio Film Defense by Kirkman Labs
    • Bromelaine can ease inflammatory conditions if taken between meals and can help with digestive problems if taken with meals.

    Encouraging Good Bile Flow

    Bile is produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. It is crucial for breaking down fats, removing toxins and absorption of certain nutrients. Its flow can be improved with the consumption of bitter foods such as:

    • Leafy green veggies:
      • Kale
      • Mustard greens
      • Arugula
      • Watercress
      • Beet tops
      • Collard greens
      • Mesculan salad
      • Dandelion
      • Parsley
      • Escarole
      • Endive
      • Broccoli rabe
      • Chicory
    • Fenugreek
    • Artichoke
    • Asparagus
    • Digestive bitters

    Supplementing Prebiotics and Probiotics to Increase Beneficial Gut Flora

    Work with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner to determine which, if any, of the following probiotics and prebiotics can help with healing your child’s gut:


    • Klaire Labs-Therabiotic Complete
    • Kirkman Labs-Probio Gold
    • VSL#3
    • Custom Probiotics D-Lactate
    • Dr. Ohhira Professional Formula
    • Culturelle
    • Renew Life Ultima Flora
    • Jarrow
    • Gut Pro
    • Genestra
    • Allergy Research Group
    • Pure Encapsulations
    • Douglas Labs
    • Sidona
    • Metagenics
    • DaVinci Labs
    • FloraEnergetix
    • Thorne Research
    • Cardiovascular Research

    Prebiotics are fruto-oligosaccharides (FOS) that can help feed and grow probiotics in the body:

    • Klaire Labs (Biotagen)
    • Jarrow
    • Vital Nutrients
    • Pure Encapsulations
    • Genestra

    Improving Liver Detoxification

    A well functioning liver is important not only for providing bile for digestion, but it’s also necessary for processing hormones, processing histamine, removal of toxins from the bloodstream and conversion of excess blood sugar into glycogen to be stored as fat. We recommend working with a knowledgeable naturopath or homotoxicologist for therapies and supplements that can improve your child’s liver detoxification pathways.

    Considering a Fecal Transplant

    Fecal transplants may currently be considered a last-resort option for correcting the microbiome and healing the gut, but that is likely because they are somewhat new and because there are very few doctors and clinics who provide this therapy. The procedure entails taking the feces from a donor with a healthy microbiome and transplanting it into the recipient, who usually has an intractible infection of Clostridiales (C. difficile) or  Bacteroides pathogenic bacteria. A reduction in symptoms can be profound and long-lasting.

    Still Looking for Answers?

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    Join us inside our online membership community for parents, Healing Together, where you’ll find even more healing resources, expert guidance, and a community to support you every step of your child’s healing journey.

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    Autism: More than hope; non-verbal 19-year-old says “mama” after FMT and shows corrected microbiome. Trial Site News, October 23, 2022.

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