Many of those that have made the switch to The Paleo Diet, previously subsisted on a Standard American Diet (SAD) that relies heavily on grains, dairy, simple carbohydrates, sugars, and unhealthy oils. A diet rich in SAD foods can contribute to gut dysbiosis or “leaky gut” which can lead to autoimmune disorders and other ailments such as chronic fatigue, inflammatory bowel disease, rashes, diabetes, mental disorders, and other health related problems. To add insult to injury, the modernized human being has typically had their fair share of gut damaging antibiotics and prescription drugs which only serve to further throw off the intricate balance in one’s digestive tract.
If you have yet to achieve success after adopting your Paleo lifestyle, there is a good chance that your gut functioning is not up to par and your digestive system could be allowing toxins into your bloodstream and preventing adequate nutrient uptake regardless of how healthy you may be eating.
To support immune function and overall well being one must account for the importance of gut health. Fortunately, there are many foods and lifestyle practices you can adopt to restore your gut’s equilibrium.
Gut Healing Foods
As obvious as it may seem, the gut should be thought of as the primary interface between the human body and the environment. Every food that is put into your system will create a reaction in your gut. Certain foods will increase gut permeability with long term exposure, thus allowing normally digested food particles into the bloodstream invoking an immune system response. Over time, this response can lead to the formation of autoimmune illnesses and other health issues. Avoid these foods on a gut healing protocol:
- Unhealthy oils (corn, vegetable, soybean, cottonseed)
- Alcohol and caffeine
- Excessive carbohydrate consumption
Individuals with autoimmune disease may want to limit or omit:
- Nuts and Seeds
- Eggs (Egg whites in particular)
By removing the foods outlined above, you should be able to reduce overall body inflammation and assist in restoring gut health.
Certain foods, however, should be incorporated into your Paleo Diet to accelerate the healing process.
Gut Healing Foods
Probiotic rich foods are essential. The gut is home to roughly 100 trillion organisms, and many gut related problems stem from loss of gut flora diversity. These foods are tremendously rich in probiotics and should be consumed regularly:
- Fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, kimchi)
- A multi-species dairy-free probiotic supplement can also be equally beneficial
Heal the Intestinal Wall
- Bone Broth, rich in glycine, gelatin, and glutamine which is essential for intestinal repair
- Fermentable fibers, like sweet potatoes
- Healthy fats sources including pasture raised animals, avocado, coconut oil, pure olive oil
- Omega-3 rich foods like seafood and salmon
Finally, a vital part of gut health is to be able to adequately manage stress. Excessive stress results in heightened cortisol levels which can over time wreak havoc on hormone functionality and other bodily processes including gut functioning.
It is important to avoid chronic stress and to incorporate activities you enjoy in your day-to-day. Activities such as hiking, meditation, playing with your kids, or socializing with friends and family are all great ways to reduce stress.
Stick to these tips and you will be well on on your way to achieving a healthy gut!
Kyle Cordain, The Paleo Diet Team