Guest Blog Post by Iris Higgins, gluten-free cook book author and blogger of www.thedailydietribe.com, hypnotherapist with master's degree in psychology plus a Women's Wellness Wizard.
Those with gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease learn very quickly that the key to healing intestinal damage is a lifelong gluten-free diet. However, many soon realize that this is just the first step. Depending on the amount of damage to your gut, it may take time for your body to heal properly. Fortunately there are steps you can take to speed up that process.
Let Food Be Thy Medicine
Decrease Inflammation: Before you can even start the process of repairing the mucosal lining of your intestines, you need to soothe your inflamed gut. There are a variety of ways you can do this:
- Decrease refined carbohydrates and sugars: High intake of refined carbohydrates or sugars can create insulin spikes, which increases inflammation. Luckily, there are a number of gluten-free grains that are healthy options, as well as many recipes using unrefined sugars.
Increase Fruits, Vegetables, Herbs and Spices with Anti-Inflammatory Properties: There are a number of foods that are especially known for their anti-inflammatory properties, such as: turmeric, ginger, nettles, garlic, basil, rosemary, fennel, cloves, berries, purple grapes, and cruciferous vegetables (e.g. cabbage, broccoli).
Increase Foods Containing Quercetin: Quercetin is an anti-inflammatory phytonutrient that is found in high amounts in: apples, onions, parsley, and green tea, as well as many other fruits and vegetables.
Increase Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Omega 3 fatty acids are a key component to reducing inflammation. Some common sources in the diet are: wild salmon, flax and chia seeds (be cautious with increasing fiber too quickly though as this can cause bloating), sardines, tuna, walnuts, and grass-fed beef.
Try Soothing Foods: Due to the inflammation, your body may do better with mild, soothing foods for a little while. Strong spices, tomatoes, and/or citrus fruits may be too harsh for your gut right now. Instead, try:
- Soft, well-cooked foods like quinoa soaked overnight, cooked until soft, or this apple pie recipe.
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce mixed with 2 teaspoons of marshmallow root or slippery elm powder. Marshmallow root and slippery elm powder are both powdered herbs that are demulcents (they soothe mucous membranes).
- Wellesse Aloe Vera Liquid for gentle promotion of regularity and added soluble fiber.
- Heal Your Gut with Glutamine: Once you've taken gluten out of your diet and begun to work on decreasing inflammation, the final step is to repair the mucosal lining of your gut. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body, and is a key building block for protein. Glutamine can help to stimulate regeneration of the mucosa cells, as well as prevent further damage and decrease the amount of bacteria leaking across the mucosa. Cabbage is an excellent source of glutamine, as are most high-protein foods, such as chicken, fish, or beans.
Practice Stress Reduction Techniques: Stress is as much a culprit in inflammation as anything you're eating. High stress levels increase cortisol, which will in turn increase inflammation in the body. In addition, stress can decrease the flow of digestive juices, thus hampering all the hard work you're doing by working on your diet. Of course, in today's world, it's much easier said than done to reduce stress in your life. But there's one thing you can do every day that will only take a little extra time:
- Plan an extra fifteen minutes into your meal times so that you can sit down and savor your meals at the kitchen table. You might feel like you don't have the time, but once you notice the difference in how you feel after eating, you'll want to make this a priority.
By following these tips and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you’ll find yourself healing at a faster rate than expected. Always remember to make your health a priority, just as you would for other loved ones!