Intestinal Health – the Four “R” Program: Part I

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“Intestinal health” – not the most appropriate dinner talk but probably one of the most important topics regarding your overall health. Not many people want to talk about their intestines, stool samples and the pathway of digestion but this is where so many issues lie that affect one’s health and wellness.

Over the next four weeks, we will present the essential ideas to creating a proper gut and better intestinal health. We’ll start with the 4 “R” Program. This will help you remember the four important steps to increased intestinal wellness.

Four “R” Program:

1. Remove – offending foods, medications, gluten and reduce poor quality fats, carbohydrates, sugars and fermented foods.

2. Replace – what is needed for normal digestion and absorption i.e. betaine HCI, pancreatic enzymes, herbs to aid in digestion (licorice, marshmallow root), fiber and water.

3. Reinoculate – with favorable microbes (probiotics i.e. Lactobacillus sp.) and supplement with prebiotics (i.e. inulin, beta glucan and fiber).

4. Repair – mucosal lining by giving support to healthy intestinal mucosal cells, goblet cells and to the immune system i.e. L-glutamine, zinc, vitamin C.

Predominant Bacteria

To really understand the gut and it’s importance to your overall health, you have to start with the smallest of subjects: bacteria. You might think that bacteria is a bad thing. Our society is bent on wiping it out with hand sanitizer. (If I never see another bottle of hand sanitizer at a table in a restaurant, it won’t be too soon!) It can create problems in the wrong environment. However, microorganisms in the GI tract perform very useful functions like communicating with the immune system, preventing the growth of harmful bacteria, and regulating the functioning of the gut, to name a few. Intestinal microflora prevent colonization of pathogens and predominant bacteria are beneficial when in balance.

Abnormal Bacteria, Fungi, and/or Parasites

Most people don’t realize that they have abnormal bacteria, fungus or parasites. Not until there’s an issue which occurs by:

  1. Inadequate physical and immune barrier functions i.e. leaky gut, gluten intolerance, inflamed bowels
  2. Medication usage i.e. antibiotics, NSAIDs, antacids
  3. Inadequate digestive and absorptive function i.e. intestinal inflammation, nutrient insufficiencies, diet high in red meat, saturated fat or refined carbohydrates.

Low Predominant Bacteria

Predominant bacteria should be present at normal levels in a healthy gut i.e. Bacteroides sp. and Bifidobacter sp. in the greatest amounts. If one has low levels of beneficial fecal bacteria such as Bifidobacter sp., Lactobacillus sp., and E. coli, issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) presented as diarrhea, cramps, and food intolerance can arise.

So what should someone do if these symptoms appear? Treatment should include:

  • Probiotics
  • Prebiotics i.e. psyllium, oat bran, oligofructose
  • Increase intake of fresh vegetables and fibers
  • Address other GI abnormalties

High Predominant Bacteria

What if one has too much of a good thing? Issues can occur such as blood infections of Mycoplasma have been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, D-lactic aciduria, and infections.

What can be done to treat overgrowth of certain bacteria?

  • Reduce poor quality fats, refined carbohydrates and sugars
  • Increase fresh vegetables and high fiber foods.
  • Supplement with probiotics to balance flora
  • May need to use anti-microbial agents

Have you had any of these symptoms or had treatment for a bacterial infection? If you are a physician, how have you treated these any bacterial infection? The Baucom Institute