So, you’ve healed your leaky gut… Now What?
By completing the leaky gut protocol, you have taken an important step in optimizing your health.
Chances are you have seen significant improvements in the past month and are eager to find out what’s next?
Phase 2: After completing the mini-elimination diet and the shakes for 30 days, Phase 2 involves reintroducing foods one at a time, allowing 3 days between each reintroduction to see if there is a reaction.
Maintenance phase: Depending upon your response to the first month of the protocol and the degree to which you were sick previously, some people need more time to heal their leaky gut and will elect to continue the protocol for up to three months or more. Alternatively, some patients find having the protocol supplements 2 or 3 times as a meal replacement for maintenance. Other patients find that doing the whole protocol once a year for a month is a good maintenance plan. As a minimum, you should take a good probiotic supplement 2-3 times a week and try to limit foods that are inflammatory like processed foods, sugar, gluten, and dairy.
If you want to experience more improvement, consider the following:
Personalized Nutrition Consultation
Many of our patients benefit further from a personalized nutrition consult with our functional nutritionist and health coach. Change is a process that occurs over time and it helps to have a guide that works with you each step of the way to create a personalized, sustainable plan that facilitates healing and promotes optimal health. We always encourage you to bring in your significant other, particularly if they do most of the cooking, to maximize the experience. In this way a custom, personalized nutrition plan can be created which considers your individual goals, needs, and dietary preferences.
Additional Treatment Considerations
Here is a sampling of a few things we would consider for our patients after they have gone through the initial phases of the leaky gut protocol.
Digestive Enzymes and/or Hydrochloric Acid Replacement
If you are still experiencing excessive gas, bloating or difficulty with digestion (especially protein), you may have a deficiency of various digestive enzymes and/or hydrochloric acid. Simply replacing with one of these supplements can have a dramatic positive impact.
Supplements that you may consider taking to optimize your health include omega-3 fish oil, probiotics, vitamin D3, magnesium, and an anti-inflammatory agent such as turmeric. Other supplements might be recommended based on your health history and current symptoms. Don’t hesitate to seek advice from a healthcare practitioner who has training in nutrition and/or functional medicine.
Iodine deficiency, though once relatively common, became less prevalent as we added iodine to salt. However, it is making a comeback and is seen most frequently in the most health-conscious individuals. These individuals avoid iodized table salt, will utilize more healthy sea salt (which is not often fortified with iodine) and are no longer getting iodine from bread as bromide is now used instead of iodine in the commercial bread making process (or they are gluten free eliminating bread altogether).
Iodine is an important constituent of the thyroid hormone molecule and deficiency can produce all of the symptoms associated with an underactive thyroid such as fatigue, difficulty losing weight, constipation, dry skin and brittle hair. Iodine is also important for the prevention of fibrocystic breasts, cysts on the ovaries, and thick sinus secretions.
A simple iodine supplement replacement can help significantly with these problems.
Additional Diagnostic Considerations
Whereas functional medicine testing is another tool we can use, our practice is to wait and see clinically how you are doing after the initial four weeks of the protocol. At the end of the day, we are more concerned about how you are feeling than any abnormalities noted on a particular test.
We will often recommend more than routine blood testing (electrolytes, liver functions, lipids) which may be part of an annual exam. A handful of tests which we consider important, such as hemoglobin A-1 C, CRP, homocysteine, vitamins D and B12 levels. We may also consider ordering blood tests to evaluate your adrenal glands or a more in-depth analysis of the thyroid, such as anti-thyroid antibodies.
We also offer additional functional medicine testing. Reach out to our nutritionist to hear more about which test might benefit you.