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Expert Advice for Helping The GI Tract

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Carrie Lam, MD; Jeremy Lam, MD

Video summarized in article below. 

Dr. Michael: So, how do you help the GI tract?

Like with the immune system, there are many natural compounds we know of that are helpful to the mucosa lining. Before you know which one, you have to understand the physiology of how the mucosa works in the GI tract. They are like Legos. They’re little blocks that are all kind of lined up very tightly together so that the food gets absorbed from one side of the GI tract down to the other side.

When there’s a leak, then you have a problem. When there’s too much acid, then you also can have mucosal damage. Or if you don’t have enough acid in your system, then your food is not properly digested. Or if your motility is not fast enough, then the fermentation process can begin at the wrong place.

So, there’s a lot of possibilities of things that can go wrong. There are also many supplements that can be helpful, and each of them have different pathways that address these dysregulations that should not happen.

Dr. Carrie, why don’t you guide us through some of these in general? There are just too many dimensions. I can spend a whole day just talking about these things, but in general terms, what are we talking about?

Supplements for Your GI Tract

Dr. Carrie: Right, there are so many supplements, like you said, that can help.

For example, digestive enzymes are there to help digest foods. So, if you have maldigestion, some people like to take that with their meals.

Some people use bentonite clay, especially if they have some toxins or if they have diarrhea. It really helps to absorb things well.

Others use omega-3 fatty acids to help build the lining.

Another way to protect your lining that a lot of people use is glutamine, pantetheine, and DHEA.

If you have low acids, stomach acid, you can try taking betaine HCl as a supplement to see if that helps.

However, it’s good to always remember that these are not things where you take one and you feel better. You have to always make sure you have a whole picture and get to the root cause. What is actually causing your GI symptoms, and what is causing that inflammation to happen in the first place? How do you help that?

The supplements are there to aid, but you still have to find the root cause first. So, Dr. Jeremy, how else can someone help their gut if they don’t want to take supplements?

Diet Changes to Support Your GI Tract

Dr. Jeremy: So you know diet is obviously very important. It’s also very personalized when it comes to helping the GI tract. There are a lot of diets out there, and it really depends on the situation that you’re in, your sensitivities, and how overall your body is doing.

Some of the diets that can help are, for example, the low histamine diet, the blood type diet, the GAPS diet. There’s a candida diet if you have candida, and then the anti-inflammatory diet.

So, again, it’s a very personalized diet that you should be on depending on where your body is and how sensitive your body is as well.

Dr. Michael: Yes. So, generally speaking, if you look at the big picture, you want to aim for variety. You want to have as much fresh food as possible. You want to avoid processed food or fast food. You want to have an abundance of green, leafy vegetables. The more color the better. Of course, you should avoid smoking and alcohol.

So, if you are having trouble with your diet—and many people will because there’s no "one size fits all"—it’s critical that you get proper coaching. What’s right for one person does not work for another person. We find this from our years of coaching. That is so true.

Not only that. During each stage of life when you are 20, 30, and 40, your gut is very different. Your inflammation response is very different. Your diet, therefore, has to be very different than when you are 60 or 70 years old. So, having that customized and personalized approach to find something that fits you is very important. The guidance essential, because you don't want to use your body to experiment, especially if you’re already weak and fragile.

Reducing Stress Can Support Your GI System

Dr. Jeremy: That’s right. Another way to really help your GI tract is really to reduce the stress. Reducing your stress will help out your gut and overall help your body.

Now, we’ve all seen that comedy movie situation when a person is getting ready to go up on stage and talk to people and they suddenly get digestive issues. This is actually actual physiology because stress can upset your GI tract of course. So, it’s really important to manage your stress effectively so then we can work on those barriers in your gut and help your immune system as well. Dr. Carrie, why don’t you tell us some tips on managing stress.

Dr. Carrie: I love this slide. To know how to manage stress is one of the hardest things. We are—a lot of us are go-go-go type of people, and to be able to step back and learn how to manage stress is so important.

So, one thing that is very important that you could do is meditation, finding a center. I like to do that actually in prayer. I think that really centers me and it gives me the purpose or the mission to see what my goals in life are and how I can live each day. So, that really helps manage my stress.

Even exercise is definitely very good, especially yoga because you can breathe with each movement, and it allows you to really stretch out your muscles and just manage stress that way.

And definitely sleep. I am actually a person who loves to sleep, and really needs sleep, because it just helps manage my stress. So, if you are not sleeping well, you can get stressed out even easier. That’s why it's very important to get a good amount of sleep. I know a lot of adrenal fatigue people have a hard time sleeping. So, that is one thing we definitely try to work with in our coaching, to make sure that sleep gets better over time.

The last tip for managing stress is to manage your time, setting boundaries, learning how to say no, spending time with people you love to spend time with, and setting aside the time to do the things you love. These are some tips you can use to manage your stress.

 
© Copyright 2021 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

© Copyright 2001-2021 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
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