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4 Steps to Support Your Gut Health


a closeup of a nurses hands holding a model of your internal digestive system

Have you been experiencing digestive symptoms that are affecting your quality of life? A naturopathic doctor can help support your gut health using the 4 R’s. The 4 R’s are the key steps that can optimize your gut health; Remove, Replace, Re-inoculate, and Repair.


1. Remove: This is the first step in your gut healing journey. We are removing factors that are negatively affecting your digestive health. Individuals can differ depending on what factors are affecting their digestive health, as well as the quantity of factors. Now how do we find out these factors? Comprehensive stool samples and digestive blood work markers (ex. pancreatic enzymes, celiac testing, etc.) can indicate if you have certain underlying digestive conditions or a microbial overgrowth. Some of these factors can include particular microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, parasites, yeast, and viruses), medications, poor quality diet (sugar, alcohol, food additives, fried foods, and fatty foods), food sensitivities, and toxins. We need to determine what these factors are and  remove them to give your digestive tract some time to start healing.


2. Replace: In this step, we are working towards replacing the factors that were insufficient, (ex. digestive enzymes, stomach acid, and nutritional deficiencies), with dietary nutrients and gut health foods that promote digestive healing. Some great examples you can consider implementing are anti-inflammatory herbs, extra virgin olive oil, and high fiber foods. Digestive enzymes assist in the breakdown of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, and may be indicated in people with food intolerances and celiac disease.


3. Re-inoculate: During this step, we are re-inoculating personalized prebiotics and probiotics in your digestive tract. Prebiotics help feed the beneficial bacteria that live in your gut, so they can grow and thrive. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that optimize the health of your digestive tract. If you have comprehensive stool data of the diversity of your gut microbiome, the introduction of probiotics can be more personalized to you. How else can you introduce probiotics? Some great ways are by consuming fermented foods (ex. kefir yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi), eating a variety of plant-based fibers, as well as engaging in regular physical activity to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Probiotics will secrete anti-inflammatory compounds, support healthy immune functioning, reduce intestinal permeability, and positively influence microbiome functioning.


4. Repair: This is the last step in your gut healing process. The goal is to heal your gut lining with herbs, vitamins, and nutraceuticals that have been empirically shown to reduce inflammation and intestinal permeability. A leaky gut can present with symptoms such as brain fog, mood imbalances, headaches, autoimmune concerns, and more! What are some of these nutrients? Glutamine, slippery elm bark, aloe vera, zinc, marshmallow root, curcumin, omega 3 fatty acids, mastic gum, bone broth, deglycyrrhizinated licorice, and polyphenols.


The 4 R’s are a protocol to help promote digestive healing and improve digestive health. If you want to consider trying this protocol, initially speak with your health care practitioner to create the most appropriate plan for you. Our gut health plays a huge role in our overall health, so let’s go show our guts some love!


Dr. Ishani Patel is a board certified Naturopathic Doctor who has a clinical focus in women’s health, hormones, digestive health, and autoimmunity. She is dedicated to helping her patients determine the root cause of their health concerns, help them find balance in their life, prevent disease or a worsening of their health conditions, and help them live their optimal state of health.


You can connect with Dr. Patel through her website drishanipatelnd.com, by email at ishanipatelnd@gmail.com, or reaching out to her on Instagram @drishanipatel.nd.

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