Dr. Vilma Brunhuber, Guest
Thyroid Nation

What Is The Gut?

When I talk about the gut, I am really referring to the entire digestive tract. Along the path through the stomach and small and large intestines, anything you ingest can either nourish or degrade the digestive organs.

When your gut is unhealthy, it can cause more than just stomach pain, gas, bloating or diarrhea.

This is because 60-80% of our immune system is located in our gut. Gut imbalances have been linked to hormonal imbalances (ie, Thyroid disease), autoimmune diseases, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema, rosacea, and other chronic health problems.

I believe that the gut is the gateway to health and the first step I take with all of my clients, regardless of their diagnosis, is to heal the gut.

I use a Detoxification Protocol (remove the bad, replace with good) combined with personalized sessions (repair by providing the nutrients necessary to help the gut repair itself), which is a simple approach to repairing your gut and restoring your body’s balance.

So what are gut-healing foods?

1. Water

If you think of your entire digestive tract as like one big Slip ‘N Slide, you can see why lack of water is a problem. Water is the life-giving force that makes up about 60 percent of our bodies.

It moves things along in your gut and helps sweep away toxins through your urine and feces. How much water is enough? Everyone is different, but I suggest to aim for 1/2 oz per pound of body weight.

2. Fermented foods

Fermented vegetables (like sauerkraut and kimchi) are some of the best chelators available. The beneficial bacteria in these foods are very potent detoxifiers, capable of drawing out a wide range of toxins and heavy metals, according to Dr. McBride.

And you don’t need to consume huge amounts either. Caroline recommends eating about a quarter to a half a cup of fermented vegetables per day. They will provide a good source of fiber as well.

The greater the variety of fermented and cultured foods you include in your diet, the better, as each food will inoculate your gut with a variety of different microorganisms. Cultured food contains organic acids that balance intestinal pH. Try kefir, kvass, kombucha, or lassi.

3. Green, leafy vegetables

Greens are high in fiber and magnesium, which supports healthy muscular contractions, called peristalsis, in the large intestine. Leafy vegetables are highly alkaline, which supports lymphatic drainage.


4. Aloe Vera gel

In a 2004 study from the UK, researchers gave people with active ulcerative colitis – a type of inflammatory bowel disease – aloe vera gel to drink (remember that in the animal study they used aloe vera juice, not gel).

After four weeks of drinking aloe vera gel in water twice per day, there was a clinical response towards improvement and remission of ulcerative colitis, compared to those given plain water.

No significant negative side effects were experienced due to drinking the aloe vera gel [1].  But it is not recommended for women during pregnancy and during lactation.

5. Bone broth

Bone broth is excellent for “healing and sealing” your gut, to use Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s term. This means that heartburn or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and many of the conditions associated with intestinal inflammation can be helped with bone broth.

The gelatin found in bone broth is a hydrophilic colloid and protects and heals the mucosal lining of the digestive tract, which includes the stomach and the intestines and helps aid in the digestion of nutrients. It attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, thereby supporting proper digestion.

Broth contains collagen and the amino acids proline and glycine (glycine improves digestion by increasing gastric acid secretion [2]) that can help heal damaged cell walls.


6. Chia and flax seeds

These seeds are loaded with essential fatty acids that lubricate the intestinal wall while nourishing the microbes that support intestinal health and function. They are also high in fiber. High fiber foods create bulk that puts pressure on the intestinal wall, resulting in an urge to move the bowels.

High fiber foods also attach to the bile in the intestines and escort it to the toilet while stimulating the request for more bile. Adequate bile flow helps govern the regularity and consistency of the bowels.

7. Coconut oil

All coconut products (oil, kefir) are especially good for your gut because MCFA’s (Medium-chain fatty acids) [3] in coconut are easier to digest than other fats so they work well for leaky gut.

The absorption of calcium and magnesium appears to be enhanced when the diet contains MCTs, particularly in infants, and the absorption of amino acids also appears to be improved [4]. Also, coconut kefir contains probiotics that support the digestive system.

8. Capers

Quercetin found in capers has been shown to improve gut barrier function by sealing the gut. This is because quercetin stabilizes mast cells and prevents the release of histamine and other chemicals from these cells [5]. Quercetin is one of the most abundant flavonoids present in our food supply, found in high amounts in onions, kale and apples (other foods high in quercetin).

A number of studies have demonstrated the bio-availability of quercetin on oral administration or shown significant benefit in a number of conditions including gut health.

9. Turmeric and ginger

Perhaps ginger’s most famous claim to fame is related to its ability to enhance digestive strength, increase gastric emptying speed and resolve bouts of occasional heartburn. [6] It has been shown to reduce gas and bloating while increasing the strength of the digestive process. [7]

10. Fish and seafood

Fish and seafood are among the best sources of glutamine and omega-3 fatty acids. Glutamine is an amino acid and it’s the main fuel source for the cells that line the gut. It is anti-inflammatory and necessary for the growth and repair of intestinal lining because it acts as a protector: coating cell walls and acting as a repellent to irritants.

Remember, your first 2 steps to healthy gut – Drink up more water and fill up with fiber. Fiber isn’t just the magic solution for constipation. It helps to remove toxins, it keeps things moving and it protects your digestive tract from inflammation, injury, and disease. An added bonus of fiber – it can curb your appetite by keeping you full.

If dietary changes or cleansing doesn’t alleviate your symptoms, it’s best to see your doctor to determine if there might be an underlying issue.

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About the Author

DrVilma_Brunhuber-478Dr. Vilma Brunhuber is a Board Certified Holistic Integrative Nutrition and Health Coach and a member of AADP. She received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York and earned her medical doctor degree from the Kaunas Medical University in Lithuania. Her methods are directed at building a healthy lifestyle. Since each person is unique, no one-size-fits-all approach works for everyone. Her aim is to help people to make better choices and in turn, lead a life full of vitality. She has successfully helped individuals with: thyroid disease, fibroids, and bone health, weight loss, low energy and stress-management, digestive and allergy problems, detoxification and elimination diet. Please take a look at Dr Brunhuber’s website, VilmasWellnes.com and see the original article here. Follow her on Youtube and Pinterest.

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Questions or anything to add about gut health? We want your thoughts, please. You might just help someone else in need.

Sources (1-7):
-Lily of the Desert clinical studies
-Wald, A and Adibi, SA, Stimulation of gastric acid secretion by glycine and related oligopeptides in humans, American Journal of Physiology, 1982, 5, 242, G86-G88.