Gut talk outline:



Basic Gut Biology

Overview of Digestion:

– Saliva is secreted in the mouth to help begin the process of breaking down food while chewing

– Food passes through esophagus into the stomach

Stomach secretes hydrochloric acid; acidic stomach environment allows pepsin (stomach enzyme) to break down proteins; the acid also breaks down harmful microbes in the food (and protects body from infection); acid also helps prepare minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, and zinc for absorption

– Once digestion is complete a small valve in the bottom of the stomach opens for the food to go to the small intestines

– Highly alkaline secretions from the pancreas and gallbladder neutralize the acid

– Small intestine breaks down food using enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the liver; where most of the nutrients are absorbed

– What’s left over from the extraction of nutrients in the small intestine travels to the large intestine which processes the “waste” and excretes it from the body (stool is a combination of digested food and bacteria)

– Stool in the large intestine begins in a liquid form and eventually becomes solid; any remaining water is absorbed by the large intestine

– It should take about 24 hours for processed food to show up in the stool; should be cleared in no more time than 36 hours


Our Somatic Abdominal Area (smile)

Stomach – The ability to transform and digest what is happening in our lives; can we stomach it?

Liver – The seat of growth and regeneration; seat of the emotion of anger if in imbalance or blocked

Gallbladder – Will-power and motivation; do we have the gal?

Small intestine – Discernment, assimilation

Large intestine – Grief and letting go


The Enteric Brain

– The gut is now being called the ‘enteric’ brain or the second brain

– We have more than 3000 square feet (about the size of a tennis court) of gut surface area

– The gut-brain produces, and uses, 95% of the serotonin in the body (serotonin is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter)

– The vagus nerve connects our brain with our digestive system, heart, lungs, and other organs; this communication is sensory and informs our instincts

– 90 % of the information goes from the gut to the brain in terms of systemic health

– About 70-85% of the cells that make up your immune system are found in the gut


Balance – What’s the problem here?


  1.            External Factors:

Antibiotics, antibacterial lives, insufficient food & supplements, STRESS, also in TCM.


  1.            Microbiome Destabilizers


– Birth control

– Psych meds

– Antibiotics

– Chlorine and fluoride in drinking water

– Chronic stress

– High sugar & processed foods diet—bad food

– C-section birth

– Born to a mother with severe gut dysbiosis

– Vaccinations, toxin exposure, pollution

– Pain-killers

– Steroids

– Sleep pills

– Certain diseases


Why or how are these actually problems?


  1.            What these things do to the body anatomically & in TCM.

Bacterial Breakdown

– Bacteria outnumber human cells 10 to 1

– Bacteria can pick-up and drop DNA at will, a highly adaptable system!

– About 100 trillion bacterial cells are found in our intestines alone

– Beneficial bacteria are numerous strains of bacteria that assist the digestive system in assimilating and absorbing vitamins, minerals and other nutrients; they keep pathogens at bay and interact directly with your immune system >>> Bifidobacteria, Lactobacteria, Propionobacteria are some of the main ones

– There are pathogenic bacteria in the gut no matter what; if your beneficial bacteria are thriving and healthy – the pathogenic bacteria will be kept in check and will actually participate in some small beneficial functions within the intestines

– Pathogenic bacteria also bounce back and reproduce faster than beneficial bacteria

– Pathogenic bacteria also produce very toxic substances as byproducts called endotoxins which can cross the blood-brain barrier

– H. pylori, which used to be found in all humans for the past 60,000 years is now only found in 10% of the population and headed toward extinction; it is linked to stomach ulcers but also linked with obesity, acid reflux, and asthma when not present


TCM and Nutrition

East: Chinese Medicine’s organ functions


Spleen/pancreas-Rules digestion, transforms Qi, Worry, muscles, mouth, sweet, Earth

element, damp, late summer/harvest—NOW!

Dysfunction: Qi deficiency of SP causes dysfunction of fluids. Stools get loose, craving sweets, not digesting foods. Candida, IBS, IBD, leaky gut.

Things that damage: ice cream diet (cold, dairy, sugar), raw foods


Stomach-digests food, Worry, muscles, mouth, sweet, Earth element, damp, late summer/harvest—NOW!

Dysfunction: too much or too little heat/fire, heartburn, GERD

Things that damage: too much cold foods, too much spicy foods


Lungs-circulates air, controls pores, directs Qi downward, Grief, skin, nose, dry, pungent, Metal element, autumn

Dysfunction: Not descending Qi, allergies

Things that damage: too much dampness, too much dryness


Large intestine-transports stool, Grief, skin, nose, dry, pungent, Metal element, autumn

Dysfunction: Damp heat, dryness. Constipation, diarrhea

Things that damage: abundance of spicy and damp producing foods. inflammation


Kidneys-govern urination, Rules reproductive Qi, stores essence, Fear, bones, ears, cold, salty, Water element, winter

Dysfunction: yin and/or yang deficiency, MTHRFR gene mutation, celiac

Things that damage: long term dysfunction of other systems, genetics


Bladder-regulates urination, Fear, bones, ears, cold, salty, Water element, winter

Dysfunction: heat. Interstitial cystitis, chronic infections

Things that damage: lack of fluid, inflammation


Liver-detoxify blood, smooth flow of Qi, houses the spirit, Anger, ligaments/tendons, eyes, sour, wind, Wood element, spring

Dysfunction: LIV qi stagnation, IBS, allergies. LIV fire

Things that damage: emotions, stress, toxins


Gall Bladder-detoxify, Anger, ligaments/tendons, eyes, sour, wind, Wood element, spring

Dysfunction: stagnation. Stones, sludge

Things that damage: LIV qi stagnation, too much rich foods.


Heart-circulates blood, houses the mind, Joy, tongue, bitter, heat, Fire element, summer

Dysfunction: Heat disturbs the heart and can come from the stomach or liver. More on that with those organs. Deficiency of blood causes stagnation. Causes heartburn, GERD, insomnia, anxiety

Things that damage: heat, emotinos


Small intestine-transports food & fluids, Joy, tongue, bitter, heat, Fire element, summer

Dysfunction: In western SIBO. Eastern, separation of clear and turbid

Things that damage: damp producing foods

Game Plan: It’s not hopeless!

   Stuff to do…

      Steps to heal the Gut: Eliminate, cleanse, track, heal


Step 1: Eliminate

4 things to eliminate ASAP:

  • Artificial Sugars


      1. Stevia & Xylitol are okay.
      2. Artificial sweeteners contain formaldehyde, pesticides/DDT.
      3. Many side effects: Migraines, change in vision, nausea/vomiting, insomnia, abdominal & joint pain, change in heart rate, depression, memory loss…


  • Hydrogenated oil


      1. Use Olive oil & Coconut oil instead; or real butter.
      2. Hydrogenated oils can affect heart health because they increase “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and lower “good” (HDL) cholesterol.
      3. They are a processed oil that produces trans fats.
      4. Packaged/processed foods.
      5. Contributors to inflammation in the gut.


  • Food Coloring


      1. Plant derived alternatives are available, read labels.
      2. Linked to tumors, carcinogens & hyperactivity.
      3. The three most widely used culprits—Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Red 40


  • High Fructose Corn Syrup


    1. Contain mercury, GMO.
    2. HFC syrup affects weight gain, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome & high triglyceride levels.

Bonus eliminate:

Pesticides – they are chemicals that are made to kill life.

GMO – as GMO’s have increased so has the rate of obesity & IBS.

As a general rule of thumb you can avoid the most common insultants:

– Dairy (dairy protein’s stay in the body for up to a month, can have delay)

– Grains (unless properly processed and prepared)

– Alcohol

– Soy

– Peanuts

– Sugar

– Eggs


 Step 2: Cleanse

While avoiding the foods that are harming you, and increasing nutrient dense foods you can add in herbs and supplements to assist your body in the detoxing phase.  Here are some anti-microbials: oregano oil, garlic, olive leave, golden seal, black walnut, Bismuth (H-Pilori), DGL, Grapefruit seed, milk thistle; Chinese herbs available also.

  • Epsom salt baths
  • Castor Oil Packs (handout to come)
  • Apple cider vinegar

 Step 3: Track

 Write down everything you eat & drink, and the estimated time, and any symptoms daily for a week.  You can use our handout or just write it down somewhere.  If you do notice a reaction to something, next week avoid that food & continue tracking.

  • What am I going to eat?!
  • “Macro-diet”, 4-5 day meal plan & repeat -

 Make a plan using the foods you know don’t cause trouble. Use them once each in the 4 day period.  Use The aggregate nutrient density index, research recipes, cook books, different ethnic foods.


Step 4: Heal

Under normal circumstance, the cells that make up our intestinal lining regenerate every 3-6 days!


The goal is to increase the body’s resilience and heal the gut to a point where it is not so reactionary and can tolerate most foods.


Support healthy stomach acid / enzymes and motility:

PPIs & H2 antagonists (Prilosec) – talk to your doctor about making changes to your diet to heal your gut and if slowly getting off these drugs is appropriate for you. New studies coming out are linking H2 antagonists to increased risk of dementia

  • Digestive bitters, consistent eating times, less snacks
  • Enzyme supplementation & oxbile
  • Ginger, walks after meals
  • Eat a diverse array of vegetables and fruit
    • Different bacteria have an affinity to breakdown different foods and need those foods to be present to proliferate

Proper prep of food: THE WAYS OF OUR ANCESTORS

Soaking/sprouting grains, legumes, nuts and seeds: helps to break down phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors which are inflammatory and prevent us from absorbing nutrients. Makes it easier to digest

Fermented Foods:

Inoculate the gut with diverse culture of beneficial bacteria and sometimes yeast

Beneficial bacteria adds nutritional value and create enzymes

Predigests foods to make it easier to breakdown

Detoxifies certain toxic compounds and boost our immune system

Creates opportunity for the growth of beneficial bacteria while pushing out the bad guys

 EXAMPLES: sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, jun, kvass, keifer (water/dairy), yogurt, brine pickled vegetables, sourdough (slow-rise fermented wheat)

WHO SHOULD AVOID: Those with SIBO, histamine intolerance, do not eat ferments that have foods you are sensitive to!

Prebiotics are undigestible complex carbs that feed friendly bacteria and help them proliferate. These carbs are also found in breast milk to feed the newly introduced beneficial bacteria in the baby’s gut! (It is so important for a babes future colon health to be breast fed)

 EXAMPLES: fresh dandelion greens, radicchio, frisee, endive, Jerusalem artichoke, onions, asparagus, chicory root, jicama, garlic, leek, sweet potato, yam, yucca

 Probiotics WHAT ABOUT SUPPLEMENTS? Expensive and contain significant less diversity of bacteria and about 1/10 of the concentration of beneficial bacteria as a serving of fermented food.

Fermenting does take time at first, but once you are in the rhythm, it takes no time at all.

If taking a probiotic pill, look for:

  • 30+billion CFU
  • 4+ strains of bacteria
  • Guaranteed to make it to the LI with amount of bacteria advertised
  • NO fillers, GMO, nuts, eggs, dairy, gluten
  • Some contain enzymes and prebiotics, just start with probiotics and add enzymes or prebiotics later if necessary.


Healthy fats are your friend

  • Saturated fats/animal fat- not bad for us, they are extremely crucial for our health. Have high smoking temperature so are good to use when cooking.
  • Extra virgin olive oil is healthy when used raw. Low cooking/smoking temps so not good to cook with.
  • Vegetable oils are extremely processed- the oils are chemically removed, deodorized, and heated and are manufactured by GMO crops, heavily treated with pesticides. High in omega 6, already overly abundant in our diets and lead to more inflammation.
  • AVOID!!! Trans fats – processed so that normally liquid vegetable oils turn out solid. The primary source partially hydrogenated oil. Trans fats ARE linked to heart disease and weight gain,



High in protein,  Arginine, glycine, proline and glutamine- amino acids that helps to heal the tissues of the intestines, boost detox and supports immune system. Also gelatin, collagen, minerals and electrolytes.


Herbs are superfoods

Contain an array of minerals and compounds that can boost our healing work – ginger, licorice (DGL), slippery elm, mallow, peppermint, aloe, turmeric.



Remember what is around and on our bodies eventually goes into our bodies such as: Chemical exposure from cookware, Off gassing from new furniture, carpet, mattresses, chemical cleaners & laundry soaps, air fresheners & fragrances, cosmetics, soaps, shampoos and conditioners.

 The adrenals and stress response- fight or flight vs. rest and digest

  • Stress response- cortisol affects sex-hormones, inflammation and immune function
  • Find your coping mechanism for stress and expressing emotions
  • Moderate frequent exercising- yoga, tai qi or qigong, brisk walks


Step 5: Re-Test & Repeat

After 2 months of figuring out the triggers and eliminating them, cleansing & healing the gut, you can start to re-introduce.

One at a time, eat a triggering food once (in a large quantity) and wait 4 days- write down how you feel with that food.

Introduce another food item, repeat.

If you have a reaction, do not go back to eating that food and continue the healing process.


Set backs are natural, just go back to what has worked.


Be patient! In some cases it can take a year of clean eating to heal the gut enough to reintroduce some foods.



END: Healthy anti-inflammatory snacks & questions/discussion  



Thanks to these sites for the helpful info:

And the GAPS diet