Rebuilding Your Body After Cancer Treatment
Mark A. Stengler, NMD, a naturopathic physician and founder of The Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine in Encinitas, California . He has served on a medical advisory committee for the Yale University Complementary Medicine Outcomes Research Project and is author of Outside the Box Cancer Therapies: Alternative Therapies That Treat and Prevent Cancer, Healing the Prostate, and coauthor of Prescription for Natural Cures and Prescription for Drug Alternatives .
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Cancer survivor is the title everyone diagnosed with this terrible disease hopes to own and many do. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of people who survive cancer has been steadily mounting since the mid-seventies, but the reality is that people whove survived cancer often have remnant health challenges, caused either by the disease or the treatment. Once treatment is over, many people feel alone, no longer getting the close attention, advice and support theyve received from their oncology team. In a recent survey done by the University of Pennsylvania Health System, 300 breast cancer survivors described their primary care doctors as supportive and caring but these same doctors were rated not very knowledgeable about how to guide the cancer survivors to rebuild their health following their chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
DIET AND SUPPLEMENTS TO DETOX, BUILD STRENGTH
What Causes A Stomach Ulcer
It is commonly said that spicy food and stress cause stomach ulcers but that is not the case at all. Stress and spicy foods can aggravate a stomach ulcer but most of the time stomach ulcers are caused by an infection caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, also known as H.Pylori.
Other times ulcers are brought on by the long-term use of aspirin or anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen and Aleve. Always use these over the counter drugs sparingly and consult your physician for alternate pain management solutions.
Identify And Eliminate Your Specific Food Triggers
While there are some foods, like refined sugars, that are known to contribute to gut imbalance in most people, its possible that you have specific food sensitivities and personalized nutrition needs when it comes to optimizing your gut health.
If you keep eating the a food that you’re sensitive to, it can lead to immune reactivity and contributes to gut imbalance. The key to good gut health is identifying and eliminating your food triggers to allow your gut to thrive.
The simplest way to identify individual food response differences is an elimination diet, in which you eliminate common food triggers for 30 days and then slowly reintroduce them, looking out for how you feel along the journey. Several companies offer at-home testing kits that you can use to confirm which food may be your personal triggers.
While the science behind these food sensitivity testing may not be perfect, if you are able to identify some of your food triggers, eliminating them for at least 30 days could help get your gut on the path to success.
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How About Topical Probiotics
You will have most likely noticed a growing number of probiotic-rich skincare products, but can applying good bacteria topically really do anything? According to Oates, there is growing evidence to suggest that your skin’s microbiomethat is, the ecosystem on the surface of your skinplays an important role in both your inner and outer health. “Its actually estimated that every square centimetre of your skin is home to at least a million bacteria along with an array of fungi, viruses and even mites,” she says. “So, applying probiotics topically as part of your skincare routine will actually help to replenish, feed and fortify your skins ecosystem, which is your immune systems first line of defense. The Beauty Chefs Probiotic Skin Refiner is made from the bioactive liquid that is a by-product of its bio-fermentation process. For more probiotic skincare products, try Aurelia Probiotic, Tula, or Kinship.
How To Heal A Leaky Gut
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Modern life is hard on your gut. Your entire digestive tract can be affected by stress, processed foods, alcohol, medications, and bacteria.
All that chronic irritation can lead to inflammation and, eventually, to a lot of little pinprick-style leaks in the very thin and delicate lining of your intestinal wall.
And even a tiny leak can cause surprisingly big problems. A healthy gut is very selective about what gets passed into your body. But a leaky gut can release undigested food particles, bacteria, and toxins into your bloodstream, leading to a potentially outsized immune response.
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Cut Out Toxic Foods From Your Diet
Gluten, dairy, sugar, processed foods, pesticide-treated foods , and alcohol, are some of the most common foods that mount an assault on the sensitive cells lining your gut. If you want to heal leaky gut syndrome, we recommend cutting out these foods for at least three months and avoiding them in excess thereafter.
My Gut Healing Protocol:
This is the protocol Dena developed for me to help heal my gut. Im keeping it vague because I dont want anyone to repeat my protocol without working closely with a medical professional. Everyones microbiome and healing process is unique. I still take all of the same supplements I began taking during the killoff phase in order to give my gut the support it needs to heal.
- Antibiotics to kill blastocystis hominis and h. Pylori.
- Probiotics to restore my gut flora.
- GI Revive a combination of L-Glutamine, marshmallow root, and slippery elm to heal my leaky gut. This supplement has been truly transformative for healing my gut.
- Goat Milk Colostrum to boost my Secretory IgA levels.
- Low-inflammatory diet, moderate exercise, avoiding the foods Im sensitive to.
Notice the last part is last for a reason. Food and exercise are very important, yesbut if theres a parasitic or bacterial infection, it is incredibly difficult to get rid of with diet and exercise alone depending on the severity of the infection.
I will be posting more specifics about the supplements I take for my gut health in the future, but I still encourage you to work with an experienced practitioner before you begin any sort of killing or healing protocol.
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How To Take These Supplements
First, no you should not take all of these at the same time.
Next, some of them might not even be good for your body right now or ever.
And finally, whatever you do choose to take, be sure to read the product label for suggested amount. Better yet, write the supplement down in your gut healing journal and at your next medical appointment, get the exact amount for you.
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What Is Gut Flora
You have a world of microorganisms living in your digestive system. This collection of microorganisms is your gut flora, also known as the gut microbiotaa complex ecosystem that consists of approximately 300 to 500 bacterial species. Thats nearly 10 times the number of cells in the human body.
Our knowledge of the interaction between gut health and overall health is still in its early stages. We do know that colonies of beneficial bacteria help you digest and absorb your food, fight off germs that make you sick and even make a large portion of your serotonin, which helps keep your moods level.
Science is continuing to discover ways that gut bacteria are directly linked to your health. We know that its normal to have balanced populations of beneficial gut bacteria and bad bacteria, and a healthy gut is able to keep the bad guys in check. But researchers are just now beginning to understand what happens when other factorslike antibiotics, diet and stresstilt the scales in the wrong direction.
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How Can I Repair My Stomach Lining
Leaky gut is a related condition that affects the lining of the intestine. Leaky gut is characterized by cracks or holes in the lining, which allow partially digested food proteins, bacteria, and environmental toxins to penetrate the tissues and enter your bloodstream. This can result in changes to your natural gut bacteria, which can contribute to digestive concerns.
Increase Your Collagen Consumption
Collagen contains the amino acids glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline that are needed to repair and rebuild your gut lining. Regular consumption of collagen containing foods like bone broth, gelatin, and collagen powders can be therapeutic additions to the diet that may help mend and prevent leaky gut. Studies show that supplemental collagen peptides can help to strengthen the gut barrier, making it less permeable and more likely to retain nutrients from food. Eating foods that boost your bodys collagen production like eggs, citrus fruits, broccoli, sunflower seeds, and mushrooms can also help increase your bodys natural collagen production.
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Which Option Works Best To Heal The Stomach Lining
One or more of the aforementioned options may be used to help correct digestive issues or stop them from happening. To determine which option may work best to heal the stomach lining, it is important to meet with your doctor. That way, you can receive a medical evaluation and understand your different options to safely address digestive issues and prevent them from recurring.
When To See A Doctor
It is always important to visit your doctor anytime you notice a change in your digestive system after consuming fatty and gluten-based foods. Most people ignore such mild symptoms, as they mostly disappear within hours or a couple of days. However, it is essential to immediately contact your doctor, even when experiencing mild symptoms, especially when those symptoms keep recurring. However, as we have already mentioned, symptoms can also become very severe. Therefore, when you start experiencing signs like bloody stools or abdominal pains that last for several days, then you should visit your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will conduct the necessary examinations to confirm your condition before starting the appropriate treatment.
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Diet Stress And Poor Sleep Impact Your Digestive Health
You are what you eatat least when it comes to your gut flora. Alcohol and highly processed foods can all negatively impact gut health, but were going to focus on one of the biggest players: sugar.
A diet high in sugar can feed the bad bacteria in your gut, creating an optimal environment for the not-so-good microbes to thrive. Thats because high sugar intake seems to change the balance of bacteria in your gut, increasing populations of microbes that contribute to inflammation and gut permeability .
Switching to artificial sweeteners isnt any betterrodent studies indicate that saccharin, sucralose and aspartame cause shifts in gut microbiota and contribute to intestinal dysbiosis, or an imbalance of microorganisms.
What about stress and sleep? Heres the long and short of it:
- Stress and gut health: Mental stressthats anything from work to the news to family lifecan interfere with the communication between your gut and your brain, aka the gut-brain axis. This missed connection contributes to symptoms like nausea, bloating and even the health of your gut bacteria.
- Sleep and gut health: Losing sleep can negatively change the ratio of bacteria in your gut, increasing the risk of insulin resistance, increased gut permeability and even sugar cravings.
Signs You Have A Gut Balance Issue + How To Support It
However, if your gut isn’t at its healthiest, your body tends to have a way of sending signals. That may look like obvious digestive support needs or some less obvious signs .
Luckily, there are a number of ways to check in with your body to see if you have gut health needs, plus expert-backed strategies to cope.
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Whole Grains Nuts And Seeds
Rounding out the plethora of plant-based powerhouses of foods for repairing gut lining, be sure to consume a wide range of whole grains, nuts, and seeds. These foods will leave you fuller, offer your body fiber, and are rich in protein.
Just be sure to opt for gluten-free grains, such as:
As far as seeds go, if youre dealing with Irritable Bowel Syndrome , you might want to give chia seeds a try to help with diarrhea. However, stay away from chia seeds if you are constipated.
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Taking Targeted Natural Supplements
Nobody wants to take a giant fistful of vitamins every day, but there are a handful of gut-healing supplements I often call upon to help my patients in digestive distress. These can help speed healing and make a big difference in symptoms:
- Colostrum: The lactoferrin in colostrum works as a prebiotic to feed good bacteria and fuel its growth. It also promotes cell growth in the intestines to repair a damaged gut.
- Slippery elm: This natural botanical works as a demulcent to reduce inflammation in the gut. You can find this in tea or supplement form.
- Turkey tail: This adaptogenic mushroom works wonders against gut overgrowths like SIBO and candida overgrowth. Try it in a warm drink.
- Deglycyrrhizinated licorice: Sip on licorice tea to soothe and heal your gut lining and ease digestive trouble.
- This root supports the repair of a damaged gut lining by coating the stomach to protect it against increased inflammation. You can find this in tea or supplement form as well.
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How To Eat For Leaky Gut
Cleaning up your diet can really help heal your leaky gut because some foods youre eating may inflame your gut.
Though there are many possible healing diet options, the most important strategy for using diet as a therapy is to focus on real foods and to listen to your body, not what everyone else is saying.
That said, the following diets may be supportive for you while healing leaky gut:
Create A Diet You Can Follow:
You should create a healthy diet based on the recommended foods while staying away from the kinds of foods you need to avoid. Start by creating a healthy menu with the sole purpose of improving your digestive health. Your diet should focus on incorporating the kinds of food that support the growth of healthy gut bacteria while getting rid of foods that are notorious for triggering uncomfortable digestive symptoms.
A healthy gut diet should be rich in vegetables, fruits, and lean protein, as they are a great source of healthy gut bacteria. It is also essential to ensure that your diet is always gluten-free while adjusting or making modifications to accommodate particular food allergies, special dietary needs, and other underlying conditions. Some of the changes you make to your diet may only be temporary, aimed at addressing increased nutritional needs, for example, during pregnancy or allowing your body to heal after a surgery or illness. However, if you need to make drastic long-term changes to your diet, it is important to first speak with your doctor or nutritionist. Doing this will help ensure that your diet does not end up depriving your body of certain essential nutrients it needs. Your leaky gut diet can be very nutritious and satisfying as long as it is not too restrictive. If you end up cutting out entire food groups from your diet, you may find your body deficient in essential nutrients as well as motivation.
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Best Home Remedies For Gastritis
Some of the best home remedies to treat gastritis include teas, such as maytenus ilicifolia tea or Brazilian peppertree tea, and juices, such as potato juice and cabbage juice, as these help to reduce symptoms.
In addition, there are certain habits you can adopt that will help you manage gastritis, such as drinking water several times a day, eating small quantities frequently, and avoiding alcoholic drinks, coffee, spicy seasonings, and acidic foods . In addition, you should also avoid eating deep-fried food and sweet foods containing dairy or those that are processed. Learn which foods to avoid and which you can eat.
If the pain or burning sensation in your stomach remains for over three days, if it increases overtime, or if you start vomiting with blood, you must seek medical help as quickly as possible to start suitable treatment.
Here are some proven home remedies to help relieve gastritis symptoms:
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Best Foods For Gut Health:
What helped me when I was in the thick of a flair was eating low-FODMAP foods, sweating regularly, and prioritizing protein and resistant starch over fiber.
If youre starting a low-FODMAP diet and need some inspiration, you can try my 46 Low-FODMAP Dinner Recipes.
If you have tried a Low-FODMAP diet for 1 to 2 months and still cannot go back to higher FODMAP foods, it is likely worth running some labs rather than getting caught up in the perfect elimination diet.
There are so many conflicting articles on the internet regarding what you should do for good gut health. What are the best foods for gut health? Which foods are bad for gut health? Its all very convoluted and frankly neurotic.
The health community is in consensus that all eliminating processed foods, particularly gluten, dairy, and sugar helps improve gut health, some tout high-fiber diets, others may recommend a carnivore dietand everything in between.
If youre at a point where youre trying various elimination diets to no avail, its likely time to figure out the culprit of your symptoms.
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