The reversal of Rheumatoid Arthritis-Leaky Gut Syndrome (RA-LGS) can be complex and multilayered; as such, we can usually get very overwhelmed by the patterns that co-exist in this relationship. All components of this relationship needs to be evaluated and addressed in order to achieve real success.
I have covered earlier a paramount step of identifying and resolving irritants (mainly pathogenic) to our gut that is causing the inflammation in my post, Dealing with Leaky Gut Syndrome of Rheumatoid Arthritis – Parasites, Pathogenic Bacteria & Fungi (Part 1). Part 2 highlights the many natural remedies that can be applied to remove these pathogenic infections, while specific remedies that follow parasite cleanse protocols of Dr Hulda Clark have also been covered in Part 3 and Part 4 respectively.
Identification of Other Irritants – Food Allergies & Chronic Stress
In addition to parasite cleanses, a complete therapy will necessarily address other irritants or sources of inflammation of the GI mucosal lining including:
- Food allergies and intolerance – Food allergies and intolerance is a major cause of RA-LGS, unfortunately. Perhaps, the existence of food allergies in the first place is in fact the result of a Leaky Gut. This relationship can be quite complex and circular. Nonetheless, for many who have used dietary modifications to allow our body to calm inflammation, we have discovered good progress and success by merely changing the foods we eat on a daily basis. The common food allergies and intolerances for people with RA are gluten (wheat), dairy, soy, egg, meat, corn and nightshades. Remember this, there is no one-off solution to modify your diet because each individual has a different biological and chemistry make-up, and is hence, allergic or intolerant to different foods. You must go that extra mile to learn the approach of detecting the culprit that is causing excess inflammation in your RA. Learn more about the method here.
- Chronic stress – A short period of stress and tension can actually be good for people. It sharpens your thoughts and heightens your physical response in circumstances where performances matter. However, if a person is routinely under assault – physically (eg abuse, daily commute, accident, etc), mentally/emotionally (eg death of loved one, health and financial woes, etc) or environmentally (eg toxins from drugs such as NSAIDs, pollution, herbicides, fumes, carcinogens, etc); our biological system which is occasionally set into a fight or flight situation can markedly get out of balance. In other word, when this delicate feedback system starts to break down, stress will begin to play a major role in many disease of the new world, including RA. Stress alters the intestinal physiological function, thus increases gut permeability and causes inflammation. A healthy immune system can easily block out pathogens, but if the immune system is overactive for an extended period of time, leaky gut will develop. Similarly, an overload in environmental toxin inside our body can also irritate the intestinal lining. The constant inflammation and resulting immunological response can create a more permeable gut wall.
Healing the Gut Holes – Nutritional Balancing & Lifestyle Changes
Following this identification, you are ready to begin mending the gut holes. Do NOT fall into the fallacy of pursuing solutions that simply address the superficial symptoms. Instead, we need to direct our attention towards healing the injured gut.
Nutrition balancing must be adjusted such that our body is absorbing the necessary nutrition required to promote healing of the epithelial lining. A complete elimination of all parasites in our body can take as long as years to achieve (although this is not always the case), however, if our body is weak, toxic, nutritionally inadequate and our pH is out of balance, the pathogens will find their ways back into our bodily terrain, whether we like it or not. The most straightforward ways of reducing the parasite loads and inflammatory sources of our RA-LGS (other than applying pathogenic cleanses) are to focus on our diet and nutrition as well as lifestyle changes.
- Foods that are causing intolerance or allergies for 4 to 6 months.
- Sugary foods, alcohol and excessive fruits consumption that may aggravate Candida overgrowth.
- Processed and packaged foods (“dead foods”) that are full of additives, preservatives, high salt and sugar level, enhancers, trans-fats and other harmful ingredients.
- Unhealthy fats found in vegetable oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower and soybean oils; as well as butter and margarine are all high in omega-6 fats
- All other foods that are pro-inflammatory.
Here are what we should INCORPORATE:
1. DIET & NUTRITION
- Start an elimination diet, re-introduce one food at a time while document any physical, emotional or psychological experiences in a food journal, and once a baseline safety foods are compiled, plan yourself a rotation diet and stick with the challenge for at least 6 months, preferably. For more information on how to address RA-related food allergies or intolerance, please refer to an earlier post here. Additionally, for guideline on rotation diet, you may check out Dr William Philpott’s Four-Day Rotation Diet at http://www.arthritistrust.org/research/WilliamHPhilpott/PhilpottFourDayDiet.pdf.
- Get plenty of essential fatty acids such as Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 acids are known to benefit the immune system, improve cholesterol levels and reduce risk of coronary heart disease, etc. Flaxseed oil is a rich source of Omega-3, so is Krill oil. Other sources of Omega-3 are green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, salmon, hempseeds – to name a few.
- Digestion begins in the mind. Relax before eating and chew your food slowly until it turns liquid. Eat small meals and only eat when you are hungry. It is also a good idea to leave long gaps in between meals, some 4 hours at least. It will be best if you can introduce some greens as a meal replacement such as a raw organic green juice smoothie. On some days, give your body a break, perform a one-day or three-days fast or practice having a designated full vegan day.
- A good health is also correlated with the quantity and quality of water we drink. The importance of water is also covered in my earlier post here. Remember to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces. In other word, if you weigh 100 pounds, you should be drinking 50 ounces of water a day. Drinking water must start in the morning upon awakening because that is when you are most dehydrated. Ideally, do not go more than 20 minutes without sipping water. The water you drink must be pure and free from chemicals conditioning and all contaminants.
- Take in a lot of fibre-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds as long as they do not cause an allergic or intolerant reaction. Fibre aids our body in removing waste from the blood stream as well as colon.
2. LIFESTYLE CHANGES
- Enhance overall vitality of the body for essentially getting rid of pathogens. Pathogens are low-energy creatures that thrive in sick bodies. As vitality improves, they are often easily expelled, dead, through the colon. It also allows the body to improve its resistance against new infection. Exercising is a great way of enhancing vitality, in fact, it has been studied and revealed as a potential therapeutic tool in counteracting systematic inflammation, hence contributing to strength and overall wellbeing. If exercise has not been part and parcel of your current lifestyle, you may slowly start off with easy range-of-motion or stretching exercises. As you gain greater energy, flexibility and momentum, you can move on to other types of exercises to keep yourself moving at all times. Here are some examples of joint-friendly exercises suitable for RA patients.
- Tackle stress in life with more helpful rest. I was taught to deal with stress this way: Face or acknowledge stressors rather than running away from them; Alter perceptions to view these challenges in a more positive way, such as through cognitive therapy, hypnosis, or mindfulness training; Cope actively, by pro-actively heading off future stressors when possible; and Express your emotions rather than holding them in. Many people cope with stress with aids of relaxation that include Yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, music therapy and of course, getting plenty of sleep. Most adults now sleep lesser than 8-9 hours a night. A lack of sleep can lead to weakening of immune system.
- Reduce toxic chemicals in your household. Pay attention to the beauty and personal care products as most mainstream brands are carrying an array of synthetic chemicals, carcinogens and dangerous ingredients such as SLS, parabens, etc, which are also likely to aggravate your allergic reactions. Instead, turn to use natural and organic cosmetics, bathing products as well as cleaning products. This was also discussed in an earlier post here.
- Perform a dental clean-up. A systematic infection can deposit microbes in areas of the body that are not easily reached by antibiotics or the immune system, allowing them to exist. A chronic remnant of the infection can hold even after acute infection is long over. The joints are favorite gathering spot because of a lack of blood circulation in the area. Most joint infections have their origins in the mouth. Infection in a tooth can release a continual stream of toxins that drain into the blood, slowly poisoning the body. Oral bacteria that cause gum disease produce the same autoimmune markers in the blood that characterize RA. One source of this cause in the tooth is the root canal. Read more here on the tooth connection of RA.
- Go for near infrared sauna therapy if you can afford the treatment. Heating the body up can weaken, disable or even kill the pathogens. It also serves to improve blood circulation and removal of toxins and heavy metals from our body.
- Perform a colon cleanse together with coffee enemas. Colon cleanse assists to dislodge putrified waste from the colon walls, thereby removing parasites from the body. Coffee enemas, on the other hand, stimulates bile flow, mechanically cleans out the colon, upsets parasite nests and reduces the liver toxicity. Apply dry skin brushing with each session of coffee enemas for better results. Dry skin brushing moves and cleanses the lymphs. Read here for a step-by-step guide on how to perform coffee enemas as well as dry skin brushing.
- Lastly, reduce your medication intake that is contributing to the Leaky Gut (if possible). Explore alternative medications that minimize the impact on the GI lining. For RA, I suggest exploring the possibility of Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) (read here).
Supplements for Healing a Leaky Gut
When inflammation is well under control, repair of the intestinal tract becomes a high priority. Along with a balanced nutrition, diet and lifestyle, we need to supplement our body with the following:
(1) Digestive Enzymes
Enzymes flow throughout our body and as many as 2,700 different enzymes (in fact, more) are acting within our body to keep our vital functions active and in order. Digestive enzymes is something that you cannot go without if you have a LGS because they are extremely helpful in tackling the problem on many fronts:
- They break down food particles so that in essentially smaller forms, they are less likely to physically irritate the gut lining and activate immunological response. Plant-based enzymes perform much of the breakdown in the stomach before food even reaches the intestines. Even if foods do in fact manage to leak through the gut, given its form, it is also less likely that a violent negative reaction will be activated.
- The breakdown process of enzymes free up vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients; as well as energy that are derived from the foods sources; such that our natural biological processes and healing can take place.
- Enzymes support intestinal health by clearing out pathogens that harm the GI tract, removing dead tissues, debris, chemicals and toxins from the body such that healing can take place undisrupted. All pathogens have protein or cellulose structures in a way or another. These structures can be broken down by the enzymes – proteases and cellulases, whereby they can latch onto these toxins and escort them out of the body, leaving our red blood cells and good tissues to carry out the necessary healing. The cleanse removes the load of an overworked liver and immune system.
- If enzymes are given between meals, they are sent directly into blood stream to perform cleanse, while if they are given with food, they will act upon the digestion of the foods.
- With RA, it is also recommended to take enzymes in between meals to reduce inflammation, particularly bromelain (derived from pineapple) and papain (derived from papaya). Proteases can reduce inflammation in the gut directly. Bromelain and papain are well-known agents for assisting in healing gastric ulcers. Material leaking through the intestinal lining can make its way to joints and aggravate them to the point of inflammation, or add to inflammation already started. The proteases in the bloodstream break down these sources of inflammation as they pass by in the bloodstream. Then the debris is transported out of the body, freeing the immune system up to do other things, and allowing you to enjoy your life without so much pain.
My choice of enzymes for my RA-LGS treatment protocol is Biozyme’s Fermentation Enzymes that originate from Taiwan.
I have in the past tried out many different types and brands of digestive enzymes, but why do I select this specific enzyme all the way from Taiwan? Biozyme, which has been in the Asian markets for a very long period of time, adopts an exclusive patented 12 strains MSF (Microorganism Symbiosis Ferment Technology) to ferment, through natural microorganism metabolism, that turns beneficial elements from natural ingredients to smaller molecules that provide nutrition for our cells needs. Moreover, its 540 days matured fermentation period is another added benefit. Matured fermentation means fermentation needs certain enough time to ferment, otherwise, we’ll not receive the full benefits of nutrition, the molecular structure will not complete to form into nutrition for human body. Below are other beneficial features that appeal to me:
- 2nd level metabolite of bacterium, which provides physical active element
- Variety of enzymes that metabolizes operations such as digestive enzyme, SOD enzyme, etc
- Nucleotide helps adjust physical condition and improve energy
- Organic acid elevates body absorption speed
- Vitamins and minerals that nourish and generate metabolite enzyme
- Oriental herbs of specific potency and remedial effects in healing.
The specific product I prefer out of its wide array of choices is Biozyme Ganoderma Lucidum Enzymes (see picture above). This enzyme derives its nutrients from a great number of natural vegetables, fruits and Chinese herbs including Antrodia Cinnamomea, Ganoderma Lucidum, Agaricus Blazei, Chinese Yam, Chinese Wolfberry, Sweet Orange, Sesame, Celery, Carrot, Cauliflower, Round Kamquat, Chinese Kale, Pak-Choi, Lemon, Broccoli, Pineapple, Japanese Honewort, Hawthorne, Papaya, Great Burdock, Coconut, Cabbage, Indian Jujube, Watermelon, Yam Bean, Watercress, Rapeseed, Mulberry, Mushroom, Melon, Chinese Aspinach, Water Chestnut, Bittergourd, Avocado, Apple, Ginger, Asparagus, Aloe, Apple, etc – The list goes on.
Ganoderma Lucidum, the dominant Chinese herbal ingredient of the fermented enzymes, is the botanical name for a mushroom more commonly known as LingZhi and this has been popularly used in TCm for over 2000 years, often referred to as the ‘mushroom of immortality’. It is famous for its wide array of impressive medical properties including cancer prevention, immune support, cardiovascular health, antiviral, antibacteria, antioxidants, liver protection and so forth.
The nice thing about enzymes is that they address the damaged gut, problematic food intolerance and nutritional deficiencies at the same time. You may be wondering since there are over 80 types of different vegetables, fruits and herbs that go into this enzymes, there are bound to be some foods that I will be exhibiting allergies or intolerance to. This thought is a very valid inquiry. Yes, in fact, from the ingredients list above, I have at least 20 types of foods that appear as sensitivities in my ALCAT test. Funny thing is, I am actually comfortable and tolerant to this enzyme. Like many allergic consumers who recommended this product to me, I have felt that my intolerance had instead dropped off quite a bit since I began its uses. I even muscle tested myself for this enzymes before and the test muscle turned out strong, ie I have no allergic reaction. It was only until some times later that I found out that the reason for this – the matured long-duration fermentation of the enzymes. It is common that a significant improvement can be witnessed after first week of usage since some food intolerance are processed out of the body a few days later.
Probiotics mean beneficial bacteria. Probiotics are necessary to help restore the much needed balance or symbiosis in our gut. Out with the bad and in with the good. Our stomach contains literally ten sextillions of active bacteria, a combination of both good and bad. Numerous studies have shown that probiotics help our body to repair the GI lining while promoting gut healing.
A wise decision is, of course, to colonize with a variety of ‘good guys’. The ‘variety’ concepts is similar to the diversification concept applied in investment. A variety of different strains of good bacteria in colonies in the GI tract may have one or several strains placed under undue stress while others pick up the synergies to protect your health. Within our intestinal flora, Bifidobacteria are the predominant organisms in the large intestine while Lactobacilli are predominant in small intestine.
The quickest and most effective way to increase the colony of healthy bacteria is to take a high dosage supplement. However, there are often problems with most brand name probiotics that they do not usually contain enough healthy bacteria to make a difference. Probiotic strains must be proven to not only survive stomach acids, a good supplement must also contain multiple bacteria. It is extremely important that you exercise caution in selecting probiotics that are high in potency and counts. I had myself tried many popular probiotics in the past which did not work well. If you could recall from my earlier post on the result of my parasitology, both the beneficial bacteria – Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli (which I supplemented myself for) revealed NG (stands for No Growth). This was very sad (because I had spent quite a fortune in probiotics for a very long time). From there onwards, I began my research and studies in finding the right kind of effective and potent probiotics that really work for people.
Now, I’m switching my probiotics to Trenev Trio from Natren.
Trenev Trio is an amazing 3-in-1 very potent probiotics that contain a minimum of 30 billions super strains beneficial bacteria – Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Bifidobacterium bifidum. Notice that the combination of Lactobacilli are lower in quantity than the Bifidobacteria because in a healthy intestinal flora and its favourable microbial profile, Lactobacilli still have important metabolic activities despite occuring in smaller numbers than Bifidobacteria in both upper and lower intestines combined.
The specific features I love about this Natren product are:
- It supports Hydrogen Peroxide production for digestive health
- It promotes a slightly acidic environment necessary for intestinal health
- It is made of dairy free gelatin capsules. Dairy is the last thing we want to ingest if we are suffering from Candida.
- 100% potency is guaranteed right through its printed expiration date.
This product has been strongly recommended by highly reputable ND and users alike, due to its efficacy and effectiveness. Since I have only recently switched to this brand, I could not at the moment attest to any statement of its effectiveness.
Apart from supplementation, probiotics can also be found in food sources in the form of fermented foods such as yogurt, cottage cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir. Remember, these foods must be eaten raw and unpasteurized in order to retain its live cultures. Personally, I feel that the amounts of probiotics we receive from these foods sources can vary widely and may not be enough to make a positive impact, especially when we require a huge lots of these good bacteria to reverse and heal our Leaky Gut and RA.
L-Glutamine is an non-essential amino acid, one that has been reported to accelerate the gut healing process. Glutamine is the preferred fuel source for cells that line the GI tract and for the immune system. It is also known to help heal stomach ulcers and increase water absorption into the gut wall, keeping our body well hydrated while flushing out toxic waste materials as well as the effects of drug use and preventing fatty build up in our livers.
Glutamine has a vital role in cell growth and functions as an antioxidants. That said, it can speed up healing and recovery of wounds and injuries, aid protein metabolism and provides the primary sources of energy for our nervous system and immune cells including the T-cells.
My choice of L-glutamine is the Glutamine Powder from Vital Nutrients.
It is difficult for me to confirm that this specific brand of Glutamine has healed my intestinal lining, since I have also begun its use at the same time I’m switching to Natren’s probiotics brand. Previously, I fancied using GI repair products that comprise many gut-healing ingredients such as N-Acetyl-D-Glucosamine (NAG), slippery elm bark, MSM, etc. I do not mean to say that the products with multiple gut healing ingredients are not good nor ineffective for this purpose, but with multiple food allergies and intolerance, we are likely more susceptible to immune reaction to any one of these ingredients. This was the reason why I’m now eventually settling for only the pure form of L-glutamine powders. L-glutamine needs to be taken for a long period of time, usually two years or more to complete the healing task. Hence, be patient while the wonders take effect in a slow fashion.
Food sources of glutamine, as long as you are not allergic to them, can be found in eggs, avocado, dairy products (please just skip dairy), chicken, beef, fish, cabbage, beets, beans, spinach and parsley.
These are all I like to cover on nutritional balancing, lifestyle changes and protocols of supplementing the nutrition for healing Leaky Gut and by reciprocal, Rheumatoid Arthritis. I believe these are quite a lot to take in for now. Be ready to document some important notes so that you can begin your healing process. Digestive enzymes, good quality probiotics and L-glutamine are three extremely IMPORTANT nutrients for this treatment protocol, even though this may mean that you have to invest quite a bit of your hard-earned money into these supplements. Alternatively, if you really encounter difficulties in funding this nutritional investment, I’ve also listed above the foods sources where you can also derive similar nutrients. When we are done with these lots, I’m going to cover liver and kidney cleanses in the upcoming post.