The pain and frustration of unresolved gut issues is difficult for anyone to handle, especially when under the stress of a busy lifestyle.
Gut issues can be healed with time and proper care but when does long enough become too long? How do you know when what you are doing is working and when you are doing the wrong thing?
How long should you work at healing the gut before it actually heals and why do these issues not resolve as quickly for some?
Do you have to eliminate all potential irritants the whole time?
And if the process is dragging on for six months, a year, or longer, are you still making progress?
Healing the gut is one task that seems simple but is incredibly complex. As a functional nutritionist, gut healing is one of the primary jobs I do and I’m always amazed at how such a seemingly simple task can be so varied and complex for different people.
The first key to gut healing is to work with a professional. Despite what you may read in books or online, it is really, really, tough to do this alone. If you don’t have a master’s degree in nutrition or biochemistry, you are going to struggle with cutting the wheat from the chaff and discerning all of the nonsense out there. You are probably also going to waste many hundreds and potentially thousands of dollars on supplements and books that may or may not help you.
Let someone qualified help you walk through the ups and downs of gut healing. They can help you keep perspective and will keep track of the little ways you have already changed and gotten better. They can also troubleshoot for you and will be able to see little ways you might be setting yourself back.
An outside perspective is absolutely key to true healing.
So, you’ve been doing everything you know to do and doing it right. Maybe you recently tried to reintroduce a food and had a bad reaction, or you’ve been struggling with being underweight (or overweight!) and it just doesn’t seem to want to normalize. Here are three less commonly considered reasons your gut may not be healing:
It can take 3 months to heal a moderate food sensitivity, 6 months or longer to heal a severe one and some foods, especially if they trigger true food allergies (like in the case of Celiac disease) may never be able to be reincorporated without potential setbacks.
This is one of the hard truths about gut healing that we don’t want to admit to ourselves. It took years (and potentially generations) for us to become this way. It may take just as long to reverse it.
That said, most people can recover the vast majority of foods within a reasonable time period of a year or so. This sounds long and feels long, but in the grand scheme of life is just a blink of the eye.
If you’ve been working on this a while and still aren’t seeing results, consider the possibility that you are triggering your immune system in some way. In my practice I run two food sensitivity tests- one which tests the hundred most common foods and one which tests the blood against thousands of potential foods, chemicals, dyes, and preservatives. These environmental sensitivities can be playing a huge role!
It’s also possible that you are degenerating the lining of your gut, and thus your healing, with foods you don’t have an intolerance to but are rough on the gut. For example, artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, and even erythritol and xylitol can be abrasive on the guts of those working on healing. If you’re sticking to your strict elimination diet but still drinking diet beverages, you may be at a standstill.
Additionally, if you are not sensitive to dairy, grains, or legumes, but eat them to excess, you can be causing additional issues. Taking antibiotics can also set you back.
Unfortunately, when following an elimination diet you can sometimes develop new food sensitivities. This is primarily caused by consuming the same foods repetitively and too often.
When battling the immune system, we’re sometimes dealing with a moving target. Not enough variety can cause new sensitivities.
If you’ve struggled with healing your gut, there are many potential reasons you may be having issues. It is important to be on therapeutic gut healing supplements as well as following a strict lifestyle to see the best results. This requires significant will-power that the average person can’t always muster. Working with a nutritionist can help keep you accountable and focused on your goals.
For more information on working with Amber, contact her here.