Optimizing Gastrointestinal Health with the 4R program

To optimize, heal and restore critical GI function, it is useful to think in terms of the 4 R program as described by the scientists and researchers at the Institute of Functional Medicine. The four R's stand for Remove, Repair, Restore and Replace.

  • Remove stressors and potential antigens and toxins through utilizing an elimination diet to identify possible food intolerances and allergies. Eliminate alcohol, caffeine and refined sugars as well as overly processed foods full of chemical additives. Choose a diet rich in whole unprocessed foods and fiber from organic sources whenever possible. Avoid the use of antibiotics, antacids and anti-inflammatory drugs. Work on mediating or removing emotionally toxic triggers

  • Repair damaged intestinal mucosa with optimal nutrition, resting the cells, and providing substances that promote tissue healing in the gut. These substances include L-glutamine, quercitin, gamma linoleic acid (GLA), aloe vera, licorice root, tumeric, and omega 3 fatty acids

  • Restore a healthful bacterial balance to the GI tract using high quality beneficial probiotic bacteria such as lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria along with the prebiotic substances such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS) which are food substances for the beneficial bacteria.(fiber) Healthy intestinal bacteria are critical for proper immune system function, detoxification and elimination, hormonal balancing and preventing the overgrowth of unhealthy toxin producing bacteria and yeast. Unfortunately the rampant overuse of antibiotics and high sugar and fat diets has created a toxic soup of unhealthy GI flora in many individuals

  • Replace digestive secretions that are suboptimal such as digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and bile salts. Abnormally low levels of stomach acids and digestive enzymes effects the absorption and utilization of nutrients, leading to issues of mal digestion, mal absorption and nutrient deficiency, manifested in symptoms of gas, bloating, fullness and diarrhea or constipation
  • In Summary for Optimizing GI Health

  • Follow the 4R program-Remove, Repair, Restore, Replace
  • Remove caffeine, alcohol, refined sugars and processed foods and bad fats (all irritate and create inflammation in the gut)

  • Remove foods that you know you are sensitive to. Consider an elimination diet to identify what you may be intolerant of. The most common food intolerances are wheat (gluten) and cow's milk(casein) products

  • Replace digestive enzymes and acids as needed

  • Restore probiotics daily such using lactobacillus acidophilus/bifidus

  • Repair with healthy fats such as fish oils, nut oils and GLA (borage seed oil)

  • Eat whole foods, unprocessed, lightly cooked and organic if possible

  • Remove antibiotics and non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin and Tylenol

  • Be aware that many other medications affect the GI tract- i.e. osteoporosis meds, antidepressants, acid reduction medications

  • Repair with herbs such as garlic, aloe vera, oil of oregano, and turmeric, nutrients such as L-glutamine, quercitin, fish oils, as well as specifically formulated low antigen medical foods to help promote healing. (Ultraclear Plus, UltraInflamx, Advaclear, Endefen, Glutagenics)