I have encountered many reasons as to why a gut healing diet may have failed. In the age of easily obtainable information, more and more people are tired of encountering conventional dead-ends and are taking their health into their own hands, particularly regarding issues of autoimmunity (which includes allergies, eczema, psoriasis, sensory issues, etc). They know that there is no magic pill in conventional medicine for these things, so they read online about some particular gut-healing protocols that have gotten many great reviews and they try them, yet they do not get the healing results they desired. There are several choices to choose from such as The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, The GAPS Diet, The Specific Carbohydrate Diet, The Maker’s Diet or just eating better in general with some very specific recommendations like what can be found in the book, “Nourishing Traditions.”
Unfortunately, we live in such a polluted and complicated world, it is very easy to accidentally miss some really big reasons you are not getting the results you desire.
Low Vitamin D
By now, most people on a gut healing regimen are fully aware that autoimmunity has everything to do with the gut. They know all about things like bone broth and healthy fats, but what can be missed is that proper vitamin D levels are extremely crucial to gut health (1). Vitamin D is what keeps the microbiome (the bacteria in the gut) diverse. You can read about how to raise your levels here.
The Need for More Minerals
Mineral balance determines what microbiome you do or do not have (2). Due to many common forms of farming, the mineral balances in food alone may be deficient. One can get additional minerals from things like bone broth and certain mineral-rich salts, but sometimes, those that are ill need additional minerals. There are naturopaths that can do mineral analysis for patients to determine what deficiencies they have and need to supplement. Other naturopaths recommend taking humic fulvic minerals to the majority of their patients like this kind here instead.
There is so much fluoride available to us and it can very easily sneak into our daily lives. Fluoride is a hormone disruptor and also depletes certain necessary minerals, which then leads to gut problems (3, 4). Most cities fluoridate their water in the US. Filtering it out takes very specialized water filters like this or one must have a reverse osmosis system installed in their home. Filtered water should be used not just for drinking, but also for cooking.
Unfortunately there is way more fluoride than just what is found in water sources. In fact, water may be the lesser source. Non-stick cookware is a major source of daily fluoride (5). Use pots and pans made of stainless steel, glass, enameled cast iron, cast iron or glass instead. Also note, if you are eating out, most restaurants are using either aluminum or non-stick cookware.
Another major source that gets put on many conventional crops that are then fed to people and animals is a fluoride source called cryolite that is used as a pesticide (6).
“EPA has determined that the following uses of cryolite have been supported and are eligible for reregistration: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, citrus fruits, collards, cranberries, cucumbers, eggplant, grapes, kohlrabi, lettuce (leaf and head), melons, peaches, peppers, plums (fresh prunes), pumpkins, squash (winter and summer), tomatoes, kiwi, potatoes, ornamental herbaceous plants, ornamental nonflowering plants, ornamental woody shrubs and vines and shade trees. The use on strawberries is being supported but there are no residue data at this time upon which to base an eligibility decision. The Agency will evaluate the eligibility of this use after the data are submitted and reviewed. The use of eligible cryolite products in accordance with labeling specified in this RED will not pose unreasonable adverse effects to humans or the environment. These products will be reregistered once the required product specific data, CSFs, and revised labeling are received and accepted by EPA. Products which contain active ingredients in addition to cryolite will be reregistered when all of their other active ingredients also are eligible for reregistration.There are several currently registered uses for cryolite that are not being supported and their tolerances are being proposed for revocation: apples, apricots, beans, beets (roots and tops), blackberries, boysenberries, carrots, corn, dewberries, kale, loganberries, mustard greens, nectarines, okra, peanuts, pears, peas, quinces, radishes (roots and tops), turnips (roots and tops) and youngberries (7).”
It may be time to consider going fully or mostly organic. Some of the foods listed above also end up in agricultural feed (8). This is a problem for those that eat conventional meats on the bone or drink bone broths made from conventional animal bones as the fluoride heavily concentrates in the bones.
Use pastured or organic bones to avoid making a toxic bone broth.
Do you live in an area with heavy pesticide use? These areas can include maintenance free housing, golf course neighborhoods, housing in areas near non-organic farmland and warm areas that have regular spraying for mosquitos (9).
I have a few anecdotal stories about pesticide use. One of my children had been free of allergies and food intolerance for several years then began to have wheezing, rashes, eczema patches and increased behavioral issues after our neighborhood was sprayed for possible Zika carrying mosquitoes. It started very slowly and got worse as her gut continued to deteriorate. We eat very nutrient dense foods and she became allergic to three things that we ate a lot of: eggs, bananas and plantains and developed a severe allergy to dust. It seemed to me that the pesticide used deteriorated her microbiome. Thankfully, we moved since then and her intolerances have healed after removing the foods for awhile and taking strong probiotics.
I know of an organic farmer who has lost his honeybees when other farmers in the area sprayed their own fields. That stuff can travel quite a distance through the air!
Exposure to toxic mycotoxins can cause autoimmunity (10). It comes from even minute water damage (a missing roof shingle, a slow leak from a water source into the walls or ceiling, air conditioning systems that have suseptibility). Unless one is in a mold-free environment, they cannot properly heal.
Hidden Food Intolerances
I know so many people that get really excited to try to heal their gut and they start consuming foods with a damaged gut that they already consumed frequently. The ones I have seen the most are chicken, chicken bone broth, eggs and their favorite fruits. They ate them so often with a damaged gut that they are intolerant to them. I have seen better results when the first several weeks- few months, folks start with things they may not have consumed often, like turkey, beef, lamb, bison, duck, duck eggs, fruits they rarely ate, etc, then take a therapeutic strength probiotic while healing and later see if they can add their favorite foods back in.
I have come across histamine intolerances now multiple times in friends and family as they try to heal (11). They are eating all the right things, but have really strange symptoms. This happens because there is already so much pathogenic yeast in the gut that gives off histamines, the body is not detoxing properly and when high-histamine foods are eaten, it causes a reaction.
High amounts of histamines can be found in long-cooked broths, foods cooked and stored in the fridge (histamines rise with time), cheeses and cultured foods. This does not mean that these foods are not healthy. It means that the gut is simply too ill to handle them. Instead of long-cooked broths, use a pressure cooker like this one here. Cook daily, instead of storing food for more than a day in the fridge or freeze it for later. Avoid cultured foods till things have calmed down a bit in the gut and instead rely on a therapeutic strength probiotic to help you heal to that point. I have no affiliation with this company, but it is so helpful I am linking it here. I have never had extremely good results with probiotic supplements bought in stores, unfortunately.
Heavy metals in excess can cause autoimmunity (12). Metal dental fillings made from mercury are culprits and can only be removed safely by a holistic or integrative dentist that follows some very specific protocols otherwise the mercury will vaporize during removal and will be stored in the thyroid. Another culprit is aluminum from medications, canned foods, the use of aluminum foil and aluminum containing deodorant (13).