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Four Steps to a Healthy Gut




Excerpted from
Gut Reactions: A Radical New 4-Step Program for Treating Chronic Stomach Distress and Unlocking the Secret to Total Body Wellness
By Raphael Kellman, M.D., Carol Colman

English Conversation About A Health...
English Conversation About A Health Problem

The program outlined in Gut Reactions has helped my patients escape chronic pain and constant medication and enjoy pain-free, healthy lives. If you are living in pain, if you suffer from chronic GI distress, if you can't imagine getting through the day without antacids, I urge you to give my program a try. You will feel better than you have in years!

There are four key components to the Gut Reaction program. I will give you a quick descriptive overview of the program here, but I explain it in more detail in chapter 4, "An Overview of the Kellman Plan."

Step 1: Getting to the Right Diagnosis
Step 2: The Bio-Ecological Diet
Step 3: Supplements to Support a Healthy Gut
Step 4: Mind-Gut Therapies

Step 1: Getting to the Right Diagnosis

In order to treat a problem you need to first get an accurate diagnosis. This may seem to be an obvious statement, but when it comes to gut problems, getting a good diagnosis can be a real challenge. The standard tests for gut problems, like endoscopy, colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and MRI, are designed to detect structural abnormalities in the GI tract such as blockages or lesions. These tests can save lives-they can reveal precancerous growths and other serious problems early enough to treat them effectively. But as good as these tests are, they don't always tell the whole story. In fact, 40 percent of all patients with symptoms severe enough to warrant invasive diagnostic testing do not have any apparent anatomical or structural lesion associated with their condition. Yet they are in pain-genuine, chronic pain. Unable to find the cause of the problem, the official diagnosis is often the catchall "general abdominal distress," or what I call the "no-name" disease. Rather than looking beyond the obvious, most conventional physicians prescribe medications to smother the symptoms.

One of my goals in writing this book is to alert readers to the fact that there are other, less-known medical tests that can better assess GI function that should be performed when structural problems have been ruled out. Some of these tests must be done at the doctor's office, but others can be done at home. Your doctor will not perform these tests routinely. You will have to ask for them. Read about them in chapter 6.

But medical tests alone cannot detect the deeper causes of gut problems. The mind in the gut is often reacting to hidden emotions such as anger, anxiety, or other unrecognized or unresolved issues. In chapter 7,I will show you how to diagnose the nonmedical causes of gut problems.

Step 2: The Bio-Ecological Diet

The Bio-Ecological Diet is an easy-to-follow food plan that not only provides specific information on how and what to eat, but stresses the importance of reexamining our attitudes toward food and our relationship to food. This is a subject about which I am passionate. I believe that we have lost touch with the purpose of food and that we are suffering the consequences in the form of GI disease and other modern-day epidemics including obesity, cancer, and heart disease.

It's so fundamental: Food provides the energy and information required to nourish the mind in the gut as well as every other system in the body. If you eat "smart" foods, that is, foods that send the right messages to your cells, you will enjoy good health. But if you eat unwisely, your gut cannot do its job properly and the rest of your body will suffer.

Giving your body the right nutrients has become a challenge. Modern processing techniques have stripped food of its nutrients, and as a result most of us suffer micronutrient deficiencies that make us vulnerable to diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Chemical preservatives and other additives to the food supply have created a toxic burden on the gut that is contributing to the epidemic of gut ailments.

But food is not just about nutrition-food should also be a spiritual experience. Food is a symbol of our interconnectedness with our planet. It serves as a reminder that we need to view ourselves as part of a whole and be more sharing as people. The Bio-Ecological Diet creates a feeling of being part of a bigger picture, a feeling of interconnectedness to others and to nature and to all of life. Viewed in such a way, we can truly appreciate the life-giving essence of food.

Today, however, food is no longer viewed as life-giving; it is cursed as a source of our problems. It has become the enemy. We blame our weight gain, our high cholesterol, our lackluster skin tone, and our lack of energy on food. In reality, food is not the problem-the problem is how we use and abuse it. Once people change their attitude toward food, there is a dramatic change in how and what they eat-and ultimately, how they feel.

The Bio-Ecological Diet, designed in collaboration with J. Gabrielle Rabner, a registered dietitian and nutritional consultant who works in my office, embodies my strong philosophical approach to eating. In addition to providing a meal plan that everyone can follow, we also provide a specific regimen for people in pain, and for those who are gluten and lactose intolerant.

Step 3: Supplements to Support a Healthy Gut

For many gut problems I prescribe nutritional supplements to reduce symptoms and promote healing. Unlike harsh, synthetic drugs or antibiotics that smother symptoms, the nutritional supplements that I recommend gently restore normal gut function, enhancing the ability of the body to do its job. (The key word here is function.)

As effective as nutritional supplements may be, I don't believe in taking them blindly. To me, handing a patient a prescription for supplements without any further explanation is as bad as handing a patient a prescription for a drug without discussing what the drug is or what it does. Neither approach gets the patient into the right mind-set for healing. In order to experience the full range of benefits of supplements, you need to know how and why they work and how to use them correctly. In chapter 9, I offer a detailed explanation of the supplements that I recommend for gut problems. In chapter 11, I have a special prescription for those of you with specific gut problems.

Step 4: Mind-Gut Therapies

From a physician's perspective, eliminating the pain and chronic discomfort of gut problems is relatively simple. In most cases, taking the right supplements and eating the right food will make the problem go away, at least temporarily. But in order to cure the problem forever, patients must make meaningful changes in their lives. Most important, they need to stay attuned to what the mind in the gut is telling them, so that they catch small problems early before they develop into big ones.

This component of the Gut Reaction program is perhaps the most important. It is a blueprint for how to prevent the kind of emotional turmoil that makes us sick. I believe that in order to be whole and healthy on the inside, you must be connected to others and the outside world in a positive, constructive, and compassionate way. As part of my prescription for a healthy life, I often recommend that people try to be more proactive and life affirming and find ways to bring meaning into their daily encounters. Small steps in this direction is all it takes to ignite the healing process. It could be as simple as not being reactive while waiting in line, not yelling at the cabdriver for making a wrong turn, saying hello to the janitor, or giving to the truly poor even when we don't want to. Being proactive and finding meaning entails knowing what pushes our buttons and responding in a new way. This creates personal growth and fosters a sharing consciousness, a bio-ecological consciousness. Just as the systems of the body are interconnected, we humans are interconnected to each other and form a whole, and we cannot be truly well unless we nurture these connections.



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