Food for thought

Diet improves cognition

Your microbiome plays an important role in mediating depression and anxiety-like behaviours[1]. Keep your gut and its lining healthy and your mood and thinking power will benefit.

If you seek a caring professional who is a registered naturopathic doctor in Guelph with a functional medicine approach, you’ve come to the right place. Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND knows how to stimulate your body’s natural mechanisms to repair damage and rebuild health.

What I use for gut repair can depend on state of health you might be in, your preference on tinctures, supplements or teas and food. Sure, there are plenty of remedies out there, but I like to keep it simple and have found a few things to choose from and they work. There are a few vitamins and minerals that are essential to gut healing. These may be started at any time during the protocol and may be continued for some time after. Rotation of the repair foods and supplements can help diversify and feed your hungry microbiome. 

Foods that are high in antioxidants will help reduce inflammation and improve conditions for those suffering with inflammatory bowel disease. Green tea, slippery elm tea, pomegranate and apples, bitter melon, blueberries, bilberries, ginger, turmeric can all be helpful hands in the kitchen. 

Here are five simple things you can do to help heal your gut and clear your mind.

Fermented vegetables

 L. Plantarum is what naturally ferments milk to kefir, cabbage to sauerkraut, and other vegetables to kimchi. It preserves the health intestinal lining (mucosa), and inhibits pathogenic bacteria and opportunistic yeast overgrowth. It can survive some broad-spectrum antibiotics. L. plantarum can help prevent and treat irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease[1], cancer, metabolic syndromes, dyslipidemia, hypercholesteromia, obesity, and diabetes, and brain health aspects involving psychological disorders[2].  

2 baked apples a day

The pectin that gets released when apples are cooked with their skins is very healing to the gut. I smell them cooking in my oven right now. Yum. Pectin protects you from the toxins released by bad bacteria (LPS). It increases intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP) levels. Which also really helps with cholesterol and fat management. That means it helps maintain the gut barrier to protect you from leaky gut. It also prevents weight gain and reduces inflammation[1]. Buy organic apples if you can. Always wash your produce well. I like to use vinegar and water or lemon juice or grapefruit seed extract and water. Or a sink full of salted water and rinse. My favorite way to prepare the apples is to use one of those apple coring kitchen tools, then lay the apples in a pan. Put enough water to touch the bottoms of the apples. Maybe a quarter of an inch. Sprinkle cinnamon on them and bake in the oven. I often do this while the chicken or vegetables or whatever else might be cooking at the time. On their own, takes about 45 minutes at 350F, but time depends on the type of apple and how ripe they are. When they are soft and you can put a fork in and out easy, they are done. If you like them a little crispy and dry, don’t put so much water on them. If you prefer them juicy and soft, add more water.  I’ll even throw the apples alongside the roast chicken with carrots, potatoes and celery and cauliflower. Put some water- maybe half an inch with the chicken and cover the pan to keep the moisture locked in.  Apple pectin is a simple and tasty way to increase your gut healing power. See, an apple a day can really help keep the doctor away!

Broth and collagen powder

Bone broth is lovely, so is most organic collagen powder which essentially will provide nutrients to build tissue. Buy organic or responsibly raised sources, or wild game you hunt, so you are consuming the cleanest source possible. Your hair, skin and nails will thank you too once nutrients start absorbing again. A cup of broth, or collagen added to your hot beverage in the morning works great if you take it at least 3-5 days a week. If you really need gut protection, take up to four cups a day for four weeks.  But if you only get it in once in a while it will still be helpful. It’s the protein and the gelatin tannate that help reduce the effects of inflammatory toxins in the gut. The gelatin in the broth mimics the protective slimy layer your gut might not be making when it is damaged. Under the gelatin’s protective soft coat, the intestinal lining can repair. Cellular repair needs protein too, and bone broth gives you this. Other forms of protein are helpful too. BCAA’s or branched chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine), play an important role in gut health, glucose balance, anti-obesity, nutritional status, immunity and disease[2]. You will find these in foods like beef, chicken, fish, eggs, baked beans, lima beans, chickpeas, lentils, brown rice, almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds and, if you like, a supplement. If you are sensitive to any of these foods, don’t eat them. 

Olive leaf oil

Olive oil, produced by crushing the olive fruit, is known for its many heart health benefits. As you learned, it is the mainstay of the Mediterranean diet. Its plant powers include bio phenols that are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, lowers cholesterol and blood sugar.  Did you know that the essential oil gathered from the olive leaves and branches are also very helpful for gut inflammation[3]? A much stronger extract than the fruit of the olive, leaves and branches produce 80% oleuropein, the particular bio phenol measured. It has the strength within 24 hours to lower many factors of inflammation in the intestines. This may be something to consider for outbreaks in ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease[4]. It wouldn’t be as strong, but I’m thinking liberal amounts of regular olive oil would be most helpful too.

Fish Oil

Fish oil reduces inflammation body wide and, in the gut, it can help modulate the balance of bacteria, reduce risk of inflammatory bowel disease and provide and maintain remission of ulcerative colitis[5]. Omega-3’s found in fish oil are the essential fatty acids which can also lower cholesterol, regulate insulin[6] and reduce risk of many cancers. 1200mg to 20g a day can be supplemented for various periods of time. 

Omega-3’s include EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). Sources are sardines, anchovies, salmon, herring and to a lesser extent, flaxseed oil and walnuts. Diets higher in fish oil (you may need to supplement) are related to better cognition, mood, healthier cardiovascular system, reduced inflammation, pain and irritability. The EPA content (as opposed to DHA) is most critical to support mood, especially when it comes to depression or major depressive disorder. Do a 2:1 ratio of EPA: DHA to achieve this result. The DHA is more important to support brain development. 

Remember the rule of thumb is it takes one month for every year you’ve had an issue. Rules of thumbs are not always right, but they do give us some kind of ballpark.

Makes me think of Steven Covey’s “fast is slow” and “slow is fast” talk.  Heard that one? If you rush the healing, it actually might end up taking longer due to the set-backs and short comings. Take the protocol sure and steady, like the tortoise, and you will win. Take it fast like the hare and you will fall behind and might even give up. Don’t give up. Take a medium speed approach. One bite at a time, inch by inch. With some smart work and perseverance, you will be much further ahead. Bowel wise, mood wise, spirit wise.  You’ll be wiser. That’s a good thing. Afterall we are on a journey to learn things and to become wise. That’s what we’re here to do.


[1] Jiang, T., Gao, X., Wu, C., Tian, F., Lei, Q., Bi, J., Xie, B., Wang, H. Y., Chen, S., & Wang, X. (2016). Apple-Derived Pectin Modulates Gut Microbiota, Improves Gut Barrier Function, and Attenuates Metabolic Endotoxemia in Rats with Diet-Induced Obesity. Nutrients8(3), 126. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8030126

[2] Nie, C., He, T., Zhang, W., Zhang, G., & Ma, X. (2018). Branched Chain Amino Acids: Beyond Nutrition Metabolism. International journal of molecular sciences19(4), 954. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19040954

[3] Larussa, T., Imeneo, M., & Luzza, F. (2019). Olive Tree Biophenols in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: When Bitter is Better. International journal of molecular sciences20(6), 1390. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20061390

[4] Vezza, T., Algieri, F., Rodríguez-Nogales, A., Garrido-Mesa, J., Utrilla, M. P., Talhaoui, N., Gómez-Caravaca, A. M., Segura-Carretero, A., Rodríguez-Cabezas, M. E., Monteleone, G., & Gálvez, J. (2017). Immunomodulatory properties of Olea europaea leaf extract in intestinal inflammation. Molecular nutrition & food research61(10), 10.1002/mnfr.201601066. https://doi.org/10.1002/mnfr.201601066

[5] Marton, L. T., Goulart, R. A., Carvalho, A., & Barbalho, S. M. (2019). Omega Fatty Acids and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: An Overview. International journal of molecular sciences20(19), 4851. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20194851

[6] Khatib, S. A., Rossi, E. L., Bowers, L. W., & Hursting, S. D. (2016). Reducing the burden of obesity-associated cancers with anti-inflammatory long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Prostaglandins & other lipid mediators125, 100–107. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.prostaglandins.2016.07.011


[1] Le, B., & Yang, S. H. (2018). Efficacy of Lactobacillus plantarum in prevention of inflammatory bowel disease. Toxicology reports5, 314–317. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.toxrep.2018.02.007

[2] Liu, Y. W., Liong, M. T., & Tsai, Y. C. (2018). New perspectives of Lactobacillus plantarum as a probiotic: The gut-heart-brain axis. Journal of microbiology (Seoul, Korea)56(9), 601–613. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12275-018-8079-2


[1] Dhakal, R., Bajpai, V. K., & Baek, K. H. (2012). Production of gaba (γ – Aminobutyric acid) by microorganisms: a review. Brazilian journal of microbiology : [publication of the Brazilian Society for Microbiology]43(4), 1230–1241. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1517-83822012000400001

[2] Pokusaeva, K., Johnson, C., Luk, B., Uribe, G., Fu, Y., Oezguen, N., Matsunami, R. K., Lugo, M., Major, A., Mori-Akiyama, Y., Hollister, E. B., Dann, S. M., Shi, X. Z., Engler, D. A., Savidge, T., & Versalovic, J. (2017). GABA-producing Bifidobacterium dentium modulates visceral sensitivity in the intestine. Neurogastroenterology and motility : the official journal of the European Gastrointestinal Motility Society29(1), e12904. https://doi.org/10.1111/nmo.12904

[3] Pokusaeva, K., Johnson, C., Luk, B., Uribe, G., Fu, Y., Oezguen, N., Matsunami, R. K., Lugo, M., Major, A., Mori-Akiyama, Y., Hollister, E. B., Dann, S. M., Shi, X. Z., Engler, D. A., Savidge, T., & Versalovic, J. (2017). GABA-producing Bifidobacterium dentium modulates visceral sensitivity in the intestine. Neurogastroenterology and motility : the official journal of the European Gastrointestinal Motility Society29(1), e12904. https://doi.org/10.1111/nmo.12904

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