Healing the gut without probiotics

Saturday morning, I was reading The Economist as I usually do, when I stumbled over an article about obesity and healing the gut. The article, Wider Understanding: how the bacteria in your gut may be shaping your waistline, talks about how eating certain foods helps create and maintain certain gut bacteria that help control obesity.

Reading the article triggered a question for me: if we can increase the healthy bacteria and heal our gut without probiotics, wouldn’t that be a great thing for all the histamine intolerant people who need to heal their gut but can’t take probiotics? Many histamine intolerant people cannot handle probiotics, but many feel they need them to heal their gut. They wind up exacerbating their intolerance needlessly.

So off I went on an Internet search to find more information on what foods promote good bacteria. It turns out that this is not necessarily new information, just new application of the information. Doctors knew years ago that certain foods helped create good bacteria. The reason it’s in the forefront now is that they’re using this information to try to cure obesity.

It also turns out that the crazy guy that suggested eating carrots to help reduce estrogen in the body wasn’t so crazy after all. One advantage of the foods that create the good bacteria is that they help eliminate extra estrogen from your body. And it has a lot to do with the fiber from fruits, vegetables, and grains. Carrots are high in fiber.

This site has a good, succinct explanation of bacteria and its relationship with obesity, a healthy gut, and inflammation. The following is an excerpt:

Our friendly flora’s digestion of fiber also yields another short chain fatty acid called butyrate, which appears to protect against colon cancer. Butyrate may also explain why fiber-filled plant-based diets are so anti-inflammatory. A recent review concluded that “butyrate seems to exert broad anti-inflammatory activities and might be [a] good candidate to evaluate in the fight against obesity-associated and systemic inflammation in general.” See my coverage of that review in my 1-min. video Boosting Good Bacteria in the Colon Without Probiotics.

Since butyrate is a byproduct of fiber digestion, we can boost its production by eating more plant foods, and we can boost the number of butyrate-producing bacteria in our colon by really eating more plant foods–those eating vegetarian harbor more butyrate-producing bacteria.

Eating a diet high in plant based, high fiber foods is good for us on many levels. It can help heal your gut without using probiotics, help eliminate excess estrogen, and help lower inflammation.

Many high fiber foods are low in histamine. Broccoli is a great one. And broccoli is also considered a non-digestible carbohydrate. This kind of carbohydrate, along with resistant starches, cannot be digested, but rather ferment as they move through your system, creating that important bacteria that produces butyrate, as well as creating bulk. Increasing the size of your stool is what’s beneficial in helping to eliminate excess estrogen in your body. (I knew it would one day come to talking about this…) This short video has a great explanation of this theory. And for a quick explanation of the types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, and what they do for your digestion, take a look at this article.

I’ve done a lot of reading recently on the emerging thinking that we really have two brains in out bodies. The one in our head and the one in our gut. And it turns out the one in our gut is almost more important to regulating our health than the other one!

The intestinal microbiome is a mass of bacteria that weighs up to three pounds. This medical abstract says it all very well. The link between your central nervous system and your enteric nervous system is of paramount importance to even your mental health. Which is very interesting when you think that there is a theoretical relationship between depression and histamine intolerance. And there is a definitive relationship between histamine intolerance and your intestines, as the DAO enzyme that breaks down histamine originates in your intestinal mucosa.

In essence, we must try, even on our restricted diets, to eat the foods that help maintain a healthy bacterial ecosystem. This, in turn, might ultimately help heal histamine intolerance.

Take a look at the foods that promote the creation of butyrate in your system. Rather than me listing foods that might not be something you can tolerate, I’ll leave that to you to search. Try using the terms bacteria without probiotics and non-digestible fiber to start with. And read through some of the links I’ve provided. It’s all pretty fascinating stuff.

Maybe, if you are one of the folks who wants to heal your gut, you can increase your gut bacteria with foods and abandon probiotics for good!


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Posted in histamine intolerance, menopause, peri-menopause, Women's health
4 comments on “Healing the gut without probiotics
  1. K.K. says:

    Great post, and thanks for all the links.

    So true about the two brains, and with the gut leading the way.

    I long ago gave up on probiotics. The last time i took any was many years ago, and I could barely tolerate them even though I used one made for children. Even pre-histamine issues, yogurt made me violently ill, so that’s out, too.

    Thank goodness I’m already a vegetarian. 😉 Even so, I probably need more variety in my diet.

    (I’ve been meaning to respond to your post about the carrots, too, but I haven’t read the links yet.)

    Healthy guts are crucial to overall health. They are indeed the front line of health, as someone on Google called them.

  2. Hope says:

    Great blog! Although many people with damaged guts have problems digesting high fiber foods and cannot do so until some healing takes places. This is why the SCD diet and it’s stages work so well.

    • Thanks for your input. I had actually never heard of the SDC diet before. I just looked it up. Very interesting. I’m going to read up on it some more.

      • Hope says:

        You’re very welcome! I have been on SCD for 3 months. My mast cell Gastro doctor at Shand’s put me on it. I had very high serum histamine levels, even after being on bowel rest for two weeks with only an IV dextrose drip to sustain me. I am 36 and not perimenopausal yet but I have had high histamine issues since puberty. I have no seasonal allergies. SCD is not low histamine, but I am doing a low histamine version of it. I now tolerate some foods that are higher in histamine and some histamine releasors too. I imagine I will be able to tolerate more once my GERD, chronic gastritis and chronic dueodenitis heals. All of that is a result of my high histamine too, which plays a role in gastric acid and pepsin release. Haven’t been able to tolerate ACV, probiotics or any of the traditional all-natural remedies for these things due to the fermentation (and therefore high histamine) but the SCD is helping me and I am finally making progress. In the interest of full disclosure, I am also on Zyrtec, Zantac and Singulair as well as Protonix (PPIs) so that the mucosal lining of my gut has a chance to heal. I am stepping down from the PPIs next month. The other drugs block some of the histamine being released by my degranulating mast cells. I will probably need this combo until I finish chelation using Dr. Andrew Cutler’s frequent dose chelation method to remove heavy metals from my body and brain. Mast cells are highly destabilized by heavy metals.

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