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5R Approach: The Key Steps to Healing Your Gut and Improving Digestive Health

Green letter R with white background.
Letter R

As a Nutritional Therapist specialising in gut health, my passion is to guide individuals on the path to vibrant well-being by optimising their gut health. The 5R approach is a powerful framework used by functional medicine practitioners to guide clients through their healing journey. In this blog post, I'll explain what the 5 steps are, and how I approach these with my clients.

Remember, everyone's symptoms and root causes are different, and therefore everyone's protocol will look different. It's important to work with a qualified practitioner to build a protocol which is bespoke to you; the 5R gut healing approach is simply a framework!

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1. Remove

The first step I take in the 5R approach is to remove the factors that are causing harm to my clients gut. This might involve eliminating foods that trigger inflammation or allergies, cutting out processed foods, reducing alcohol consumption, and avoiding other dietary irritants. Some foods we will only remove temporarily while we are allowing the gut to heal. Additionally, this is where I will use stool testing to address any potential sources of infection or imbalances in the gut, such as parasites, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), or candida overgrowth.

2. Replace

After removing the harmful elements, it's time to replace them with components that support a healthy gut. This typically involves adding specific gut-supportive nutrients and vitamins which are lacking in the person's diet. If the stool test showed a need for digestive enzyme, bile or stomach acid support, I'll add in some supplements to boost these.

3. Reinoculate

The reinoculate phase is all about restoring the balance and diversity of the gut microbiome. Here, I will look increase probiotic foods in the diet, like kefir, sauerkraut and miso. I'll also use specific probiotic supplements based on each persons individual stool test results - some people will require one strain with a specific function, whereas others may need a variety of strains to restore the diversity of their microbiome. It is also important to focus on increasing prebiotic fibres in the diet through a variety of fruits and vegetables, as these feed the gut bacteria and allow them to thrive. If required, I sometimes also use prebiotic supplements like GOS or Inulin at this stage.

4. Repair

In this phase, the emphasis shifts to repairing the damage done to the gut lining. Chronic inflammation or irritants can lead to a condition known as "leaky gut," where the gut lining becomes permeable and allows harmful substances to pass into your bloodstream. To repair the gut lining, I focus on an anti-inflammatory diet and add in gut-nourishing foods like bone broth. If I suspect leaky gut, I'll add in gut healing supplements like L-glutamine, Zinc carnosine or collagen.

5. Rebalance:

The final R is all about lifestyle and reducing stress, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy gut. Chronic stress is detrimental to gut health, and in many cases, was what led to gut issues in the first place. Here I work with clients to develop effective stress management strategies to ensure their gut remains in balance.

6. Maintain

An added bonus phase, but possibly the most important of all of the steps! This involves adopting long-term, sustainable diet and lifestyle choices to prevent relapse and promote ongoing gut health. Once we have healed and rebalanced the gut, I see most of my clients for regular follow-up appointments where I use my health coaching skills to help them form long lasting habits.

Get in touch!

If you are feeling lost on your gut healing journey, and could use some expert guidance to help you towards your goal of living symptom free, then please get in touch. I offer bespoke gut-healing packages, designed for you and your individual needs and offer a free 30-minute no obligation consultation to get you started.


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