|Anti-Inflammatory Vegetables Make a Healthy Healing Soup
I’ve been doing a lot of research lately, trying to figure out what is making my 8-year old sick, and how to heal his body. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he started suffering from severe abdominal pains several months ago, and it has been a frustrating, but eye-opening journey so far. I have learned so much, and I’m hoping to pass along any information that has worked for my son in case any of you experience something similar.
I’m not a doctor (although maybe I should have continued my pre-med studies in college!) nor am I trained in nutrition. However, I am a researcher (just ask my kids who say “you research everything to death!”), especially when it comes to food and nutrition. I know the internet can be a dangerous resource for information, but over the past month or so, I have found more and more evidence that my son’s condition is directly tied to the health of his gut. Although the gastroenterologist initially diagnosed him with acid reflux, and prescribed an antacid with no change in his diet (the nurse misread the preliminary allergy report), I am a believer that food can help heal and rebalance my son’s gut, along with some supplements.
When it comes to the gut, there seems to be a huge disparity between conventional medicine and naturopathic medicine. At a recent visit with the pediatrician, I mentioned “leaky gut syndrome” to our doctor to which I got a strange look in response. Although “leaky gut syndrome” may not be a recognized medical condition in conventional medicine, so far, what I’ve come across on this topic sounds very similar to my son’s condition. Theoretically, “leaky gut syndrome” is caused by inflammation of the intestinal lining. The digestive tract’s barrier becomes too permeable, allowing allergens, toxins, incompletely digested proteins and fats, not normally absorbed, to “leak” out of the intestines into the blood stream. This triggers an autoimmune reaction, which can lead to abdominal bloating, excessive gas and cramps, fatigue, food sensitivities, joint pain, skin rashes, and autoimmunity. These are all symptoms that my son has had.
Some factors that may contribute to inflammation include:
- A low-fiber, high-sugar, processed, nutrient-poor, high-calorie diet which causes the wrong bacteria and yeast to grow in the gut
- Undetected gluten intolerance, celiac disease or low grade food allergies to foods such as dairy, eggs or corn
- Overuse of antibiotic medications
- Overuse of medications like acid blockers (e.g., Prilosec, Nexium) and anti-inflammatory medicine (e.g., aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen)
- Food additives
- Food allergies
- Chronic low-grade infections, yeast overgrowth or parasites
- Toxins such as mercury and mold
Here are some ways to keep your gut healthy or heal your gut:
- Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
- Avoid foods you’re allergic to
- Eat plenty of whole, unprocessed foods high in fiber
- Take probiotics to rebuild friendly bacteria in the gut
- Treat any infections or overgrowth of yeast, bacteria, or parasites
- Take digestive enzymes and gut-healing nutrients
- Take extra omega 3 supplements
I’ve found this information logical and sensible, and have implemented a number of the gut healing suggestions, with the help of a nutritionist. My son is avoiding foods he is allergic to, eating only whole, unprocessed foods, eating high fiber foods, taking potent probiotics and omega 3 supplements. In addition, I have been looking into anti-inflammatory foods that I can incorporate into his diet. Based on some research, here is what I found:
- Junk food, processed food, and fast food which tend to be low in fiber, high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, and nutrient poor
- High-fat meats (e.g., beef, lamb, pork)
- Processed meats (e.g., lunch meat, hot dogs, sausages which contain nitrites that are inflammatory)
- Foods high in saturated fat such as meats, dairy products and eggs (choose low-fat dairy products, chicken, fish)
- Refined carbohydrates (e.g., white flour, pasta made with refined white wheat flour, white rice)
- High sugar foods (e.g., soda, fruit juice blends, sugary cereals, candy, pastries)
- And possibly, Nightshade plants (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant); may cause irritation in some people
- Omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in cold-water oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, black cod, herring, anchovies), walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds
- Nuts, legumes, seeds
- High fiber whole grains
- Vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables)
- Fruits (brightly colored fruits like berries that contain anti-inflammatory phytochemicals and antioxidants)
Since my son is only 8 years old, I really want to keep the number of supplements to a minimum, so as much as possible, I would like to include as many anti-inflammatory foods as possible in his daily diet that will help heal his gut. I’ve been experimenting with new ingredients/products, and trying new recipes, some successful, some not. It’s been a time consuming, but worthwhile adventure so far. Since eliminating almost all the foods that he is allergic to (15+) almost three weeks ago, I am happy to report that his pain level has reduced from an 8.75 out of 10 to a 5.5 (my son is very precise). Although he still experiences chronic pain, and occasional bouts of sharp abdominal pain, he is up and about and attending school much more regularly (thanks goodness!).
I am still debating whether to bring my son to a medical doctor or naturopathic doctor, or both, to see where their paths might cross. Meanwhile, I am trying to prepare healthy, and what I hope are healing, anti-flammatory foods for him.
It’s been challenging coming up with three meals a day, due to the numerous food allergies, but we have found a few foods that seem to satisfy both my son’s taste buds and meet his allergy needs, as well as provide good nutrition. I’ve tried to ensure that throughout the day, the foods he eats are anti-inflammatory, nutrient dense, non-allergenic, whole, and contain enzymes (e.g., zinc, bromelain) and amino acids (e.g., cysteine and glutamine) that are healing for the gut.
His typical day consists of Creamy Amaranth Porridge for breakfast (I have been experimenting with other grains, but so far, Amaranth Porridge is his favorite), soup (full of vegetables, legumes and gluten-free grains) for lunch, a gluten-free muffin/scone (I’ll be posting about this soon), vegetarian refried beans on a corn tortilla, or hummus with rice crackers for snack, and a variety of allergy-free foods for dinner (too many to list here, so I’ll have to include this in a future post).
This week, I made a healthy and healing soup, chock full of anti-inflammatory vegetables, that contains vitamins, minerals and amino acids for healing the gut, and despite the fact that it was not the prettiest soup (it is a very green soup!), it was absolutely delicious and passed my 8-year old’s taste test with flying colors (we both had a few bowlfuls). For some people, green smoothies work great, but for others, greens are best eaten in soups. My son definitely prefers greens in soups compared to greens in smoothies. Either way, I was just happy he enjoyed a nutrient dense, healthy, and hopefully healing meal. Do you have any healthy, healing foods you eat?
A Healthy, Healing Vegetable Soup
|Don’t Let The Green Color Throw You – It’s The Basil Pesto That Turns The Soup Green – It’s Delicious!
|Make Sure You Include A Rainbow Of Colorful Vegetables
Add lentils, oregano, kombu and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to lower, and simmer for 45 minutes or until lentils are tender. Stir in kale, parsley and cooked brown rice. Cook an additional 8-10 minutes. Stir a teaspoon of pesto into each bowl just before serving.
What is Leaky Gut, Andrew Weil, MD
Is Your Digestive System Making You Sick?, Mark Hyman, MD
Do You Have Leaky Gut Syndrome?, Leo Galland, M.D.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome, Everyday Health
Anti-Inflammatory Diet, Andrew Weil, MD
Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid, Andrew Weil, MD
Controlling Inflammation with Anti-inflammatory Foods, About.com
How to Repair the Gut Epithelium, eHow.com
The Benefits of An Anti-Inflammatory Diet, CBS News
List of Foods To Reduce Inflammation In The Body, LIVESTRONG.COM