The phrase: “Death begins in the colon”, coined by Nobel Prize winner professor Elie Metchnikoff, is a well known one; at least amongst my peers and I. I’m not sure who originally coined the 4 R’s approach to digestive disorders, but it is certainly a great way to help someone gain optimal digestive health. The 4 R’s are: 1) Remove. 2) Replace, 3) Re-inoculate, 4) Repair. I’ll discuss each individually.
1) Remove – This refers to removing food allergens, sugar (in most forms), alcohol, artificial sweeteners and colors, and perhaps even gluten from the diet. Additionally, “removal” of pathogens such as: (an overgrowth of) yeast, parasites, harmful bacteria, viruses, protozoa, etc. is part of the “remove” step. This can be accomplished through the making healthy food choices and taking specific nutritional and/or herbal formulas.
2) Replace – This refers to “replacing”, really adding the biochemicals (via dietary supplements) necessary to digest food. For example, one may need digestive enzymes (to break down fat, carbohydrates, and protein) and/or hydrochloric acid to help with digestion of protein in the stomach, among other important reasons.
3) Re-inoculate – This step involves adding beneficial flora (or gut bacteria) in the form of dietary supplements. This helps to ensure the “good” and “bad” bacteria in the digestive tract is balanced in a healthy way. Often, there will be an overgrowth of organisms (those mentioned in step 2), that necessitates “re-inoculation” of good bacteria into the intestines. There are purportedly about 500 different species of bacteria residing in the gut. The common ones you’ve probably heard of are acidophilus and bifidus. These bacteria perform so many important functions that the topic deserves an article of its own.
4) Repair – This refers to repairing the structural integrity of the stomach and digestive tract. The digestive lining is easily irritated, especially from food allergens and foreign (natural or artificial) chemicals. The small intestine lining specifically tends to lose its integrity easily and can result in a condition known as “leaky gut syndrome”. This is when the cells that create the barrier against food getting into the bloodstream become damaged, thus allowing large undigested food particles (and chemicals) to be released systemically. As a result, the body can mount an immune response in reaction to these “foreign” and undigested chemicals causing a whole host of symptoms, especially allergic reactions leading to systemic inflammation. There are a variety of remedies that address this situation.
In my experience each individual does not necessarily need to go through all of these steps in order to feel better. However, implementing at least one (usually 2-3) can be the difference between success and failure. Changing the diet alone is usually not sufficient enough to feel and function better, especially if the condition is chronic.
Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology