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Heal Your Gut; Heal Your Body

Updated: Feb 19, 2021

“All disease begins in the gut.”  – Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine.

Healing the gut is ground zero for any healing protocol, and perhaps the ONLY thing you will need to do to get well.  Below, I provide the gut-healing regimen I followed to reverse Lyme, CFS, and autoimmune disease.  Keep in mind that each individual is different and dosing information can vary.  Also remember, healing requires time and discipline.  These steps only work if you stick to them diligently and over the long haul.

Step One:  Bone Broth & Collagen

Bone broth and hydrolyzed collagen are my main staples to heal the lining of my gut and ensure the junctures in my gut lining are tight, i.e., not permeating.

Bonafide Provision’s Bone Broth
Above: Bonafide Provision’s Bone Broth is affordable, and I find it at my local Walmart. Hydrolyzed collagen is another natural source of L-glutamine and a staple of my diet. I sometimes purchase it from Great Lakes, shown here, or Bulletproof.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is incredibly nourishing.  Not only does it provide collagen your gut needs to repair, but it also provides a host of other nutrients, amino acids, and minerals from bone marrow and ligatures.  Bones from “land” animals, such as cows and chickens, are rich in calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.

Bone broth can be purchased or made quite cheaply at home.  All you need are good quality bones with collagen attached to them.  Think feet and joints – areas with ligament tissue.  Your local health food store likely sells perfect bones for making broth at home.  It’s a good idea to pre-soak your bones in vinegar to prepare them for cooking.  You want the bones to leach their minerals into your broth, and pre-soaking will help facilitate the process.  Simply drop the bones in a crock pot, add about ¼ cup of vinegar, enough water to fill the pot, and whatever seasonings you wish.  Allow this to cook for a solid 24 hours or more, the longer the better.  You want the bones to break apart.  Filter the finished soup so you don’t end up with any chicken bones in your finished product.

If purchasing broth at a store, make sure you are not buying junk.  A quality broth is typically frozen and will cost more than the canned stock you may use for cooking.  There shouldn’t be any preservatives added.  It should be bone broth, spices, and vinegar. A good quality bone broth will also be quite gelatinous when it’s cool, almost jello-like.  That gelatin will turn into a nice liquid when the broth is heated to drink.  This gelatin works like spackle on your gut lining, filling in the “holes,” so to speak.

Hydrolyzed Collagen

Hydrolyzed collagen is an excellent product to ensure you are getting ample collagen as well as amino acids.  Amino acids are required by the body to build connective tissue and to regulate cell growth.  Hydrolyzed collagen will make your hair and nails grow stronger, make your skin look better, repair muscle tissue, cartilage, and ligaments and assist with blood cell growth.  It is a particularly excellent product for healing arthritis pain and speeding the recovery of joint injuries.

Yes, bone broth contains collagen.  But sometimes you can’t make your own broth, or you just want to ensure you’re getting enough of everything you need.  Hydrolyzed collagen is your insurance policy.  I take it twice daily in hot tea or bone broth.  Because the collagen in this product is hydrolyzed, your body will absorb it rapidly.  I prefer a product made by Great Lakes, as it is excellent quality and mixes very well in hot beverages.  Bulletproof Collagen is also an excellent choice.

A Word on L-Glutamine

L-glutamine is found in both bone broth and hydrolyzed collagen.  It is heavily used by your gut to rebuild the junctures that prevent food and toxins from permeating into your bloodstream.  If you have an autoimmune disease, you have a leaky gut and you need L-glutamine!  For this reason, many practitioners recommend supplementing with L-glutamine.

I was on the receiving end of this advice and attempted supplementing with L-glutamine.  Within a few days, this supplement gave me very severe neurological symptoms such that my eyes felt heavy, and I found myself once again bedridden much of the day.  It took several days for these effects to wear off. Keep in mind, I had been advised by my practitioners at the Cleveland Clinic to take this supplement, so I was not guessing at dosage or taking a poor quality product.   

I’ve been advised since by several other practitioners that L-glutamine supplementation can be harmful.  I learned this the hard way, however, and I advise you to get your L-glutamine the old-fashioned way–through food!  I know others have taken this supplement with success, but unfortunately I was not one of them.  If you want to try L-glutamine, be sure to go slowly and increase the dosage gradually.

prebiotic fiber supplements
Above: A sampling of prebiotic fiber supplements.

Step Two:  Prebiotics

Prebiotics are critical, as they are the food for beneficial bacteria.  If you are sick, I would wager my life that you are lacking in "good bugs."  Think of prebiotic fiber as literal fertilizer for beneficial bacteria to regrow and flourish.  Prebiotic fiber is going to bring the good guys out of hibernation and help them regain their territory.

I took an interesting test at the Cleveland Clinic that examined my gut health.  The end result showed I was low in beneficial bacteria and short chained fatty acids.  And you’re probably in the same boat if you are reading this article.  Short chain fatty acids are the byproduct of beneficial bacteria eating fermented fiber in your gut.  They are the primary energy source for the cells that line your gut.  In other words, they are VERY important!  At the time I received these results, I was already taking a daily prebiotic fiber product along with probiotics and fermented foods.  I realized I needed to up my game.  So, I threw caution to the wind and started taking about five different brands of prebiotic fiber mixes at once.  Yes, that is a lot of fiber!  But, I only did this for a short period of time and then scaled back.

The prebiotic fibers I have taken are shown above.  Whichever prebiotic supplement you choose, follow the serving recommendation on the bottle and take once or twice daily on an empty stomach.  Be prepared for some GI distress when you start feeding your good bugs.  It is a good idea to go slowly.  However, once I increased prebiotic fibers, I saw a return on investment.  But, always remember to listen to your body.  We are not all biologically identical, and what worked for me may take more time for you.  It's best to try one product at a time, following the directions, and letting your body be your guide.

fermented foods
Above: A sampling of the fermented foods I consume, including my homemade goat milk kefir.

Step Three:  Fermented Food & Probiotics

Equally important as prebiotic fibers are probiotic bacteria.  Introducing beneficial bacteria into your body will help you to re-establish the proper balance of microbe strains in your gut.  These good bugs help your immune system in huge ways, from cancer prevention to detoxing the body—they are major for your immune system.  In fact, researchers are now learning that brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin are largely produced by beneficial bacteria in your gut.  You might say the gut is our true brain.

Prebiotics and probiotics should be taken together, preferably on an empty stomach – although some probiotics work better with food.  Always read the label, or discuss with your health practitioner.  You want a wide variety of probiotics from various sources.  Don’t rely solely on expensive pills.

I recommend making your own fermented foods, particularly kefir.  Kefir is the mother of all fermented foods.  It is reported to contain up to 50 strains of probiotic bugs.  And, it’s very easy and inexpensive to make.  Purchase your kefir grains on-line (I purchased mine from amazon) and simply add them to a half-gallon glass jar of goat milk.  I avoid cow milk as it makes me inflamed, but you may be able to get away with cow milk.  Just make sure the milk is full fat.  There are recipes on line for kefir, but the mechanics are the same.  About 1 tablespoon of kefir grains for ½ gallon of milk.  Let it sit covered on your counter for 24-48 hours, and voila!  You’ve got kefir.  I also add probiotic capsules at the outset to ensure my kefir is absolutely loaded with beneficial bacteria.  When it is done fermenting, I add cacao powder for taste.  Check out this article for more information on the health benefits of kefir:

Sauerkraut is also simple to make at home, and you can find endless recipes on-line.  It’s just as easy to make as kefir … simply chop up cabbage, place in a large glass jar with water and salt, and let it sit and ferment for 5-7 days.  I recommend finding a good recipe on line, however, to ensure your end product is flavorful.

There is really no end to what you can ferment on your own…pickles, beets, tea, etc.  An excellent resource for fermenting food can be found at:  If you can’t ferment at home, most health-food stores now offer a wide variety of fermented foods such as kombucha, sauerkraut, fermented pickles, kimchi, and more.

Step Four:  Daily Anti-microbial

A healthy gut is a balanced gut, meaning the bad guys don’t outweigh the good.  To ensure you don’t have unwanted parasites or bad bacteria taking over the party, it’s a good idea to take something daily to keep them in check.  If you are currently fighting a known active infection, you want to work with a practitioner who is well versed in herbal protocols to knock the infection out. 

An herbal protocol I recommend is called Vital Plan and can be found at:  Dr. Rawls, the creator of Vital Plan, recovered from chronic Lyme disease using the herbal products he now sells.  Practitioners who have had personal experiences with these hard to treat infections, such as Lyme, are the best practitioners to work with.  They’ve walked your walk. There are endless other herbal protocols to consider, however, namely Stephen Buhner and Cowden's Protocol. Find what resonates with you, and stick with it. I rotated many different herbal protocols over the course of my illness.

Two anti-microbials I take daily are apple cider vinegar with baking soda and monolaurin.  Each morning and before bed, I take 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a ¼ teaspoon of baking soda in some water on an empty stomach.  This combination is good for helping stave off viruses and parasites.  Baking soda is also excellent for curbing inflammation from autoimmune conditions and helping to keep the body’s pH balance in check.  Don’t over-do on baking soda, though, as it is salt and can raise blood pressure.  I never take more than a teaspoon daily, and I divide it in doses – one in the morning one ate night. Monolaurin is also an excellent anti-viral supplement that is exceptionally helpful with Epstein Barre virus.

green drink
Above: The ingredients for my daily green drink. I try to rotate my greens each week and eat a very wide variety of vegetables. This was what I was putting together on this particular day.

Step Five:  Diet

A proper diet void of added sugars and processed foods is critical to healing your gut.  If you are not committed to a proper diet, don’t bother with the rest.  Your diet is fundamental.  Not following a sound diet plan will undermine any other efforts to get well. As I’ve stated before, “The Wahl’s Protocol,” by Dr. Terry Wahls is the diet I recommend.  Over the past several years, I’ve read about every book out there on diet and nutrition relative to curing disease.  I believe Dr. Wahl’s book to be ‘The Bible’ when it comes to nutrition.  Read her book, and then read it again!  It’s loaded with information.  Essentially, your diet should consist of green vegetables, colored non-starchy vegetables, low sugar fruit and berries, lean meat, seafood, seaweed and fermented foods. 

Step Six:  Exercise

It’s hard to exercise when you’re debilitated with illness.  But do what you can.  The best exercises are resistance based, not cardio workouts.  The goal is not to get your heart rate up, but to work your muscles.  Always commit to doing whatever you can do, whether it is five sit ups a day, some gentle stretching, or a slow walk around your block.  Wherever you are physically, it’s ok!  Gradually, as your gut heals, you will find your stamina improving.  As you feel capable of doing more, your morale will rise and you will start to build momentum.  As I progressed, swimming was the first thing I added to my routine.  Initially, I just did light exercises in the water and gradually worked up to swimming slow and short laps.  Be careful not to overdo it.  Eventually I progressed to walking and added light weights.

Honorable Mentions:  Colostrum & Slippery Elm Bark

Colostrum and slippery elm bark are two excellent supplements to consider for healing your gut.

Colostrum is the milky “pre-milk” fluid that comes from the breasts of humans, cows, and other mammals the first few days after giving birth.  It contains proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and antibodies that fight disease-causing agents such as bacteria and viruses.  You can now purchase colostrum from either cows or goats in a powder or capsule form.  It is best to take colostrum on an empty stomach, as you want it to go to work in your gut.  Colostrum is excellent for re-building your gut and helping to provide a proper environment for your good bugs to thrive.  Many people report incredible results using colostrum.  Personally, I had mixed results.  The first few weeks, I felt it improved my energy levels.  However, after several weeks, I developed heart palpitations and night sweats.  I’ve read accounts of others, though, who had dramatic improvements staying on colostrum.  So, I encourage you to try it.  Just go slowly, as it is powerful stuff!

Slippery elm bark stimulates nerve endings in the body’s intestinal tract to increase natural mucus secretion.  Mucus is an instrumental part of the stomach’s protective lining and helps combat ulcers and excessive acidity in the digestive system.  Slippery elm bark also contains antioxidants that can relieve inflammatory bowel symptoms.  It’s easy to take.  Simply mix it with water and drink on empty stomach.  I had no adverse side effects from slippery elm bark, but I found my above routine to be more effective.  I try to limit my supplements to only those that get me solid results.  I can’t say I noticed much of a difference while taking slippery elm bark, but then again, it is often hard to tell what’s working when you’re sick.

Healing your gut takes time and patience.  But don’t give up!  Stick to these steps and your body will thank you.

LIKE WHAT YOU READ? Check out Holly’s new book, "The Healer Within – My Recovery From Chronic Lyme, CFS, and Autoimmune Disease," detailing how Holly got well when doctors left her for dead. Her 8-Step Recovery Plan can help you regain your health and your life.


And LIKE her on Facebook at “The Healer Within You”


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