009: Steve Wright on Leaky Gut, Heartburn, & Digestion

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Leaky Gut, Heartburn and Digestion with Steve Wright
Wellness Mama » Episode » 009: Steve Wright on Leaky Gut, Heartburn, & Digestion
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The Wellness Mama Podcast
009: Steve Wright on Leaky Gut, Heartburn, & Digestion

In this episode, I welcome special guest Steve Wright from SCDLifestyle.com to talk about all things digestion.

Steve is the co-creator of SCD Lifestyle and the Solving Leaky Gut System and has worked with hundreds of people to help them improve digestive health. SCDLifestyle.com helps readers find answers to problems like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Indigestion, Heartburn, Ulcerative Colitis, and other digestive problems.

How Leaky Gut Effects Digestion

In this episode we talk about finding real solutions for digestive problems and how to know what your body needs to improve digestion. Steve shares why conventional treatments often don’t work and how sometimes the “cure” can be like throwing fuel on the fire.

He shares the two supplements that often make a night and day difference for digestive health and tells his own story of recovery.

Steve talks about three things you must do everyday for optimal health and gives practical tips that you can do to give your family better health everyday.

Notes From This Episode

2:02- Steve’s own health problems
2:52- Why his family called him “the gas man”
4:07- Why Steve got in trouble with his boxx
4:37- The pivotal moment for him
5:37- How he got in to health education
6:35- The Leaky Gut- Is Poop Leaking in to the body
6:52- The small intestine is only one cell thick
7:55- How food and toxins can escape into the body
8:52- What causes heartburn and indigestion
11:22- Why antacids and PPIs are dangerous
12:37- The underlying causes of stomach problems and how to find your cause
13:22- Two Supplements to help increase stomach acid
14:31- The supplement turned his life around.
15:33- Other symptoms that can be caused by digestive problems (skin problems, fatigue, etc)
16:00- How every disease can be traced back to the gut
16:16- How intestinal permeability (leaky gut) leads to disease
18:22- How gut problems manifest differently in different people
19:22- What causes diarrhea
20:00- The fastest way to stop diarrhea
20:42- Why you might not be absorbing your food
21:10- What causes constipation
21:20- How gut infections lead to constipation and diarrhea
22:02- How to poop more easily
22:32- The hormonal component of digestion
23:22- Three things you MUST do everyday
24:03- The major factors that harm gut health
24:32- Why stress is so important
24:30- The triggers of leaky gut
25:02- Head injuries and gut health
25:32- SIBO
25:52- Two things to improve gut health fast
26:52- Things to do to help your gut- paleo autoimmune diet
27:22- One reason to binge on gluten
29:22- Another reason to eat healthy fats
30:07- Tips to help kids with digestive issues
30:52- Interesting study about feeding kids candy
32:37- The advice he wishes he’d gotten
33:22- One action step to take now
24:55- Resources he likes

Resources We Mentioned

More From Wellness Mama

[toggle title=”Read Transcript”]
Katie: Hi, I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com. Welcome to episode nine of the “Wellness Mama” podcast where I provide simple answers for healthier families. Did you know that according to a recent report, 29.9 million pounds of antibiotics were sold in the U.S. for meat and poultry production? Which is almost four times the 7.7 million pounds sold to treat sick humans.

There’s a lot of research showing that antibiotics given to livestock are contributing to resistant strains of bacteria. This is yet another reason to focus on high quality and humanely-raised meat since these animals are typically exposed to fewer antibiotics. Overuse of antibiotics can also contribute to gut problems which we will be talking about in depth today.

Today’s guest is an expert in gut health and a personal friend of mine. Steve Wright writes at scdlifestyle.com and is the creator of the “Solving Leaky Gut System for Dealing with Digestive Troubles.” After a personal diagnosis with IBS and unsatisfying answers from the medical community, he researched his way in to the specific carbohydrate diet and has reversed his problems with careful diet, supplement and lifestyle changes. He now works to educate others about the real cause of digestive issues and to help others get well.

Welcome, Steve. Thanks so much for being here.

Steve: Thanks, Katie. I’m excited for our conversation.

Katie: Awesome, want to just jump right in, can you tell us a little bit about your personal story and how you started writing about digestive health?

Steve: Yeah, of course. You know, as we’ve talked a few times, I feel like people are either what I call “from-birth.” So I used to see consulting clients with the various, you know, typically indigestive issues but all types of chronic health complaints. And people tend to be either from-birth people or there was a trigger point in their life in which everything changed and they went from completely healthy to this downward spiral.

And my story is I was a from-birth person, I was born with a hydrocele hernia and it went, kind of, undiscovered for a long time. And I was not eating and end up having to use some drugs just to get me to eat and stay alive and then I had hernia surgery. And one thing led to another you know, I had really bad acne in, like, pre-high school then getting into high school. All of the doctors back then just used antibiotics after antibiotics. And that’s when I really started to also notice that I had really bad gas and I was nicknamed the “gas man” from my family, back as, you know, a teenager.

And so heading into college things only got worse because I had a fairly typical American college experience regarding a little too much partying, way too much stress as a engineer, and things just got worse and worse. So as I exited college, I was 60 pounds overweight. My acne was worse than ever. I was having all types of constipation, diarrhea, the gas was worse than ever. And so I decided to make some changes, like, I couldn’t live like this because prior to that I had been an athlete and been into bodybuilding and just trying to always have a really fit and capable body.

And so I tried all the regular stuff, you know, low-fat diets and things like that to lose weight because I thought that was my big issue, but I ended up just getting sicker and sicker as I started to work a consulting job in Chicago. And, I think, the stress levels got higher. I was eating out all the time and the weight really wasn’t coming off, and basically I started getting like depression, anxiety, things like this that I hadn’t really dealt with much before.

As you mentioned, most everybody in the conventional system I saw like six different doctors, they all just said I had IBS even though, you know, I actually got called into my boss’s office for basically stinking up the cube farm. So lots of cases of, like, you know, being up all night on the toilet just due to diarrhea and different things.

And luckily Jordan, a good friend of mine, told me about the specific carbohydrate diet, convinced me that I was sick enough that I could do something about it even though all these other doctors just wanted to prescribe drugs and said I wasn’t sick enough yet to do any other tests. And so with that change in diet alone, stopped my gas and bloating which was, at the time, so bad that every meal would make me kind of just ball up and cry a little bit like I’d have to just sit there and make that way through 45 minutes worth the pain and that was gone in three days.

And that was a profound shift for me that food mattered that much. And so since then, as I was as a kid, it’s been how do I get better and better? Why can’t I wake up full of energy? Why do I have to eat this specific carbohydrate diet? You know, can I eat gluten? Just kind of always testing the limits of how can I feel better and how can I be, you know, more complete human?

And so that’s where we lead to, like, functional medicine and, you know, through, like, about $30,000 worth of tests and supplements and prescriptions and different things trying to get to as healthy as I could get and really reverse all those different things. And so during this time is when every time I find something that seems to work for me and the research supports it, I wanna let other people know about it because I know that as I was beginning this journey, you know, back in ’08 or so, there wasn’t a whole lot of resources and so the more information we can get out there about what is working for some people, what the possibilities are, I think, we’re on a rising tide right now, if you are who are just sick and tired of being sick and tired.

So that’s really the goal of SCD Lifestyle and Solving Leaky Gut is to get actionable steps out there that people can take back responsibility for their health and reach up to the next levels of feeling good if that’s what they desire.

Katie: Yeah, I’m right there with you and I have so much hope because, I think, you’re right. We’re right at that point where we’re gonna see a wave of people who are willing to do that. You use the term “leaky gut” a lot but I think that might be unfamiliar to some people, so can you explain what that means and does that literally mean that poop is leaking out of your gut and into your body?

Steve: That’s a great title that came from Robb Wolf’s book, “The Paleo Solution”, I believe back in…man, he published that book a long time ago like ’09, I think. But typically, no, the poop is not leaking into the body. Leaky gut, in a short answer, is essentially the small intestine is only one-cell thick and there is junctions in between those cells, kind of, like, if a bunch of humans were standing in a line together and there’s actually rather than the humans just standing side by side, there’s things that connect the humans. And so these are, sort of, junctions or, you know, different sorts of ways of cells being connected.

And so leaky gut is when those junctions separate, and even though they typically separate and come close together during daily life, if they get chronically separated, and specifically the tight junctions which is the first and the tightest one that, sort of, protects and make sure that the food, and the other particles, and the bacteria, and the toxins stay inside the gut and don’t leak into the blood, like, you just mentioned. If that tight junction starts to become chronically leaky, basically anything can pour into your body.

So another analogy is Dr. Tom O’Brian always uses is to give your gut, sort of, like, a cheese cloth were really, really fine mesh and only the right particle sizes get into your body and that’s what your body knows what to deal with, and then start ripping some holes in that. Or, think about it, you getting so stressed out that turns into looking like a chain link fence where now anything that you eat, anything you come in contact, any bacteria inside of you, are just now flooding into the body.

So it’s a bad deal because 80% of your immune system is located in your gut and it’s really the one point of entry into the body that if it breaks down, really predisposes you to almost anything from food allergies, seasonal allergies, to, you know, any sort of pathogenic invitation into the body.

Katie: Yeah, and also autoimmune disease, which I have found out myself and I realize the huge connection of healing the gut to healing autoimmune disease and skin issues and so many other things. And I know a lot of my listeners may be struggling with different digestive issues, so I’d love to touch on as many as we can. But to start, one that I know I have family members who struggle with is can you touch on the causes of heartburn and indigestion? Is this caused by too much stomach acid as we’re often told?

Steve: Yes, it’s a great question. So I had heartburn for a long time. My dad has heartburn/ So I definitely understand what it’s like just you know, pop a bunch of antiacids or be on PPIs. I have seen that happen. Luckily, I didn’t try and PPIs myself, but I did live on antiacids for a while in college. It’s fascinating because how it feels is too much acid and that’s our experience as a human. The research and the clinical experience though suggests the actual opposite that it’s typically low stomach acid.

And this can be like a real counter-intuitive flip especially because we see the pharmaceutical companies just blasting the internet and the TV with the idea that you have too much acid and that you need these acid suppressing drugs, whichever model you choose. And the reality is that the pharmaceutical companies are there to make money and now that we are allowing direct-to-consumer advertising for the pharmaceutical companies, you, kind of, have to always think about these things with a grain of salt which I’m sure most of your listeners already do.

But this is one case where we’ve just, like, fat you know, made it to mass media and everybody was convinced for a long time, and for a while, I even bought into the low-fat idea and now everything’s being reversed. Well, if you look at the studies on reducing acid and what the populations who has more acid and less acid, you’ll notice that pretty much across the board, it’s almost always low acid and not high acid. It’s very rare to have a high acid state.

And so what’s happening is if you have low acid in the stomach, you dump a bunch of food in there and now your body has to create more acid to begin to break this down. If it doesn’t create enough, if it just creates barely a little bit you start to get fermentation and that fermentation a byproduct of any fermentation is gas which is why pop and beer are, kind of, fizzy and they you know, they’re so good to drink or they taste so good to drink, maybe not good to drink.

So that fizziness in that fermentation is happening in your stomach and it pushes up gas into the valve, into your esophagus. And if the gas pressure builds up enough, it will open that valve just a little bit even just a small micron and if a little bit of acid gets through that small little hole and touches your esophagus, that’s when you feel that immense pain which totally sucks.

And the whole time it could just be in your stomach, but if just one little small drop acid makes it on the very delicate lining of the esophagus, which is not supposed to get any acid on it, then you’re gonna start feeling acid reflux, and then you can set yourself up for GERD, and even like throat cancers and things like that if it happens in the long run. So this is definitely a serious situation where this is a ongoing issue you need to get it corrected because as you project out what’s gonna happen over the long run is your esophagus is gonna start getting scarred and you’re really predisposing yourself to mutilations of the cells and cancers and things like that.

So you know, Dr. Jonathan Wright wrote a great book on this called “Why Stomach Acid is Good for You.” So if you wanna learn more and get right nitty gritty into it, that’s where I really try to point people because that’s the best piece of work out there. I’ve written quite a few articles on it myself. But the short term answer is that you can begin to reverse this hopefully if you can figure out why your stomach acid is low and a lot of times that’s due to stress, sometimes it’s due to gut infections like H. Pylori. Other times is due to a dream of fatigue and hormone disruption, and the fourth typical possibility is things like nutrient issues like not having enough zinc or magnesium, things like that.

So it can get very complex in restoring stomach acid function but the cool thing is is that rather than taking antiacids and pharmaceuticals that lower your acid even more and make it impossible for you to absorb the vitamins, make it impossible for you to absorb iron, basically making it impossible for you to actually absorb the food you’re eating is that you can use things that increase stomach acid and just naturally help your body do what it needs to do anyways.

And so there’s two supplements that I think work the best out there. The first is digestive bitters or sometimes called Swedish bitters, and these are as the name sounds, very bitter, it’s very natural remedy. It’s been around for thousands of years. It doesn’t seem to work for everyone and you typically have to take it like 20 or 30 minutes before you eat. So a lot of us who have families or very demanding work schedules, we can easily forget that we need to take this before we eat and so it doesn’t work for everyone.

The more reliable one that seems to work for most is a supplement called betaine HCL. And this is essentially what it sounds like HCL stands for hydrochloric acid. It’s essentially you’re adding more acid into your stomach to help your body get up to the right levels so it can begin to digest your food. So, you know, you have to definitely make sure that you’re a good candidate for this, you don’t wanna have a history of ulcers or be on any long term usage of steroids.

But betaine HCL literally turned my health and my life around like the minute I discovered it and it’s the one supplement or one to two supplements out there that can literally be like a light switch where you start taking it and the next day your acid reflux is gone forever, your energy levels are up, and things like that and so…and this is reported by you know, thousands and thousands of people on our website so it can be a very powerful supplement if you’re having you know, burping and acid reflux and things like that.

Katie: Yeah and I’ll link, I know you’ve got some great post on how you can use those supplements carefully and how they can help with digestive problems, so I’ll make sure to link to those in the show notes. Other digestive problems that I hear a lot of questions about on my blog that I would love your answers to are things like diarrhea and constipation. And those are definitely obvious problems related to digestion but there are a lot of symptoms that can be indirectly or directly caused by digestive troubles that don’t just manifest in the gut. So can you touch on some other symptoms that people may notice that they may not relate to a digestive problem but that could be a symptom of a digestive problem?

Steve: Yeah. Man, that’s a really complex question. Look Katie you kind of mentioned it earlier, I mean, for instance, you know, with auto immune diseases, essentially the current theory on all autoimmune diseases is that they start in the gut with a leaky gut, so you can make the case in point based on a leaky gut research that almost every chronic disease out there known to man is somewhat tied to the gut.

So if a listener wants to, don’t do this while driving obviously you probably can’t, but you can Google “intestinal permeability” which is the scientific term for leaky gut, plus any disease or any condition out there, you can do it. Intestinal permeability plus cancer, plus heart disease, and you can do this in PubMed or on Google and you are gonna pull up scientific journals talking about the relationship of gut health and essentially every disease that we know of out there.

And so the gut, if you really think about how our physiology works, the gut is the defender and a selector of what gets into our body. So if every cell in our body turns over every seven years, which it does, our cells can only be made up of what we already have in us if we cannibalize ourselves or what we take in. But it’s not always what we eat, it’s what we actually break down and absorb.

So if there’s any inefficiencies there or any problems there, you know, we’re gonna have, they’re gonna manifest themselves in various areas of the body. So, you know, that’s a whole lot of mumbo jumbo at a high level but, you know, I think, the point I just wanna make at a high level is that the gut is more important than it’s given credit for. It is the one entry point for all of our nutrients as well as potentially a lot of bad guys that could really harm us.

But at a day-to-day level, if you’re having auto immune issues, if you’re having food allergies, if you’re having skin issues at all, if you’re having like weird funguses and weird rashes and things on your body that aren’t going away, headaches, migraines, you know, the list can go on and on. I’m trying to think of non-digestive related symptoms that are very typically…you know, seasonal allergies can be part of that as well, but, you know, that’s a pretty good starting place and, of course, you can lump on as you mentioned constipation, diarrhea, bloating gas, cramping, nausea, all those different things tie in there as well.

So it’s very complex because we all have genetic and epigenetic, which means the on and off of our genes. We all have different epigenetic and genetic bodies. And so how digestive issues manifest themselves in my body versus say your body, Katie, can be completely different but we do know in what I’ve experienced, you know, over the last, like, five years of helping people with this stuff and in my own journey, is that the more you focus on great gut health the better your overall body gets.

You know, that you can lose weight spontaneously, your skin can become glowing, your hair and nails, you know, get stronger, don’t fall out anymore. So it’s really amazing once you begin to really put a time and attention into what’s happening in your gut and kinda how well you’re actually absorbing the foods that I know your listeners are spending a lot of time, energy, and money trying to source the right high quality foods.

Katie: Yeah, definitely. And so when someone maybe struggling with a more obvious symptoms like diarrhea or constipation, are there simple things they can do to help with those or what causes those problems typically? Is that also a leaky gut problem?

Steve: It’s definitely connected to a leaky gut but diarrhea, you know, as anybody who’s had it knows is everything’s moving through you too fast, constipation is everything’s moving too slow. And so diarrhea is actually if you think about it at a high level, it’s your body saying, “Hey something’s in here that we don’t want and my defense mechanism is to flush it out, get rid of it right away.”

And so that defense mechanism can be triggered by a lot of things and, you know, it can make it very hard for us to break down what exactly is your cause of diarrhea. But I can say right off the bat that if you’re not gluten-free yet, if you’re if you’re not grain-free yet, that could be the easiest trigger. You know, get off grains, go paleo, paleo auto immune, you know, SCD gap, something like that and that could be the fastest way for you to stop your diarrhea. Dairy is also a big trigger and eggs can be a big trigger for some people. So if you try one of those diets like SCD or paleo auto immune, of course, the solving a leaky gut diet, you can typically stop your diarrhea very quickly.

Another thing is that some people don’t have digestive enzymes. So digestive enzymes are the second supplement that I’d recommend for people to go along with the betaine HCL I mentioned earlier, where it can be like a light switch for you and your gut issues. If you don’t have enough enzymes, the food you’re eating and everything can not break down, your body can begin to see it as a threat and then flush it out. And so anybody who is struggling with any of these GI issues should definitely owes themselves you know, a $20 bottle of digestive enzymes just to test it out because it’s so safe and so cheap and it works for so many people.

Constipation is a little bit more difficult because now you have to ask the question, why is everything moving too slow. Now, a deeper level of cause of both constipation and diarrhea are gut infections and so as you begin to work on your diet, begin to use supplements to help your physiology work correctly, and then you think about why was the diarrhea triggered in the first place and, for instance, why is constipation happening?

With constipation the short term things that you can do that, I think, are very safe and that I use, you know, we talk about it on our site and I use, I’ve done talks on things like vitamin C and magnesium. They’re are much better than all the herbal options out there as well as enemas and things like that because there’s downsides to all those different enemas and things like that where you’re washing out your good bacteria. And if you guys hear that noise, I do apologize, we’re doing some work on the apartment above me.

But getting back to you, how could you, short term, how could you start pooping more? Magnesium citrate before bed like natural calm, works really well. Also you can try vitamin C throughout the day you know, get something with bioflavonoids it helps with the quality and making sure the vitamin C is really good.

Everybody with constipation it happens on a scale, diarrhea seems to be more black and white like you are either having it or not. Constipation, there are some people who poop once a month, and there’s some people who poop every other day. And so depending on what your body’s like or where your health is, you might need more support or less support. But what we know about constipation is that superbly there’s always a hormonal component, could be back to the thyroid or the adrenals. You know, obviously a thyroid and adrenals are part of the hypothermic pituitary adrenal access, the H.P.A. access.

So things can get complicated with constipation really quickly but I would say is that with constipation and diarrhea, you always wanna focus on short term relief options like improve your quality of life, help your body do what it needs to do. And then long term, why is this started? Like, what’s happening there? Why is the body breaking down? And so that’s when you can get into digestive infections, you can get into auto immune disease as you mentioned earlier, you can get into adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues, and it gets much more complex from there. Did I answer that good, Katie?

Katie: Yes definitely. I’m still stuck on that like some people only poop once a month though. That’s crazy.

Steve: Yeah there’s three things, if there’s one takeaway from this podcast, take this away. Every day you wanna poop, pee, and sweat. If you do those three things every day, you’re gonna be a relatively healthy human because those are the way that your body essentially detoxifies. And if you’re not pooping every day, if you’re not sweating every day, which a lot of us out there, those two are the ones that don’t happen, that’s when the body begins, you know, gets more toxic and things just go wrong.

Katie: I like that. I’m gonna put that on the show notes for sure. And we’ve talked about this a little bit, especially with gluten and grains which I’m right there with you, but what are some other major factors that can harm that health?

Steve: Well, you know, I’m sure banging the drum on stress is probably just annoying at this point in time, but they are definite…when we delve into leaky gut, we’re creating the Solving Leaky Gut product, you know, there is definite studies and research papers show a direct link between your level of stress and your gut health. So if your stress levels are high, I’m sure Katie’s mentioned it a thousand times already on her blog and through the articles and everything, but focusing on stress can be a big key. We’ve mentioned gut infections and food, those are two major factors of gut health.

There’s lots of, in the Solving Leaky Gut Course, we identified 19 triggers, things that could cause leaky gut. And so outside of food, because, you know, we can begin to get into GMOs and all these different things, there’s some really fascinating ones, for instance, traumatic brain injuries. So for instance, I have a history of like seven serious concussions, so it only makes sense that I had even more health issues. So if you have family members who had concussions, they’re at risk for further gut damage.

You know, there’s also some studies out there that show that once you’ve had traveler’s diarrhea or some sort of food sickness once, your risk of small intestinal bacteria overgrowth, which is an infection that can happen where the good bacteria overgrow in the top of your small intestine, your risk for that begins to go up almost exponentially. And so there’s lots of things out there. I guess what I would say is, in general, we want to avoid heavy metals. You know, if you’re working with a lot of solvents and chemicals, those things can harm your gut health and harm your overall health.

But the easiest way to…you know, that we’re gonna get your most bang for your buck is if you start with diet and then if you start with checking for gut infections because you know, we’ve seen well over 700 clients in our consulting practice, and about 80% of them had gut infections. Dr. Tom O’Bryan mentions that 70% to 80% of his patients that he’s seen over the years for…coming to him not for G.I. issues, coming to him for infertility or coming to him for migraines or autoimmune disease, they have gut infections. Dr. Laura Noell, she also mentions roughly 80% of her patients, maybe higher, and she operates out of San Diego, you know, a practice over there. And so a lot of these doctors who are checking people for infections are finding, over and over again, that this is a big growing epidemic in the chronic health world.

Katie: Yeah, and I get a lot of questions about that too. Obviously, I’m not a doctor but I can tell this is a big problem for a lot of people. Can you give us maybe like a cheat sheet or like a list of things that you can start with to help improve your gut health, if maybe you think you have a problem but you don’t know where to start?

Steve: Yeah, I think the first thing to do is modify your diet. So if you’re not grain-free, you need to go grain-free and dairy-free for sure. Like I said, you know, I have told everyone, try committing eight weeks to Paleo autoimmune. If you’ve never switched your diet before or you’ve never fully given up grains, do eight weeks. And then on week nine, I want you to plan the most extravagant gluten flavored meals you can try. And the reason why is that I don’t want you to feel like you’re missing out forever, because you might not be yet, you might be somebody who can eat those grains and be just fine. But I want you to get your body used to what it’s like not having those foods in your diet, and then I want your body today to tell you how it feels after you reintroduce them. And most people will learn very quickly how their gut does with grains if they do an exercise like that.

Some other things are obviously taking in fermented foods on a regular basis. And you can do this through, you know, sauerkraut and kefir and homemade yogurts, things like that. You can also do it by probiotics. You know, for those people who have constipation, I think, the best probiotic that we’re getting results with right now in the market is Prescript-Assist. That’s been a saving grace for a lot of constipated people out there. So I think probiotics and fermented foods are great.

Also, you know, as we mentioned earlier, if you’re having any sort of burping, gas, bloating, acid reflux, check your stomach acid. The rest of your digestive track is essentially regulated by the pH of the food as it moves through you. So how fast it takes you to go from chomping on food to pooping it out is mostly regulated by the pH of that food as it moves all the way through you. Where is that pH set? The pH is set in your stomach. So if your stomach acid is off at the beginning of your digestive process, how can you expect, you know, your body to make it into like a perfectly formed stool by the end of it? It’s not likely gonna happen, you’re asking a lot of your body. So definitely investigate if you need some stomach acid support. Digestive enzymes, as I mentioned earlier, is a super fix that can help a lot of people.

And then I think a lot of people are also kind of undereating fats. So you know, make sure to get your healthy fats. I know, again, Katie, you talk a lot about healthy fats, but especially those people who are constipated. You know, a lot of people can solve their constipation issues, if they don’t have a gut infection, if they just increase their fats in their daily diet and they add in more fermented foods. So I would kind of start with that list.

Katie: Yeah, that’s awesome. I know a lot of my listeners are moms, so are these the same things you can try with your children or are there special considerations with children? And are there may be special things we should be doing with babies when they’re first starting to eat that would help, like, head off some of these problems to begin with?

Steve: Well, definitely not an expert on kids and weaning and things like that. That’s not my expert status, so I would probably defer to my buddy, Chris Kresser, on that. But in general, for instance, enzymes are generally regarded as safe for children. Things like digestive bitters are generally regarded as safe for children. If you’re gonna start using betaine HCL, which I do know about kids and I do have clients who do that with their kids, you just wanna be working with a practitioner that can oversee it because it is a kid and you know, we’re setting them up, we’re trying to set them up for their best lives and so it’s good to have an expert who’s trained in this stuff watching over.

Regarding the diet stuff, yes, all of that stuff applies. You know, there are studies out there where they actually give babies and, like, four or five-year-olds the ability to choose from like 20 different plates of food and they don’t regulate what they eat, but they give them all kinds of things from like liver to candy to everything. And at the end of the month, the kids eat like these crazy different amounts of each thing, like a stuff that adults would never put together, right. It would just taste awful to us. But the babies, at the end of the month, always choose a diet that’s extremely nutritious and they almost like have a built-in intuition about what to eat.

So you know, just listening to how, like, Chris has raised his daughter, I think it’s a great idea to give, right off the bat, give your children access to lots of healthy fats, lots of fermented foods. Make it exciting and fun to hang around with food. And you know, don’t look at it like they’re missing out with what the other kids are doing or what the other kids are eating, because your kid will test it, you know. And they will choose different things at times, but I think if the whole goal of sort of educating a child is too…I think the thing should be like, you know, here’s some options, pay attention to your body.

Katie: Yeah, I agree, for sure. And now, like, at the end or before the end, I would like to go through three questions that I always ask at the end, which are what is one piece of advice that you wish someone had given you earlier in life, either health related or not health related, but just a piece of advice you wish you had gotten earlier?

Steve: It’s a tough question. I think what I’m present to you right now is if the majority think one way, the private truth or the answer that’s gonna serve you best the way forward is the other way. And I think that applies for health, it applies for finances, it applies for schooling, it applies for almost everything. So I think in my life, most of my successes have come from looking at what the majority of the population is doing and doing the opposite.

Katie: Yeah, that’s awesome. And then what is one, if you had to boil it down to one starting point, what is one action step that listeners could take right now if they wanna start trying to improve their health and their digestion?

Steve: If they haven’t tried a paleo autoimmune diet or a diet like solving leaky gut or SCD, I would say commit to that for eight weeks. If you can commit to that for eight weeks, do some tweaking and testing using the tips I’ve talked about here today. In my opinion, most people never get to a state of which they’re not irritating their body with some foods that are typically very nutritious like eggs, but depending on your level of health you might not be able to do eggs today. You might not be able to do them until three months or four months or five months from now. So a lot of people switch to a real food diet but they don’t get narrow enough to start with and so they never really reap the rewards of what it can be like to really focus on food. So I like going narrower with always the intention to expand back out over time.

Katie: Yeah, I agree. I think the personalization aspect is really important, and I know we’ve had conversations about that, about how that really is the next thing in health is empowering people to figure out their own health steps and to learn what their body needs because there are some great general principles, but at the end of the day, you really do have to find that thing that works for you. And then last question is what is one resource, besides your own, that you have found helpful, maybe a book or website, but one resource that you would suggest to others?

Steve: Just one, huh?

Katie: It can be several.

Steve: Well, I read and watch everything that Chris Kresser does, and Dan Kalish. So when it comes to… You know, I know I’ve been in this game for a while, I know I research a lot, I’ve done a lot of my own testing and I paid a lot of different doctors a lot of money, but when it comes to trusting people with my health and getting the best advice, that’s on the latest and cutting edge, I really trust both Chris and Dan Kalish regarding health. And so those are two guys that I basically read everything they come out with. And I actually mentioned this earlier Katie, but I consume basically everything Tim Ferriss puts out as well.

Katie: Awesome, I’ll link to all three of those in the show notes. I’m right there with you on those. And also tell us where we can find you. I know you have a great podcast, and an awesome website, and a Solving Leaky Gut course, so tell us where we can find you.

Steve: Yes, so as you mentioned earlier, the majority of our work, like 400 to 500 articles, are at SCDLifestyle, it’s specific carbohydrate diet lifestyle basically is what the name stands for, and then over at solvingleakygut.com is, in my opinion, the number one article on the web for what is leaky gut and what does it do to your body. If you read that article, it’s long, don’t get me wrong, it took me a long time to write, but if you read that article, you’ll know more than 99% of doctors who are walking on this planet. So you can also learn all about…you can take a quiz over there and learn about your risk factors for leaky gut and things like that. But those are both of our sites. We do have a podcast and a YouTube channel, but you can find that all over at scdlifestyle.com.

Katie: Excellent, and I will include all those in the show notes and I would encourage everyone to go listen to your podcast and read your blog because I know I have found a lot of great information there and especially for digestive issues. There are so many good resources. And thank you, Steve, so much for joining us and for being here and taking your time.
And thank you to all of you for listening. I’m so excited to have you listen. And if you would please take a moment to go to wellnessmama.com/iTunes and subscribe to this podcast so you oversee future episodes and also to leave a rating or review so others can find it as well. So thanks again for listening, and until next time, have a healthy week.

Thanks as always for listening to the Wellness Mama Podcast. If you are enjoying the show, please leave a rating and review on iTunes. It helps my podcast to show up for those searching for health and wellness podcasts.

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Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


18 responses to “009: Steve Wright on Leaky Gut, Heartburn, & Digestion”

  1. Jen Avatar

    I’ve read a lot that taking supplements can actually aggravate GERD and worsen your acid reflux, particularly magnesium. I take vegan capsule supplements of Vitamin C, Fish Oil, Magnesium, Maca Root, and Ginko every other day. Do you (pr anyone else in this thread) know if there is truth to this claim (about supplements worsening acid reflux)? I would really like to stay as natural as possible in the supplements I take, but what I can’t figure out is if there are different capsules or brands that will lessen the risk of GERD or not?

    1. SJ Winter Avatar

      Hi Jen, It’s really about bio-individuality so you’ll need to talk with a doctor who is well versed in treating this kind of stuff naturally. The risks depend on the individual. Best of luck!

  2. Mike Avatar

    I had loose really loose stool, steatorrhea, skin issues, ear infections, poor fat absorption for about a decade. My poop was a pity. It started getting worse. I went to a western med doc, what a complete joke. I went to a homeopathic doc, did a candida cleanse, went on bile acids, went on digestive enzymes. They worked kind of. I tried a couple candida cleanses, with appropriate diet, did the whole exclusion diet. Nothing really worked till I started eating sauerkraut and drank about a couple gallons of red cabbage juice over a month or so. I make my own kraut now with purple cabbage. Its super easy and really makes a lot of meals taste better. I also drank a couple gallons of fresh cabbage juice over a month or so. It can kill off bad bacteria because it has a natural sulfur and chlorine in it. It has L-Glutamine, an amino acid, that can heal the stomach and intestinal lining. Leaky gut can cause a host of issues. Anyway, my digestive system is fantastic now and I straight up give credit to sauerkraut. It worked in about a month and a half. I had a colonoscopy and endoscopy planned to see if I had some crazy stuff going on, but as the appointments got nearer my digestion got better. I went ahead with the procedure anyway, and everything looked good. What a relief that was. God bless the purple kraut!! MAKE YOUR OWN RED CABBAGE SAUERKRAUT!!!!!! LOTS OF BAD TO BONE PROBIOTICS THAT OVER THE COUNTER PROBIOTICS CANT REPLICATE!! let food be your medicine. I also drank a lot of bone broth.

  3. Kara Avatar

    I know this is an old podcast, but I just read the transcript and loved the info. However, I suffer from chronic gastritis and cannot tolerate HCL. I have tried many times and it always makes the burning in my stomach worse. I already eat very clean and avoid dairy, gluten, and sugar. The gastritis seems to flare up for no apparent reason. Suggestions? I am really tired of this and am starting to be very concerned about developing gastic cancer from all the inflamation.

  4. Irma Avatar

    Did you know that hydrogen peroxide is a component of honey? It’s actually what gives honey its antibiotic quality and it’s also found in Manuka honey. The flowers of the Manuka plant actually contains dihydroxyacetone. Additionally, this honey also contains methylglyoxal.

    Because Manuka contains methylglyoxal, there’s the Unique Manuka Factor, which is used to determine the quality of all brands of Manuka honey.

    The Unique Manuka factor is often used to measure the potency of the honey by measuring the compounds. In order for this type of honey to be potent enough for medicinal purposes, it should have a Unique Manuka Factor of five, which is adequate, while ten is the best. A rating of ten or high will label the honey as active Manuka honey or UMF Manuka honey.

  5. Sara Avatar

    Is there a link or recommendation for the digestive enzymes? I am very interested in trying them. I’m just starting the GAPS diet. Thank you for being so informative and thorough in your research and recommendations!

  6. Anna Avatar

    I was diagnosed with GERD last spring. I’m in the middle of an IVF cycle and want to know if Betaine HCL is safe for me to take. I’ll need to stop using the omeprazole once I’ve conceived. And besides that I have been on these meds for much longer than I wanted to be on it.

  7. Karen Avatar

    Thank you so much for this! I have been struggling with reflux disorder for about two years so I am excited to try the Betaine HCL.

  8. Kim Avatar

    How can a friend listen to this in a format other than iTunes? She NEEDS this podcast, but she doesn’t have iTunes. I tried Stitcher, but this particular episode isn’t loaded there. She has a PC, and I don’t think she has a smartphone. Thank you so much!

  9. Chelsea Cooper Avatar
    Chelsea Cooper

    Thanks for the info! I have been struggling with chronic heartburn for a very long time, and I have gotten fed up with doctors who pull out one pill after another, but never try to find the underlying cause. I have experimented and researched a lot on possible causes and natural remedies, etc. but nothing I have found has really made any difference. I did the Whole 30 for the second time this summer, and realized that I need to make the paleo diet a habit in my life. Not only was my heartburn a million times better, but I made the connection that both times I have gotten pregnant (after trying for some time) I was on a dairy free and grain free diet. Coincidence? My instincts tell me no. I haven’t found much on my own that addresses the specifics of heartburn causes, etc. in a way that makes sense to me, so I’m excited about the things I’ve learned in this podcast. I am struggling through the process of becoming a fully grain free and dairy free family, but I’m getting there with awesome resources like Wellness Mama! Thanks!

  10. Jennifer Avatar

    Wow! I learned so much by listening to this podcast yesterday! I recently started experiencing heartburn and a chronic glob of mucus in my throat which I’ve learned is caused from GERD. I plan to try some of these natural solutions that Steve discussed.

    Thanks for the post show notes!

  11. Bethany Avatar

    My primary care doctor put me on a PPI (Prilosec) for a suspected stomach ulcer. I won’t see a GI doctor for another month. Does anyone know if a PPI is safe to take for that long? And does this seem appropriate treatment for an ulcer?

    (I was put on a very strong antibiotic a couple months ago that seems to have wrecked my gut. I’m doing much better now, likely thanks to probiotics and cleaning up my diet. The specific antibiotic I was on does not kill H.Pylori and I’m wondering if that’s the cause of my ulcer.)

    1. Nancy Avatar

      My naturopath
      suggested cabbage juice raw 3X/day 1/2 cup
      Licorish and plantain pills.
      SOLVED ME IN 3 weeks

    2. leah Avatar

      Hi Bethany, have you tried Manuka Honey? A family member had H.Pylori and treated it with a high UMF rated Manuka Honey. I have also taken it for stomach issues.

      I think it’s recommend to use Manuka Honey with a minimum UMF rating of 18 (preferably stronger) to help with ulcers etc, but I guess everyone has different needs and tolerance levels 🙂

      I have been able to get Manuka Honey from my local health food store. They stocked the stronger honey (higher UMF). Just thought this might help!

    3. isabel omalley Avatar
      isabel omalley

      I was diagnosed once with H PYLORI. after having to buy the kit $500 once I started taking it I did not stop vomiting for 2 days. The pharmacist said continue is normal. My doctor said stop immediately. The two antibiotics did not agree with me. I met another doctor who gave me the name of other antibiotics to replace the ones in the box. I’ve been living with this ulcera all my life and when I take probiotics seems to cease. Also I learn not to eat or drink that cause the pain. To piece the pain, you put milk to freeze, and suck the ice of this milk slowly and is like a miracle.

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