I discovered the basic heal your gut smoothie on Richard Nikoley’s FreeTheAnimal blog. Richard, along with Tim Steele, aka tatertot, and Dr. Grace (both frequent commenters on FTA) stumbled upon the resistant starch (RS) protocol: using RS to build healthy gut flora.
It took me hours and hours to read, re-read and digest this fascinating information, stretching out over a few weeks, a few blogs and many, many blog posts. I was obsessed because I saw concrete evidence for a way to explode my good gut bacteria and hasten the cure.
If you want to follow in my educational footsteps, here’s where to get going on the basic idea. Dr. Grace wrote an update on RS with good links. Grace is an actual doctor and entertaining speaker. Her blog is occasionally too scientific for me, but I read it anyway. Who knows? Maybe something will stick
Re. learning about the resistant starch experiments, there is not a clear “read this first, then read this” list to follow. You have to just keep reading and following links, then it starts to fall into place. Don’t miss the comments on the posts — TONS of gold to mine there. Plus that’s where you meet up with tatertot, Grace and Bulletproof Dave, all genuine smarties.
Below, I drill the RS protocol down to essential ideas so you’ll know why the smoothie has all that stuff in it.
First, the Heal Your Gut Smoothie, followed by Why Each Ingredient:
INGREDIENTS: The 4 Essentials (recipe is per person)
- 1 scoop Amazing Grass (or something similar — this is what I use because Dr. Grace recommends it)
- 1-2 SBO (Soil-Based Organism) probiotics; recommended brands are: Prescript-Assist, AOR Probiotic-3, Primal Defense (I take the last 2)
- 3/4 Cup of filtered water — we filter our well water, then add minerals. Or you can use juice, kefir — whatever liquid floats your boat. If I have fresh whey around, I add 1/4 C to the mix.
- 1/4 tsp to 1 tsp Psyllium Husk Powder (PHP) — I only add this occasionally, see this post on fiber and colon health
- Non-GMO Vit C powder – 2.5 grams of C — 1/2 tsp (You may have to work up to this, Vit C has a laxative effect till you get used to it. Same with the Magnesium below)
- Magnesium Powder – 200 mg — 1 scoop (This is chelated so more bioavailable.)
- Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth – 1 Tbsp for silica, minerals, kills parasites. I feed it to my animals, dust their bedding/coop with it and use to kill fleas in my house when that’s a problem, so I buy it in the handy 50lb bag (scroll all the way to the bottom).
- Great Lakes Gelatin: Hydrosylate Unflavored Gelatin Collagen (basically gelatin that doesn’t get thick) – 1 Tbsp for joints, skin, nails, hair, digestion. I buy the four pack but there is a selection for buying one, two or three. (I’d do a post on gelatin but Crunchy Moose has a great one here!)
OPTIONAL for Flavor or Preference
- Frozen fruit for flavor — I use 1/2 a frozen banana, sometimes fresh pineapple and/or blueberries, whatever I have
- Honey if you need more sweet (I don’t use any sweetener otherwise my whole day is spent chasing sugar)
- A raw egg for protein (I often add one if I’m hungry)
- Ice — I use two cubes so it’s nice and cold
- This is important: blend all but the PHP until the fruit and ice are well-blended and the drink is SMOOTH. This can take a couple of minutes depending on the power of your blender.
- THEN add the PHP and blend for about 10 more seconds, just to mix it in.
- Pour and drink right away. If you read my last post, you know you want to drink asap… the longer you wait, the thicker the PHP gets until you are eating it with a spoon like green pudding. This is not appetizing, I promise you.
- Makes approx. 1 1/4 Cup of smoothie and is very filling.
- Start with lesser amounts of the first 3 ingredients and add more as your system adjusts. Some people report discomfort from too much too fast. Pace yourself.
- Potatoes are a nightshade which can cause headaches and arthritic pain for some people. If you are sensitive to nightshades, use the green banana flour.
- This smoothie causes flatulence. You could fart for the first month or so. With four of us drinking the shake, it was pretty comical around here. Farting is a sign that RS is doing something good. RS works because it’s resistant to digestion, but that also makes you fart.
Why Each Ingredient
Resistant Starch (RS): Resistant starch is a starch that is resistant to digestion. So resistant, in fact, that it moves right through your small intestine down to your large intestine where it sits (because it is indigestible, otherwise it would move right through with your other food) and ferments until it becomes digestible and can be eliminated.
The magic happens while it’s fermenting because then it’s feeding and multiplying your colon’s good bacteria.
RS is a prebiotic. Mark gives an excellent quickie definition of prebiotics: “Prebiotics are, quite simply, indigestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth and maintenance of beneficial gut microbiota.” Ta da.
There has been talk by tatertot and Dr. Grace that RS actually grabs some of your SIBOs as it moves through the small intestine and takes them to the large where they are overwhelmed by the army of good bacteria and evacuated.
In the early stages of the RS protocol, there was no smoothie… you just put 4 Tbs of potato starch or banana flour in a short glass of water and shot it down. Tasteless, easy and really effective for lots of people. As research continued, however, the team added in three other ingredients:
Psyllium Husk Powder (PHP): From this post by tatertot:
To turn potato starch into BIONIC RS, add in some psyllium. …studies have shown that when resistant starch and psyllium are used together, it completely floods the large intestine with butyrate. Psyllium has a high water-holding capacity, and this may be why it is so effective at spreading the butyrate through the large intestine.
The magic in psyllium is it’s high mucilage content: “Mucilage can be used in gastrointestinal inflammatory processes; associated to topical irritation agents. The mechanism of action is that mucilages cover the mucous membranes and prevent irritation of the nerve endings.”
Psyllium ferments into butyrate, but is also an effective stimulant for the mucous layer that is vitally important to having a healthy gut. It provides a home for many of the bacterial species we have introduced with the fermented foods and SBOs.
THE FIBER DISCLAIMER: The original recipe from the RS blogs calls for 1 Tbsp of PHP. The problem with supplemental fiber is that your body can become dependent on it to make you go. I can testify to this. When I missed a few days of smoothie, I was uncomfortable. I drank the smoothie sans PHP until I got my mojo back, but it was a wake-up call. I now drink the smoothie with only 1 tsp of PHP for the butyrate effect, but I would have no qualms about excluding it.
I’m drinking the smoothie during my healing process, it’s not a life-long addition. For my particular health challenges, the potential benefits of the smoothie outweigh the risks of a small amount of PHP. Please consider this information when deciding whether or not to add fiber to your smoothie.
Amazing Grass: From the same post, tatertot talks about the greens:
In addition to potato starch and psyllium, and to further increase the BIONIC RS to stellar levels, add in a good dose of anti-oxidant rich foods full of polyphenols. … Polyphenols are just coming to light in their contributions to gut health. This study looked into the contributions of plant polyphenols of gut microbiota health and concluded: “Polyphenols are extensively metabolized by gut bacteria into a complex series of end-products that support a significant effect on the functional ecology of symbiotic partners that can affect the host physiology.”
Probiotics: When the RS idea first got going, taking probiotics was not part of the picture because feeding and multiplying the probiotics already in your gut was WHY you would drink RS. This is when Dr. Grace really jumped into the fray with her “empty cages” theory.
She informed the boys (and, as Richard puts it, there might have been vulgarity involved) that while it was awesome to have RS fermenting in the gut, if there were no good bacteria around, all that prebiotic fermenting wasn’t feeding nothing. Because the cage was empty.
Given my gut situation, this made immediate sense to me. And to everyone else apparently because probiotics were immediately added to the mix. Fill the cage, then feed the beasties.
The general advice is to o.d. on probiotics for a few weeks to really fill the cage, then back off to normal doses.
By the way, SBOs (Soil Based Organisms) are not to be confused with SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). Two different animals. Literally.
There you have it: the heal your gut smoothie. While there are other considerations, tips, techniques and the GAPS Diet that assist in getting the gut in good shape, this is an important add-in for me. Let me know how you like it!
Elizabeth talks about the age old digestion cure, why it works, how to make it 🙂