The natural-medicine doctor, chiropractor, and nutritionist shares his thoughts on improving gut and overall health.
When Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, saw the growth in his natural-medicine-focused practice after its founding in 2008, he realized there were a lot more people he could help. He now shares his knowledge on nutrition, fitness, essential oils, and more at DrAxe.com. He’s also the author of two books, including Eat Dirt, which makes the case for rebalancing our microbiota and reaffirms the importance of addressing the root causes of health problems.
Axe shared his healthy-living tips with Experience Life and how he helps his patients heal from leaky-gut syndrome.
Experience Life | You’ve seen and heard from a lot of patients since starting your natural-medicine-focused practice in 2008. Where do you find people are struggling most with their health?
Josh Axe | I would say the top conditions I see on a regular basis include digestive problems, food sensitivities, thyroid conditions, autoimmune disease, and chronic pain. And they all have one thing in common: The root cause is leaky-gut syndrome.
EL | Where do you have a new patient start when making healthy changes?
JA | I have them start with three things:
- First, I have them focus on changing their breakfast. Think about this: By just changing their breakfast, they are improving their diet by 33 percent in most cases.
- Second, I have them make healthy food swaps. For instance, I have them remove vegetable oil and start using coconut oil. And replace white flour with coconut flour or almond flour, and cows’ milk with coconut or nut milk.
- Third, I have them aim to consume gut-healing foods such as bone broth and probiotic-rich foods. The ideal meal to heal leaky gut is a bone-broth soup with organic meat and vegetables or a smoothie with bone-broth protein powder, coconut milk, and fruit like blueberries or pears.
EL | Why are approaches like nutrition therapy and essential oils important to healing the body?
JA | Because so many of the things we are eating, consuming, and putting on our skin on a daily basis act as antibiotics and kill off the good bacteria (probiotics) in our guts. This then can lead to intestinal inflammation and leaky gut. So staying away from gluten, sugar, hydrogenated oils, and animal products that contain antibiotic residue are crucial. As is replacing the skincare, body-care, and cleaning products you use with gentle essential oils like lavender, peppermint, lemon, frankincense, geranium, tea-tree oil, and rosemary.
EL | How do you see chiropractic care, fitness, and regular movement playing an integral role in health?
JA | Movement is key to life, circulation, and giving our organs, tissues, and joints more nutrients. All of these forms of movement help in that. We spend so much time sitting in today’s world that movement is more important now than it’s ever been before.
EL | Your new book, Eat Dirt, explores the concept of repairing leaky gut, and a new initiative from the White House Office of Science and Technology is looking to advance research on the microbiome. How can more focus on healing our guts improve our health?
JA | Your gut is ground zero for when your health begins. Many people are treating conditions and symptoms and not addressing the root cause of their disease, which begin in the gut. For instance, I take care of many patients with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease, and in most cases the doctor or even nutritionist they see treats only their thyroid with medications or herbs.
My approach is to begin healing their gut with diet and lifestyle, then along with that support the thyroid.
Hippocrates said more than 2,000 years ago that “All Disease Begins in the Gut.” What I tell my patients is “All Health Begins in the Gut.” The health of your thyroid, immune system, joints — it all begins in the gut.
When someone has leaky gut (often referred to as increased intestinal permeability), the “net” in your digestive tract gets damaged, which causes even bigger holes to develop in your net, so things that normally can’t pass through are now be able to.
Some of the things that can now pass through include proteins like gluten, bad bacteria, toxins, and undigested food particles. This will cause systemic inflammation and an immune reaction by the body, which can then affect certain areas like the joints, skin, thyroid, brain, etc.