In Functional Medicine, a common protocol for re-balancing your gut flora is referred to as the 4Rs; remove, replace, reinoculate, and repair.
Step 1. Remove processed foods and toxins from your diet. Refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods get absorbed quickly into your small intestine without any help from your microbes. This leads to increased inflammation and in severe cases, leaky gut.
Step 2. Replace the refined carbohydrates with leafy green vegetables and low-sugar fruits. These foods, along with healthy fats and protein, will help to recolonize your gut with healthy and diverse bacteria.
Step 3. Re-inoculate your existing gut flora with more diversity by introducing pre- and probiotics into your diet. It is recommended that you include fermented foods; such as sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, kefir, and kombucha; into your diet to increase your prebiotic levels. Taking a probiotic supplement can also help in maintaining your gut’s ecosystem and reintroduce strains of microflora that your body is currently lacking in.
Step 4. Repair any existing damage by supporting your digestive system. In western culture, there are a number of products available to help you mask the symptoms of poor digestive health. Unfortunately, many of these products actually exacerbate the issues. For example, heartburn and acid reflux can very often be caused by low stomach acid. Instead of taking antacids, take a digestive enzyme before each meal to support the digestive process and decrease symptoms.