- Diane Sanfilippo | New York Times bestselling author of "Practical Paleo" and "The 21-Day Sugar Detox" | Home of the Balanced Bites Podcast - http://balancedbites.com -

Troubleshooting Your Digestive Issues: How To Improve Overall Digestion Function (part 2)


In Part 1 of Troubleshooting Your Digestive Issues I covered some signs and symptoms (diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, etc.) and potential causes of disrupted digestion and why it’s important to address these issues right away. Remember, sixty to eighty percent of the immune system is in your gut-we want to do what we can to support it.

Improving digestive function is the first step to calming systemic inflammation.

In Part 2, I’ll provide some general tips for the most common signs and symptoms and in Part 3, I’ll recommend some addition steps to address constipation and diarrhea specifically.

Tips to improve digestion:

Start with a top down approach (North-to-South process)

Perhaps the most important step you can take to improve your digestion is to address potential food allergies/sensitivities/gut irritants using the 4R Protocol.

The following is an excerpt from “Guide to: Healing a Leaky Gut” in my book, Practical Paleo.


Common dietary irritants, such as processed and refined foods, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, refined seed oils, and sugar. If you have already removed those foods, remove nuts, seeds, coffee, and eggs to test as the next steps.

Anti-inflammatory medications, specifically NSAIDs. Work on preventing the need for NSAIDs via diet and lifestyle.


Eat adequate omega-3 fatty acids to balance out the naturally high omega-6 diet that most of us eat.

Eat adequate amounts of soluble fiber in starchy vegetables or fruits like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and plantains.

Drink adequate amounts of water to prevent constipation and dehydration.

Supplement the amino acid L-glutamine in water between meals to help with gut lining repair (5-8g per day)

Supplement omega-3 and fat-soluble vitamin rich fermented cod-liver oil/butter oil blend (1/2-tsp per day) – Green Pasture brand.

Supplement quercitin, a powerful antioxidant to help with inflammation and DGL (deglycerized licorice) to promote the repair of the mucosal lining of the gut.


Eat probiotic foods like raw sauerkraut* or other fermented vegetables.

Supplement with probiotics in pill or powder form if desired. Note: See probiotic recommendations earlier in this post.


Eat one of the eliminated foods at each of your meals on day 31 after the elimination and note any changes to your mood, energy, mental clarity, digestive function, and your skin. Repeat the reintroduction of one eliminated food every three days to discover which are causing problems and which are not.

Note: the reintroduction of gluten containing grains is not recommended.

* Avoid raw and fermented goitrogentic vegetables (like cabbage) if you have a hypothyroid condition. Paleo foods with goitrogens are denoted on my free downloadable Guide To Paleo Foods.

In Part 3 of this series, I’ll present additional recommendations for constipation and diarrhea. However, following the general recommendations given here will go a long way to improving most symptoms of disrupted digestion-calming systemic inflammation and paving the way to optimal health.


Parts in this Series:

Part 1: Signs & Symptoms of Digestive Upset

Part 2: How to Improve Overall Digestion Function

Part 3: Specific Recommendations for Constipation & Diarrhea

Part 4: Tips for Common Digestive Issues in Pregnancy