Digestive Health With Real Food Book Review

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newcover-DHwRFsmallThis week, I have a book review that all of you with digestive issues (lets face it, if all of us with autoimmune disease!) will find interesting – Digestive Health With Real Food by Aglaee Jacob. Aglaee is a incredible force in the Paleo community, being an RD and on her way to becoming a naturopath. I discovered her blog a couple of years ago when I was searching for information on SIBO and a low-FODMAP diet. She definitely stood out to me as being an expert on digestion, especially with using natural and ancestral health principles. It is no surprise she went on to write a book to share all of this excellent information with all of us!

The more I learn about health, the more I become aware of how important healthy digestion is to a healthy body. When I went though my coursework with the NTA, I was taught that the gut is the root of all disease, in addition to being the first place to start when trying to help someone regain their health. A very important fact I have learned in all of this: A healthy diet is not able to help you if you are not digesting properly. Yes, getting all of the processed foods, grains, sugars, and food chemicals out of your diet is beneficial. But what a lot of people don’t realize, is that all of the years of eating those toxic foods has ruined their digestion, and diet change is not a magic bullet.

Personally, I spent over a decade eating a low-fat, vegan diet that was super high in carbohydrates. This created nutritional deficiencies that caused me to have low stomach acid, greatly impairing the entire digestive process further south. Furthermore, all of this mal-digested food and excess carbohydrates went to feeding pathogens. I found myself battling an h. Pylori infection, SIBO, and parasites (not to mention the terrible symptoms that went along with this – heartburn, bloating, gas, and constipation). This was in addition to, and no doubt exacerbating the leaky gut I have because of my autoimmunity. By the time I found out about the autoimmune protocol and removed the food triggers from my diet, I was able to make some progress, but I did not truly heal until I properly addressed my digestive issues

This is why I believe this book is so important to anyone attempting to heal from a chronic health issue like autoimmune disease. Not only does Aglaee walk us through every step of the digestive process, the way it is supposed to work – complete with simple terms, charts and illustrations – but she then breaks down all of the ways digestive dysfunction can happen. She explains common digestive issues like IBS, food sensitivities, SIBO, and GERD, among others, including the common causes and methods of testing for proper diagnosis and treatment. She explains concepts like why people can become sensitive to certain foods when they have a gut infection, or why taking a proton-pump inhibitor for GERD or acid reflux fails to address the real cause of the dysfunction. One of my favorite charts in the book lists all of the problems with the digestive system that a person could have, and all of the tests that can be run for those issues. My experience is that most people do not get proper testing for gut issues when they visit the doctor, and arming yourself with this information is invaluable.

After the overview of digestive function and dysfunction, Aglaee has a great chapter on the dietary interventions a person could take at an aim to help their issues. Instead of proclaiming a one-size-fits-all approach, she gives an overview of some of the common dietary interventions and argues for an elimination diet tailored to a person’s unique situation. Her guidelines for the elimination diet are spot on: Real, unprocessed food, easily digestible, low-allergen, anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense, carb-restricted, and customized. She has an entire chapter devoted to the nitty-gritty of how to structure your elimination diet, which is chock full of information, as well as a chapter on supplementation (which I really enjoyed, seeing as it started with bone broth, liver, and fermented cod liver oil as “supplements”).

Something Aglaee covers in her book that I believe is often ignored is the mind-body connection when healing digestive issues (or any health issues, for that matter!). She has given us some wonderful suggestions about how we can get our bodies into a parasympathetic (not stressed) state for eating, which is incredibly important. I have noticed a profound impact on my digestion after implementing a mini-meditation before starting my meals, even if it is just a few breaths with my eyes closed before I begin to eat.

As if nearly 250 pages of information (which I only barely summarized here) wasn’t enough, the book includes a ton of recipes and a section on meal planning. Most of the recipes are for simple, healing, and nourishing foods one could make while on the elimination diet, and most of them are autoimmune protocol compliant or could be easily modified to be that way. The photos are beautiful, and the recipes include lots of flexibility and options.

This is definitely a book I would recommend everyone have in their collection. It is so full of information that is incredibly pertinent to anyone on the path to better health. Even if you don’t think you have problems with digestion – chances are, if you have an autoimmune disease, you do. It is an excellent resource both for those who know the basics and want some more in-depth information, as well as the beginner who has never considered the thought that they could have a fixable digestive issue. If that isn’t enough, the sections on tracking, reintroductions, meal planning, and other resources are incredibly useful to someone following the autoimmune protocol.

Purchase the book here on Amazon: Digestive Health With Real Food by Aglaee Jacob.

About Mickey Trescott

Mickey Trescott is a cook and one of the bloggers behind Autoimmune Paleo. After recovering from her own struggle with both Celiac and Hashimoto’s disease, adrenal fatigue, and multiple vitamin deficiencies, Mickey started to write about her experience to share with others and help them realize they are not alone in their struggles. She is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner by the Nutritional Therapy Association, and is the author of The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, a guide and recipe book for the autoimmune protocol, and AIP Batch Cook, a video-based batch cooking program. You also can find her on Instagram.

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