This is part of a series of blogs discussing an individualized comprehensive gut restoration protocol in chronic kidney disease. In this blog, we will talk about gut repair and kidney health.

The Gut-Kidney Connection

The gut-kidney axis refers to the relationship between gut integrity and microbiome diversity with kidney disease. Excessive intestinal permeability, also known as hyperpermeability or more commonly as “leaky gut,” has been shown to be at the root of this connection. This gut-kidney relationship is the result of complex biochemical and immune mechanisms. 

So far we looked at the first three steps of the 5R protocol, Remove , Replace, and Reinoculate. Applied sometimes sequentially and at times simultaneously, these steps are used to address the underlying factors associated with leaky gut. The idea is that comprehensive approach that reveres damage to the gut caused by exposure to food and environmental triggers, addresses the disruption of digestion and nutrient absorption, altered bowel motility, and dysbiosis, improves gut health and ultimately overall kidney health.


Read on below where we will explore step 4, Repair. But first, let’s first review the five steps of the comprehensive gut restoration protocol. A reminder that the 5R Protocol addresses leaky gut as a foundational approach to reduce the risk of progression of CKD and in our upcoming blog on Rebalance, we will explore maintenance and next step in integrative kidney care. 

The 5 steps of healing leaky gut are: 

1) Remove potential triggers, including polypharmacy, pathogenic organisms, food intolerances, sensitivities and allergies, or toxic exposure.  

2) Replace digestive aid to support improved nutrient absorption and metabolism, including digestive enzymes, or agents that promote improved motility and regular bowel movements.  

3) Reinoculate provide an environment where good bacteria can thrive and where bad ones cannot. 

4) Repair support of the cellular repair process through the above, as well as by providing specific nutritional support for the regeneration of the GI protective barrier. 

5) Rebalance lifestyle factors that influence the gut bacteria such as stress, sleep, exercise and relationships and assure ongoing gut health.

Gut Repair

Up until this phase, we’ve focused on removing triggers that contribute to local and systemic inflammation. We’ve even taken steps to rebalance the microbiome. In the repair phase, we work to provide nutritional support that directly impacts the integrity of the gut mucosa and repairs hyperpermeability. 

Recall from our previous blog, Part 1: Remove, that exposure to toxins, food sensitivity, and presence of pathogens leads to increased inflammation locally that triggers the immune system and leads to damage to the lining of the gut and mucosa. 

The term Intestinal hyperpermeability (aka “leaky gut”) is the result of this inflammatory assault to the gut lining. These breaks in the integrity of the wall (imagine gaps in a fence on your lawn) let undigested food, bacteria, and metabolites “leak” through the holes.

The physiologic changes associated with this leaky state include a combination of factors that reduce your gut’s ability to absorb nutrients. These include hypochlorhydria (insufficient hydrochloric acid in the stomach to digest food), reduced production of digestive enzymes, altered bowel motility (often leading to constipation, but not always), and dysbiosis.

Now that we’ve addressed those aspects in steps 1-3, we can focus our energy on repair. This stage is often several weeks into the comprehensive gut restoration program because initiating it simultaneously may interfere with the efficacy of the prior steps. Working with an integrative or functional medicine practitioner can help guide you through your personalized program. 

Where to start?

Address permeability with nutrients and herbs

To support intestinal mucosa regrowth and cell repair we focus on nutrients that have properties that promote rebuilding a healthy mucosal lining. They help improve the integrity of the intestinal wall by supporting building and formation of the intestinal epithelium, villi and cell connective tissue.

This includes a wide spectrum of micronutrients including vitamin A, D, E, and C. L-glutamine, butyric acid, and collagen supplements. These are useful to build collagen that forms the epithelium of the GI tract. Whey, colostrum or serum bovine immunoglobulins may be utilized to balance inflammatory mediators based in the gut. Zinc carnosine, melatonin, cabbage juice, aloe vera, and mucilaginous herbs like marshmallow root and slippery elm are also used therapeutically to support various aspects of the rebuilding process.

This is of course layered in on top of an anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense, fiber-rich diet that includes healthy fats, moderate intake of animal protein, and a colorful variety of organic fruits and vegetables that provide added antioxidant and phytonutrient repair support.    

Bottom Line

The fourth step in an individualized comprehensive gut restoration protocol involves leveraging food and herbs to promote the repair of the gut mucosa. This is often done after Remove, but might be simultaneous to Replace and Repair steps. However, every case is unique, and it’s important to work with an integrative or functional medicine provider trained in the comprehensive gut restoration protocol to help you navigate this safely and successfully. Next, we will tackle the 5th “R” in the gut restoration protocol: Rebalance.