About 20 years ago, I developed an autoimmune condition that affected several aspects of my health. Conventional medicine failed me because it didn’t realize you needed to heal your gut in order to heal the rest of your body. It was then that I discovered a better way. Now, I have made it my mission to make sure you have the tools to heal your gut and enjoy life again!
Conventional medicine seeks to diagnose and medicate symptoms. The problem is that it fails to get to the root cause of the symptoms and disease. That’s why, many years ago, I created The Myers Way®. This revolutionary medical approach looks at the body holistically, promoting optimal wellness throughout. It’s a method that has helped thousands of people reclaim their health.
The Myers Way® relieves and reverses your symptoms. It helps you get off your harsh medication and enables you to live a healthy, energetic, and pain-free life. The approach rests on four pillars, tested and proven through extensive research. Thousands of my patients have seen amazing results throughout my years as a physician. My mission is to empower you to heal your gut and achieve optimal health through Amy Myers MD®.
Pillar I: Heal Your Gut
Your gut is the foundation of your whole body’s health because 80% of your immune system resides there. Without a healthy gut, you can’t have a healthy immune system. A compromised immune system leaves you susceptible to infections, inflammation, and autoimmune disease. When your gut loses the ability to discriminate between the good and the bad bacteria, you have a leaky gut.
When your gut is leaky, harmful substances can escape from your intestines and travel through your bloodstream. Toxins, microbes, and undigested food particles are a few examples. Your immune system marks these “foreign invaders” as pathogens and attacks them. In the process, your body creates inflammation. Chronic inflammation causes a widespread immune response throughout your body and is the culprit for many illnesses and diseases.
Symptoms of a Leaky Gut
Leaky gut and other imbalances can lead to hormonal imbalances and autoimmune diseases. Some of the most common conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, diabetes, and fibromyalgia.
Gut imbalance also affects your mood and can contribute to anxiety and depression. Your gut is also connected to your skin, which is why eczema and rosacea can flare up if you have leaky gut.
If you have any of these nine symptoms, you most likely have a leaky gut:
- Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Food allergies or food sensitivities
- Brain fog, difficulty concentrating, ADD, or ADHD
- Mood imbalances such as depression and anxiety
- Skin issues such as acne, rosacea, or eczema
- Seasonal allergies or asthma
- Hormonal imbalances such as irregular periods, premenstrual syndrome, or polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac disease
- Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
Thankfully, there is a way you can heal your gut for good. It’s called the 4R approach, and it’s a proven method for a reason.
A Four-Step Approach to Healing Your Gut
The 4R approach is a proven method for healing your gut. I’ve highlighted the steps below, but you can find greater detail in my book, “The Autoimmune Solution.”
Here is the general breakdown:
- Remove the bad – Eliminate factors that negatively affect gut environment with Gut ImmunIGⓇ. This includes all inflammatory and toxic foods. It also includes addressing intestinal infections such as yeast overgrowth and SIBO.
- Restore what’s missing— Adding digestive enzymes and Gut Restore with Betaine HCL to your daily regimen supports optimal digestion and nutrient absorption. These also assist your body’s intestinal repair and inflammation responses.
- Reinoculate with healthy bacteria — Restoring beneficial bacteria to your gut helps re-establish a healthy gut environment.
- Repair the gut — Providing necessary nutrients helps the gut repair itself. L-glutamine is an amino acid that will support the gut lining. Drinking bone broth or collagen will help to heal your gut. You can also supplement with omega-3s, zinc, and herbs such as slippery elm and aloe vera.
Pillar II: Get Rid of Gluten, Grains, and Legumes
A leaky gut puts you on the autoimmune spectrum, which is why healing your gut is the first pillar of The Myers Way®. Once you heal your gut, it’s time to make lifestyle and diet changes to put you on the path toward optimal health.
One of the best ways to do that is through diet. Eliminating foods that trigger inflammation prevents damage to your intestinal tract. Some of the most popular foods I recommend eliminating are gluten, grains, and legumes!
Gluten is a group of proteins found in many grains, including wheat, rye, and barley. This protein is what gives bread its sticky, doughy texture, but that’s not the only place you’ll encounter it. It also acts as a food additive in practically every processed food. Yes, this includes items like salad dressing and ketchup.
Believe it or not, gluten is not found in rice, millet corn, or quinoa. Oats also don’t contain gluten, but conventionally farmed oats often risk cross-contamination. This can happen during processing or storage. So, for all practical purposes, they are not considered gluten-free.
The Problem with Gluten
For some people, there is nothing wrong with eating gluten. However, for many, it is a real problem contributing to real disease. Celiac disease and gluten intolerance have increased significantly over the last 50 years. One theory to explain this is that wheat in the United States has been genetically modified to contain higher amounts of gluten.
The food industry did this to super-size the food. That’s why we have extra-large cinnamon buns and gigantic fluffy bagels. As I have said before, inflammation is the root cause of so many diseases. Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity create inflammation that can affect every organ system in your body.
Grains are the seeds of starchy plants cultivated for human or animal food. Examples of grains include wheat, rye, barley, rice, millet, and oats. Corn and quinoa are technically not grains. Even so, they do contain proteins very similar to grains.
Legumes are plants that grow their edible seeds in long cases. Examples of legumes include lentils, chickpeas, peas, and green beans. They also include other types of beans, like red, white, black, and kidney.
The Problem with Grains and Legumes
- Damaging intestinal cells
- Opening the tight junctions of the gut lining
- Feeding harmful bacteria to create gut dysbiosis
The edible portion of these plants is the seed, which contains the embryo. In order to pass on its genes, a plant produces its own chemicals to repel pests and prevent digestion. These chemicals can be very damaging to someone with an autoimmune disease.
Other Foods to Toss
To heal your gut, I also recommend avoiding vegetables in the nightshade family. Nightshades to avoid include tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. These plants are very high in lectins and do not break down in cooking.2
The result is that they can damage the gut lining and enter the bloodstream.If you are following an elimination diet, there will be many foods you will avoid. The good news is that you can reintroduce some foods. Grains, pseudo-grains, legumes, and a few other foods may need to stay out of your diet for good. Gluten is an absolute “no-no,” I don’t recommend that anyone add gluten back into their diet.
Pillar III: Tame the Toxins
For many people, 80% of healing your gut occurs while addressing Pillar I and Pillar II of The Myers Way®. If you haven’t seen a full reversal of your symptoms after following Pillar I and II, we need to dig deeper.
Pillar III reduces your exposure to a toxin, poison, or other harmful substances. Heavy metals like lead, mercury, and cadmium are among the first to go during this phase. It also addresses industrial chemicals. To heal the gut, as well as the entire body, it’s important to address infections and relieve stress. These are necessary steps to get your immune system back to proper functioning.
Here are my favorite stress-relieving strategies:
- Breathing: When you find yourself overwhelmed with stress, take a moment to connect with your breath. Concentrate on breathing in and out until your anxiety has calmed.
- Dance: Just moving your body can help you literally “shake off” your stress.
- Music: Amazingly, a half hour of listening to music can reduce your cortisol levels.
- Gentle exercise: Try a long walk in a natural setting. Changing your environment can also help you get away from your stress.
The great news about The Myers Way® is that once you start following this way of life, you’ll notice that it isn’t willpower keeping you going! I know following The Myers Way® can empower you to reverse your symptoms naturally – restoring your energy, vitality, and health
However, toxins lurk in common products you may not think of as being toxic. Some of the biggest shockers include home cleaning products, body products, and even makeup.
How Common Is Toxin Exposure?
You might be thinking you aren’t exposed to many toxins because you live a very “clean” lifestyle. In reality, you’re bombarded by thousands of toxins every day. This is true, even if you don’t live in a polluted area or work in an industrial job. They’re found in the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the food you eat. They’re even found in the cosmetics, cleaning products, and cookware you use every day.
Our government leaves it up to individual companies to test and ensure product safety. If a product includes five ingredients, they test each one for safety. They don’t test all five together. That is the downside because these chemicals still end up inside your body.
How Does a Toxin Get Into Your Body?
As I mentioned earlier, toxins are everywhere. They find their way into your body through several avenues, for example:
- You breathe them in: People spend an estimated 90% of their time indoors. 3 Did you know that indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air? It’s no surprise that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental risks to public health4 I recommend using a HEPA air filter in your homes. My homes are equipped with air filters from AIRDoctor®.
- By eating them: The Standard American Diet (aka SAD) is full of pesticide-treated produce and animals. Many of them are also grown with artificial growth hormones and antibiotics. The National Research Council claims that most pesticide exposure comes from eating foods contaminated with pesticides.5 This is especially true in children.
- Through your drinks: Since water makes up more than half of your body, the quality of your water directly correlates to your health. Heavy metals, chemicals from plastic, and other pollutants can get into your body through drinking water.6 I recommend purchasing a high-quality whole-house purifier or filter. You will be more in control and know you’re getting high-quality water once you’re done!
- You absorb them through your skin: The average person uses 10-15 personal care products per day. Many of these products contain 125 different ingredients! Additionally, the FDA approves many of these chemicals for use. This is with little to no safety testing.
Each exposure to a toxin adds to your body’s toxic burden. Think of your body like a cup, and toxins like drops of water. If your cup is full because you have a leaky gut, a poor diet, infections, and stress, those small, cumulative toxic exposures cause that cup to overflow. When it does, you’re pushed into full-fledged autoimmune disease.
What is the Solution?
To heal your gut and enjoy better health, I like to break it into two main toxin-taming strategies. These include prevention and detoxification. The best thing to lighten your toxic burden is to prevent it from getting into your system in the first place.
If your home is toxin-free, you’ll have a little bit more leeway when you go out into the environment. Here are four ways to make your home as toxin-free as possible:
- Clean your air. You may not be able to clean the air outside, but you can keep the air inside your home as toxin-free as possible. I recommend getting a HEPA filter for your home and office.
- Purify your water. Install water filters on your sinks and shower taps. I myself have a full-house filtration system. Avoid drinking out of plastic bottles (even BPA-free plastics).
- Buy clean food. Eat organic whenever possible. I understand it can be expensive. When you have the opportunity, buy grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and wild-caught seafood.
- Use clean body products. Many personal care products come with hormone disrupting chemicals. These absorb into your skin and negatively affect your health. Replace your body products with cleaner options one item at a time over the next few months. Every replacement you make takes away from your toxic burden.
- Flush toxins. Your body removes toxins through urination, defecation, and sweating. Regular bowel movements are important to ensure you are flushing these toxins out. If you suffer from constipation, Colon Comfort provides gentle digestive support using a combination of magnesium citrate and botanical extracts.
How to Detoxify Your Body
A key part of The Myers Way® is supporting your body’s own natural detoxification. This happens through food, drinking lots of water, or doing something that makes you sweat. One of my favorite strategies is to use an infrared sauna to help detoxify. Infrared saunas are especially useful for those limited in their ability to exercise.
Most of your detoxing happens in your liver, so the goal is to support it during this process. The nutrients you eat while on The Myers Way® help your liver mobilize the toxins that are in your tissues. Your body creates its own master detoxifier called glutathione. I recommend supplementing with extra glutathione while your body is trying to excrete a toxin. This is critically important if you are anywhere on the autoimmune spectrum.
Pillar IV: Heal Your Infections and Relieve Your Stress
I once encountered a patient who hadn’t yet experienced a full reversal of their symptoms. This was even after addressing Pillar I and II. I knew we had more work to do. Toxins weren’t the issue here. Once we addressed Pillar III, I turned to the next piece of the puzzle. It was underlying infections and stress.
Research shows that viruses can cause some infections associated with autoimmune diseases. Some of the most common viral culprits I saw in my clinic were:
Herpes simplex (HSV):
This is the virus that gives you cold sores and/or genital herpes. It’s very common: about 90% of Americans have one or both types of HSV, although they might not show symptoms.
EBV is the virus that causes infectious mononucleosis. 95% of all US adults contract this virus by age 40. You’ve likely had mono at some point, even if you don’t remember. Surprisingly, it’s often misdiagnosed as the flu or strep throat. EBV is an infection that has an interesting connection with autoimmune disease. In fact, conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), lupus, fibromyalgia, Graves’ disease, and Sjögren’s syndrome all seem to have a correlation with EBV.
When a patient isn’t getting better on the first pillars of The Myers Way®, I consider the possibility of a bacterial infection. I’m referring to Lyme disease, caused by a bacteria called Spirochaetes. It shares many similarities to autoimmune diseases. Many people are misdiagnosed with autoimmune disease or another inflammatory condition. For example, you may think you have chronic fatigue syndrome when in reality the issue is Lyme.
Viruses like EBV and HSV don’t leave your system. When your immune system is healthy, it keeps the viruses in check. When stress or illness suppresses the immune system, infection can flare up. Once the virus is active, the inflammatory immune response damages surrounding tissue. This causes more inflammation and a stronger response from the immune system. An autoimmune disease develops from that chronic state of inflammation.
The Stress Connection
The concept of stress can be emotional, mental, or physical. It can come from physical injury, sleep deprivation, exposure to a toxin, leaky gut, or eating inflammatory foods. The relationship between stress and infections is complex.
Stress isn’t just a feeling, though. It’s an actual release of hormones that your body produces when it’s met with a challenge. The number one stress hormone is cortisol. Think of cortisol as a chemical messenger. When you’re in a stressful situation, cortisol tells your immune system to gear up for a challenge. Your immune system responds by producing inflammation. Then, cortisol signals your immune system to calm down when the danger has passed.
This system works well when you encounter acute stress. This is stress that happens suddenly and then passes. The problem is that too many of us are dealing with chronic stress. Chronic stress can come in the form of sleep deprivation, poor diets, long hours at work, problems in our relationships… the list goes on and on.
When you have constant stressors in your life, your immune system can’t return to a peaceful state. Your inflammatory immune response is activated for too long. Eventually, it goes rogue and attacks your own bodily tissues. In an attempt to suppress this response, your stress hormones go overboard. This leaves you with a weakened immune system.
At the same time, your body is inflamed. You are vulnerable to infections, including latent infections like EBV and HSV that never left your body in the first place. Each time these viruses reactivate, they replicate and damage more of your cells.
Thus begins a vicious cycle where the infection becomes active, destroys tissue, and provokes an even greater immune response. Your body releases cortisol to calm it down, which triggers more infection, and your body is left a mess!
Address Your Infections and Relieve Your Stress
To heal your gut, as well as the entire body, it’s important to address infections and relieve stress.
Identifying your personal triggers, removing toxins, re-introducing beneficial nutrients, and creating a long-term plan will keep you on track to enjoying better health again.
The great news about The Myers Way® is that once you start following this way of life, you’ll notice that it isn’t willpower keeping you going! I know following The Myers Way® can empower you to reverse your symptoms naturally – restoring your energy, vitality, and health.
- Effect of primary processing of cereals and legumes on its nutritional quality: A comprehensive review. Morteza Oghbaei & Jamuna Prakash. Cogent Food & Agriculture. 2016.
- Effects of lectin ingestion on animal growth and internal organs. A Pusztai. National Library of Medicine. 1998.
- What are the trends in indoor air quality and their effects on human health?. U.S. Enviornmental Protection Agency. 2020.
- The Total Exposure Assesment Methodology (TEAM) Study. Lance A. Wallace. U.S. Enviornmental Protection Agency. 1987.
- Pesticides, Disease Vectors and Public Health. U.S. Enviornmental Protection Agency. 2021.
- EWG’s Water Filter Guide. The Environmental Working Group. 2020.