Something Jan said made me want to talk about this, today. After we've dropped grains and their fibers and damaging proteins from our diets, if we're not completely "all better" what do we do?
There are all kinds of things KNOWN to irritate our digestive systems, and there are a few which are REPUTED to help them heal. What can we count on to be helpful?
Perhaps the first thing to consider is that things we LIKE can possibly be doing harm. Even though you're lactose-tolerant, there may be some aspects of (or ingredients in) your dairy products which bother you, like pasteurization-damaged proteins. Some people find cross-sensitivity with coffee if they have problems with gluten or such things. Maybe you have a subtle problem with nightshades (like me!), or maybe it's FODMAPs or ....
Dr. Atkins said that some of the things we like best are things we're actually sensitive to -- and which we'd be best writing off. If it's fresh crusty Italian bread, I think all of US agree and have already abandoned it, but what if it's ... oh, strawberries, or citrus, or shrimp? What if it's cruciferous vegetables? Both "paleo philosophy" and conventional wisdom tend to canonize these healthyfruitsandvegetables and protein sources. I mean if we can't eat even some of THOSE, after all the other things we've given up, what are we supposed to do?
I suppose, we make some tough decisions. It's trade-off time!
HOW bad do we feel? HOW endangered do we suppose we are? If we suspect we need to go the extra mile, it's time to do yet ANOTHER elimination and see how awful it IS when we re-introduce that salsa to our chicken....
As we get older our tolerance to a lot of things goes down. Our appetite does, too. Chances are, if we can only eat a small amount at some point, the things we DO eat had better be VERY good for us.
Where HEALING is concerned ...? Removing the irritants is the FIRST thing we need to do. Next, we make sure we're very well-nourished. Next, ... it's said that bone-broth is healing to the gut, especially the connective-tissue fraction. Earlier this fall, I bought "Nourishing Broth," Sally Fallon's latest (I think...), and i'm in the middle of an experiment with gelatin as a result of reading it. Problem is, one can't really expect to see results for like three or four MONTHS.
MONTHS. This is one of the shortcomings of natural means of healing -- it doesn't happen very quickly most of the time. Glutathione -- I saw the improvement within HOURS. A lot of herbs work their magic within days or weeks: epazote was unique in being fast-acting! Other things can take 4-6 weeks to be perceptible. Gelatin and collagen can take a SEASON or two.
Gelatin DOES have other benefits -- it can reputedly improve your protein usage (absorption?), and I agree. I seem to need smaller servings of animal protein foods since I started taking a tablespoon in my coffee every morning. I strongly suspect that our "protein requirements" are dependent upon exactly WHICH amino-acids we're getting, not some nebulous "X grams of 'complete' protein per day." Just as zeroing-in on omega-3 seems to be beneficial as compared to generic "polyunsaturated fats," getting specific about how much of which amino-acid we eat may be instructive.
So I wasn't totally ready to talk about gelatin/collagen yet, but decided to jump the gun a little. My three-month point will end with the year, and I might need another month's grace before I can really, confidently recommend the stuff. At this point, all I can say with assurance is, "it feels good," and gelatin feels better than the collagen hydrolysate. Certainly, if one is poor and trying to make one's grocery dollar go as far as possible, nutrition-wise, i'd definitely advise using gelatin (and bone broth) as an excellent way to stretch the protein budget.