If You Do Only One Thing to Boost Your Immune System,
Try the 5R Program
By Katherine Carroll, NHF Executive Director, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner
2020 has already yielded an unexpected treasure despite the global disruption and destruction resulting from COVID-19 – the renewed appreciation, or perhaps first-time awareness, of the value of building, investing in, and nurturing our immune system. Immune strength and resiliency are the greatest components of a personal asset protection program, of far more value than locking down, “masking up,” and social distancing.
A strong immune system not only enriches your life but can save your life. Why prophylactic measures have usurped the common-sense practice of using the root source of protection from disease is obvious to some and sadly “beyond me” to others. “Health is wealth” has never been such an important axiom and it makes sense to employ one program on a regular basis to ensure it: the 5R program. According to 5R literature, “Gut dysfunction impacts all other organ systems which need to utilize the energy from digestion. Therefore, restoration of the gut function supports the foundational health of the whole body including immune health, cardiometabolic health, and cognitive function.”
Balance Your GI Tract
Investing in a robust immune system is literally “life insurance” at its most integral level. Optimum immune strength yields peace of mind and less stress when the news is perpetually full of death, doom, and gloom. All it takes is a bit of knowledge and implementation of the 5R program, which will balance your GI tract where most of the immune system resides.
What is the 5R program? A lifestyle and nutritional intervention for those experiencing digestive discomfort and dysfunction. But the ripples from improving digestion are massive and powerful.
Because systemic health is dependent upon proper intake of good nutrition, digestion, and assimilation, as well as detoxification, once these areas are “fixed,” watch for rapid improvement in many other areas. Here are just a few:
- Depressed? Interestingly enough, more serotonin is produced in the gut than in the brain – assuming proper GI function.
- Frequent colds, fatigue, or exhaustion? Start with the gut.
- Sleep apnea? A newly released study reveals the connection between the gut microbiome and sleep disruption.  Gut microbes are intimately involved with neurological events.
- GERD, heartburn, and indigestion? You don’t have a Tums deficiency.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Continuing to do what you are doing and expecting different results is the very definition of insanity. Give the 5R program a try.
- Can’t think straight, feel “foggy?” Frequent colds? Exhausted? Leaky gut, leaky brain.
- Wounds heal slowly? Before reaching for medicine or even “green drugging” with targeted nutritional supplements, go to the root of the problem and see if the rest will not resolve.
- Skin issues? Skin mirrors the GI tract. 5R puts the fire out of Rosacea and acne.
A physician being interviewed spoke for many other physicians when he said, “If I could only practice on one system in the body, it would be the GI tract because once healed, so many other ailments resolve.”
The Sweet Spot
The “sweet-spot” is found in the Peyer’s patches (PP), or aggregated lymphoid nodules. Like internal soldiers, they monitor intestinal bacteria populations and prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the intestines, thus forming an integral part of the immune system in the gut. Because a huge portion of your immune cells are in the gut – 70%-80% — it makes sense to invest where it counts: in gut integrity, that is, in the repair and restoration of proper function of the GI tract. PP constitute the immune system’s first line of defense against gut-associated mucosal antigens, the “bad guys.”  Think “scales of justice.” The good bacteria must outweigh the bad.
I have been a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner since 2004, and I have personally witnessed countless times how this approach – in place of drugs – works and makes perfect sense since nutritional therapy is providing everything that our organs and systems need for proper structure and function. What could be more logical? By following the 5R program, that is, getting at least seven hours of sleep, stress reduction, following a healthy diet with nutritional supplementation, and staying well-hydrated, you build a sound foundation for optimal health and immune function.  Coupled with gardening and growing your own food (“soil investments”), the 5R program will increase your chances of surviving a p(L)andemic and enjoying a long, functionally healthy life.
In 1994, under Dr. Richard Schultz’ training to receive a Natural Healer certification, I learned and experienced the phenomenal power of doing a seasonal liver and gallbladder flush. Doing the easy flush for the first time (on day 4 of a 5-day program), I realized for the first time in my life that, “This is what real health feels like!” I have not forgotten the feeling to this day. We have remarkable ability and innate potential to heal ourselves through simple therapies that support proper structure and function.
Years later, working in our optometry clinic, I witnessed firsthand the effect of poor fat digestion in our patients who would not resolve gallbladder attacks through a liver/gallbladder flush, but opted instead for surgery to have their gallbladder removed. I took hundreds of patient histories and realized that so many who had had their gallbladders removed went on later to develop the potentially blinding disease of macular degeneration (often gaining a lot of weight as well). This was remarkable – remarkable enough to take a hard look at the cause. Had these patients been advised by their surgeon that they would need exogenous fat-digestion aids after surgery, their sight might have been preserved and their weight kept under control.
I wrote about my findings in these macular-degeneration patients and suggested the use of ox bile or sunflower lecithin to emulsify fat so it could carry the fat-soluble lutein to fill the macula. If the liver and gallbladder have impaired ability to digest fat, not only are fatigue and sluggishness an outcome, but excess weight and impaired vision or even loss of vision may occur, all due to fat-soluble vitamins, essential for our vision, not being assimilated.
Also, early in my nutritional therapy career, I learned of a Washington State surgeon, Dr. Jacob Kornberg, who had stopped doing stomach and bowel surgeries and instead helped his patients heal their guts just the same as I did employing the, then, 4-R program.
This protocol has since expanded to include one more “R.” The 5-pronged approach has integrity and I was eager to learn it and put it into practice. Restoring balance in the various functions of the GI tract is the main goal of the 5R program and in so doing, the immune system and general health are boosted.
One of my first successes was with a 50-year old woman who had IBS for literally decades and was reduced to eating jars of pureed baby food. When “Erin” (not her real name) was widowed, and beginning to date again, she was horrified at the thought of traveling and the attendant GI-tract anxiety. Having been reared on a dairy farm, she was not pleased that the protocol eliminated not only dairy but also gluten-containing grains from her diet. But desperate as she was, she followed the plan and within a week was stunned to experience a normal digestive and elimination pattern she did not think possible. When I met Erin again weeks later, she had been to Las Vegas for a long (successful) weekend with her boyfriend and actually gained three pounds whereas she had been slowly wasting away before. To have such success certainly sold both of us on the 4R program.
Not only is the gut the logical place to begin a healing protocol, but it is directly connected to our brain and impacts it almost immediately as Michael Gershon, M.D. showed in his 1999 book, The Second Brain: A Groundbreaking New Understanding of the Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestine. His work revealed the intimate connection between gut and brain function. Leaky gut, leaky brain. Foggy thinking clears when gut function is restored.
Components of the 5R Program
In a nutshell, here are the steps to GI restoration and greatly improved immune health:
There are up to five pounds of bacteria in the gut, which is approximately the same weight as that of a brain. The balance always needs to be tilted towards the side of beneficial bacteria, so removing harmful pathogens such as undesirable fungi and bacteria is key. Additionally, eliminating unwanted compounds from processed foods, environmental toxins, and stress are essential parts of this first step towards rebalancing the GI tract.
Support proper digestion by restoring function with additional dietary fiber, digestive enzymes including hydrochloric acid, pancreatic digestive enzymes, and ox bile or sunflower lecithin for fat digestion.
Restore microbiome balance by adding friendly bacteria and fermented foods to create a hospitable terrain.
Restoration of the integrity of the gut wall with targeted whole foods and nutraceuticals, which will help heal leaky gut.
Adopting lifestyle habits and practices that retain the structure and function of the GI tract.
I would add a few other steps to build upon an already fine program: begin with a high-fiber plant-based diet and with proper hydration. We use structured water for our hydration. Consider adding a liver/gallbladder flush and parasite cleansing along with the regular use of a Far Infrared Sauna, which detoxifies deeply. From there, incorporate daily, or as needed, quality multiple vitamin and mineral supplements and immune supplements such as probiotics with targeted immune action, quercetin, N-acetylcysteine, EGCG, medicinal mushrooms, zinc, Vitamin D3, Vitamins A and C, essential fatty acids, and the like and a multitude of other things, such as exercise, sleep restoration, and destressing modalities will all carry you to higher levels from this reliable, strong foundation. The 5R program is not even hard! Just ask yourself if avoiding all of those surgeries and illnesses will be worth it in five years.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the complete 5R Program Guide.
© 2020 Katherine A. Carroll
 Staff Writers, “Gut Microbiome Altered by Sleep Apnea,” Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News, September 24, 2020, see:https://www.genengnews.com/news/gut-microbiome-altered-by-sleep-apnea/
Microcirculation, Second Edition, online 30 September 2008, at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123745309000127
 Mark Kaye, DC, “5R: Getting the Gut in Balance,” Metagenics Blog, at https://blog.metagenics.com/post/2018/06/04/5r-getting-the-gut-in-balance/
Katherine A. Carroll, “Best Kept Secrets to Prevent, Halt, or Even Reverse Macular Degeneration,” at https://nutritionalvision.com/best-kept-secrets-to-prevent-halt-or-even-reverse-macular-degeneration/