You may or may not have heard of the term ‘leaky gut’ around your health circles these days. Â Leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability, is a term used in the holistic, natural medicine world when we discuss compromised gut function that leads to inflammation and immune function. Â Leaky gut is a very common condition with a high percentage of the population being affected. Â But, many people are unaware that this is even an issue and instead mask the conditions with prescription and over-the-counter drugs that in fact just make the condition worse. Â And it doesn’t just show up as digestive distress, leaky gut symptoms can cause a variety of compromised body system signs.Â
Do any of these sound like you?
- Do you regularly deal with digestive issues such as gas, bloating, pain, constipation or diarrhea? Â Have you been diagnosed with IBS?
- Do you have seasonal allergies or asthma?
- Do you frequently get headaches or migraines?
- Do you get chronic sinus infections?
- Do you have multiple food allergies/sensitivities?
- Do you suffer from painful cramps, mood swings, PMS, or heavy flow during your menstrual cycle? Â Are your periods abnormal?Â
- Do you have achy joints and/or muscle cramps?
- Do you often find yourself with little/no energy?
- Do you have sleep issues such as insomnia or oversleeping?
- Have you been diagnosed with an autoimmune diseaseÂ such as rheumatoid arthritis, hashimotoÃ¢â¬â¢s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease? Â See full list of autoimmune diseases here.
- Do you live with mood/mental issues such as depression, anxiety, brain fog, ADD or ADHD?
- Do you have acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, or unexplained rashes?
- Have you been diagnosed with candida overgrowth, parasites, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), fungal overgrowth, or gut infections?
If you answered yes to ANY of these questions, you may have a leaky gut. Â Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Â Millions of people worldwide are suffering from the exact same thing, some of which have gone totally undiagnosed by their doctor.
What’s happening when your gut is leaky?
In a healthy gut, the gut lining is strong enough to allow only properly broken down molecules to pass through the gut wall and into the blood stream, while keeping the unwanted, toxic particles in the gut where they belong. Â When your gut lining becomes damaged and inflamed, this barrier function is compromised and unwanted foreign objects, like bacteria, viruses, waste, and undigested food particles, are allowed to pass in to your bloodstream and circulate through your body. Â Your body then attacks these invaders, as it is meant to do, and causes an immune reaction and more inflammation. Â This causes a huge burden on your immune system, your liver, and pretty much every other organ and system in your body. Â This is why seemingly unrelated symptoms can all be traced back to one big, super important, little researched organ…the gut. Â You don’t have to have stomach issues to have a leaky gut…it can manifest itself in many other ways throughout your body.
Why did this happen in the first place?
Your intestinal lining becomes inflamed from:
Foods that cause inflammation in your system will obviously cause inflammation within your gut. Â Refined grains, sugars, processed foods, preservatives, alcohol, processed dairy, and refined flours introduce toxins and inflammation into your body. Â Gluten is a main culprit of leaky gut.
Dysbiosis or Bacterial Imbalance
Our guts are home to trillions of bacteria, in fact we are comprised of 10 times more bacteria than we are cells! Â In a healthy gut, there is enough good bacteria present to outweigh the bad bacteria. Â The bad guys are kept in check by the presence of the good ones in a symbiotic balance, and the gut continues to function normally. Â However, quite commonly, the bad bacteria begin to take increase and takeover, while the good bacteria diminish. Â This is known as dysbiosis and it is a major player in the development of intestinal permeability or leaky gut. Â Dysbiosis occurs due to stress, nutritionally void, processed food diets, frequent antibiotic usage, infections, and inflammation.
Stress results in a suppressed immune system.Â A weakened immune system increases overall gut inflammation.
This includes low stomach acid (which allows undigested food into the small intestine causing irritation and a compromised digestive cascade), yeast overgrowth (candida), bacterial overgrowth, infections, parasites and excessive environmental toxins.
Prescribed or even over-the-counter pain relievers like Advil, Tylenol, and Aspirin irritate the intestinal lining and decrease the mucosal levels.Â This can begin, continue, or even worsen the inflammation cycle resulting in more bacteria, yeast, and digestion issues. Â Excessive use of antibiotics and steroids also play a huge role in creating a gut lining that is weak and compromised.
Yeast is normal in the gut but can become overgrown and make its own holes in the lining.
How do we heal ourselves and feel awesome again?!
1. Â Enjoy a REAL FOOD diet: Â The wrong foods wreak havoc on our entire system.Â
Eliminate whole grains,Â refined flours, refined sugars, chemicals and additives, processed dairy, vegetable and seed oils, processed/manufactured meat, and legumes while you are in healing mode…
and replace them with:
- High quality meat from grass-fed cows, pasture-raised chickens, wild-caught fish, etc
- Organic, local, in season veggies and fruits
- Nutrient-dense fat sources like coconut oil, lard, tallow, grass-fed butter or ghee, olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, and their oils
- Organic, grass-fed, raw dairy products (if tolerated)
- Fresh and dried spices and seasonings
2. Â Super charge your meals. Â
Add healing foods to your diet for faster relief.
- Bone broth
- Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and kombucha
- Prebiotic foods such as jicama, jerusalem artichoke, onion, garlic, dandelion greens, and asparagus
- Organ meats from healthy, properly-raised animals
3. Â Support with proper supplementation daily.
Rebuild and Repair the Intestinal Lining with:
- L-Glutamine – rebuilds and repairs intestinal lining
- Grass-fed collagen
- Slippery elm
- Deglycerized licorice (DGL)
Aid proper digestive function with:
- Betaine HCL
- Digestive Enzymes
4. Â Fix your sleep. Â Sleep is our best repair mechanism!
Go to bed at a decent hour and aim for at least 8 hours of restful, uninterrupted sleep.
5. Â Relax! Â A stressful life makes for a stressed out digestive system.
Spend time during the day unwinding and clearing your mind (walk, meditation, yoga, breathing practice).
6. Â Move. Â During the healing process, your body needs movement without the stress of serious fatigue. Â Find your happy medium.
Get exercise. Â I’m not talking hours in the gym, but make 15-30 minutes of your day centered around fitness. Â Find something you enjoy and do it! Â It could be lifting weights or just dancing around the living room to your favorite songs.
Do not spend more than 20 minutes at a time in one position. Â Stand up from your computer and take a walk, stretch, do jumping jacks. Â If you spend a lot of time in your feet, take the time to sit, stretch, or even lay. Â Put yourself in different positions throughout the day.