Over the past few years there has been an increase in the term “leaky gut”. Originally this was merely dismissed by the medical establishment as a non-existent issue but recent research is proving that this is not only a real health epidemic, but one that it is negatively affecting millions of people.
According to research, Leaky gut could be the culprit to your food allergies, low energy, thyroid disease, joint pain and inflammation, autoimmune condition, and gastrointestinal problems.
What healthcare practitioners are discovering is that individuals are experiencing radical health improvements when their leaky gut issues are resolved.
What is Leaky Gut?
To understand what leaky gut is you must visualize your intestines as a mesh bag with very fine holes.
Your digestive tract is responsible for allowing the absorption of nutrients from your food to the your blood stream. These small holes are designed to allow the “good” nutrients in while keeping the “harmful” stuff like toxins, undigested food particles, and bacteria out.
Due to high inflammatory diets (consisting of sugar, gluten, artificial colors and sweeteners etc.), high levels of cortisol due to stress, and the toxins in our environments, these small mesh holes begin to widen.
As these holes widen this protective barrier is compromised allowing “foreign” things into your blood stream and creating immune reactions in your body. These reactions create inflammation which has been linked to all types of chronic diseases and symptoms.
The most common problems a leaky gut creates are:
- Food sensitivities
- Thyroid conditions
- Joint pain
- Skin issues like rosacea and acne
- Digestive problems
- Weight gain
Typically the “tell tale” sign that you might be suffering from leaky gut is an increase in food intolerances or allergies.
Because undigested food particles are more likely to enter the blood stream with a leaky gut, your immune system begins to create antibodies against that food.
As a result, your immune system is put in “overdrive” every time you consume this food creating a myriad of symptoms including bloating, constipation, IBS, arthritis, eczema, psoriasis, depression, anxiety, migraine headaches, and pain and inflammation in your joints.
What causes Leaky Gut?
As I mentioned above there are several main factors that cause leaky gut:
- Poor Diet
- Improper Bacteria
Poor Diet. Both sugar and refined carbohydrates cause irritation on the protective barrier of your digestive tract.
It is estimated the the average person consumes over 144 lbs. of sugar per year causing surges in insulin and the creation of inflammation. This inflammation irritates the mucosal barrier along your digestive tract allowing the protective holes to widen and allowing foreign invaders in.
Refined carbohydrates like bread, pasta, rice, and cereal are also very problematic because they turn to sugar very quickly once eaten. In fact, in as quickly as 4 seconds enzymes in your mouth convert these grains into sugar causing insulin spikes and inflammation.
High cortisol levels in the response to stress also irritate the lining of your GI tract.
Our modern lives are loaded with stressful stimuli that often leave our adrenal glands in overdrive and leading to excessive levels of cortisol production. For more information on how your adrenals play a large role in your health and how to properly fix them naturally check out my FREE ebook HERE.
Toxins. It is estimated that the average woman puts over 300 chemicals on her body every day. Just flip over you shampoo bottle and count how many are in that bottle alone.
In addition, our food supply and water supply are loaded with pesticides and chemicals like fluoride and chlorine leaving most of us with an exposure of over 80,000 chemicals per year. Other chemicals like NSAIDs and aspirin also wreak havoc on the lining of your gut and contribute to the leaky gut epidemic.
Dysbyosis. The term of irregular bacterial growth in your gut is called dysbiosis. This when the good bacteria that is supposed to line your GI tract is destroyed due to inflammation and bad bacteria overtake and populates your gut. Common causes of this is antibiotic use, chemicals found in tap water, and the overuse of prescription drugs.
4-R Plan to Heal Leaky Gut
- Remove foods and other factors that damage the gut.
- Replace with healing foods
- Repair with supplements
- Replenish with probiotics
This protocol has been successfully used by thousands of doctors to help patients all over the world. It is the very protocol that I use in my practice to see amazing results.
Foods To Remove
Here are the biggest foods that cause a leaky gut by creating intestinal inflammation and candida:
Gluten – A gluten free diet can help improve the symptoms of leaky gut. Gluten is the sticky protein found in most grain products including wheat and is difficult to digest unless it’s been brought through a sourdough or sprouting process. On the leaky gut diet you will want to avoid all foods that contain gluten and wheat products.
Cows Dairy – The protein in cows dairy, called A1 casein, can trigger a similar reaction as gluten and therefore should be avoided. In fact, A1 casein may be 26x more inflammatory than gluten!
Sugar – Feeds yeast and bad bacteria that can damage the intestinal wall creating a leaky gut. If you are going to use a sweetener natural stevia or raw local honey are your best options but even those should be consumed in moderation at 1 tbsp daily.
Unsprouted Grains – Grains and soy when unsprouted and unfermented contain phytic acid which can irritate the intestines causing leaky gut.
GMO – Genetically modified organisms contain herbicides and pesticides that damage the gut lining. Studies out of the Journal of Environmental Sciences have found GMO foods destroy the probiotics in your gut and cause organ inflammation.
Healing Foods to add
Bone broth – Bone broth (made from scratch) provides important amino acids and minerals including proline, glycine and potassium that can help heal leaky gut and improve mineral deficiencies.
Raw cultured dairy – Probiotic rich foods like kefir, amasai and yogurt can help heal the gut by destroying bad bacteria like candida.
Fermented vegetables – Try to add fermented foods such as coconut kefir, kvass, sauerkraut or kimchi. These fermented foods contain probiotics essential in helping repair a leaky gut that work by balancing the pH in the stomach and small intestines.
Steamed vegetables – Non-starchy vegetables that are cooked or steamed are easy to digest and are an essential part of the leaky gut diet.
Healthy fats – Consuming healthy fats in moderation like egg yolks, salmon, avocados, ghee and coconut oil are easy on the gut and promote healing.
Fruit – Consuming 1-2 servings of fruit daily is good on a leaky gut diet. You can steam apples and pears to make homemade apple sauce or fruit sauce. Fruit is best consumed right after exercising or in the morning and not later on in the day and keep fruit intake in moderation.
Supplements that help Repair
L-Glutamine is an amino acid that is fundamental to the well-being of the digestive and immune systems. Glutamine is great for repairing damage to the gut, helping the gut lining to regrow and repair, undoing the damage caused by leaky gut, and reducing sugar cravings. I have used up to 30 grams per day for very severe cases.
Digestive enzymes are plant or microbial-based supplements that support the breakdown, absorption, and utilization of macronutrients. Taken with meals, they work with the body’s own reduced supply of enzymes to achieve maximum digestion and support intestinal repair mechanisms.
Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL)
DGL is an herb that has been used for over 3,000 years in the treatment of digestive issues including ulcers and indigestion. It’s made from whole licorice, but the manufacturing process includes the removal of glycyrrhizin, which can cause an elevation in blood pressure. DGL supports the body’s natural processes for maintaining the mucosal lining of the stomach and duodenum.
Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe is healing to the digestive system and not only brings down inflammation but aid in restoring the tight junctions needed in your GI tract.
Fish oil contains the essential fatty acids EPA/DHA which reduce inflammation. As much as 3 grams daily can be used.
Replenish with ProPiotics
Our gut is full of “good”and friendly bacteria that help us properly break down and digest our food. They help keep our gut in check and prevent ‘bad’ bacteria from overgrowth.
Unfortunately, these friendly bacteria can be depleted and disrupted by taking antibiotics, steroids, acid-blocking medications, eating a poor diet, and many other factors. Taking a highly concentrated dose (25-100 billion units a day) of probiotics on a daily basis can help you regain a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.
So, there you have it. If you are currently suffering with a leaky gut or symptoms of a leaky gut use this as a step by step guide to reclaiming your health. I find that the majority of patients that implement these diet and supplement changes have amazing results and find themselves on the road to recovery in no time.