You hear about it on T.V., on the radio, as you walk through the grocery store, and at your Functional Wellness Center- Leaky Gut. It is a buzz word that is sweeping through the nation. It seems to be a condition millions of people think they have, but is this just another hypochondriacal fad that will fade out in the next few months? We will take a look at what leaky gut is, how it occurs, symptoms, and what you can do to heal yourself from it.
What is Leaky Gut
In short, leaky gut is just as it sounds- a leakage of your gut lining.
Think of the gut lining like a colander which has small holes to only allow certain digested particles to squeeze through to enter the bloodstream to nourish the rest of the body. Now, if your colander has been damaged and has larger holes in it, it won't filter out as much as you would like. This can lead to excess toxins, undigested foods, and pathogens to enter your bloodstream, creating what is known as an immune reaction. Over time, this can lead to chronic fatigue or even autoimmunity!
What Causes Leaky Gut
Leaky Gut can be caused by many different factors. Some of the most common found in my practice are caused by:
- Excess Stress
- Undigested Foods
- Food Sensitivities/Allergies
- Environmental Toxins
- Overgrowth of Bacteria/Yeast/Fungus
Depending on the strength of the reaction to any of the above causes can determine how fast you develop leaky gut. For some people, 1 bad meal can create leaky gut symptoms, while for others they can go months before developing any symptoms.
Symptoms of Leaky Gut
The list of symptoms is very long, so here is a shortened version:
- Food Sensitivities
- Chronic Fatigue
- Joint Pain
- Brain Fog
- Weight Gain
- Hormone Imbalances
- Thyroid Issues
How to Heal Leaky Gut
The gut is a very key player in maintaining overall health of the body. It is where all the nutrients needed to run our machines known as our bodies is absorbed and distributed. Due to its important role, the gut lining sheds and regenerates roughly every 3 days. That means leaky gut has the potential to be healed very quickly. However, once you are having immune reactions to certain stimuli, if that stimuli enters your body before the entire system is healed, you can have an immune reaction that restarts the entire process over. Below are some steps you can take to make the changes needed to heal your gut.
- Listen to your body as it tells you what foods don't sit well with it. If a food makes you phlegmy, gassy, bloated, or gives you diarrhea, avoid those foods until your system starts feeling better.
- Avoid foods that are high in sugar. Sugar is very disruptive to the body, preventing it from running smoothly.
- Avoid foods that are highly processed and contain ingredients you can't pronounce. This means to stick with foods as nature has intended. If possible, use foods in their whole form. This may require you to find new recipes and to get creative with meals, but in the long run it is well worth it.
- If you know you live in a toxic environment (ex. you know your house is full of mold), you must remove the toxins before the gut can heal. Otherwise, you will be putting in a lot of effort with very little gain. Once those toxins are removed, healing your gut will be a much easier task.
- Avoid alcohol while you are repairing your gut. Alcohol taxes the liver of nutrients and forces the liver to detox the blood of alcohol instead of the toxins you are trying to get out in order to heal the gut.
- Add in bone broth or products containing collagen or gelatin. The amino acid complex of these products help to repair damaged cell walls (not just in your gut, but all over your body!). This should be a vital add-in to your daily regimen.
- Take L-Glutamine, 2-5 grams per day. This amino acid helps to lower inflammation and regenerates the intestinal lining. It helps to coat the intestinal walls to protect it from irritants such as toxins.
- Take digestive enzymes/bitters. These help to break down foods even more in your body, allowing your body to absorb the nutrients and to prevent over-sized particles from damaging the gut lining. Digestive bitters include: Gentian, Barberry root, Dandelion, Artichoke, Fennel, Cumin, Xing Sha Ping Wei San formula, and Li Zhong Wan formula.
- If you don't think you have an overgrowth of yeast/fungus, then taking a probiotic or foods containing probiotics would be very beneficial. It helps to repopulate the gut with good bacteria so they can push out the bad bacteria! Aim for 50 Billion units of probiotics per day. This article has a great list of the top probiotics that are currently on the market. This article from Health Ambition also has great information about the importance of probiotics.
One product that I have found to be extremely helpful with improving clients' guts is called Repairvite by Apex Energetics. It has a lot of the needed nutrients to support the gut lining in regenerating. Repairvite, combined with a healthy diet and digestive support can fix a leaky gut very quickly!
If you follow the above advice, you will be well on your way to improving your leaky gut! Remember, a one-size-fits-all protocol does not work for everyone. You may need to tailor the above advice to your own needs. For personal guidance on your leaky gut, you can always contact us for questions or to set up an appointment.