What Is Leaky Gut and What To Do About It??
What is leaky gut?
A basic function of the gut is to absorb nutrients. It is permeable to small molecules. When the small intestine is damaged, and the lining breaks apart, particles like gluten, bacteria, food, and more enter your bloodstream and cause inflammation. Your immune system treats these particles as foreign objects and attacks them. This leads to the inability to absorb nutrients. Leaky gut leads to nutrient deficiency. It progresses to food intolerance. Then it creates issues with the immune system, failure of organs, and autoimmunity. Learn more about leaky gut and autoimmunity here.
What causes the damage?
Dietary triggers, infections, toxins, and hormones can cause gut problems. Medications, mold, Candida, gall bladder removal, improper organ function, and chronic stress lead to leaky gut. Gluten is considered one of the top causes of leaky gut. Sugar, alcohol, and dairy are also likely suspects. Leaky gut affects the entire body. It starts out with small issues and grows. Issues caused by leaky gut include skin issues like acne, rosacea, and hives, thyroid problems, sinus problems, IBS, Crohn’s disease, diarrhea, and constipation.
1. Environmental toxins (pesticides, mercury, BPA)
5. Sugar and Alcohol
6. Food allergies or sensitivities
7. NSAIDs, Steroids, BCP, acid-reducing medications
8. Infections (Candida, parasites, SIBO)
Symptoms of Leaky Gut
• Fatigue or fibromyalgia
• Allergies or asthma
• Anxiety, depression, or other mood issues
• Constipation or diarrhea
• Thyroid issues
• Hormonal issues
• Weight gain or loss
• Candida overgrowth
• Autoimmune diseases – Hashimoto’s, lupus, celiac, psoriasis, etc.
Healing a Leaky Gut
Remove the triggers. This would include toxins, glutens, sugar, alcohol, and dairy.
Learn which foods your body is allergic to or intolerant of and remove those. A food allergy test may help but aren’t always accurate. An elimination diet is the gold standard.
Take probiotics daily. Probiotics will build up good bacteria in the gut.
Supplements for Leaky Gut
3. Digestive enzymes
5. Vitamin D
Natural probiotics will replenish your healthy bacteria with fermented vegetables or dairy. The way our forefathers lived offers clues on how different cultures used fermented foods (like yogurt and sauerkraut) not only as food preservatives but also as support for intestinal and overall health.
History shows that:
During the Roman era, people consumed sauerkraut because of its taste and health benefits.
In ancient India, it was common to enjoy lassi, a predinner yogurt drink. This traditional practice is anchored on the principle of using sour milk as a probiotic delivery system to the body.
Bulgarians are known for their high consumption of fermented milk and kefir and for their high level of health.
Ukrainians consumed probiotics from a fermented food list that included raw yogurt, sauerkraut, and buttermilk.
Various Asian cultures ate pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash, and carrots. They consume these fermented treats to this day.
Fermented foods are chock-full of probiotics or good bacteria. A myriad of research demonstrates how the ideal balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut forms the foundation for physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Probiotics can also be taken as supplements. You can access probiotics at your organic and whole foods stores or on Amazon. A brand I recommend is Florajen3.
• Brussel Sprouts
• Chia Seeds
• Jerusalem Artichoke
The italicized foods have the extra benefit of having a plant fiber, inulin. Inulin nourishes the microbiome, nourishes the gut, and has weight loss properties. It improves fat metabolism and decreases the absorption of glucose.
Digestive enzymes break down food. We begin releasing enzymes when we chew. Chewing is important and necessary for proper digestion. The enzymes are released in our saliva.
If we don’t have enough stomach acid, the result can be that our body never gets the signal to release additional enzymes as our food gets to the intestines. If you are not digesting properly, hydrochloric acid and supplemental enzymes are important to supplement, with permission from your doctor or other licensed healthcare professional.
• Hydrochloric acid (1000 mg with each meal) or apple cider vinegar (increase use 1-4 tsp diluted in 5x the volume in water) with each meal
• Protease (digests protein)
• Lipase (digests fat)
• Amylase (digests starch)
• DPP4 or IV (digests gluten and milk protein)
An essential amino acid with anti-inflammatory benefits. L-glutamine thickens cell walls and resists bacterial infections. The intestines access this type of L-glutamine, L-alanyl-L-glutamine, best.
You’ve likely heard that vitamin D is important. We hear of its association with osteoporosis or loss of bone density, when it’s deficient. But did you know that there are vitamin D receptors on many tissues in the body such as the heart, skin, brain, kidney, immune cells, breast, and prostate?
Vitamin D goes way beyond affecting bone health only. When deficient, it’s been linked to severe kidney disease, heart disease, cancer, inflammation, and a leaky gut. It turns out that there are few areas of the body vitamin D doesn’t touch.
A little background information: Vitamin D, not really a vitamin but a hormone, is manufactured in the body from the combination of sunlight and cholesterol. It is then, in its D3 state, that it becomes activated in the liver and kidney to its active D form, known as calcitriol.
An important tool against leaky gut is vitamin D. It turns out that D is needed for the gatekeeper system of the small intestine and when D is deficient, a leaky gut is the result. When we appreciate how closely vitamin D is tied into the body’s immune system and its correct functioning, it’s perhaps not a surprise that D would play a role in a healthy gut where 70-80% of the human immune system is housed. And it’s also not a surprise that vitamin D is frequently deficient in patients with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and other chronic digestive diseases. It’s important for everyone to get their vitamin D levels tested [25(OH)D blood test], and its especially important for those who already know they have any sort of compromised immune or digestive system.
Additional Tips for Repairing Leaky Gut
• Combine vegetables (raw/fermented/cooked) with meat or fish to aid with digestion.
• Buy organic, local, and pesticide-free whenever possible.
• Include healthy fats in every meal. Good fats come from grass-fed pastured meat, salmon, ghee, coconut and coconut oil, avocados and avocado oil, nuts, seeds, olives, and cold pressed olive oil.
• Try to consume a cup of bone broth or meat stock with every meal or at least once daily. Some people may have difficulty digesting fats initially and may only be able to tolerate a few tablespoons while the body is healing. Increase as tolerated.
• Fermented foods provide probiotics. This includes fermented vegetables, yogurt, kefir, and sour cream. Fermented beverages like kvass, kombucha, and water kefir are also beneficial. Please note that some people are unable to tolerate these products initially and may need to be temporarily avoided. Introduce new foods gradually, observing for any negative reactions.
• Avoid all processed foods in packages and cans with BPA. These include all refined carbohydrates and foods that contain preservatives, artificial colorants, and chemicals. They are extremely detrimental to the digestive system and the healing process.
• Take supplements, including 5,000 IU/day Vitamin D3/K2, with permission from your doctor or other licensed healthcare provider.
What Else Can You Do?
If you want to improve your immune system, lose weight, feel less bloated, improve your energy, and most of all metabolize food and absorb nutrients more efficiently, download my free 5 Ways to Beal Belly Bloat guide today!
For additional information and help with gut revival, you can work with me 1:1. I have personally dealt with gluten sensitivity, food intolerance, leaky gut, candida overgrowth in my intestines, dysbiosis of gut flora, and IgA deficiency. I have helped others and I know I can help you too. Learn more here.
Lose inches and look and feel younger by repairing your gut