Until recently leaky gut syndrome was an unrecognized condition affecting millions of people without them even knowing it. Leaky gut is a condition that affects the digestive system, however it can lead to a host of other health conditions.
Research has shown that many common problems such as food allergies, fatigue, low energy levels, joint pain, thyroid disease, autoimmune disease and even a slow metabolism signs that you are suffering from leaky gut.
What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Leaky gut syndrome (also known as intestinal permeability), is basically the result of damage to our intestinal lining. The lining of our digestive tract is designed to absorb nutrients into our blood stream and nourish our bodies. Imagine it as a net with very small holes that is only designed to let specific substances to pass through it. The gut lining acts as a barrier to prevent larger molecules entering the blood stream.
However, the gut lining can get damaged, which causes larger holes to develop, allowing other larger molecules to now pass through.
These larger molecules can now pass through into our blood steam, this can include proteins such as gluten, bad bacteria and food particles that haven’t been digested. Toxic waste from the intenstinal wall might also leak into the blood steam, causing inflammation. Serious diseases, from inflammatory arthritis to various autoimmune diseases, can be triggered by this.
Leaky Gut Symptoms and Progression
Leaky gut can cause a host of problems, symtoms include:
- Food sensitivities
- Thyroid conditions
- Joint pain
- Skin issues like rosacea and acne
- Digestive problems
- Weight gain
- Syndrome X
Food sensitivities are one of the most common signs of leaky gut. The body can have an allergic response when partially digested proteins and fat enter the bloodsteam through the intestinal wall.
These allergic responses often cause one of the symtoms mentioned above, you won’t necessarily break out in a rash. These symtoms can then lead to further health issues if left untreated such as IBS, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue, arthritis, depression, anxiety, psoriasis, migraines, eczema and muscular pain.
There is also strong supporting evidence that suggests that leaky gut syndrome could cause autoimmune diseases, this includes Type 1 Diabetes.
What Causes Leaky Gut?
One of the most common cause of leaky gut syndrome is gluten. Most people simply cannot digest gluten very well, and in usually results in inflammation in the intestinal lining. You don’t need to have celiac disease for gluten to cause you problems and make you sick.
Other foods that can cause leaky gut include dairy (mostly casein), grains, sugar and any foods that you might be allergic to (nuts, eggs, corn, soy etc…). Alcohol is another culprit which can increase intestinal permeability and increase bacteria in the small intestines.
Gut infections can also lead to a leaky gut. This can include Candida overgrowth, intestinal parasites, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). These types of infections are usually caused from consuming too much sugar, bad hygiene or food poisoning.
Other Factors That Cause Leaky Gut
Chronic stress is never good and usually leads to a suppressed immune system. When the immune system is weakened it finds it hard to carry out it’s normal functions because it gets over-run with pathogens. This causes more inflammation in the gut which leads to more permeability of the intestinal lining.
We come into contact with over 80,000 chemicals and toxins every single year, but the worst offenders for causing leaky gut include antibiotics, pesticides, tap water, aspirin and NSAIDS. I recommend buying a high-quality water filter to eliminate chlorine and fluoride and look to natural plant-based herbs to reduce inflammation in your body.
Any type of inflammation in the gut can lead to leaky gut. This can be brought on by low stomach acid (which passes undigested food into the small intestine irritating everything it passes by), yeast overgrowth (Candida), bacteria overgrowth, infection, parasites and excessive environmental toxins.
Any medication prescriptions or even over-the-counter pain relievers with Aspirin or Acetaminophen irritate the intestinal lining and decrease the mucosal levels (a membrane produces mucus on the intestinal lining as a natural protective measure). This can start or help to continue the inflammation cycle (more bacteria, yeast, and digestion issues) and promotes an increase in permeability.
Yeast can normally be found in our gut flora but if you have too much it can mutate in a multi-celled fungus (usually Candida) which can hook onto the intestinal lining and can make more holes in the gut lining.
Lack of Zinc:
Zinc is a critical piece of maintaining a strong intestinal lining. A deficiency of the vitamin can lead to the mucosal lining losing strength and becoming more permeable. There are studies that show that supplementing with Zinc when it is deficient can dramatically improve intestinal lining integrity.
Leaky Gut and the Brain
Leaky gut can also affect the health of our brain. Studies have linked gut issues with depression, mood disorders, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, memory loss, and brain lesions. You may have noticed yourself how eating certain foods can affect your mood, concentration, focus and even personality.
Gut flora can affect our brain chemistry, and any imbalances can cause depression and psychiatric disorders. Bad diets, too much sugar or carbs, chronic stress and repeated use of antibiotics can cause imbalances in our gut flora, causing the bad bacteria to outweigh the good bacteria.
The 4-Step Plan to Heal Leaky Gut
The good news is that leaky gut syndrome can be healed. Simply follow this 4 step solution:
#1 REMOVE foods and factors that damage the gut
#2 REPLACE them with healing foods
#3 REPAIR the gut with specific supplements
#4 REBALANCE with probiotics
This protocol has helped many people over the years overcome leaky gut and improve their health.
It’s important to remember for step 1 to remove all foods that cause leaky gut. This means no sugar, grains, processed meats, conventional dairy and no GMO foods.
Foods That Heal Leaky Gut
#1 Bone Broth
Bone broth contains both collagen and amino acids called proline and glycine that are great for healing the damage to the intestinal lining. Doing a fast while drinking bone broth for three days is a great way to heal leaky gut and autoimmne disease.
#2 Raw Cultured Dairy
Contains both probiotics and SCFA’s that work great for healing the gut. Pastured kefir, yogurt, amasai, butter and raw cheese are have some amazing healing properties.
#3 Fermented Vegetables
These contain organic acids that balance intestinal pH and probiotics to support the gut. Sauerkraut, kimchi, and kvass to name a few of the best sources.
#4 Coconut Products
All coconut products are extremely good for your gut. The MCFA’s in coconut are easier to digest than other fats so they work great for leaky gut. Also, coconut kefir contains probiotics that support your digestive system.
#5 Sprouted seeds
Chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds that have been sprouted are great sources of fiber that can help support the growth of beneficial bacteria. But if you have severe leaky gut, you may need to start out getting your fiber from steamed vegetables and fruit.
You should also try to consume plenty of foods that have omega-3 fats they are very beneficial – anti-inflammatory foods, this includes foods like grass-fed beef, lamb and wild-caught fish like salmon.
Top 5 Supplements for Healing Leaky Gut
While the first step to healing a leaky gut is to change your dietary habits in order to avoid any further damage to your gut. Taking the following supplements will prove to be very beneficial in speeding up the recovery process of healing of a leaky gut.
Probiotics are one of the most important supplements becase it helps restore the good bacteria in the gut. For best results try to get them from both food and supplements. It’s important to remember to rebalance the good bacteria in your gut, after you have removed the damaging foods from your diet. Good bacteria helps keep our gut in check and prevent ‘bad’ bacteria from overgrowth.
So make sure you load up daily on BOTH probiotic-rich foods and a high-quaility probiotic supplement .
#2 Digestive enzymes
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.
L-Glutamine is an amino acid that is essential to the health of the digestive and immune systems. Glutamine works great for repairing damage to the gut lining, it helps the gut lining regrow, repairing the damage caused by leaky gut. It also works great for controlling sugar cravings. I recommend taking 3-5 grams a day.
#4 Licorice Root (DGL)
Licorice root is an adaptogenic herb that helps balance cortisol levels and improve the acid production in our stomach. DGL supports the body’s natural processes for maintaining the mucosal lining of the stomach and duodenum. This herb is especially beneficial if someone’s leaky gut is being caused by emotional stress. Take 500 milligrams twice daily.
Quercetin has shown to improve gut barrier function by sealing the gut because it supports creation of tight junction proteins. It also stabilizes mast cells and reduces the release of histamine, which is common in food intolerance. New studies have also shown its effectiveness in healing ulcerative colitis. I recommend taking 500 milligrams three times daily with meals.
The protocol outlined above is a great way to heal you gut, if followed properly then you will be well on your way to healing your leaky gut.