Our digestive tract functions as a protective barrier of our bloodstream from the food we eat, which allows essential nutrients to be fully absorbed and utilized by our body. A leaky gut is the term coined for a vulnerable and easily permeable gut lining where undigested food particles find their way into the bloodstream, which then triggers autoimmune responses that can eventually lead to various diseases. The leaky gut syndrome is a condition affecting millions of people from all over the world, and chances are they don't even know it. Though it sounds like something that targets a person's digestive system, the truth is there are many different health conditions that can spring from it. This syndrome can be the reason why you have a low reserve of energy throughout the day, a slow metabolism, food allergies and unexplained joint pain, or various other autoimmune conditions and thyroid disease.
A person's digestive tract acts like an extremely fine sifter that filters out larger particles which could potentially harm our internal system and only allows some particular substances to pass through. This lining in our gut is what protects us day in and day out, but when an increased intestinal permeability happens (another term for a leaky gut), that net becomes invariably damaged and now allows previously kept out substances that were blocked before.
Now, potentially harmful things such as undigested food particles, bad bacteria and gluten can get through the protective lining and cause havoc in our system. Toxic waste emanating from the intestinal wall can also enter the bloodstream which can cause an immediate immune reaction.
Some Common Symptoms and Progression of Leaky Gut Syndrome
Inflammation of the system by having a leaky gut can lead to symptoms such as Syndrome X, having digestive problems, or suddenly putting on weight. Dermal problems such as acne or rosacea, painful effects like headaches and joint pains, fatigue and various other thyroid conditions can also surface from having a leaky gut. Bloating and food sensitivities where there was none before might also present itself in elevated symptoms.
Perhaps the biggest indicator of a leaky gut syndrome is when you develop signs of unusual sensitivity to multiple food products. The fat and all those partially digested proteins can escape from your intestinal lining and be absorbed in your bloodstream, prompting an allergic response. Certain symptoms presented above are more consistent than just breaking out in rashes, and if this condition is left on its own, can turn into serious health issues such as chronic fatigue, muscle pain, episodic migraines, anxiety and depression, psoriasis, eczema, early arthritis, IBS and inflammatory bowel disease. It can also lead to type 1 diabetes which prevents the absorption of needed nutrients including vitamin B12, iron and zinc.
Leaky Gut Syndrome Causes
A bacterial imbalance, overload of toxins, chronic stress (prevalent in today's society) and a poor diet can all lead to a person developing a leaky gut. Foods that contain protein components (conventional dairy products, GMO's, sugar and unsprouted grains) are the most common culprits. Unsprouted grains in particular contain plenty of lectins and phytates, nutrient blockers that benefit plants because they help fight off potential attackers and invaders like parasites and mold, but is bad for the body because they attach themselves to the digestive lining and damages it, causing inflammation.
Foods That Cause Leaky Gut
Lectins are not only present in grains, but in plenty of other foods, especially in hybridized foods that have been modified to ward off bugs. Soy, spelt, rice and wheat have a high percentage of lectins but fermenting and sprouting grains considerably reduces the phytates and lectins, making it easier for your gut to take in. Grains that both contain high amounts of lectin and gluten are the worst offenders of all, and should be entirely avoided especially if you have already contracted the condition. When your gut gets back on its feet, then you can add sprouted and fermented grains back to your diet.
Excessive sugar is not only bad for your general health, but it can cause serious problems for your digestive system as well. Bad bacteria, candida, and yeast growth love sugar, and they are all bad for your gut. Bad bacteria is notable for creating exotoxins that are very harmful to your cells and quickly eats through your intestinal wall, causing leaky gut.
Conventional cow's milk is also something to be careful about, as dairy's A1 Casein protein harms your gut when taken in large quantities. Our digestive system's vital enzymes break down lactose and other sugars, but the pasteurization process invariably destroys these helpful enzymes and causes our bodies to have a hard time breaking down complex sugars, potentially leading to related health issues. Conventional cow's milk can be replaced with sheep or goat milk if necessary.
The Connection Between Leaky Gut And Your Brain
How can something that starts in a person's digestive system have far-reaching effects, even so far as reaching the brain and causing damage to it? Intestinal permeability may have a large role to play, as seen in the example of an autistic child in episodic mood swings. Research and exhaustive studies have reason to believe that a diet that is both Casein and Gluten-free proves very effective in minimizing these mood swings, as the protein that leaks from the gut goes through the body, recirculating and acting on the brain like an opioid drug. Leaky gut is also believed to be strongly linked to common psychological disorders such as bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression. When the necessary steps are taken to heal the gut and make it whole again, then it may also heal the brain in its sickness.
Other Factors To Consider
Dysbiosis is a scientific term for a person having an imbalance in both harmful and non-harmful population of bacteria in your digestive system. This factor is one of the leading causes and can start at birth through a C-section, or can be passed down from mother to child if the mother doesn't have a healthy gut to start with. The balance of bad and good bacteria can be upset when a person drinks tap water full of fluoride and chlorine, ingests too much antibiotic prescription drugs, or if he or she has a lack of foods rich in probiotics.
Toxins are everywhere. The typical human comes into close contact with more than 80,000 toxins and chemicals each given year, but the ones that do the most damage and lead to a leaky gut are NSAIDS, the common aspirin, tap water, unknowing inhalation of pesticides, antibiotics and tap water. You may reduce the chances of developing a leaky gut with simple solutions- purchase a recommended water filter to eliminate excess fluoride and chlorine from the water you drink, and consider natural herbs to clear up the internal inflammation.
Chronic stress plays a major factor in a person developing a leaky gut. A little stress every now and then won't hurt, but if it is your constant companion, it can weaken the immune system and will not be as effective in fighting off foreign invaders. Viruses and other harmful bacteria may enter and further cause inflammation in the gut. Stress might be a normal part of life, but there are easy solutions to combat this worldwide epidemic. Extracurricular activities, plenty of sleep, hanging out with positive people and meditating can greatly lessen stress and lead you down the path to good health and a healthy gut.
Solutions To Cure Leaky Gut Syndrome
Fighting a leaky gut is not as bad as it seems. Knowing the best solutions can make a big difference in your life! Here are the ideal principles that you can adapt to heal this debilitating digestive system condition. The steps would be fairly easy to remember as you can see, it's the ultimate LEAKY gut solution:
- L - Let healing commence by applying the right mindset and commitment to your goal.
- E - Eliminate harmful foods from your diet and avoid the other factors that damage your gut.
- A- Acquire support for repairing your damaged gut from certain supplements, which will be outlined below.
- K - Know the best healing foods and practices that can greatly help you recover.
- Y - Yin and Yang balance of the population of good and bad bacteria through essential probiotics.
This practice works and has been proven to be effective in dealing with leaky gut syndrome. Keep in mind the most offending food types- GMO foods, conventional dairy products and meat, grains and excessive sugar. Make sure to avoid the toxins from antibiotics, NSAIDS, pesticides and tap water by practicing preventive measures.
5 Excellent Supplements That Fight Leaky Gut Syndrome
Supplements that heal or bring a person's digestive system back to normal are plenty, but the ones that excel are Licorice root, NAG, Quercetin, Aloe vera juice, Probiotics and digestive enzymes, and L-Glutamine. Let us take a look at each one to see how they made it to the top:
Remember how your elders and doctors say that probiotics will do you a world of good? It turns out they were right after all. Probiotics are the VIP of your digestive system because it adds more good bacteria and prevents further growth of the bad ones. Probiotics are available to be eaten as food or as a diet supplement. This is very important because you will need to replenish the good bacteria after removing the offending ones that damage your gut. It is not a bad idea to eat probiotic-rich foods and take in approximately 50 billion probiotic units to heal a leaky gut.
These are available as dietary supplements that you can take in before each meal. Digestive enzymes work as intended- making sure that all the food you eat are fully digested, and the proteins and particles are broken down so they don't cause gut damage.
Anyone who has a leaky gut syndrome will need to take in L-Glutamine, as it is very essential in the healing process. L-Glutamine is an anti-inflammatory amino acid that is your gut's best friend, repairing and growing back the intestinal lining to normal levels. Not only does it go in and nurse your digestive system back to health, but also makes sure it stays that way by coating the cell walls and protecting them, warding off irritants along the way. Recommended to take twice daily in 2 to 5 gram doses.
DGL Licorice Root
The natural herb Licorice root is an adaptogenic and works to improve the production of acid in your stomach while balancing out the cortisol levels. DGL is unobtrusive and works along with your body to maintain the mucosal lining and duodenum of your stomach. This is a particularly helpful supplement to a leaky gut that was primarily caused by chronic emotional stress. Recommended to take twice daily in 500mg doses.
This supplement has impressive anti-leaky gut syndrome properties by building up a barrier shield and sealing your guts by creating tight junction proteins. Quercetin also lowers the production of histamine that is often linked to food intolerance, and stabilizes the all-important mast cells. New research proves that this wonder supplement can also heal ulcerative colitis. Recommended to take thrice daily in 500mg doses.
6 Amazing Foods To Include In Your Leaky Gut Diet
Hemp seeds, flaxseeds and chia seeds that have sprouted are all excellent fiber sources that ultimately improve and allows the thriving of good bacteria in the gut. Foods that are very rich in Omega-3 fats such as salmon, lamb, and grass-fed beef are highly recommended as well. Patients with a severe case of leaky gut syndrome may need to get their fiber intake from fruits and steamed vegetables.
Coconut and all of its variations
Coconut and all of its products are very healthy and good for your digestive system. MCFA, the fat in coconuts are especially great because they are very easy to digest as compared to other fat types. It also helps that coconut kefir has a significant amount of probiotics, and that coconuts in general provide a one-two punch that knocks leaky gut and its ill effects out of your system.
Fermented vegetable contain plenty of probiotics and organic acids that balance out your intestinal pH. Try out some common fermented vegetables such as Kvassm, Kimchi and Sauerkraut that are readily available in local markets and groceries.
Raw Cultured Dairy
Raw cheese, butter, amasai, yogurt and pastured kefir are superb examples of raw cultured dairy that contain important SCFA and probiotics and help heal a leaky gut.
Bone broths do a world of good for those who are looking to repair a leaky gut. They contain a generous helping of amino acids, specifically glycine and proline, and collagen which heals damaged cell walls and builds them up again. A 3-day bone broth fast may do wonders to fix up and heal a person suffering from leaky gut syndrome.
Not all types of meat are to be avoided, since there are healthy meats sourced from pasture-raised animals. These foods are rich in nutrients which are brought out when slow-cooked or braised, and once your body absorbs the fats, it promotes faster healing of your leaky gut.