Let’s face it. Modern life is often quite hard on our bodies and can be hard on our gut. Your entire digestive tract can be affected by stress, processed foods, alcohol, medications, and bacteria. It starts with chronic irritation and eventually the inflammation affects the very thin and delicate lining of your intestinal wall by causing little pin-prick leaks that can wreak havoc on your health. Handling leaky gut syndrome is possible with some knowledge and dietary tips.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Leaky Gut Syndrome or increased intestinal permeability – is a complex, chronic, debilitating condition that often goes undiagnosed by most mainstream medical professionals. It is the result of damage to the intestinal lining, making it less able to protect the internal environment as well as to filter needed nutrients and other biological substances.
Consequently, some bacteria and their toxins, incompletely digested proteins and fats, and waste not normally absorbed may “leak” out of the intestines into the bloodstream. This triggers an autoimmune reaction that leads to these signs that you may have a leaky gut syndrome.
Leaky Gut Symptoms:
- Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Seasonal allergies or asthma
- Hormonal imbalances such as PMS or PCOS
- Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac disease
- Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
- Mood and mind issues such as depression, anxiety, ADD or ADHD
- Skin issues such as rashes, acne, eczema or rosacea
- Diagnosis of Candida albicans overgrowth
- Food sensitivities or intolerances
- Joint pain
What Causes Leaky Gut?
Gluten is the number one cause of leaky gut. Other inflammatory foods like dairy or toxic foods, such sugar and excessive alcohol, are suspected as well. The most common infectious causes are candida overgrowth, intestinal parasites, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Toxins come in the form of medications, like Motrin, Advil, steroids, antibiotics, and acid-reducing drugs, and environmental toxins like mercury, pesticides, and BPA from plastics.
Chronic stress is also an important component in weakening your immune system over time, which in turn cripples your ability to fight off bad bacteria and viruses leading to inflammation and leaky gut.
What’s up with gluten?
Gluten is a protein made up of the peptides gliadin and glutenin and it is found in many grains such as wheat, semolina, spelt, kamut, rye, and barley.
Gluten is what makes bread airy and fluffy in texture and gives the dough its sticky texture. Gluten is also used as a stabilizing agent in many processed foods, such as salad dressings and mayonnaise. It’s in almost everything from beauty products to packaged foods to medications and supplements.
There has been a significant increase in the prevalence of celiac and gluten intolerance over the last 50 years. Why? Because we are no longer eating the wheat our parents ate. Today’s wheat has been hybridized to make it drought and bug resistant as well as to make it grow faster. This has led to increased systemic inflammation and a heightened autoimmune response.
And in our modern fast-paced world with so much fast food easily available, we’re definitely eating much more wheat than any of our ancestors ever did.
How to know if you are gluten intolerant
I truly believe that the single best way to determine if you are gluten intolerant is to take it out of your diet for at least 30 days, then reintroduce it. Your body knows better than any test. I always guide my clients to stop eating gluten and notice if they feel significantly better without gluten and/or feel worse when they reintroduce it. Works every time and they can usually determine that gluten is a likely problem, even if their lab tests come up negative for celiac or gluten intolerance. Remember — the tests are not fool-proof. The best test is to experiment with gluten products.
Other leaky gut foods to avoid include:
- Beans and legumes
- Nightshade vegetables
- Refined Oils
For more information on how food sensitivities or intolerances can manifest in our bodies read my previous article.
Leaky Gut Supplements
The first step in this healing process is unquestionably a change in dietary habits to stop any further damage to the gut. But dietary tips are just a part of the equation in your fight against leaky gut syndrome. I have found my patients fare well when adding the following supplements to their daily routine that can also be very beneficial:
This 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 lining to regrow and repair and reducing sugar cravings.
2. Digestive Enzymes
These 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.
3. Betaine Hydrochloric Acid (HCL)
This nutrient promotes optimal gastric acidity for support of protein digestion and absorption of minerals and other nutrients such as vitamin B12.
4. Slippery Elm
Slippery Elm is a centuries-old gut healer. It contains mucilage and stimulates nerve endings in the body’s intestinal tract to increase natural mucus secretion, which is an instrumental part of the stomach’s protective lining and helps combat ulcers and excessive acidity in the digestive system. It also contains important antioxidants that help relieve inflammatory bowel symptoms.
5. Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL)
This 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.
6. Marshmallow Root
This root is a multipurpose supplement that can be used for respiratory or digestive relief. Like slippery elm, it contains high mucilage content which eases the inflammation in the stomach lining, heals ulcers, and treats both diarrhea and constipation by creating a protective lining in the digestive tract.
7. Caprylic Acid
Also known as octanoic acid, is a naturally occurring fatty acid that comes from coconut oil and is known for its antiviral and antifungal activity. For those suffering from Candida or yeast overgrowth, this is a safe, effective and natural way to treat Candida.
Supporting overall gastrointestinal health and function can be as tricky as Leaky Gut Syndrome itself. My patients with poor gut integrity do well with GI-Revive™ to help with compromised nutrient assimilation and food sensitivities.
This comprehensive formula that can:
- Rejuvenate intestinal mucosal health
- Promote proper intestinal permeability
- Provide healing for ulceration and inflammation
- Promote regularity and healthy bowel function
- This wonderful formula provides therapeutic levels of some of the suggested supplements above like L-glutamine, DGL, slippery elm, marshmallow root.
Best Probiotic for Leaky Gut
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.
For leaky gut and most intestinal issues, I like to include one of my favorite probiotics known as Probiogage™. This probiotic is a specialized formulation containing four types of phages along with seven strains of probiotics. It is designed to help increase the beneficial bacteria in the small and large intestines to promote healthy GI and digestion. In my clinical practice, this has been an amazing addition to my product recommendations.
Healing Leaky Gut
I am frequently asked — how long it will take to heal leaky gut syndrome? The answer, of course, varies from person to person and depends on how the gut became “leaky” in the first place.
Typically, I find that when we address the root cause and implement a targeted protocol, my patients begin to see positive changes within two weeks. My approach includes my customized detoxification program, a modified diet such as the FODMAP or Low Carb diet, and several or all the above supplements. Within months everyone experiences reduced symptoms and improved gut health.
Leaky Gut Diet
Your gut health plays such an important role in the health of your whole body such as your immune health, nutrient absorption and metabolism, brain and neurological function, heart health, skin and skeletal health, weight maintenance and detoxification. Since there are so many factors that can compromise your gut health it is helpful to follow a leaky gut diet when trying to heal your gut.
Here are some key tips for a leaky gut diet:
- Forgo the sugar as it only feeds the bugs and bacteria in the gut.
- Ditch the gluten especially if you have digestive issues, food sensitivities or food intolerances.
- Up your intake of fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso or yogurt.
- Increase your fiber intake with fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Load up on prebiotic foods such as legumes, artichokes, asparagus, garlic and onion, leeks, apples and unripe bananas.
- Add in some apple cider vinegar to help stimulate bile flow and increase your own hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) required for digestion.
- Make your own bone broth for an excellent source of nourishing vitamins, minerals, collagen and repair nutrients for your gut lining.
Are you trying to repair the havoc wreaked on your gut? Your best bet is to get support. I am here to work with you towards your optimal gut health.
Contact me today and let me create a great program for you to heal not just your gut, but your whole body of inflammation and other chronic issues that are keeping you from feeling your best.