Leaky gut symptoms are not to be ignored
It is no surprise that our gut health is directly linked to our overall health – our ability to fight disease, inflammation and possible invaders. One of the most common gut imbalances people are suffering from today is leaky gut syndrome, also known as increased intestinal permeability.
The lining of our digestive tract is one single cell layer thick. These cells form a barrier between our bloodstream, immune system, and the outside world that comes in multiple times a day through what we eat and drink. In a healthy system, these cells are closely locked together forming what are called tight junctions. These tight junctions form a protective barrier in the gut, making sure that everything we eat is properly processed. When they break down, we develop what is called “leaky gut syndrome”.
With space in between these tight junctions, bacteria and toxins, incompletely digested proteins and fats, and waste not normally absorbed leak out of the intestines into the bloodstream. This triggers inflammation in the body, which can lead to leaky gut symptoms such as bloating, excessive gas and cramps, fatigue, food sensitivities, joint pain, skin rashes, acne, eczema, hormonal imbalances, brain fog and even autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Many different things that are apart of our everyday lives can cause leaky gut symptoms – one of the reasons why it is so common! Leaky gut syndrome is caused by chronic inflammation, food sensitivities, poor diet, intestinal damage from taking large amounts of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), overuse of antibiotics, excessive alcohol consumption, extreme stress, and/or any combination of the above.
Processed convenience foods, one too many glasses of wine, and not enough stress-relieving yoga build up over time.
Fortunately, we can heal leaky gut when we decrease inflammation, identify the root cause of the condition, reestablish the gut lining barrier, and allow the body to heal up naturally. Here’s how:
Sometimes we eat foods that do us more harm than good because we simply don’t know any better. Even certain “healthy” foods don’t work for every single one of us. By removing common irritants, the gut starts to heal and go back to it’s healthy natural state. Consider it a big deep breath for your digestive system. Then once these common toxic trigger foods (dairy, gluten, soy, corn, peanuts, sugar, alcohol, caffeine) have been eliminated, we can flood our bodies with healthy nutrients, allowing inflammation to fall to the side.
We can eventually begin to reintroduce the food groups above to find out which ones work with our individually unique bodies. Our health is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. The severity of your unique condition will determine how long you should omit these trigger foods. In my personal experience, 23 days seems to be a good start. However, if you have a more serious condition, it could take longer. It’s always a good idea to work with a professional.
Now that you have gotten rid of all of those irritating, inflammation-causing foods, it is time to replace them with the good stuff. Nutrient-dense vegetables (leafy greens are best!), healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado, almonds, etc.) and clean sources of protein (organic animal protein, quinoa, lentils, mung beans, etc.) are the new staples. Not only does this decrease inflammation in the gut, but it also fuels us with energy, balanced blood sugar levels, and balanced hormone levels. Fruit can be enjoyed too, in moderation. It is always best to stick to high-fiber, low-sugar fruits, like berries.
Probiotics, L-Glutamine, and digestive enzymes are critical supplements for repairing a leaky gut.
Probiotics help replenish the good bacteria and crowd out bad bacteria, which is key to gut health.
L-glutamine is an anti-inflammatory essential amino acid supplement necessary for the growth and repair of the intestinal lining. It helps seal up the space between the tight junctions, inhibiting particles from drifting through.
Digestive enzymes help us get the most out of the food we eat by helping us digest fully and make sure that it doesn’t stay in one place for too long. We don’t want undigested chunks of food hanging out, damaging our gut lining.
Extra helpers are licorice root and aloe vera. Licorice is a powerful herb that has been used for thousands of years that helps to stimulate the release of secretin which enhances the stomach’s mucous lining. Aloe vera contains polysaccharides that help to balance and modulate the immune system, reducing inflammation. It also has a positive effect on the microbial balance in our intestines.
Stress wrecks serious havoc on the gut. Stress hormones, like cortisol and epinephrine, break down the tight junctions that hold the cells that line the digestive tract together. If leaky gut is a possibility, it is time to allow yourself to take a break. Sleep more, skip your boot camp class and go to yoga instead. Eat each meal mindfully and slowly. Meditate daily. When we decrease stress, inflammation decreases and the body is allowed to heal.