Leaky Gut Syndrome – Sounds pretty gross, doesn’t it? Well, it is a real thing and guess what, you may have one!
Did you know that most of our health problems start in our gut? Hard to believe, but it is true! The health of our gut contributes to the majority of our immune system issues.
You see, our digestive system does much more than just help us to digest and eliminate food – though those are important functions, too. Our gut, through our microbiome, the unique collection of gut flora that inhabits our intestines, influences our immunity, mental health, detoxification, and hormones. The lining of our gut is a major protective barrier between the foods we eat and microorganisms to which we are exposed, and our immune system, which influences our reactions to foods, and whether we develop food sensitivities, inflammatory conditions, and chronic diseases. Are you starting to wonder about your gut yet? Read on…
Your gut is lined with a row of cells called enterocytes. Between these cells are tight junctions. Their job is to regulate what gets across the intestinal lining and into your general system. While the gut is naturally permeable to nutrients, which are small molecules, so that you can get your nutrition from your food, when your gut barrier and microbiome get weakened from chronic exposure to bad foods and medications that irritate your gut, or when the good bacteria get out of balance from antibiotics, these tight junctions develop gaps, and you can develop a leaky gut, or leaky gut syndrome. When this happens, fragments of protein and bacteria that aren’t supposed to can get into your system. Your body recognizes these are foreign invaders and responds by producing antibodies that mount an immune system reaction against these molecules. Your body goes on red alert to react to many triggers in your environment.
Hmmm…are you beginning to think that perhaps YOU have a leaky gut?
Here are 10 signs that you may have a leaky gut:
- You struggle with digestive problems including gas, bloating, loose stools, or irritable bowel syndrome.
- You have food intolerances or food sensitivities.
- You suffer from seasonal allergies.
- You have eczema, skin rashes, acne, or other chronic skin problems.
- You have an autoimmune condition.
- You are tired all the time, have chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia.
- You struggle with anxiety, depression, or erratic moods.
- You have been diagnosed with yeast (Candida) overgrowth or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
- You have joints that ache and swell.
- You have trouble concentrating or with your memory, or notice other cognitive changes.
If you think that you may have a leaky gut, the first thing to do is to identify what triggers are irritating your gut. This will require that you take out what ails you; but first you must start with an “elimination diet” for 2 weeks to understand the triggers. This will involve removing all of the triggers that irritate your gut including foods, medications (of course check with your doctor on this), and ideally, stress, too! If you have been diagnosed with Candida (yeast) in the past, or have a lot of gas, bloating, and either loose stools or constipation, you might want to do this elimination diet step in conjunction with a functional medicine doctor who can provide comprehensive stool testing to see if this is still a problem and who can work with you on supplements (or sometimes medications), to eliminate the yeast overgrowth.
Once you’ve gone through this elimination diet and understand your triggers that need to be removed from your diet, it is necessary to then add in digestive support. This includes digestive enzymes, and if you have a lot of nausea with meals or when you take supplements, you might also need some additional stomach acid which may be achieved by adding in 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar in water with your meals.
Next, add in a good quality probiotic to restore your gut flora. Eating more fermented foods such as miso, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchee can also be helpful to restore the good bacteria in your gut.
Finally, the repairing process can take several months for the intestinal lining to heal. This can be done through properly prescribed supplements and foods to support this healing process. The right foods will be a powerful healing solution.
Leaky gut syndrome is a serious issue and barrier to vibrant health. If you want to understand more about this problem or get help to heal yours, then let’s talk! Please reach out to me to see how I may help you to understand and heal your leaky gut!