The journey to healing your gut is not an overnight, one-size-fits-all solution where the same steps work for every individual. Truly healing your gut takes knowledge, dedication, and time.
When your gut is unhealthy, it can cause more than just stomach pain, gas, bloating, or diarrhea. Because 60-80% of our immune system is located in our gut, gut imbalances have been linked to hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema, rosacea, and other chronic health problems. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25022563
Signs your gut needs healing:
- Digestive issues like bloating, gas, and/or diarrhea
- Food allergies or sensitivities
- Mood swings, irritability
- Skin problems like eczema, rosacea
- Autoimmune disease
- Sugar Cravings
- Frequent Infections or illness
- Poor memory and concentration, ADD or ADHD
- Constant fatigue
Take this online quiz if you are unsure about your current gut health: http://solvingleakygut.com/myquiz/
Having a “Leaky Gut” (LGS: Leaky Gut Syndrome) can sabotage all of your healthy lifestyle choices and cause you to live in a cycle of symptoms that you just can’t rid of. The digestive system is a pathway starting at the mouth and ending at the anus. It is responsible for breaking down the foods we eat, extracting the nutrients needed, and then eliminating the waste. The problem is that poor food choices, viruses, sugar, chronic stress, parasites, caffeine, alcohol consumption, birth control pills, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and bad bacteria can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract, which leads to increased permeability or “leaky gut.”
This “leaky gut” means that instead of foods being broken down, absorbed, and eliminated, partially digested foods can now cross through the damaged area of the intestinal lining and enter the blood stream directly. Chronic irritation leads to inflammation and, eventually, to a lot of these little pinprick-style leaks in the very thin and delicate lining of your intestinal wall. This leak can cause intolerances that then initiate an inflammatory response in the body and the release of stress hormones. One of these stress hormones is cortisol, which further taxes the body and starts to impair the body’s immune system. This can then lead to a host of issues that may not seem related to the impaired gastrointestinal tract, like allergies, skin conditions, impaired performance, and weight gain to name but a few. https://www.dovepress.com/comparison-with-ancestral-diets-suggests-dense-acellular-carbohydrates-peer-reviewed-article-DMSO-MVP and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20876708
Even a tiny leak can cause big problems. A healthy gut is very selective about what gets passed into your body. But a leaky gut can release undigested food particles, bacteria, and toxins into your bloodstream, leading to a potentially outsized immune response. If the damage to the lining of your gut is bad enough that such substances regularly leak through, it can wreak havoc on your health.
You need to heal your gut, what now?
The Four R’s are a common tool that is used to evaluate progress and stay on track when healing the gut. https://experiencelife.com/article/how-to-heal-a-leaky-gut/
- Remove: In this first step you remove the offending foods and toxins from your diet that could be acting as stressors on your system. This means caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, bad fats, and any other foods you think may be causing issues, like gluten and dairy. All of these irritate the gut in some form and create an inflammatory response.
- Repair: The next step is to begin to repair the gut andheal the damaged intestinal lining. You do this by consuming an unprocessed diet and giving your body time to rest by providing it with substances that are known to heal the gut, like L-glutamine, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, antioxidants (in the form of vitamins A, C, and E), quercitin, aloe vera, and turmeric.
- Restore: This involves the restoration of your gut’soptimal bacterial flora population. This is done with the introduction of probiotics like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis. A probiotic is a good bacteria and is ingested to help reinforce and maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract and to help fight illness. In general a healthy lower intestinal tract should contain around 85% good bacteria. This helps to combat any overgrowth of bad bacteria. Unfortunately in most people these percentages are skewed and this allows for the gut health to drastically decline. The human gut is home to bad bacteria like salmonella and clostridium, which is fine as long as they are kept in order and don’t get out of control.
- Replace: This involves getting your bile salts, digestive enzymes, and hydrochloric acid levels to optimal levels to maintain and promote healthy digestion. This can be done by supplementing with digestive enzymes and organic salt to help make sure you have enough hydrochloric acid.
Through your gut healing journey, you will begin to question everything you put in your mouth. You already know that choosing unprocessed, real, whole foods are a must – but what else? What foods can you consume to help aid the healing of your gut? There are numerous “Leaky Gut Diets” out there (Such as the GAPS diet), and following one that works for you is a great start. But no matter what diet you choose, there are some foods that can aid the body in healing the gut.
Foods to Include: (Chew thoroughly) http://www.consciouslifestylemag.com/heal-digestive-problems-naturally/
- Bone Broth: A good, organic broth is an anti-inflammatory and contains collagen and the amino acids proline and glycine that can help heal your damaged cell walls. Bone broth can help your body heal and restore the mucosal lining in your digestive system. https://apathtohealth.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/leaky-bone-broth-for-leaky-gut-and-leaky-brain/
- Gelatin: Bone broth already contains gelatin, so if you are consuming homemade bone broth you will not necessarily need to supplement your diet with other forms of gelatin. High quality gelatin comes from animal sources, so those who do not consume bone broth can eat foods made with gelatin to reap the benefits.
- Organ Meats: Organ meats are the most concentrated source of just about every nutrient, including important vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and essential amino acids.
- Fermented Foods: These contain organic acids that balance intestinal pH and probiotics to support the gut. Kimchi, Sauerkraut, kvass are all wonderful.
- Vegetables: Rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals which help control inflammation. Eating a variety of differently colored vegetables, a variety of dark green leafy vegetables, and a variety cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, turnip greens, kale, Brussels sprouts, etc.) every day will provide all of the essential vitamins and minerals in a way that is easy for the body to absorb.
- Coconut Products: Easy to digest, coconut products are good for the gut.
- Grass-fed beef: Organic and pasture-raised is your best option. These are nutrient-dense and can be especially healing for the gut when the cuts include bone and fat and are slow-cooked or braised.
- Wild caught fish: Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation.
- Sprouted Seeds: Hemp, chia, and flax seeds are great sources of fiber which help your gut to grow good bacteria. (For a severe leaky gut, you’ll want to reduce fiberous food sources temporarily and then introduce them back in after 6 months slowly.)
- Ghee: Clarified butter helps balance the immune cells in your gut and can help heal your leaky gut.
- Turmeric: An anti-inflammatory that encourages the body to release digestive enzymes and aids the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates.
- Ginger: Ginger contains potent healing properties that help to reduce the irritation and inflammation caused in the intestinal lining due to leaky gut. Ginger also contains potent anti-oxidant properties that help to get rid of toxins, harmful bacteria and other microorganisms inside the intestines. This would prevent these toxins and pathogens from entering the blood stream.
- Lemon Water: Benefits of lemon water are to stimulate the lymphatic system, increasing both vitamin C and bioflavonoids, while also helping the digestion and elimination process.
Herbs to Include: Some herbs are known to calm inflammation and the damage that occurs in the gut. The two best choices are Marshmallow Root along with Slippery Elm, as both soothe and coat the intestinal tract while minimizing the absorption of toxins. Other herbs to help heal the damage further by reducing excessive permeability are: http://thescienceofeating.com/2015/01/16/how-to-heal-leaky-gut/
- Licorice Root
- Sheep Sorrel
- Fennel Seed
- Ginger Root
To eliminate parasites (that frequently accompany a suppressed digestive system):
- Black Walnut
- Caprylic Acid
- Grapefruit Seed Extract
- Dairy in any form: Dairy can be addictive. Caseomorphins – a cousin of morphine or heroin – are protein fragments that come from the digestion of the milk protein, casein. In addition to making you want more, casein can be highly disruptive to your body. It raises cortisol and contributes to leaky gut syndrome.
- Any form of GMO food
- Processed foods
- Nuts: Most contain levels of phytic acid, which bind nutrients and make them unavailable (unusable), furthering malnutrition already caused by a leaky gut. They also have a high polyunsaturated fat content, which is a fragile fat that oxidizes and becomes rancid easily – exacerbating inflammation.
- Gluten: A “leaky gut” allows gluten peptides to cross the intestinal membrane and the blood brain barrier, affecting the endogenous opiate system and neurotransmission. These gluten peptides may set up an innate immune response in the brain similar to that described in the gutmucosa, causing exposure from neuronal cells of a transglutaminase primarily expressed in the brain. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26184290
- Eggs: Containing anti-nutrients and protein inhibitors, these are frequently an allergen. Their antinutrient avidin binds to biotin and makes it unavailable to the body. They should be avoided until the gut is healed.
- Nightshades: Vegetables including eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes all contain glycoalkaloids, which are compounds capable of damaging the gut barrier and furthering inflammation and a leaky gut.
- Excess Fruits: Until the gut is healed, the high sugar content of fruits can further damage.