Leaky Gut Syndrome & How To Support a Healthy Gut
Many of us have suffered from some kind of digestive issue or stomach ache at some point in our lives. Many times we never really figure out the cause. Other times, after a litany of diagnostic tests, we discover the triggers. As a child, I routinely endured bouts of stomach aches that came without warning. Looking back I wonder if it was due to the multiple rounds of antibiotics, asthma medication or strep throat that plagued me much of my childhood. Now that medical science has uncovered vast amounts of new knowledge about the gut, we have the ability to discover the root cause of many diseases. If leaky gut can be recognized and overcome, we can experience many improvements in our health. This blog will define leaky gut, discuss some of the causes and how to support the body's ability to reestablish healthy gut lining with simple dietary changes including a few key supplements. As a medical practice, we encourage you to seek medical advice regarding any abnormal signs and symptoms you may exhibit so that your physician can pinpoint what is causing your illness. Eliminating the contributing factors can play an integral role in overcoming leaky gut.
What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky gut syndrome is also known as increased intestinal permeability. This condition occurs when the intestinal lining has sustained damage. Intestinal lining protects the internal environment of the gut allowing needed nutrients to absorb and foreign substances to stay out of the blood stream. The intestine's ability to act as a barrier is critical. If there is some kind of breach in this lining, bacteria and other pathogens as well as undigested or partially digested food may escape the intestines and enter into the blood stream. This can result in an autoimmune reaction.
Health Issues Linked to Leaky Gut
Many health issues are linked to leaky gut syndrome. The list that follows does not cover every possible health problem. Here are just a few of the most common:
- gastrointestinal problems
- abdominal bloating, excessive gas and cramps, IBS (irritable bowel sydrome)
- food sensitivies
- joint pain
- skin conditions
What Causes Leaky Gut
“A huge proportion of your immune system is actually in your GI tract,”
says Dan Peterson, assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Antibiotics destroy some of these powerful colonies of good bacteria that make up the immune system. Leaky gut syndrome may exacerbate such disorders as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma.
Leaky Gut Nutritional and Supplement Support
Andrew Weil, our own Dr. Carine and other well known medical doctors follow a protocol that has proven to support the body's ability to overcome this condition.
1. Discovering allergens, environmental toxins or stress that lead to inflammation and eliminating these from your diet or environment.
This can include testing for food allergies and sensitivities, finding ways to cope with stress so your body doesn't internalize the stress leading to chronic inflammation, having your home or work place tested for environmental toxins like mold, choosing smaller fish to eat and making sure your water is filtered and free from heavy metals, pesticides and other toxins. Even renovating an older home with lead paint dust could contribute to your toxic load. There are so many contributing factors and finding what needs to be eliminated can take time but it is well worth the investment.
2. Avoid alcohol and Non-Steriodal Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like Advil, Motrin, Aleve etc. For an extensive list click here.
3. Make sure you’re eating plenty of fiber. Organic vegetables and fruit with their skins if possible (avocado and berries are very high in fiber), seeds (chia and flax), whole grains.
4. Choose anti-inflammatory foods. You can find details regarding these foods here: Dr. Weil's anti-inflammatory diet pyramid.
At Purely Integrative we have experienced success from choosing foods like yogurt, kefir, organic natto (a Japanese food that is fermented soybean containing high amounts of fiber, probiotic and vitamin K), miso soup, kombucha tea, sauerkraut and other fermented foods. If you have any kind of food sensitivities to the above foods make sure you avoid them.
Food Babe's Vani Hari shares her experience eating fermented foods that help repair a leaky gut. Look for “live food” or “contains live cultures” on the label of fermented foods at your local grocery store. Make sure to eat a variety of fermented foods since each food has unique healthy bacteria. You don't need to eat large quantities of fermented foods and you can ask your healthcare provider what is recommended for your specific condition. Even a quarter cup several times a week can do a lot of good.
6. Additional supplements we recommend for leaky gut:
- essential fatty acids (fish oil)
- glutamine - An amino acid that supports the gut. Our Glutashield powder comes in chocolate and vanilla.
- enzymes - Supports digestion.
- curcumin - Supports the gut and now is offered in a gummy.