Step 5. What is Leaky Gut?

Do you ever get the feeling that there is something seriously affecting your health? Like if you could just find that one thing that was out of whack, you could once and for all pin point your issue and turn your life around? 

For me, I believe my digestive system is letting me down. 

Now I don't want to scare you off by going into too too much detail here... but I have suffered from tummy troubles from as far back as primary school. Anything from stress, to junk food and medication would set me right off and I would HAVE TO go to do #2's right then and there! Often at the most inopportune times.

After years of suffering from horrid cramps and irregular bowl movements, ranging from chronic diarrhoea to stints of constipation, resulting in haemorrhoids. It wasn't until recently, when I began researching and investigating my other health concerns, that I realised my tummy troubles could actually be connected to my other conditions - psoriasis, PCOS, and consistent weight gain. 

 Thanks to Jamin Thompson for this image. Check out his blog for more on how he cured himself of Crohn's Disease. 

Thanks to Jamin Thompson for this image. Check out his blog for more on how he cured himself of Crohn's Disease. 

I have suffered silently with IBS for many years. But what is this new 'Leaky Gut Syndrome' condition? Could I have that too? 

According to Dr Axe 

When someone has leaky gut (often referred to as increased intestinal permeability) the “net” in your digestive tract gets damaged, which causes even bigger holes to develop in your net, so things that normally can’t pass through, are now be able to. Some of the things that can now pass through include proteins like gluten, bad bacteria andundigested foods particles. Toxic waste can also leak from the inside of your intestinal wall into your blood stream causing an immune reaction.

All in all it doesn't sound pretty. But just how important is your gut health when it comes to autoimmune disorders and maintaining your weight? 

Dr Hyman, also an advocate for digestive health to cure disease, believes 

Most of us do not recognise or know that digestive problems wreak havoc in the entire body, leading to allergies, arthritis, autoimmune disease, rashes, acne, chronic fatigue, mood disorders, autism, dementia, cancer, and more.

So having a healthy gut means more than simply being free of annoyances like bloating or heartburn. It is absolutely central to your health and well being. It is connected to EVERYTHING that happens in your body. 

There are bugs in your gut that create a ecosystem of friendly bacteria. This must be in balance for you to be healthy. Not only does your digestive system determine what nutrients are absorbed and what toxins, allergens, and microbes are kept out. It is also responsible for your immune system, your nervous system, and your metabolism. So in short without a functioning digestive system your whole body goes out of whack. 

Dr Hyman claims  

 Many diseases that seem to be totally unrelated to the gut – such as eczema,  psoriasis, or arthritis – are actually CAUSED by gut problems!

If you do any of the following, you could have a digestive system that is out of balance:

  • Eat low-fiber, high-sugar, processed, nutrient-poor, high-calorie diet, which causes all the wrong bacteria and yeast to grow in our gut, damaging the delicate ecosystem in your intestines.
  • Overuse of medications that damage the gut or block normal digestive function – like acid blockers (Prilosec, Nexium, etc.), anti-inflammatory medication (aspirin, Advil, and Aleve), and overuse of antibiotics, steroids, and hormones.
  • Undetected gluten intolerance, celiac disease, or low grade food allergies to foods such as dairy, eggs, or corn.
  • Chronic low-grade infections or gut imbalances with overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, yeast overgrowth, parasites, or even more serious gut infections.
  • Toxins like mercury and mold toxins, which damage the gut.
  • Lack of adequate digestive enzyme function, which can come from acid-blocking medication use, or zinc deficiency.
  • Stress, which can alter the gut nervous system, cause a leaky gut, and change the normal bacteria in the gut.

As I read Dr Hymans list above I realised I had experienced, at one time or another, every single one of those contributing factors. So it was official I had digestive issues. But how do I fix it? 

So I began the following...

  1. Eating whole unprocessed foods. Make sure to include plenty of fiber from foods like vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
  2. Eliminate food allergies. If you think you have food sensitivities, try an elimination diet. Cut out gluten, dairy, yeast, corn, soy, and eggs for a week or two and see how your gut feels and what happens to your other symptoms.
  3. Treat any infections or overgrowth of bugs. Parasites, small bowel bacteria, and yeasts can all inhibit proper gut function. You must treat these infections if you want to heal.
  4. Replenish your digestive enzymes. When you don’t have enough digestive enzymes in your gut, you can’t properly convert the foods you eat into the raw materials necessary to run your body and brain. Take broad-spectrum digestive enzymes with your food to solve the problem.
  5. Rebuild your rain forest of friendly bacteria. Take probiotic supplements. They will help rebuild the healthy bacteria so essential to good gut health.
  6. Get good fat. Take extra omega-3 supplements, which help cool inflammation in the gut.
  7. Heal your gut lining. Use gut-healing nutrients such as glutamine and zinc to repair the lining in your gut so it can resume its normal function.

To do the above I added these Top 5 healing foods for my digestive tract.  

#1 Bone Broth - broth contains collagen and the amino acids proline and glycine that can help heal your damaged cell walls. 

#2 Raw Cultured Dairy - contains both probiotics and SCFA’s that can help heal the gut.  Pastured kefir, yogurt, amasai, butter, and raw cheese are some of the best.

#3 Fermented Vegetables - contain organic acids that balance intestinal pH and probiotics to support the gut.  Sauerkraut, Kimchi, and Kvass are excellent sources.

#4 Coconut Products – all coconut products are especially good for your gut.  The MCFA’s in coconut are easier to digest than other fats so better for leaky gut.  Also, coconut kefir contains probiotics that support your digestive system.

#5 Super seeds – chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds are great sources of fiber that can help support the growth of beneficial bacteria.

And I also added these 5 supplements that Dr Axe recommended:

Top 5 Supplements for Healing your Gut

L-Glutamine, Probiotics, Digestive Enzymes, Aloe Vera Juice, and Licorice Root tea.