Leaky gut syndrome is common these days. It is a condition where the barrier system that protects the blood from the digestive tract becomes dysfunctional.
When a person is healthy, this barrier prevents certain things from reaching the blood stream. These include viruses, parasites, undigested foods and toxins. When the lining breaks down, inappropriate things begin to enter the blood stream where they can cause an inappropriate immune response and lead to inflammation.
Leaky gut is involved in food sensitivities, allergies and autoimmune conditions. If you want to learn more about leaky gut, click here.
I discover unhealthy guts in almost all of my clients. Gut dysfunction is something I always test for because it is so common. When the gut is unhealthy it can lead to a whole host of issues including blood sugar imbalances, neurotransmitter deficiencies, mood disorders, chronic fatigue and problems sleeping.
Gut health is a hot topic and people are always asking me how they can heal their guts. It isn’t always an easy task but success starts with having the proper information.
1. EAT AN INFLAMMATION REDUCING DIET
If you want to heal your gut, you need to reduce inflammation coming into the body. This starts with diet. Many foods we eat are inflammatory and can do some serious damage.
Some of the biggest culprits are refined and processed foods, gluten, polyunsaturated oils, alcohol, sugar, conventional meat and dairy products, grains and GMO foods.
Start by pulling these inflammatory foods out of your diet. Make sure to eat a diet that includes lots of organic vegetables, pastured eggs, free-range meat, healthy fats, herbs and spices.
The diet I most frequently recommend to my clients with gut issues is the Paleo diet. This diet omits much of the foods listed above and is high in protein which is critical for gut repair.
In situations where gut damage is more severe, I recommend the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP) which goes further to eliminate nuts and seeds and eggs. This can be very therapeutic for people suffering from autoimmune conditions. Here is a great resource for the AIP diet.
2. IDENTIFYING FOOD SENSITIVITIES
When the gut is damaged seemingly healthy foods can actually be quite irritating. The more unhealthy the gut is, the more food sensitivities you will have. These sensitivities are different for each person.
They can be hard to pinpoint since reactions to are often delayed up to 7 days. If the Paleo or AIP diet isn’t giving you the results you need, I recommend testing for food sensitives.
Many practitioners use an IgG food sensitivity panel to look for suspect foods. Personally, I am not a fan of this type of testing. In my personal research, I have not found many good scientific studies validating this type of testing. There is a lot of debate between practitioners and I have yet to make a definitive opinion on the matter
3. REDUCE MENTAL & EMOTIONAL STRESS
Stress is one of the main causes of leaky gut. How? When you are stressed, your body moves all your energy from rest and digest processes and into the skeletal and muscular system. This allows you to fight or flight from a dangerous situation.
Our stress system does not differentiate between different types of stressors. There is only one stress response.
If you have a stress response and you have food in your intestinal tract, it stops being digested. It is left to sit in your intestine where it is acted upon by bacteria and is fermented. This fermentation can damage the gut and produce toxins which then clogs up the liver. And if your stressed your body isn’t detoxifying either. This can lead to toxic build up and more damage to the gut.
We have a lot of stress these days and learning how to manage it is paramount to healing your leaky gut syndrome.
4. IDENTIFY PATHOGENIC INFECTIONS
Ongoing chronic infections are one the biggest blocking factors in achieving a healthy gut.
Most people think they are immune to infections because they haven’t done any international travel but unfortunately you can acquire infections even in countries like Canada or the United States.
We are exposed to different types of infections from parasites, bacteria and yeast on a regular basis. These things come from food contamination, unclean drinking water (some types of parasites can resist chlorination) or from poor hygiene practices.
The majority of your immune system in your digestive tract. When your gut is healthy, your immune system works well. When the gut gets dysfunctional, opportunistic species can easily make their home in your intestines. Some pathogenic species can travel outside the gut to other areas of the body.
Unfriendly microorganisms can cause toxic build up, inflammation and can prevent you from absorbing nutrients from the healthy diet you are eating. Just keeping these organisms in check is stressful to the body. Your body works hard to control pathogens and it drains your energy levels.
Chronic infections also lead to elevated cortisol which can suppress your immune system, cause insulin resistance, inhibit weight loss efforts and deplete your sex hormones.
Even people who do not experience typical digestive symptoms may still have infections. I find them in over 90% of the people I test, even those who claim good digestion status.
If you do not identify and eradicate infections, inflammation will continue and will perpetuate the leaky gut situation. My favorite test for identifying GI Pathogens at the moment is the Diagnostics Solutions Lab GI-MAP. Find out more about my experience with this test and how it helped me identify some dangerous infections in my own gut.
5. STIMULATE DIGESTION
Undigested food promotes bacterial overgrowth and fermentation, both things will contribute to leaky gut syndrome.
During any gut healing protocol, I recommend high quality digestive enzymes. The enzyme you choose should contain a broad spectrum of enzymes. It should also contain HCL (for protein breakdown) and ox-bile (for breakdown of fats).
Currently my favorite product for gut healing is DSL GI-MAP I mentioned above since it measures levels of gut microflora.
If you do not know your status, I recommend using a high quality multi-strain probiotic. You should take these at bed time and make sure to take them 2 hours away from food and any supplements that contain anti-microbial, anti-fungal or anti-parasitic qualities.
Currently my favorite probiotic products are Megasporbiotic and