Leaky gut syndrome is not a very pleasant phrase, but it is a condition and can lead to many other health problems and should not be ignored. Here’s how it happens: When we eat, food passes through the stomach into the small intestine. Normal everyday stuff. But if on the way to processing the mucous lining of the small intestine becomes too porous it will allow unwanted toxins to enter the bloodstream through the gut. Thus, a leaky gut.
These toxins can cause food allergies, joint pain, thyroid disease, chronic fatigue and a slowdown of the metabolic system. It can also eventually lead to the development of autoimmune disease, when the body attacks its own healthy tissues because it thinks these substances are foreign invaders.
The gut lining usually works as a barrier to keep out large particles that can damage your system, but with leaky gut, everything can get through, including proteins like gluten, bad bacteria and undigested foods particles.
If you are suffering from any of these conditions, a leaky gut could be the cause:
- Chemical sensitivities
- Food sensitivities
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Joint pain
- Memory loss, poor concentration
- Pancreatic insufficiency
- Skin conditions (e.g., eczema, psoriasis)
- Thyroid conditions
- Weight gain
Leaky Gut can also cause malabsorption of vital minerals and nutrients including zinc, iron and vitamin B12.
What causes Leaky Gut?
- Poor diet. A diet rich on processed foods and high in carbohydrates encourages leaky gut. Foods that have large amounts of lectins are a main cause. These foods include wheat, rice, spelt and soy. People sensitive to gluten are susceptible to damage of the intestinal lining. Cows milk is problematic because the pasteurization process destroys vital enzymes, making lactose difficult to digest. Sugar feeds the growth of yeast, candida and bad bacteria, which will further damage your gut and can eat a hole into your intestinal wall. Alcohol and caffeine are both are gut irritants and should be avoided.
- Chronic stress. It weakens your immune system, which hurts your ability to fight off foreign invaders like bad bacteria and viruses, increasing your chances of inflammation and leaky gut.
- Toxins. Antibiotics, pesticides, NSAIDS (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen), antacids and tap water with chlorine and fluoride contribute to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria. Steroids (including corticosteroids such as prednisone and hydrocortisone) are also a problem.
So what can you do to fight off the leaky gut once you have it? Here are some foods and supplements that are very effective:
- Bone Broth – it contains collagen and the amino acids and glycine that help heal damaged intestinal walls.
- Raw Cultured Dairy –Pastured kefir is the best.
- Fermented vegetables, like sauerkraut, kimchi and kvass. They contain organic acids that balance intestinal pH.
- Sprouted Seeds like chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds can help support the growth of beneficial bacteria.
- Wild-caught fish like salmon with omega-3 fats are highly anti-inflammatory and help repair leaky gut.
- Probiotics to help replace bad bacteria with good bacteria.
- L-Glutamine is an essential amino acid supplement that is anti-inflammatory and helps repair your intestinal lining. It works by coating your cell walls and repelling irritants.
- Licorice Root helps balance cortisol levels and improves acid production in the stomach. It also supports the processes for maintaining the mucosal lining of the stomach.
If you think you may be suffering from leaky gut syndrome, talk with you doctor about being tested. A food intolerance test, testing for parasites, a bacterial dysbiosis test for conditions like SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and a Lactulose/Mannitol test, a specific test analyzing urine for lactulose and mannitol, which are byproducts of leaky gut syndrome are available.