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Leaky Gut Syndrome? Why would your gut leak? It sounds messy and problematic! Well, it can be very problematic as we’re starting to understand. This impaired gut function can contribute to the ever so common food sensitivities that so many people are plagued with today, as well as initiating autoimmune disorders as well.
“Leaky Gut Syndrome” is a fairly new term to the public and especially new to the medical realm but has been around in the natural health field for quite some time now. Let’s discuss this syndrome a little further and get to know why it’s an important health concern that needs to be avoided or healed immediately.
What is Leaky Gut?
The digestive tract is like a net with extremely small holes (tight junctions) in it that only allow specific substances to pass through. Your gut lining acts as a barrier to keep out bigger particles that aren’t meant to go through and can damage your system.
When there is leaky gut present or increased intestinal permeability, the “net” in your digestive tract gets damaged, causing even bigger holes (or bigger junctions) in it that allow larger particles to pass through that shouldn’t, like undigested food particles, candida, bad bacteria, pathogens and other invaders that don’t belong. Toxic waste can also leak from the inside of your intestinal wall into your blood stream causing an immune reaction.
So when undigested food particles cross over into the blood stream where they are not meant to be, your immune system sets off an immune response and attacks the particles. Antibodies are created for those particles and then you can develop a food sensitivity to that particular food.
Every time you consume that food again, an immune response (allergic response) is set off that you may be unaware of because there are no actual symptoms (although there could be) but there is inflammation occurring in the body. Chronic inflammation creates disease. So it doesn’t mean that you are going to break out into hives or go into anaphylactic shock, but there is a response in the body that you may or may not be aware of.
Some people are very aware of their food sensitivities because after eating a particular food, within hours or even days, they experience symptoms like bloating, fatigue, joint pain, gas, digestive complaints, rashes and even anxiety. These are severe sensitivities and may take a while to recover from. Things like dairy or gluten sensitivity may have been genetic or caused by something entirely different, and therefore may never be completely healed.
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Symptoms of Leaky Gut
- Skin Disorders (acne, psoriasis, eczema, rashes, rosacea)
- Food Sensitivities
- Low Energy/Fatigue
- Brain Fog
- Joint Pain/Stiffness
- Thyroid Disorders
- Weight Gain
Leaky Gut Leads to Malnutrition and Obesity Even If You’re Eating Enough…
Leaky gut can lead to a myriad of health conditions if left untreated. It can lead to malnutrition, obesity, immune irregularities, IBS, hormonal issues like PMS, depression, gas, bloating, constipation, abdominal pain and perhaps the biggest concern, autoimmune disorders.
Autoimmune disorders are now so prevalent in the U.S. that they are now more common than cancer. New research shows that most autoimmune conditions may share a common root hiding in the mucosal barrier of individuals with autoimmune disorders, even years before the symptoms ever manifest.
Research has shown that the first step of development of autoimmune disease is leaky gut. This is because when there is intestinal impermeability, incompletely digested food particles and antigens cross over into the blood stream and then overstimulate the immune system.
This immune response can then attack any organ, tissue or system in the body. Recent research shows that this process that was once thought to be permanent and ongoing, is now believed to be possible to be modulated and even reversed.
8 Causes of Leaky Gut
It’s very important to get to the root cause(s) of your leaky gut so you can treat it and move forward with healing.
- Sugar– It’s no surprise to find sugar here. Sugar wreaks havoc everywhere in the body, but especially in the gut. Sugar feeds the growth of yeast, candida and bad bacteria that further damage the gut.
- GMOs– Genetically Modified Organisms contain the Bt toxin and glyphosate which impair digestion, create dysbiosis in the gut and cause intestinal impermeability.
- Lectins and Phytates– Found in grains and legumes, lectins and phytates prevent nutrient absorption and attach to the intestinal lining and cause inflammation. (Consumed in small amounts, foods that contain lectins and phytates should be okay. Be sure to soak, sprout or ferment them for easier digestion and less intestinal damage.)
- Conventional Dairy– The A1 casein protein in dairy can cause intestinal damage. Also pasteurization kills the vital enzyme lactase that helps digest lactose, the milk sugar that can be difficult for many to digest.
- Antibiotics & Other Medications– Antibiotics kill bacteria, the good and the bad. They shift the vital balance of bacteria in the gut rapidly and create dysbiosis. Other medications that affect the gut are NSAIDS, antacids, steroids and more.
- Stress or Adrenal Fatigue– Stress weakens the immune system, prevents you from fighting off foreign invaders which leads to a compromised immune system and inflammation in the gut.
- Toxicity– Toxins in the environment cause inflammation in the gut. We come into contact with over 80,000 pollutants, chemicals and pesticides a year now. Yuck.
- Infections– Candida overgrowth, bacterial dysbiosis and parasites can all cause extreme damage to the mucosal barrier. In my practice, I use functional lab testing to determine if you have parasitic infections that need to be treated.
8 Ways to Heal Leaky Gut Naturally
- L-Glutamine– L-Glutamine is an essential amino acid that reduces inflammation and is necessary for the growth and repair of the mucosal barrier.
- Aloe Vera– Aloe is very healing and soothing to the digestive tract, much like it is for healing and soothing burns. It’s great for healing ulcers, IBS, Crohn’s and stomach upset. You can take it as a beverage for instant cooling relief of heartburn or stomach pain.
- Digestive Enzymes– These should be taken with every meal (ideally just before) to make sure you are properly breaking your foods down. This way, you can be sure that no partially digested food particles and proteins are damaging the gut wall. Apple cider vinegar before meals works well too.
- Probiotics– It is crucial to restore the beneficial flora in the gut. Make sure you get a high quality product with many different strains and at least 50-100 billion bacteria per serving.
- Marshmallow Root or Slippery Elm Tea– Both of these teas are demulcents and are great at repairing the mucosal barrier.
- Omega-3s– These powerful fatty acids reduce inflammation in the gut.
- DGL or Dyglycyrrhizinated Licorice– This is a demulcent herb that soothes the lining of the mucosal barrier and acts like a bandage. Great for gut healing! This herb has been used for over 3000 years to heal digestive disorders and ulcers. The manufacturing process removes the glycyrrhizin, which can cause elevated blood pressure.
- Magnesium – This important mineral is required in over 300 processes in the body. It is used up quickly in the stress response and needs to be replenished. This will also help aid sleep, stress reduction and digestion.
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