You may have heard a lot of talk about Leaky Gut these days, from many well known people like Dr. Axe and others, but you might be wondering what the fuss is all about. If you aren’t aware by now, allow me to let you in on some facts.
According to Dr. Marcelle Pick “Leaky gut is a condition affecting the lining of the intestines, creating a dysfunctional environment for proper digestion. It is also called “increased intestinal permeability”, because with leaky gut, the intestines lose some of their ability to filter nutrients and other substances. When this happens, particles of incompletely digested foods, bacteria, other waste by-products may leak through the intestines into the bloodstream. It is usually caused by some form of damage to the intestinal lining.”1
As someone who has personally experienced leaky gut, I know how it can lead to other health problems, like food allergies, skin conditions and even thyroid problems2. This is one of the reasons I decided to focus on helping others with Leaky Gut in my practice. The cascade of issues that can result from leaky gut is daunting3, and is therefore a good reason to address it early on.
The causes of leaky gut are many however, and are likely the result of several factors working in combination; such as Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), long-term use of antacids, antibiotics or other medications (which can itself lead to SIBO, which can then lead to leaky gut), radiation, chemotherapy, corticosteroids, gluten, poor nutrition, and even chronic stress and low stomach acid levels. Anything which disrupts the levels of good bacteria in the intestine can lead to dysbiosis, SIBO and eventually leaky gut.
As you can imagine then, it is quite prevalent in our society; but many either have no symptoms, or have not been yet diagnosed. For those that have symptoms, life can be miserable depending on the severity. The symptoms of leaky gut include (but are not limited to) uncomfortable gastrointestinal issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, exhaustion, irritability, and more. You can imagine how difficult everyday social situations are when you have leaky gut, and travelling… is a real challenge!
If you want to get tested to see what your zonulin levels are (a reliable blood marker of gut permeability levels) there are several practitioners who offer this test, including right here at Super Nutrition. We offer the zonulin test alone, or the zonulin + the IgG food intolerance tests together, as part the adjunct services. You can try this online quiz to see if you want to get your zonulin levels tested and find out for certain: http://solvingleakygut.com/quiz/my-health/?. Note that we do also offer SIBO testing as well, if you are more prevention minded.
There are ways to begin to repair the lining of the gut, so that leaky gut can be reversed. Please understand that perseverance is key when dealing with leaky gut however; because the problem likely took years to develop, so will probably not clear up in a few short weeks. This is where working with a practitioner such as myself can be very helpful – to keep you motivated, on track and chart your progress.
The first action step is to remove: eliminate foods from your diet which are common allergens, like gluten and dairy, for a period of 3-4 months. You may also want to have an IgG food allergy test to see what other, if any, foods need to be eliminated during this time frame. The second step is to replace these problematic foods with ones that will soothe, protect and repair the lining of the gut, such as pure aloe vera, bone broth, fermentable fibers (starches like sweet potato, yam, yucca, etc.) and fermented foods.
The next action is to repopulate or rebalance the lining of the gut with healthy bacteria, by supplementing daily with a high quality probiotic (be sure it is dairy free!). Some supplements to add into your diet to assist with repairing the intestinal “swiss-cheese” you are experiencing include, L-glutamine, grass-fed beef collagen, or wild-caught marine collagen. These are fairly inexpensive per serving and can be taken in different forms, depending on what works best for your lifestyle. I prefer the powder forms myself, and add these into my smoothies and juices…easy peasy.
Additionally, using soothing digestive herbs, digestive enzymes, or other digestive support aides, can help protect the lining from further damage, and coat the intestines while they repair. I offer my clients these various supplement suggestions, targeted to their specific needs, as well as a list of other foods to include and avoid, and even recipes (if requested) to help them with these lifestyle and dietary changes.
If you’re not convinced that leaky gut is a problem, just know that research is now discovering how leaky gut leads to leaky brain5, and even leaky skin6. As Hippocrates said in his infinite wisdom…all disease begins in the gut…I like to say that all health begins there too.