How To Heal Leaky Gut

how to heal leaky gut

In learning how to heal leaky gut effectively, we need to get right back to the core of the problem and understand how the gut is damaged in the first place.  This is key to healing the mind and body.

What Is Leaky Gut? The Lowdown

Leaky gut syndrome, or intestinal permeability, is a newly emerging health problem which appears to be at the root cause of a whole host of chronic diseases and immune dysfunction.

In the simplest terms, leaky gut is the result of the gut lining becoming so damaged that it becomes too permeable and allows harmful particles to leak into the blood-stream.  These particles can be anything from proteins like gluten and casein, or toxins, pathological bacteria and drugs such as antibiotics.  Once in the circulation, these particles can lead to inflammation throughout the body and wreak havoc on the immune response.

The increased permeability also leads to problems such as malabsorption.  With leaky gut, you may well be eating an array of healthy foods but not absorbing the nutrients, so you’ll still end up with deficiencies without really understanding why.

Furthermore, leaky gut involves damage to your microbiome’s health and bacterial diversity.  Since your gut bacteria constitute 80% of your whole immune system, then their proper function is critical to your health and how well your body fights disease.

To date there are over 11,000 PubMed studies referencing leaky gut and its many effects on the body, which serves as testament to the depth and extent of the problem [1f].

And a crucial thing to repeat is, although leaky gut syndrome starts in the gut, it goes on to affect the whole body in all manner of ways. Many people with leaky gut may have no digestive symptoms at all, because for them the effects will have manifested in another body system.

This is because leaky gut isn’t simply a digestive issue, it’s a body-wide issue linked to immune dysregulation.

How Does Leaky Gut Affect Your Body?

One of the first, most significant signs that leaky gut is present is the development of a food intolerance.  As leaky gut increases the permeability of the gut lining, it starts to allow larger food molecules into the blood, causing the immune system to become hypersensitive.

Another early indicator of leaky gut is often skin problems, showing up as acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis or hives.

Leaky gut related thyroid problems may express themselves in the form of Hasimoto’s, hypothyroidism and Grave’s disease. And in the colon, there may be problems like Crohn’s, irritable bowel disease, diarrhoea or constipation.

The adrenal glands can also be affected, causing issues with energy, fatigue and kidney function.  There may be generalised pain in the form of headaches, muscle aches and joint inflammation.  Or increased sensitivity to colds, sinus problems and issues with oral health.

Or leaky gut may manifest by affecting brain health, leading to conditions such as depression, anxiety, autism and ADHD.

So, over time the immune dysregulation associated with leaky gut, leads to long-term inflammation and can progress into many long-standing autoimmune conditions.  However the root cause of all these conditions still remains the same – increased intestinal permeability and leaky gut.

As Hippocrates stated “All disease starts in the gut” and the gut is where the healing has to start, if the rest of the body is to get well again.

The Top Triggers Of Leaky Gut Syndrome

There are many triggers of leaky gut, primarily revolving around poor diet, processed foods and toxins.  Understanding these triggers, is key to learning how to heal leaky gut syndrome.

1  ANTIOBIOTICS ‘The A-Bomb Of The Gut’ – There is no doubt that the most destructive factor in leaky gut syndrome is antiobiotic medication.  Yes they’re important for managing sepsis, but they’re also completely indiscriminate in their action, attacking the microbiome whenever they are used.  Antiobiotics need be taken with more care and consideration, and ALWAYS alongside probiotic foods and supplements, in order to combat their damaging effects as much as possible [1][1e].

2  GLUTEN – Gluten is a sticky protein found in grain products, especially wheat.  Because the body is never able to break gluten down properly, it leads to gut inflammation and related symptoms.  After a while gluten damages the gut lining enough that leaky gut syndrome develops. With increased gut permeability, large gluten proteins are able to pass into the bloodstream, where they lead to various auto-immune conditions and reactions (which will vary from person to person).

3  PROCESSED SUGAR – Sugar feeds yeasts in the body, such as Candida, causing  populations to bloom and flourish.  These yeast overgrowths then produce toxins which damage the intestinal wall and lead to leaky gut development.  Sugar can also increase the bad bacterial strains within the body in a similar way.

4 DAIRY – Modern dairy contains over 20 different chemicals and medications, such as growth hormones, sex hormones, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Today, over 80% of the USA’s antibiotic drugs are given to livestock, not humans, and we are exposed to this medication whenever we choose to eat non-organic conventional meat and dairy.  Dairy also contains casein and lactose, which are inflammatory to the gut and immune system.

5 GMO FOODS – GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are artificially designed to contain residues of chemical pesticides, herbicides (such as glyphosate) and viruses.  These factors are all destructive and damaging to gut bacteria [5d][5e][5f][5g][5h].

Other important triggers which play a part in the development of leaky gut include individual food sensitivities and allergies (varying from person to person), and also emotional overwhelm and stress. These factors both need addressing in the overall management of the condition.

How To Heal Leaky Gut

A combination of factors is absolutely necessary in tackling how to heal leaky gut and the over-sensitive immune system, which we’ll look at below…

The Top Gut Healing Foods

1 BONE BROTH – A good home-made bone broth is one of the most nourishing foods you can eat, full of important amino acids and nutrients. Amongst other things it contains proline (for collagen production and repair of the gut lining), glycine (supporting detoxification) and L-glutamine (used as fuel by cells of the small intestine).

2 SAUERKRAUT – This fermented food is loaded with live probiotics and organic acids, which help to kill off bad yeasts in the gut.  The cabbage in sauerkraut contains special sulphur compounds that support liver health and stomach healing.  Sauerkraut also helps stimulate the production of hydrochloric acid and digestive juices.

3 KEFIR – Kefir is an ancient food, made from fermented milk and a fab source of live probiotics. Nowadays there are various kefir types to choose from including cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, coconut milk and coconut water kefirs.  One of the best for the gut is goat’s milk kefir. This is because it only contains A2 casein, rather than the more problematic A1 casein, and therefore causes a lot less damage to the gut environment [3].

4 COCONUT OIL – Coconut oil is an amazing natural anti-microbial, which is important for killing off overgrowths of yeast (such as Candida) and helping to rebalance the microbiome [4].

5 BLUEBERRIES – Blueberries are the number one fruit for healing leaky gut.  They are loaded with antioxidants such as resveratrol and flavonoids, which are important for healing intestinal inflammation.  They are also lower in sugar than many other fruits, more sour, more alkalising and more cleansing to the liver [5][5a][5b][5c].

The Top Gut Healing Supplements

1  HIGH-STRENGTH PROBIOTICS – In this ‘age of antiobiotics’ we’re starting to realise how critical our microbiome is to our health and how much damage we’re doing to it with modern lifestyle and medications.  Repopulating our gut bacteria is therefore an essential part of healing leaky gut and reversing some of the damage.  And the best way involves a combination of the following methods:

  • Take a probiotic supplement which is at least 50 billion IU in strength, to be sure of getting enough bacteria down to your colon, and the more strains the better. You can find out which probiotics I currently take and why in this article.
  • Eat plenty of fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir.
  • Go ORGANIC and stop killing your gut bacteria with pesticide-laden foods.  Buy food from local farmer’s markets or even better, grow it yourself.
  • Get into the garden and get dirty! Expose yourselves and your children to soil micro-organisms.  Important human probiotics come from our soil as well as our food.
  • Stop obsessing over hygiene.  We need to be exposed to micro-organisms in order to develop our gut bacteria and a healthy immune system. Our love of chemical cleaners and sterile environments seriously affects our microbiome, and our risk of developing allergies [1a][1b][1c][1d].

2  GOOD DIGESTIVE ENZYMES – A lack of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes can lead to malabsorption, gas, bloating and acid reflux, etc.  A good quality enzymatic supplement assists the gut in breaking down food and allows it (including the stomach, pancreas and small intestine) to take a rest.  This is especially important after a big meal or after eating bad, processed foods, which require a lot of effort to break down.

3  L-GLUTAMINE POWDER – L-glutamine is a fantastic supplement for lining and protecting the gut, and it provides building blocks for its healing and repair [3a].

4  ADAPTOGENIC HERBS – Key adaptogenic herbs which can be used to support gut healing include ginseng (nourishes the spleen), liquorice root (gut soothing and anti-inflammatory) and ashwaghanda (supporting adrenal and thyroid function) [4a][4b][4c].

So, we can clearly see, that the solution to the problem of how to heal leaky gut lies in a multi-system approach – a combination of cutting out major gut-damaging factors, while at the same time introducing foods that heal the gut and slowly repopulate the microbiome.

From here the body can start to heal itself.

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