How To Heal A Leaky Gut
I want to be crystal clear that you cannot supplement yourself out of a leaky gut. You cannot continue to eat processed/refined foods, take a glutamine supplement and think that everything is going to be alright.
Recent research has shown that any gluten consumption temporarily affects tight junction function in your gut. This occurs whether or not you are celiac, non-celiac gluten sensitive, or non-reactive to gluten. It occurs in everyone.
Therefore, in order to properly heal a leaky gut, you need to follow a strict gluten-free diet. If youre dealing with chronic fatigue, I recommend starting with a fatigue reset diet. If youre already comfortable eating whole foods, its time to move to the ideal diet for chronic fatigue ketosis. Not only is the ketogenic diet incredibly anti-inflammatory, but research is also suggesting that it may even help improve a leaky gut.
Changing your diet is step number one. And its the most important step. If you dont change your diet, youre not going to heal your leaky gut. Once your diet has been altered, its time to start a supplement regime that has been shown to improve leaky gut.
Who Gets A Leaky Gut
We all have some degree of leaky gut, as this barrier is not completely impenetrable . Some of us may have a genetic predisposition and may be more sensitive to changes in the digestive system, but our DNA is not the only one to blame. Modern life may actually be the main driver of gut inflammation. There is emerging evidence that the standard American diet, which is low in fiber and high in sugar and saturated fats, may initiate this process. Heavy alcohol use and stress also seem to disrupt this balance.
We already know that increased intestinal permeability plays a role in certain gastrointestinal conditions such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome. The biggest question is whether or not a leaky gut may cause problems elsewhere in the body. Some studies show that leaky gut may be associated with other autoimmune diseases , chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis, allergies, asthma, acne, obesity, and even mental illness. However, we do not yet have clinical studies in humans showing such a cause and effect.
How Do You Get Rid Of Leaky Gut
Now that weve been talked about leaky gut symptoms, causes and opinions, lets talk about how to test for and repair leaky gut.
How do you test for leaky gut?
Several leaky gut syndrome tests are available that can help confirm a diagnosis and point you in the right treatment direction. Tests are helpful for identifying specific sensitivities and uncovering which types of toxins or deficiencies are contributing to your symptoms. Leaky gut tests include:
- Zonulin or Lactulose Tests
- Organic Acid Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies Tests
- Lactulose Mannitol Test
What leaky gut treatments are available?
After years of research and patient care, I developed a four-step process for helping to heal leaky gut. I cover this process in my article entitled the Leaky Gut Diet and Treatment Plan. If youre concerned that you or a loved one may have leaky gut symptoms, I encourage you to read the detailed instructions, food suggestions and recommended leaky gut supplements listed in this article.
The basic steps to healing leaky gut are as follows:
Two of the most common questions people ask are: What can I eat if I have leaky gut syndrome? And what should I NOT eat when I have leaky gut?
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Leaky Gut Leads To Malnutrition And Obesity Even If Youre 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.
Optimizing Mucosal Defense Is Key
These issues can be prevented or at least limited by living a lifestyle that supports mucosal defense and bile production. Bacteria wont grow where the environment restricts their growth. This goes for commensals and pathogens.
Under normal conditions, the body promotes the growth of commensals and restricts the growth of pathogens. It also does a pretty good job of keeping commensal bacteria from overgrowing. Mucosal defense regulates all of these processes.
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How Does Leaky Gut Happen
The intestinal barrier is made up of cells linked together by tight junctions. These junctions control what is allowed to pass through into the bloodstream this is how vitamins and nutrients are absorbed by the small intestine. Normally, these tight junctions remain small enough to prevent the passage of any harmful compounds that may cause disease.
But when the intestinal barrier becomes damaged often as a result of a diet high in inflammatory foods such as sugar, dairy, and processed foods these joints can become compromised. Tiny particles that would normally be blocked are allowed to leak into the bloodstream, allowing them to cause damage throughout the body.
All Diseases Start In Your Gut So Ensure You Dont Suffer From Leaky Gut Syndrome
Trust your gut, and take care of it too! Many health professionals believe that good health begins in the gut. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, was even famously for it. He quoted to have said: All disease begins in the gut.
At least 80% of our immune system can be found in the gut. Along with billions of good and bad bacteria. The gut also sends signals to the brain which controls our appetite and mood. Now imagine your gut unprotected and unsealed. And allowing toxins and chemicals to enter it. This is why its so important to protect it.
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Signs You May Have A Leaky Gut
The gut issue were going to explore today is often called leaky gut syndrome and its becoming more and more common across the globe as populations the world over begin to adopt a Western diet and lifestyle. While leaky gut syndrome is a fairly modern phrase, it has another name thats been documented for years intestinal permeability.
Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, is famous for having said, all disease begins in the gut. Even ancient Ayurvedic practitioners have long believed gut permeability was at the root cause of all disease processes, and healthy functioning of the gastrointestinal system is paramount to a healthy body and mind.
Common Causes Of Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Genes: Many of us are simply predisposed to developing leaky gut syndrome because were overly sensitive to environmental conditions that bring about an autoimmune response.
- Stress: Chronic stress disrupts gut balance, and leads to a wide variety of digestive health issues.
- Standard Western/American Diet: This way of eating is no good for your gut health. Too many chemicals, artificial sweeteners and preservatives, refined oils all these toxins take a major toll on digestive health.
- Imbalances in gut bacteria. Dysbiosis is an imbalance in the gut between good and bad bacteria.
- Too many toxins. Toxins add up, and some of us have far too many lurking in our bodies. Exposure to chemicals from over-the-counter drugs, medications, conventionally grown foods, personal care products, air pollution, plastic food containers all of these add up and can result in a high internal toxic load.
- Gluten. Some people can eat gluten, but many cannot. And for those with gluten intolerance, it can cause leaky gut syndrome.
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Irritation In The Stomach Lining Causes Tears And Holes In The Gut
Cells in the stomach are generally tightly packed when a person is healthy. However, irritations in the lining of the intestines can lead to problems. When an irritation in the stomach lining occurs for a prolonged period, holes and tears can develop. Holes in the intestinal wall eventually allow food particles to enter the bloodstream. This is what is known as Leaky Gut.
Microbes For Weight Loss: Do They Exist
Search for skinny gut bacteria and youll actually read about microbes that reinforce the gut lining and modulate your metabolism.
Two gut bacteria are associated with lean body weight. Akkermansia muciniphila and Christensenella minuta are good gut bacteria for weight loss because they are linked with preventing weight gain and are often found in slim individuals.
Akkermansia can feed on the mucus that lines your gut, promoting its production which strengthens your intestinal barrier . These microbes also produce acetate, a short-chain fatty acid that helps regulate body fat stores and appetite.
You can try boost the abundance of A. muciniphila with prebiotic foods that fuel their activities. You probably eat some of these anyway, but increasing your intake could help the growth of Akkermansia in your gut and enhance your protection against obesity.
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Sneaky Causes Of Leaky Gut That May Be Causing Your Weight Gain
Leaky Gut Syndrome? Why would your gut leak? It sounds messy and problematic! Well, it can be very problematic as were 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. Lets discuss this syndrome a little further and get to know why its an important health concern that needs to be avoided or healed immediately.
Gut Health And Weight Gain: Food Matters
So, we now know two types of bacteria that prevent obesity, but what about gut bacteria and weight gain? Simply put, what you eat is a huge factor. In fact, changing your diet won’t just change your weight, it’s the fastest way to change your microbes too.
There are links between gut bacteria and weight. The gut microbiota of individuals who are overweight show patterns of dysbiosis compared to healthy individuals.
Research has also shown that following a natural plant-based diet reduces calorie intake, increases weight loss, and lowers metabolic markers. It also nourishes beneficial gut bacteria because plants contain lots of different prebiotic fibers.
In a study involving type II diabetes patients, a vegan diet was shown to be more effective at controlling blood sugar levels than a usual diabetic diet. And, in the plant diet group, calorie intake was lower, which meant weight loss was more rapid. Interestingly, the beneficial bacteria that thrive on plant foods are also associated with better blood sugar control.
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This Diet Has Been Shown To Decrease Inflammation
The anti-inflammatory diet emphasizes fresh food, healthy oils, and fats, low sugar, more fish than meat, and an abundance of fruits and vegetables. In addition to being a healthy eating plan, it is relatively easy to stick to long term.
Its direct effect on gut permeability has not been studied but the diet includes foods shown to decrease inflammation .
How Is Leaky Gut Diagnosed
Do not diagnose leaky gut based on your symptoms. This is just guessing. Instead, perform objective laboratory testing.
At our clinic, I like to use Cyrex Labs Array 2. This is a blood test that measures antibodies to the following markers:
- Actomyosin Network
The actomyosin network is absolutely essential for the tight junctions of your digestive tract to function properly. It is this network that prevents the bad stuff from entering your circulation. The actomyosin network signals your tight junctions to contract. This contracture or flexing of the tight junctions stops particles moving from your gut and into circulation. Its as if they lift up the drawbridge. No one can enter now.
If your blood shows antibodies to the actomyosin network, this indicates either the infiltration of bacteria from your gut to your blood or an autoimmune disease targeted at your gut. Proper leaky gut testing should always also include occludin/zonulin and LPS antibodies.
Occludin and Zonulin
Remember how I said that endothelial cells make up the tight junctions of your gut?
Well, zonulin and occludin are the building blocks of those tight junctions. If you have antibodies to either zonulin or occludin, your tight junctions wont work properly. They could also be breaking down due to an autoimmune mechanism. This could be triggered by environmental factors like infections, toxic chemicals, and even dietary proteins and peptides.
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Does Leaky Gut Cause Blood Sugar Problems
Yeah, it goes the other way too. In an earlier 2007 study, a group of researchers found that a high-fat diet fed to mice caused an increase in bacteria that produce a toxin called lipopolysaccharide . Increased levels of LPS damage the intestinal cells and leak into the circulation. As a result, the mice experienced insulin resistance and high blood sugar. To confirm, the researchers injected LPS directly into the bloodstream and provoked the same response. Elevated circulating endotoxins not only caused insulin resistance in the liver but also high blood sugar and weight gain.
Gut Microbiota And Leaky Gut Syndrome
The intestines are also home to a wide range of bacteria called gut microbiota. These bacteria aid digestion, protect the intestinal wall and support normal immune function. LGS may involve imbalances in gut microbiota.
According to a 2016 article, imbalances in the gut microbiota can trigger the bodys immune response. This results in gut inflammation and increased intestinal permeability . IP describes how easily substances can leak out of the intestines and into the bloodstream.
Experts still do not know exactly why autism develops. However, scientists have suggested that various genetic, biological, and environmental factors may play a role.
Recently, scientists have begun investigating a possible link between gut microbiota, IP, and autism.
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Fat Soluble Vitamins Are Critically Important
Another option is a deficiency in fat soluble vitamins. The fat soluble vitamins play a major role in mucosal defense in the gut. Vitamins A & K are crucial for the detoxification/inflammation axis. A deficiency in either one may be hidden by the PXR inducing effects of Xifaxan.
Fat soluble vitamin deficiency is also a common symptom of IBS/IBD. I recommend increasing your intake of these fat soluble vitamins while taking Xifaxan. This should help correct any deficiency caused by IBS/IBD. A deficiency in fat soluble vitamins or fatty stool indicate fat malabsorption. This is something that absolutely must be corrected if you want full recovery. In my opinion the problem here is most certainly going to be in bile acid output or activity.
What Is A Leaky Gut Exactly
A leaky gut can develop over time through the constant consumption of chemically processed foods, medicinethe non-herbal kind, and other toxins that are detrimental to the body! Because of this, our gut lining begins to weakens developing tiny craters in its walls that allow toxic waste and food that hasnt been digested into the blood and the rest of the body. While the walls of our gut are technically porous to a certain extent when other cavities aside from this are unintentionally created this allows rations of our diet that arent supposed to be absorbed, out. This can be very dangerous because it causes inflammation and therefore the weakening of the immune system.
What many people dont realize is that the lining of the gut microbiome is actually harboring our immune system! Crazy right? Which makes perfect sense because whenever we feel off, its usually due to the fact that somethings off with our gut! Whichs leads me to the topic of discussion. Weight management, the gut, and how the two are related.
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Leaky Gut Syndrome Diet Plan
You may have seen leaky gut diets that tell you to avoid specific foods like dairy, eggs, gluten, etc. Yes, these foods are often big players involved in leaky gut but usually they are not the only foods that need to be avoided. If you dont identify all the foods that are involved, you wont experience a full recovery. Food sensitivity testing is crucial in identifying all of the foods that are contributing to your symptoms.
If you do an online search you will see pages of companies offering food sensitivity testing. Most of them are not backed by science and they are not a valid type if testing. So be very careful before spending your money and getting your hopes up.
A successful leaky gut diet will require the guidance of a trained professional. You need someone with a trained eye to interpret the results correctly. It is very complex. Functional medicine practitioners are all trained in these matters. It is at the core of their training.
To find out if you have leaky gut or if you have a concerning gut issue that is impacting your life sign up for my next new patient workshop and take the first step to a healthier you!
Karen Graham, RDN