Putting A Stop To Leaky Gut
- By Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men’s Health Watch
Leaky gut gets blamed for everything from everyday stomach issues to pain to anxiety, yet it is one of the most mysterious ailments to diagnose and treat.
Part of the reason for this medical mystery is because the gut is such a vast and complex system. Science continues to find new ways that the gut can influence everything from heart health to keeping our brains young, says Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. There is much we know about leaky gut in terms of how it affects peoples health, but there is still so much that is unknown.
How To Know If You Have A Leaky Gut
If youve been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, in all likelihood you have a leaky gut. Interestingly studies have shown increased intestinal permeability is also present in various other inflammatory conditions that are not autoimmune, including eczema, asthma, hay fever and autism. Individuals with those conditions are thought to be at increased risk of autoimmune disease in the future.
The following are associated with leaky gut syndrome:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Joint pain
- Skin problems e.g. eczema, dermatitis, hives, skin rashes or itchy skin
- Food sensitivities
- Cognitive problems foggy head, poor memory, low motivation
- Liver problems raised liver enzymes, fatty liver disease
- Nutritional deficiencies particularly iron, magnesium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D
Conditions Associated With Leaky Gut
The idea that leaky gut or general gastrointestinal conditions are the root cause of many diseases and conditions is not proven by science. It is difficult to prove whether leaky gut is a cause or effect.
However, the condition is still thought to have links with a variety of different chronic conditions, and there is evidence to support that leaky gut is present in people with certain chronic diseases. These include:
- Celiac disease
- Food allergies
You May Like: Gerd Flare Up While On Ppi
General Poor Gut Health
Along with the micronutrient deficiencies mentioned, having a generally unhealthy tummy also contributes to the onset of leaky gut. This poor health is generally attributed to a lack of good diet obviously, but can also have genetic origins.
Gut health can also be affected by the intestinal flora ecosystem. If not in balance, the gut flora system can cause negative consequences. On one hand, an overabundance of bad bacteria can compromise the permeability of the intestinal wall. On the other hand, a lack of good bacteria, brought on by the use of antibiotics can also be a major problem regarding gut health.
Essential Oils Of Ginger And Peppermint
Although these are not meant to be consumed, essential oils such as ginger and peppermint can be very soothing to the lining of the gut.
Essential oils are extremely potent extracts taken from whole foods. Only a couple of drops are needed to experience positive results.
Simply mix a few drops of ginger or peppermint essential oil with a carrier oil such as coconut.
Rub this mixture over the abdomen to allow for the beneficial properties of these oils to help heal the lining of the gut.
Don’t Miss: Align Dietary Supplement
Evaluate For The Presence Of Parasites Or Gut Infections
Intestinal infections and parasites are more common than a lot of people realize.
These conditions need to be ruled out before moving on to other causes of your intestinal distress.
The good news is that both infections and parasites are relatively easy to get rid of with the help of your physician.
What Is The Fastest Way To Heal Leaky Gut
As you can see, many studies have shown that its possible to improve leaky gut in a matter of weeks, or even days.
The fastest way to heal your own leaky gut completely depends on why your gut is leaky. Everyone has their own unique set of reasons.
Its important to remember that leaky gut is only ever just one element of an unhappy gut. Bad diets, stress, dysbiosis and infections are all part of the picture too. Leaky gut is unlikely to exist without some or all of those things.
Leaky gut is involved in an almost infinite number of diseases and gut symptoms, but we dont know what comes first: the disease, the gut symptoms or the leaky gut. What we do know is that looking after your gut health can kill all these birds with one stone.
Thats because your gut health affects the health of your entire body and mind, and vice versa. Its all connected. So rather than trying to heal your leaky gut as fast as you can, we recommend taking a step back and digging deep into your gut health.
Recommended Reading: Why Does Lettuce Give Me Diarrhea
Don’t Miss: Bovine Colostrum For Leaky Gut
Correlation Between Gut Health And Mental Health:
Similarly, there is a strong correlation between gut health and mental health. The vagus nerve runs from stomach to brain stem, so if something is wonky with your digestive system, you may also experience anxiety and/or depression.
I wouldnt consider myself to be a Type A individual or to be particularly particular, but when my gut symptoms were at their worst, I felt anxiety daily, had a bleak outlook on life, and also had obsessive compulsive behavior. It took healing my gut to calm my nervous system and to cease the obsessive behaviors to which I had grown accustomed.
My Gut Health Timeline:
Discovery: I began having IBS symptoms in 2011 but they were intermittent and largely manageablemostly they were annoying but not debilitating.
The Plot Thickens: My gut health began declining in 2015, then took a dramatic turn for the worse in 2017 and peaked in 2018. I was going through a breakup, was writing a cookbook, was over-exercising and under-eating and was constantly stressed.
My symptoms: I reacted to almost everything I ate, the worst being high-FODMAP foods. I had constant gnarly smelling gas , chronic constipation punctuated by loose, gnarly stools, low energy, depression, acne, persistent athletes foot and occasional hives. You can read more about this phase in my blog post, My Journey with Gut Health.
When my gut health was at its worst, I was afraid to leave my house. Anyone who has struggled with chronic illness has likely experienced an immense amount of fear wrapped into their condition.
Trial and Error: I spent 2016 through 2018 trying to heal myself through food and lifestyle by troubleshooting my own health using internet research . During this time, I went to an integrative health doctor, but we never uncovered the source of my symptoms and our efforts to improve my gut health were minimal.
Read Also: Align Probiotic For Children
You Just Need More Time
Finally, youve hit day 28 and youre feeling better, just not the best. Guess what? That might be completely normal. See the beginning of this post for length of time with healing.
If youve already made progress and strides forward, keep on the path, consider all other numbers above, and dont give up. Giving up now means that youll eventually need to start all over. I did it for years. Consistency is something most struggle with those who dont, typically find what they are working hard towards.
Dont give up. Seriously.
Anytime you follow a meal plan, all it means is that you have the template. Meal plans arent miracles. They arent magic. And they certainly arent one-size-fits-all.
Take this post into consideration and dive back into your copy of The Leaky Gut Meal Plan.
And then: consider doing my 28-Day Leaky Gut Program e-course.
Do you have more questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
What Are The Causes Of Leaky Gut Syndrome
A lot of things can result in a leaky gut. These can include anything from stress and eating too much sugar , to antibiotics and hormone treatments. There are some additional factors that may come into play too, such as consuming too much alcohol or not having a properly balanced diet. All of these things can affect your guts permeability. A healthy diet rich in the proper amount of nutrients can help you avoid this condition in the first place.
Ready to look & feel amazing?
Want to read more?
Recommended Reading: Why Does Lettuce Give Me Diarrhea
Leaky Gut Diet Sample Menu
Based on the recommendations above regarding the best and worst leaky gut foods, here is what a few days of meals might look like when following a leaky gut diet plan:
- Breakfast: avocado on sprouted grain toast topped with sauerkraut and tomatoes
- Lunch: salad topped with sliced grass-fed steak and cooked or cultured veggies
- Dinner: stir-fry made with mixed veggies and protein of our choice
- Breakfast: yogurt parfait made with plain yogurt, chia seeds and berries
- Lunch: cooked fish, such as salmon, with steamed veggies topped with olive oil
- Dinner: seared chicken served with a mixed salad or vegetable soup
- Breakfast: smoothie made with coconut milk, kefir or raw milk, sprouted almond butter and collagen protein powder
- Lunch: chicken salad made with yogurt and avocado, served with veggies or salad
- Dinner: steak or fish served with vegetable soup
So How Long Does Leaky Gut Take To Heal
As leaky gut is not an official diagnosis and therefore has no set treatment procedure, the time taken for leaky gut to heal can vary greatly. The time it takes can depend on the method of healing you choose and can be different for everyone.
There is not enough information to define a definite healing time, but here are some general timeframe indicators of how long it can take to heal leaky gut.
Recommended Reading: Is Peanut Butter Bad For Gerd
Leaky Gut Diet Foods To Eat
If you suffer from leaky gut syndrome, youre overdue to consider adopting a leaky gut diet. Such a diet contains foods that support healing because they are easy to digest and can help repair the lining of the intestines.
Here are the best foods to include in a leaky gut syndrome diet:
In addition to eating a leaky gut diet, you can help repair your gut with certain supplements.
In a leaky gut treatment plan, there are many supplements that support digestive health as well as protect the gut lining from further damage. I believe the six most beneficial leaky gut supplements are:
The Gut Responds To Diet And Lifestyle
The gut is very responsive to your diet and lifestyle. Many conditions, such as Leaky Gut Syndrome, are both reversible and curable. This article is designed to address underlying queries including:
- What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
- What causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?
- What are the signs and symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome?
- Are there diagnostic tests for Leaky Gut Syndrome?
- How to reverse and heal Leaky Gut Syndrome Reset, Replenish, Resist
Being more informed about your health, and Leaky Gut Syndrome can support you to ask appropriate questions with an Integrative Health Practitioner.
You May Like: Does Xanax Help With Ibs
Identify The Foods You Should Avoid:
While you take the time to consume the right kind of food, it is equally important to avoid eating certain foods to improve your gut health. Some foods come with higher possibilities of causing inflammation in the body. Such foods can also negatively affect healthy bacteria while promoting the growth of unhealthy gut bacteria responsible for many chronic health conditions. In order to ensure that this does not happen, it is vital to avoid consuming excess junk food, foods containing artificial sweeteners, refined oils, sugary beverages, processed food, and alcohol. All these foods can harm healthy gut bacteria and compromise the guts protective lining. It is also vital to stay away from wheat-based products like wheat flour, cereals, pasta, and bread, which can also trigger symptoms of an unhealthy gut. Also avoid eating foods such as oats, triticale, seitan, bulgur, rye, and barley frequently. Eating a lot of grain foods that contain gluten is very problematic as well.
In addition to that, it is best also to stay away from processed foods, processed meat, baked foods, and snacks. Processed meat foods include hot dogs, bacon, deli meats, and cold cuts. Baked goods include pizza, pastries, pies, cookies, muffins, and cakes. Snack foods to stay away from consist of the following pretzels, popcorn, muesli bars, and crackers. Sauces like salad dressings, teriyaki, soy, and hoisin sauce ideally have to be avoided as well.
How To Speed Up Leaky Gut Healing
The fastest way to speed up leaky gut healing is to change your diet. Look to cut out and identify foods that can be triggers for your symptoms. Avoid foods that you may have allergies to and that can increase intestinal permeability.
Aim to enjoy a high-fiber diet that avoids processed sugars and grains. Aim to eat fibrous vegetables, some fruits, fermented foods, healthy fats and unprocessed meat.
Recommended Reading: What Does It Mean When You Keep Having Heartburn
Strategy #: Direct Gut Lining Support
Think of the gut as a 3-layered tube.
Gut microbes comprise the inner area of the tube. Here, they interact with the non-sterile slurry delivered from the stomach. The slurry can contain pathogens & harmful proteins.The middle layer is the mucosa â this is the connective cushion that contains immune cells and âfoodâ for gut microbes & fuel for immune cells and our gut lining. The next inner layer of the tube is the cells of intestinal lining . The absorptive folds known as âvilliâ provide surface area for absorption. Between the cells of the folds are microscopic junctions. These tight junctions comprise the physical âgatesâ that control what gets into the blood & what stays out. âLeaky gutâ refers to the unintended opening of these gates.The intestinal lining is the last layer of defense between the outside environment & the inside world of the bloodstream. It also coordinates cross-talk between the mucosa, the immune system, & bacteria .
Mucosal Lining Support
Zinc carnosine deserves a strong mention for direct lining support. It is one of the more underrated supplements & one of my favorites.
Immunoglobulins & Amino Acid Building Blocks for Mucosal Repair
L-glutamine & zinc carnosine are only part of the story.
Hereâs a summary of how these nutrients work to support mucosal repair:
Gut Health Is Connected To All Aspects Of Your Health
Gastrointestinal issues may be as simple as gas and bloating, or as severe as food sensitivity and constipation, yet these conditions are not a natural part of daily health or the process of aging. Gut health serves as a direct indicator of overall health thus, digestive issues can be symptoms of more severe conditions.
Read Also: Why Does Lettuce Give Me Diarrhea
Symptoms Of Leaky Gut
There are a few different symptoms of leaky gut.
- Brain fog and fatigue are common early symptoms of leaky gut. In fact, leaky gut may be misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome, or may be a root cause of it.
- Skin problems like eczema or dermatitis may be a result of leaky gut as well. Intestinal permeability only seems to link to skin issues in certain people.
- Digestive disorders like Crohns disease, irritable bowel syndrome , ulcerative colitis, and other types of inflammatory bowel disease can either develop or worsen as a result of leaky gut. Symptoms include diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, and general digestive distress.
- Celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases may be influenced by leaky gut. An increasingly supported theory in the medical community suggests that leaky gut causes foreign substances to leave the small intestine, which triggers an excessive immune response and can make immune system issues worse.
- New food intolerances and/or food allergies are signs of leaky gut syndrome.
If you have several of the symptoms listed above, you may want to consider improving your gut barrier. Fortunately, there are quite a few things you can do to bring your gut into balance and strengthen your digestive tract.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Leaky Gut
Different individuals experience leaky gut in different ways. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the main physical symptoms of leaky gut are as follows.
- Symptoms of an irritable bowel such as intermittent constipation and diarrhea
- Sensitivities to foods such as gluten, soy, and dairy
- A propensity toward developing autoimmune diseases
- Lab-confirmed vitamin and nutrient deficiencies
- Skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis
- Learning disabilities, developmental issues, or autism
- An imbalanced thyroid
It is important to keep in mind that not all symptoms need to be present for the problem of a leaky gut to exist.
In addition, symptoms can sometimes come and go. While all of these symptoms can certainly be attributed to other conditions, it is important to at least consider the possibility of a leaky gut diagnosis.
You May Like: Does Xanax Help With Ibs
What Foods Should You Avoid If You Have Leaky Gut Syndrome
If your doctor feels confident that you likely have leaky gut, they may recommend adjusting your diet to remove inflammatory foods that could impact gut flora, such as:
- Processed foods
- Foods that may trigger allergies or sensitivities, such as gluten or dairy
Additionally, the doctor may also recommend a low FODMAP diet. Usually, this diet is recommended for people with IBS or even celiac disease, but it may help relieve some of the symptoms from leaky gut as well, especially since there is so much symptom overlap.
Creating a diet rich in foods that aid the growth of beneficial gut bacteria is important as well. Some great options are vegetables , roots, fruit, sprouted seeds, fish, cultured dairy products and nuts .