What is Leaky Gut?

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If you have had ongoing stomach and intestinal issues, you may have heard your doctor or someone online mention leaky gut. This may sound like something that you think you don’t have or you may have some misconception of what leaky gut actually is, so lets consider the basics of what leaky gut is and what it means for your body.

Leaky gut occurs when the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged, making it more porous. Undigested food particles, bacteria, toxins and waste materials then begin to leak through the lining of the small intestine and make their way into the blood stream. Medically this is referred to as intestinal permeability or leaky gut.

Immune System Issues

One of the clues that might indicate the presence of leaky gut issues is actually the effect on your immune system. The presence of toxic waste in the blood stream may trigger an autoimmune response which then results in conditions such as inflammation, migraines, digestive issues, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, allergies, skin problems and several other types of health issues. You may often find yourself presenting with these and other ill-health symptoms. The reason for this is due to the way your intestines work.

The intestinal lining acts as a barrier to keep your immune system safe from toxins as they get evacuated from the body. If toxins and body waste materials constantly leak from the porous areas of the lining it means they are leaching into the blood stream. The effects of leaky gut also mean that the intestinal cells are unable to produce the necessary enzymes to aid food digestion. The body becomes further weakened and this might then result in hormonal imbalance and a compromised immune system because the body has become unable to absorb essential nutrients.

Causes of Leaky Gut

Often leaky gut may be caused by certain foods and medications like antibiotics, steroids or over the counter medications. When these are taken, they can irritate the intestinal lining and end up damaging the protective layers of the intestine. This then results in inflammation in the body and sets up a vicious cycle of chronic intestinal and digestive issues.

Signs You Have Leaky Gut

If you suspect that you may have leaky gut, you may want to start narrowing down the signs. There are several signs of leaky gut that can lead your doctor towards a proper treatment plan. With a proper treatment in place you may find that you can manage the signs and symptoms and effectively.

Inflamed Bowel Syndrome

One of the first signs that you may have leaky gut is inflammation in the bowel. This inflammation can first be misdiagnosed as a symptom of Crohn’s Disease. You will notice that you experience pain in your bowels, sensitivity in the area and overall pain and discomfort. These symptoms are an indication that something is wrong regardless of whether it is leaky gut or not and you should always seek medical attention for these sorts of symptoms. If your symptoms are related to leaky gut, you will have other symptoms alongside this due to the leaking of the toxins into your system causing havoc on the rest of your body.

Increased Food Sensitivity

Everyone has some type of food sensitivity. They may not like hot foods, overly spicy foods, certain flavors or certain food textures. It becomes more probable that leaky gut might be the culprit when you notice that it isn’t just your personal food likes and dislikes but that your body gets affected overall. You may start noticing that pizza, for example, irritates your stomach to drastic levels. You may observe that you suffer adverse bowel issues such as constipation and bowel irritability lasting more than one day. These are signs that something is not right and could be related to leaky gut issues.

Malabsorption

If you take supplements or vitamins daily and you have noticed that you are not getting the same benefit or feeling from them, this could be a sign of leaky gut. What this means is that the vitamins and supplements you are taking are actually not being absorbed properly and are leaking out with the toxins. Your body isn’t being given the chance to absorb them properly and therefore it may seem like you need to take more or change brands. When you do this often, you may start thinking they aren’t working anymore. This is usually referred to as malabsorption and is directly related to leaky gut.

The list below is not exhaustive but a combination of the following might also indicate the presence of leaky gut

  • Chronic diarrhoea, gas, bloating, constipation or nausea
  • Chronic diarrhoea, gas, bloating, constipation or nausea
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Poor immune system
  • Headaches, brain fog, memory loss
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Skin allergies and problems such as eczema, acne, or rosacea
  • Arthritis or joint pain
  • Depression, ADHD
  • Autoimmune conditions such as, lupus, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease

Healthy Foods For Leaky Gut

When you start dealing with a treatment plan for your leaky gut issues, you may look at various options. One of the options may be supplements. In many cases, these supplements work best with a diet change in your life. If you are wondering how to change your diet to help the supplements work as well as give you healthy food options for your leaky gut, then here are some options.

Fermented Foods

One of the ways that you can help your leaky gut is to start adding fermented foods to your diet. These foods can be something as simple as Kombucha tea. The reason you want to add these to your diet is because of the cultures that develop during the fermentation process. These cultures will help aid your system in digestion and move toxins through your system easily and quicker than normal. This means the toxic leakage is reduced because they are not sitting in your intestinal tract waiting to cause blockages that are related to digestion issues.

Vegetables without Starch

You need high fiber low starch vegetables that help breakdown your food and move it through your system. Fiber based vegetables offer you a wide variety of minerals and vitamins as well. If you are not used to high fiber vegetables, you may want to start out slow and work your way to gradually increasing your intake. If you introduce too many at once, you may suffer adverse reactions and make matters worse.

Coconut Oil

It seems like coconut oil is the cure all, but in this case it really is. By using this in place of butter and cooking oils you will find that you are promoting a healthy balance of oils in your diet. These healthier oils will actually help eliminate the build up of blockages and move your food through your system easily. It can also help to safely coat your stomach to help prevent further leaky gut issues and reduce the amount of toxins being released into your blood stream.

How to Heal Leaky Gut

The first thing to do if you suspect leaky gut or intestinal and digestive issues is to seek attention from a qualified health practitioner or your doctor to establish the cause of the symptoms you might be experiencing. Bear in mind that other conditions might also present with symptoms similar to those for leaky gut. As part of this it may be necessary to change your diet and to abstain from taking foods that your body treats as toxic or reacts badly to. If you are not sure which foods are culprit, try and keep a food journal or diary and list everything you ingest, including liquids. It may also help to do a food allergy test. Foods like soy, refined sugar, caffeine, gluten, dairy, and alcohol tend to be typical triggers.

In addition to eliminating certain foods, you will need to take certain reparative measures to try and build up the gut. Incorporating healthy foods like fish, coconut oils, healthy fats, avocados and flax will have a beneficial impact over time.

Supplementation

Supplementing with high quality probiotics and digestive enzymes will help to restore intestinal flora in the gastrointestinal tract. Probiotic help to maintain healthy bacteria to that assist with digestion and with moving the foods through your system easily so they don’t form blockages and cause more leakage. Taking amino acids such as L-glutamine will help revitalize the intestinal wall lining.

Fiber

Fiber is something that most people think is derived mainly from fruits or vegetables. Though these are great sources, they will not be sufficient sources of fiber for someone with leaky gut issues. Additional supplementation with fiber will help and this can be got in powder form which can easily be added to water or juice daily. Fiber helps break down your foods and reduces blockages in your system. These blockages can cause more strain on your intestines and lead to more leakages. If the blockages can be reduced, this also helps to reduce leakages from the intestinal tract. Ensuring that you are well hydrated is a general principle of good health but be particularly aware that with increased fiber intake you will also need to increase your water intake by quite a bit. Healthy herbal teas are also excellent for you and help nourish the digestive tract as well as aiding digestion and preventing constipation.

Collagen Powder

Collagen powder is something that some may not be aware of. Collagen is what is contained in bone broth that makes it so effective for overall health and immune issues. Collagen powder is mainly found in health food stores, so if you can’t find it in your local grocery, try a health food or natural food store. Collagen powder is not vegan so keep this in mind if you are vegan or if you adhere to a vegan lifestyle.

So, this is just a summary of the debilitating condition of leaky gut but I hope it gives some insight into the ailment. These healthy food options and supplements for leaky gut are easy to find and can easily be added into a daily food plan that will lead to better gut health or even its reversal.

If you feel you may be a victim of leaky gut, please ensure you seek medical attention as quickly as possible to get it seen to and managed with a good treatment plan.

To your healthy gut!
Kobi Emmanuella-King

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