Ever heard of Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Wondering if you could be walking around with a leaky gut?
Well, wonder no more.
Although the visual image conjured up by the idea of a leaky gut looks pretty weird, it really is a thing. And not just any old thing. A leaky gut could be undermining your weight loss efforts and damaging your health.
Also known as intestinal permeability — Leaky Gut Syndrome is a condition closely linked to a myriad of skin and health issues.
That’s because digestive issues, food sensitivities, trouble maintaining a healthy weight, brain fog, mood swings, fatigue, headaches, yeast infections, and UTIs all have one thing in common — your gut.
Leaky Gut Syndrome results from a breakdown of your GI tract lining.
Your gut or gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) is the long tube that begins at the mouth and ends at the tush. It is responsible for processing food from the moment you eat it until it’s absorbed and finally, when all the goodness has been extracted, it’s pooped out.
Inside your digestive tract you have an extensive, very thin intestinal lining covering more than 4,000 square feet of surface area. That’s almost as much area as two tennis courts! YIKES! When functioning as designed, it forms a tight barrier that controls what gets absorbed into the bloodstream.
Think of this barrier as a mesh net with teeny, tiny holes in it. These tiny holes act as filters designed to enable certain substances to pass through. It acts as a shield to keep out the bigger, harmful substances from entering your body.
When someone has a ‘leaky gut’, it means that the gut lining is damaged and no longer can function optimally. The smaller holes become larger and allow harmful substances like gluten, bad bacteria, and undigested food particles to enter your system.
This can trigger inflammation and changes in your precious microbiome — the gut flora (normal bacteria) — that could lead to big problems. Research shows that modifications in the intestinal bacteria and inflammation may play a role in the development of common chronic diseases.
We all have some degree of leaky gut.
This barrier is not completely impenetrable — and its not supposed to be. Some of us may have a genetic predisposition and may be more sensitive to changes in the digestive system. But don’t place all the blame on your DNA.
Modern life may actually be the main driver of gut lining damage and inflammation.
There is emerging evidence that the standard American diet, which is low in fiber and high in sugar, may initiate this process. Heavy alcohol use and stress also seem to damage the integrity of your GI tract.
Researchers already know that increased intestinal permeability plays a role in certain gastrointestinal conditions such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Some studies show that leaky gut may be associated with other autoimmune diseases (lupus, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis), chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis, allergies, asthma, acne, obesity, and even mental illness.
What causes leaky gut?
- Consuming too much sugar
- Processed foods
- Foods comprised of proteins found in unsprouted grains, sugar, genetically-modified foods (GMO), and dairy products
- Consuming too much alcohol
- Prolonged exposure to stress, which can weaken your immune system and inhibits your body’s ability to eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses.
- Regular use of Nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen
- Toxin overload. We come across more than 80,000 chemicals and other toxic substances on a daily basis. However, the main culprits are antibiotics, pesticides, aspirin, and contaminated tap water.
These are primary factors which can erode the walls of your digestive tract, creating permeability gaps within their normally tight junctions. When that happens, all the bad stuff, like bile, harmful bacteria and compounds, such as food antigens (or undigested food particles) can “leak” through the gut wall into your bloodstream.
And once in your bloodstream, your body reacts to those particles as invaders and activates it’s immune response.
Leaky Gut Syndrome triggers low grade inflammation which activates your immune response.
Inflammation and its inevitable immune response lead to an array of problems, including digestives issues, increases in junk food cravings, fluctuating weight, yeast overgrowth, fatigue, mood swings, and headaches.
By contrast, in a healthy gut, the epithelial cells in your digestive tract remain tight, only allowing vital nutrients to pass through the mucosal wall in order to be absorbed and assimilated by the body.
Given that over 70 percent of your immune system is located in your gut—if you suspect you may be experiencing symptoms of leaky gut, it’s time to seek a diagnosis.
If left to worsen, the underlying inflammation can contribute to other health problems and stoke ongoing chronic inflammation.
Common symptoms of Leaky Gut.
As with its causes, symptoms of leaky gut can be complex, many and varied. It can also be tricky to get a proper diagnosis for leaky gut as its risk factors and symptoms can mimic other gastrointestinal and medical conditions (such as IBD or colitis) and can also vary in severity.
However, some of the most common symptoms include:
- Bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea
- Food allergies and/or food sensitivities or intolerances
- Seasonal allergies
- Hormonal imbalances like PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome).
- Chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Skin manifestations such as rashes, acne, psoriasis or eczema
- Lethargy and/or chronic fatigue syndrome
- Brain fog and/or headaches
- Mental health issues like depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder (ADD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Learn more about mental health here.
- Skin conditions like acne, rosacea, or eczema.
- Candida overgrowth, which is a fungal infection in humans
- Autoimmune diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac disease.
- Arthritis or joint pain.
- Systemic inflammation
- A Weak or poor immune system.
You can heal your Leaky Gut.
Triggers and underlying causes for leaky gut — as well as how it manifests — vary greatly from person to person. Unfortunately, there’s no standardized treatment plan that works for everyone. That’s why one of the most searched for phrases when it comes to leaky gut is: how long to heal leaky gut.
For serious gut health issues, it’s always a good idea to consult with a skilled gut health medical professional or integrative healthcare practitioner who can help manage your symptoms.
Here are six simple ways to kick start the healing process.
- Remove inflammatory foods from your diet: The most common culprits include gluten, sugar, processed foods, alcohol and dairy—which can all damage the intestinal lining. Gluten is particularly damaging for those with celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), while substances like sugar can also contribute to inflammation, dysbiosis and leaky gut.
- Manage stress: Research shows that chronic stress is directly linked to increased intestinal permeability. It damages the delicate gut lining and contributes to local and systemic inflammation. Reducing stress allows the gut to rest and repair. Practices such as meditation, for example, have been linked to improved gut health and microbial composition. Exercise can also positively impact the diversity of your gut microbes and increase the production of anti-inflammatory, protective short-chain fatty acids.
- Boost collagen intake: Up your intake of collagen-rich foods such as gelatin, bone broth, homemade chicken soup, eggs and poultry.
- Add probiotics: Microbial diversity is the key to a healthy gut. Probiotics is one simple way to support and diversify the bacteria in your gut. Add fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, pickles and cultured yogurts and cheeses.
- Eat more fiber rich foods: Fill your plate with anti-inflammatory, fiber rich plants. They can help repair and strengthen your delicate gut lining. Plant foods contain an abundance of prebiotic dietary fiber. This fiber feeds the beneficial gut bacteria — producing anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acids in the process. Yes, to more short chain fatty acids.
- Consider supplements: The best supplements for leaky gut are those that contain anti-inflammatory ingredients. These include nutrients such as turmeric, slippery elm, licorice and milk thistle. These have all been used traditionally in treatments for leaky gut, as well as other inflammatory bowel diseases.
Signs you’re healing your leaky gut.
The good news is, you can heal from Leaky Gut Syndrome over time. You can free yourself from gastrointestinal distress!
Signs that your leaky gut is healing will depend on your initial symptoms. But it’s a good sign you’re healing if you:
- Find your bowel movements have regulated
- No longer experience constant bouts of constipation and/or diarrhea
- Notice your skin is healthy and glowing
- Feel more energetic
As always, if you’re concerned about your leaky gut returning or how to manage it, please check in with a medical professional.
You can eat to heal Leaky Gut Syndrome.
When you join my coaching program, we’ll take a closer look at the food you’re eating today. Then we can figure out how it may be causing and/or exacerbating Leaky Gut Syndrome.
When it comes to tweaking and changing your everyday diet, I know that can sound daunting, an unnerving undertaking.
But I’ve got you.
I meet you where you are. I break down the process of change into easy to understand and implement steps. We begin little by little.
Please take me up on my offer for your FREE Strategy Call.
See for yourself how it’s possible to jump start weight loss by eating to heal Leaky Gut Syndrome.
This change can help you reach your weight loss goals with a lot less stress and drama.
It’s totally possible to make 2022 your year to create the healthiest you. No matter your age, stage or past disappointments.
Jump start your fresh start. A year from now you will thank yourself you reached out to me today.
I’m looking forward to meeting you soon.
It’s Never Too Late to make your weight loss journey easier. Let’s go!