Healing leaky gut is becoming more of a main-stream topic all the time, and here, contributor Danielle will give us 14 easy steps to begin the healing process. -Jaclyn
What is leaky gut?
The term “leaky gut” refers to an intestine that is permeable- that is, it allows food and other particles through the membrane walls. The food then has access to the blood and immune systems, where the undigested particles wreak havoc.
The body then must use its detoxification and elimination systems to cleanse the blood and immune organs like the liver, gallbladder, and skin of these particles. This overburdens and slows down the body’s detoxification and metabolism, and leads to autoimmune diseases.
What conditions may be caused by leaky gut?
Autoimmune conditions are largely believed to occur in conjunction with leaky gut.
As particles leak from the gut into the bloodstream, the food pieces are targeted by the body as foreign invaders. This may launch an immune attack against a harmless food, causing an allergic reaction. Depending on genetics, the body’s condition, and the food particle itself, this may appear as an allergy, eczema on the skin, or asthma.
In the case of eczema, the gut is allowing particles through the membrane which find their way into the bloodstream, and are then detoxed through the skin. (source) Asthma is a similar process, but an allergic reaction in the lungs as the body attempts to dislodge the invader.
Another common condition linked to leaky gut is the myriad of common gut diseases. Intestinal disorders such as IBS, Chron’s, and chronic constipation or diarrhea also signal unhealthy gut function. (source) As the gut deteriorates, digestion is slowed or stopped, nutrients are not absorbed, and inflammation becomes rampant.
Leaky gut has also been linked to behavioral issues. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s book Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D. is an excellent resource to learn more about how food effects behavior. Get it here.
When healing leaky gut, there are three angles you need to consider: removing the foods that are causing it, adding foods which can help heal it, and supplementing good bacteria, enzymes, and amino acids.
Healing leaky gut: foods to avoid
1. Processed foods- Void of nutrients, and often enriched with chemically-made vitamins and minerals, processed foods wreck gut health. Just eat real food. (source)
2. Overcooked fruits and vegetables- As soon as produce is picked, it begins to lose its living enzymes. By the time it reaches your supermarket, it may even have gone through radiation to “sterilize” it. This equates to very few living enzymes in your food. No enzymes? No digestion!
3. Enriched foods– Enriched foods sound good, but they are really foods that have been stripped of their natural nutrients, and enriched with synthetic vitamins and minerals. These chemically-made vitamins and minerals block the vitamin or mineral receptor for the real deal, leading to nutritional deficiencies.
4. Genetically modified foods (GMOs)– Genetically modified foods have been shown to decimate gut flora. (source) Common GMO foods include processed wheat, corn, soy and sugar. Most commercially-grown meat, eggs, and dairy comes from animals fed GMOs. Choose grass-fed, organic meats.
5. Antibiotic-filled dairy and meat products (and antibiotics!)– Factory farms typically use multiple rounds of broad spectrum antibiotics on their animals. These end up in the meat on your table and, subsequently, in your body. (source) Antibiotics kill all the bacteria in your system- the good and the bad. This can lead to leaky gut and other autoimmune conditions, such as asthma. (source)
6. Gluten– Gluten is implicated with numerous gut diseases, such as IBS, Chron’s, and Celiac’s disease. A protein produced by gluten called zonulin is likely to blame, but gluten is also naturally inflammatory. It also causes a condition where gut bacteria are harmed, called gut dysbiosis. (source)
7. Processed sugar– Most sugar in processed foods is derived from GMOs, and white, processed sugar has been shown to damage gut health. (source) Cut out all white and processed sugars, and use natural sweeteners like honey, molasses or maple syrup instead.
What is the best diet for leaky gut syndrome?
While we all have individual needs, below are some foods that are universally beneficial for healing leaky gut.
8. Bone broth– Bone broth, with its immune-boosting peptides, collagen, and glutamine, (source) has been shown to improve gut health. Amino acids produced in bone broth help heal the gut, and as well as numerous minerals, which are easily absorbed by the body. Buy it here.
9. Fermented foods– Fermentation produces healthy bacteria in foods like kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso. Fermented foods can replenish bacteria damaged by antibiotics and processed foods. Learn how to make a delicious and easy sauerkraut here.
10. Foods that manage yeast growth- coconut oil and garlic are anti-fungal and can help heal a yeast overgrowth in the gut. Symptoms of yeast overgrowth include sugar cravings, toe and fingernail fungus, mood swings, dandruff, and autoimmune conditions.
11. Raw, organic fruits and vegetables– Adding more raw produce to your diet will introduce more natural, living enzymes to aid digestion.
If you’re serious about healing leaky gut, look into the GAPS diet. This step-by-step healing diet focuses on whole foods including bone broth and fermented foods.
Jaclyn’s book, Nourishing Holiday, also has recipes which are grain-free and and gut-healing and you can get it for a limited time as part of the Ultimate Gut Health Bundle– a collection of books, courses, and other resources designed to help you learn how to heal your gut- worth more than $695- for just $47.
Healing leaky gut: supplementation
Eating gut-healing foods will start the process, but supplementation may be necessary for those with seriously damaged guts. Try the below supplements to bring health back to your gut.
12. Probiotics– Recent studies have shown that your gut biome- viruses, bacteria, fungus, mycobacteria and more- determines how healthy you are. When good bacteria are diminished, bad bacteria and other microorganisms can take over. Eating fermented foods can introduce more good bacteria into your system, but a probiotic supplement can deliver a higher dose. I recommended these probiotics.
13. Enzymes– Enzymes assist with the digestion of food, and studies have shown them to be essential to our gut health. (source) With modern diets lacking living foods, we simply do not get enough enzymes. Supplementing enzymes may help to restore gut health more quickly. I recommend these enzymes or these enzymes.
14. Amino acids– Amino acids are proteins that are essential to all your body’s functions and they help to heal intestinal permeability. They are found abundantly in broth and, as a supplement, collagen. I specifically like this collagen because of its high-quality grass-fed sourcing.
Healing leaky gut is a process
Your gut did not become damaged overnight, and it will take time to repair it. By eating whole foods, kicking the junk food, and using key supplements, you can get on track to better gut health in no time.
Leaky gut is a condition which affects up to 80% of Americans. If you suffer from any autoimmune or digestive issues, you surely have a gut in need of repair.