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Leaky Gut is a relatively new term in the medical world. So new that it’s usually not diagnosed even if you report it at the doctor’s office. It’s rarely even taught in medical school so it’s more likely to be found and treated by alternative medicine specialists.
So what exactly is it? To answer that we have to go back to biology class. Remember talking about your intestines in high school biology? Well if you were sleeping during that class, the intestines’ primary job is to be the gatekeeper of all things nasty that enter our bodies. They control what comes into and out of the bloodstream.
Leaky Gut occurs when things that shouldn’t be there (a.k.a. toxins and bacteria) seep through the intestinal wall into our bloodstream. Based on that description, Leaky Gut is sometimes referred to as Increased Permeability in fancier circles.
What happens when these toxins and bacteria enter the bloodstream is the body triggers an immune response. The body doesn’t recognize these items as food so it automatically thinks they’re a intruders.
It responds a lot like if you had a cold or wound.
This causes the body to signal your immune system to work to remove these intruders. This leads to inflammation. And if your body is inflamed for long periods of time, a variety of bad things can happen.
Chronic Inflammation has been known to cause cancer, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, eczema, and so much more.
So how do you know if you are at risk?
Because Leaky Gut is still new, it’s still a mystery and no one knows for sure. However, experts believe excessive sugar intake, long term use of ibuprofen, excessive alcohol intake, unhealthy diet, and stress all play big roles in the development of Leaky Gut.
Leaky Gut Warning Signs
If you are worried you might be at risk for Leaky Gut check out the symptoms.
If you find it tough to wake up in the morning even though you got the suggested 8 hours of sleep Leaky Gut may be to blame.
Gut health is essential for maintaining good vitamin and mineral balance. When your gut is unhealthy it’s not able to absorb all of the nutrients your body needs to function.
This can lead to feeling constantly sluggish.
Chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas or bloating
These are all hallmark signs that your gut is out of whack. It makes sense… this is what your gut is supposed to do: make you poop!
But if things aren’t going well the process gets messed up and these not-so-wonderful symptoms occur.
Gas in particular is a sign that food is fermenting in your gut. That usually indicates that you have an imbalance of bacteria needed to break down the food you’ve eaten.
Scientists have found that gut bacteria actually secretes proteins that are similar to hunger-regulating hormones. These proteins affect food cravings.
It’s kind of nasty but bacteria will try to get you to eat foods it thrives on. So if you eat a lot of sugar you feed the unhelpful bacteria that love it and they secrete the proteins to make you crave sugar more.
The good thing is you can reverse this if you heal your gut properly. (Don’t worry… you can find out how below).
Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Celiac disease or Crohn’s
Even though scientists and physicians have yet to figure out why gut health is directly linked to autoimmune diseases, a lot of people have found relief or even healing from changing their diet.
Reflux is usually due to a buildup of bad bacteria in your gut.
What’s worse is that medications for reflux tend to help this bad bacteria grow, feeding the problem and causing it to spiral out of control.
Normally, your stomach acid will be able to kill the bad bacteria but since the medications prescribed for reflux neutralize acid it allows that bad bacteria continue to grow.
Inability to lose weight
Your cells have a lot to do with weight loss. On the outside of every cell is a little receptor that’s job is to tell your brain: “Hey up there it’s time to burn off some of this fat because we have too much.”
When your body is chronically inflamed (from Leaky Gut or a bad diet in general) those receptors get damaged so your body can’t burn fat as effectively as it should.
That’s why it’s extremely hard for someone with Leaky Gut to lose even the smallest amount of weight.
If you have dandruff, acne, eczema, or other problems and you’ve tried every skin care product out there with no success, your gut health may be to blame.
The leaking of toxins into your bloodstream causes inflammation which can lead to all types of skin problems… including faster cell aging. And nobody wants that.
Your gut also does a great job of catching bacteria and other viruses – removing them from your body.
At the same time it will take the good-for-you stuff (vitamins, minerals, etc) and help your body absorb them.
If you have Leaky Gut, your body is unable to trap those viruses and bacteria, allowing them to enter your body. More viruses and bacteria coming in means more sickness and more frequent trips to the doctor.
Feeling Depressed, Stressed, and Anxious
The lining of your intestines is filled with nerves whose sole job is to communicate with your brain.
They’re responsible for telling your brain to release those wonderful hormones that make you feel happy.
When your gut is out of whack and off balance the system doesn’t work properly and your body doesn’t receive those messages. You end up feeling off and not like yourself.
Headaches, Brain Fog, Memory Loss
Your gut’s job is to communicate with your brain on a number of issues. An inflamed gut (and body) means an inflamed brain. That means your brain has damaged tissue caused by inflammation.
This can lead to headaches, brain fog, and memory loss as well as more serious diseases like Alzheimers and Dementia.
How to Heal Leaky Gut
Thankfully there are ways to heal your body and fight Leaky Gut. To do so, you need to bring balance to the bacteria living in your gut. You do this by eating a diet filled with foods that will help grow the healthy bacteria in your gut.
Foods to Eat More Of
Most experts believe the way to help grow healthy bacteria effectively is to focus on whole, non processed, organic foods such as the ones listed below:
Fruits and Veggies: Fresh and organic when possible. Frozen is fine as a secondary choice.
Seeds: Chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.
Grains: Focus on the most natural grains like brown rice, oats, quinoa, barley, etc.
Healthy fats: avocado, avocado oil, coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil.
Beverages: teas, coconut milk, nut milk, water
Nuts: raw nuts including peanuts, almonds and nut-based products, such as nut milks.
Foods to Avoid
Eating healthy foods is just half the battle. Avoiding bad-for-you foods is equally as important for fighting (and/or healing) Leaky Gut.
Processed Grains: white bread, white pasta, white rice, sugary cereals, etc.
Baked goods: Cakes, muffins, cookies, pies, donuts, pastries
Snack foods: Crackers, chips, pretzels, etc.
Junk food: Fast foods, candy bars, etc.
Refined oils: Canola, sunflower, soybean and safflower oils
Artificial sweeteners: Aspartame, sucralose, saccharin
Beverages: Alcohol and sugary drinks.
In addition to eating the right “good for you” foods and avoiding the “bad for you” foods, supplements and a healthy lifestyle can also play an important role in restoring gut health.
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in our bodies. Its primary job is to heal tissues.
The digestive tract is where you will find the bulk of these amino acids. It’s very effective in fixing irritated cells in the gut. It can also reduce anxiety and lessen sugar cravings. Experts suggest a supplement of 5 grams of Glutamine daily.
Probiotcs have gotten a ton of press recently and for good reason. They not only balance your stomach’s PH but they also create enzymes that destroy harmful bacteria.
If you have Leaky Gut it’s imperative that you are able to balance and restore your gut’s good bacteria, so probiotics are a must.
There are so many options out there for probiotics but Trunature Digestive Probiotic is one of the best for a number of reasons.
It contains 10 billion cultures of three different strains of probiotics including: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG. Each strain is effective for treating Leaky Gut along with other ailments.
For example, L. acidophilus helps balance immune function (a key player in the avoidance and/or healing of Leaky Gut), and it helps with allergies.
B lactis helps reduce cholesterol absorption, lowering high blood cholesterol levels.
L. rhamnosus GG relieves IBS symptoms, treats diarrhea, strengthens your gut health, and protects against cavities.
Another reason Trunature Digestive Probiotic is one of the best is that their lab scored very high when for efficacy and product purity. Meaning you can trust what the box says (unfortunately that’s not always the case). Plus it’s around $20 for 100 capsules, which is pretty affordable as well.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
A gut with rich and diverse bacteria is the key to overall health. 38 trillion bacteria live inside our guts and they’re responsible for keeping our immune systems healthy.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, which means the human body cannot produce them on its own – so we have to get them from food or supplementation.
You’ve probably heard some of the benefits of omega-3s: lower bad cholesterol, lower blood pressure, improved bone strength are just a few. But it turns out that omega 3’s also increase the amount and variety of bacteria living in the gut too.
Experts suggest a dosing of 250 – 500 mg of omega 3’s per day for gut and overall health.
A lot of things go on in your body when it’s under stress. One of these is that your brain releases stress hormones. These hormones have a huge influence on your gut.
They cause the gut to become inflamed which leads to … you guessed it … Leaky Gut.
Stress can even affect the way food moves in your gut by slowing down transition time. This leaves you feeling sluggish.
Of course, reducing stress is easier said than done. One of the easiest ways to start is by exercising. Even if it’s just taking a 5 minute walk outside, it will have huge effects on not only your stress levels but overall health and mood.
The gut microbiome can get imbalanced without enough sleep. Studies have shown that if you’re experiencing a lack of sleep for even just two days in a row good bacteria in your gut will begin to die off while the bad bacteria start to flourish.
After times of sleep deprivation sleep deprived mice had guts become leaky and imbalanced.
If you have trouble falling asleep, try taking a melatonin supplement one hour before bedtime. It’s a natural hormone your body releases to signal to your brain it’s time to sleep. A good dose to start with is 5mg but you can take up to 10mg safely.
Kick Your Coffee Habit
Replace your coffee with natural energy boosters
Hi, my name is Allie and I’m a recovering coffeeholic. It’s true. That’s how I used to start every single morning, with a nice hot cup of joe.
Unfortunately, even though coffee has a good nutritional profile it has pitfalls too, especially for anyone with Leaky Gut.
Regular coffee consumption (more than half a cup a day) has been shown to increase white blood cells, which signals inflammation. And as you now know, inflammation is what people with Leaky Gut need to avoid.
But don’t worry, here’s how you can quit the habit without a nasty crash. First, start by switching your coffee to black or green tea. These still have some caffeine but not as much. And they have a great nutritional profile. Do this for the first week (or two).
Next, switch your tea to herbal no caffeine teas, (especially ones that will help your gut like ginger or chamomile). The goal is to slowly stop all caffeine, even decaf coffee as it still contains some caffeine.
You’ll be amazed at how much energy you have without a drop of caffeine and your gut will be so thankful.
If you have Leaky Gut you know it can be miserable. Thankfully it can be controlled and healed with these dietary and lifestyle changes. You’ll discover that once you’ve started on your healing journey that you feel even better than you thought possible.
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