Health Starts in the Gut. What to do about Leaky Gut Syndrome.
“To insure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life” – William Londen
The Gut – Your Center for Health and Wellness Starts Here
Our gut is a probably the most overlooked and overworked part of our body with all the responsibilities it has. A living environment of nerve endings, carefully balanced bacteria, and tightly weaved cells that digest food and handle/absorb it’s nutrients. Our gut has many important duties including:
- Breaking down and digesting all your foods and drinks
- Providing the body with nutrients (amino acids, sugars, fats), vitamins and minerals
- Aids in the detoxification process of the body
So what can go wrong? Alot! First our nicely balanced bacteria balance we need can be disrupted. That along with other factors can lead to the gut getting inflamed. Now creating holes in that tightly woven cellular intenstinal lining, creating foreign bodies (undigested proteins and toxins) to now leak into the bloodstream, and finding home in our joints, organs, tissues, and brain. Our body’s always alert defenses (immune system) now see foreign invaders and send out a response to attack, creating an autoimmune condition. Your gut immune system is now compromised and now can not properly handle bacteria infection, growth, straining detoxification, stressing the liver, not absorbing nutrients efficiently and compromising the whole digestive process. That my friends is Leaky Gut…..now doesn’t that sound like something we might want to avoid?
Uh Oh, Something Has Gone Wrong, So How Do You Know?
Unfortunately we do not have alarm lights to go off, so our body gives us “symptoms” to which we are supposed to become aware of something is wrong and then fix the problem. Unfortunately for the most part we just tend to ignore these things and call them just “normal”, or even worse suppress them with medications and ignore them as trouble build up and something worse may be around the corner. Leaky gut symptoms can include:
- Fatigue, Bloating, Headaches, Skin rashes, Muscle Pain/Cramps, Joint pain, Abdominal pain, Heartburn, Mood Swings, Food allergies, Depression, Bloating, Anxiety, Nutrient malnutrition, and more.
So if any of those things sound familiar (and I would be willing to say most of us can say they do), those are your first warnings of something could be wrong, and the first place to always start is with the gut. (total gut health including what we are putting in our gut, aka food and drinks)
It Can’t be All that Bad, Could It?
So how bad could it really be you ask? We all have fatigue and headaches. We all have joint pain. Isn’t that just called getting older? Well I don’t know who came up with that line but I would like to age, but never get older! Remember these could be just little warnings that if not taken care of can lead to bigger issues. Conditions that could be linked with Leaky Gut Syndrome include:
- Colon cancer, Celiac disease, IBS, Food allergies, Acne, Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, Liver and Kidney disorders, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Psoriasis and much much more.
What Went Wrong?
Contributors to Leaky Gut Syndrome can include:
- Alcohol, Stress, Perscription Meds/NSAIDS, Antibiotics, Poor Diet (high in sugar), Excess grains (gluten intolerances), Allergens, Parasites, Gut Bacteria Imbalance (growth of bad, killing off of good), Environmental Toxins, Poor Diet (high in sugars and processed foods), and more.
So many factors from so many different sources, what are we to do? Well by taking preventative measures and allowing time for the gut to heal, we can hopefully reverse this condition and calm down any possible symptoms from it.
Ok, So What Can I Do?
How to live for healthy gut:
- Avoid excessive grains – especially those containing gluten (wheat, rye, barley, malt, and oats). This could be a post in all itself but essentially the grain is new to the human digestive system on the scale of evolution. Our bodies are still not able to process these grains properly. Just because you are not “allegic” doesn’t meant that you do not have an intolerance causing a host of other problems. When in doubt, do an elimination diet and then reintroduce to see what happens.
- Avoid lectins – these are plant proteins that when let loose in the body (through the leaky gut) will cause the immune system to attack them as they settle into joints, tissues, and other places. Worst offenders are found in grains/wheat, corn, legumes (soy, peanuts, dried beans), nightshades (potato, tomato, eggplant and pepper)
- Avoid gut allergens – The top being gluten/wheat, dairy, corn, soy, and peanuts. Allergens cause gut irritation and inflammation…and that leads to leaking and other issues. This also includes any spreads, oils or sauces made with those items (such as corn or soil oil and peanut butter)
- Avoid fermented/yeast growing foods – Including breads, alcohol, vinegar, cheese, coffee, olives, pickles, soy sauce, and wine
- Avoid all sugars – sugar “feed” the bad bacteria and will help kill off the good bacteria. This means processed foods, white flours, sodas, sauces, and even including fruit until the situation is under control (do what is called an elimination diet, eliminate for 2-3 weeks and then reintroduce back in to see if your symptoms improve and do not reappear)
- Avoid processed foods - I think we all know what these are. Golden rule, if it wasn’t around 1000 years ago or comes in a package and has a label, don’t eat it.
- Eat more vegetables – Fresh vegetables have enzymes and natural fiber (insoluble and soluble) used to feed the healthy bacteria and clean out the waste material. This is not the same as bran fiber (avoid it).
- Get Healthy Fats (esp Omega 3s-Fish Oil) – The gut lining (intestinal wall) likes healthy fats especially those anti-inflammatory Omega 3s from Fish Oil (EPA/DHA). Take 3-5g per day as needed. (like anything, check with your doctor first esp if you are already on any medications as it may have an effect on them)
- Less toxins ingested - Avoid all foods and drinks that contain chemicals, preservatives, hormones, pesticides, antibiotics, flavorings, colorings, and sweeteners. But we can also extend this to your complete environment as to anything that you smell, breathe and put on your skin for absorption.
- Take Probiotics if you have had antibiotics – Antibiotics kill off the bad bacteria….but also the good bacteria. It doesn’t know the difference and takes care of all of it. Now with a bad diet and poor food sources the bad bacteria can repopulate quickly and the good bacteria can be much much less. Taking Probiotics is a way to get the good bacteria back into the system and try to get some sense of the bacteria balance that a healthy gut needs.
- Supplement Digestive Enzymes with food – Depending how stressed our gut is and how old we are, we may need additional digestive enzymes to help improve gut health and digestion of foods. Taking these with meals may ease the stress on the gut and improve overall health.
- Do elimination diets – As noted above you should avoid all the trouble foods esp grains, dairy, and the likes. However some people may not want to get rid of them 100%. What you do need to do is give your system a break from the irritants for a while to calm down potential inflammation. So take grains and diary out of your diet for 3-4 weeks, and then slowly reintroduce them back in. You may see different reactions now with much less tollerance….which is a good thing because your body is working better and giving you a hint not to eat this stuff. When in doubt, take time off suspected trouble foods and then listen to your body when you reintroduce them back in.
- Rotate foods – Allergies and irritation can also come from just having the same food over and over and over again. Best health strategy is to rotate your sources of food daily including different veggies, meats and fats. Not only will this help your gut but also make sure you are getting a wide selection of foods each with different vitamins and minerals. Variety is good for many reasons.
- Stress Reduction – That sickening feeling in your gut when you get stressed out….picture that as the bad bacteria running around and killing off the good bacteria. Stop stressing out over things that don’t matter and take time to do some relaxing such as deep breathing a couple times a day.
- Promote Health and Recovery Lifestyle – Getting plenty of sleep, fasting, exercise, sweat, stress reduction, water, healthy natural foods, fresh air and get out in the sun. Enjoy your time with friends and remember that health is a choice, one made every time you put ANYTHING in your mouth and gut. Take charge of 100% what goes into your body, because if you don’t no one else will.
Your gut health should be a #1 priority because as the saying goes, you are what you eat. Could it really be that simple? Could our health really just be all about what we eat? In some ways….Yes it is simple, but that message has gotten lost somehow. Tell a friend to clean up their gut, who knows…you might just make them healthy in the process.
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