How do you feel right now? Don’t give me that “great” or “good” auto-response that you say when someone asks you. This is you asking yourself. How do I feel? Take a quick mental scan of your body; is it is feeling perfect? Or are there aches, pains, sniffles, itchiness…
Sure! You’re going to say “of course, but that’s normal”. What if I told you it’s not? That dull ache at the top of the head or right between the eyes goes unnoticed until it turns into a full-fledged headache which causes you reach for some Advil (or other anti-inflammatory). STOP!
Let’s take it back a step. Do you feel perfect right now? No? Okay, no worries; let’s fix it.
The western diet means many people are walking around with leaky gut syndrome and don’t even know it. While some medical practitioners deny its existence and others diagnosis it; every single medical professional treats an individual with leaky gut on a daily basis.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Leaky gut syndrome is the excessive permeability in the digestive tract that allows for larger molecules to enter the blood stream. Normally the digestive tract is only permeable to small particles such as vitamins and minerals; which the body needs. All other particles (toxins and partially digested foodstuff) continue down and out! In leaky gut syndrome some of these “other” particles are absorbed out of the digestive tract with the vitamins and minerals. This “stuff” overburdens the immune system, liver and kidneys creating problems.
What causes leaky gut syndrome? There are many reasons why the intestines can become excessively permeable.
- Chronic ingestion of chemicals (preservatives and colourings)
- Food allergies and/or intolerances
- Medications such as pain relievers, antibiotics, steroids
- Chronic immune response that occurs due to illness and disease such as Celiac, Crohn’s and other inflammatory bowel disorders.
How to Fix It
If you are experiencing symptoms of leaky gut syndrome it means something is also going wrong within your body. It doesn’t just happen! First cut out all over the counter medications (unless prescribed by your physician). Pain relievers can irritate the mucous layer of the digestive tract; this is the body’s first defense against digestive juices. When this layer is disrupted acids of the digestive tract reach the intestinal wall causing microscopic holes to form: leaky gut.
Next tackle added sugars. That means all sugar that is not natural to the food you are eating. Over time some of this can be added back. Not that you’ll want to. Often people feel so good that once the diet is changed there’s no going back.
Then pay close attention to things you eat that may be creating problems; a food journal is handy. These could be intolerances that you were unaware of. Cut these foods out as well.
Autoimmune disorders such as celiac disease create an immune response when gluten is ingested. This leads to deterioration of the small intestines as this is the site of gluten digestion. Basically if you have recently been diagnosed with celiac disease you also have a leaky gut! In a lot of cases this is why some or all symptoms remain even after becoming gluten free. We have to help the gut heal!
Many preservatives and other artificial ingredients upset the acid /base balance within the body once more leading to mucosal irritation. So for a while (always) these need to be cut out as well. While it is ideal that we never ingest these things; it can be quite hard or sometimes impossible to avoid. Once the leaky gut symptoms have mellowed out cheating on the no artificial ingredients diets sometimes can be okay. BUT remember leaky gut can happen again!
Other things such as coffee or alcohol can also play a role. If you are a 3-5 cup-a-day-er I would suggest cutting back to 1 and some days none at all 😉
Sooo, I have said of lot of don’ts! What can you do or have?
- Fruit and vegies!! Yeah that’s always my answer 😉
- Healthy fats are important for the healing process: coconut, avocado, olive oil and flax seeds.
- Exercise in the great outdoors!
- Destress: get a massage, go for a walk, meditate
- Nutrient rich snacks such as nuts and berries or this awesome banana peach up-side down loaf.
A word about digestive enzymes… This is the one time that I suggest making a purchase. A high quality, all natural digestive enzyme supplement will help the body digest while healing. This is not a long term thing as we want the body to create the digestive enzymes naturally. A short round will provide some relief to an overworked system.
In my first year after being diagnosed with celiac I did a round of enzymes for 2 weeks then none for 1 week, then another round for 2 weeks, 2 weeks off then 1 week on again. This was probably the best 2 months of my life! The pain subsided, headaches disappeared, my brain cleared….and much more! While some of this was due to going gluten free, the symptoms began to clear much faster after a colleague told me about leaky gut and suggested the round of enzymes to me. Of course since then I have researched like crazy because I just have to know the why of things! Leading me here to this post hoping that what I have learned will help even just one person become symptom and pain free.