Have you heard the term “Leaky Gut” before? Before I was diagnosed with it, I had never heard the term before. Leaky gut or intestinal permeability is a malfunction in the intestinal wall. When the malfunction happens, undigested food, microbes, and toxins can leak into the blood stream. The intestines have a thin barrier of cells like a mesh in a screen door. In a healthy gut, the mesh keeps the bad stuff out of the bloodstream, and the lets the good stuff get through like a screen door keeps the bugs out but lets the air through.
With leaky gut, the whole body can become inflamed. It can cause joint pain, brain fog, food sensitivities, fatigue, and thyroid conditions; just to name a few. I had many of these issues before I was diagnosed. My medical doctor wasn’t much help in repairing my broke body. I listed the symptoms, but the symptoms could have been a number of things or all “in my head.”
There were times when I thought I would fall out of my chair because I was in a “food coma,” and I was totally out of it. Or I couldn’t find the words to complete a sentence. In his book “Why isn’t my brain working?” Dr. Datis Kharrazian said one of the earliest signs of a poorly functioning brain is poor digestion. After much testing with my stomach, the doctor said there was nothing wrong. But I knew that wasn’t the case.
The scary part was if left untreated, leaky gut can lead to more serious problems throughout the body. Leaky gut can lead to autoimmune disease, which happened in my case. Leaky gut can be caused by a number of issues such as bacterial imbalance, poor diet, chronic stress, or toxins. We have seen an increase in gluten sensitivity over the last twenty years or so. We could point to the gluten molecules being changed by Big Food, but we could also point to the increase in grains in our diet. The Food Pyramid designed in the 80’s featured grains as the foundation of the pyramid. This has led to the increase of grains in everything – cereals, breads and pasta; “whole grain” everything is now the rage.
Before cereals and breads were “enriched” or “fortified with minerals and vitamins”, refined grains used to cause severe deficiencies. There are anti-nutrients in grains and legumes that cause such deficiencies as B1 and B2 (thiamine and riboflavin – causing beriberi), B3 (Niacin- causing pellagra) and iron as well as calcium and magnesium.
Phytic Acid is the defensive mechanism for grains and seeds to keep bugs and bacteria from destroying its seed (reproduction mechanism). It is self-defense for the plant, but also a hindrance to our own gut health. Lectins in grains and legumes are a common problem with leaky gut. Lectins bind to sugar containing cells which line the intestinal barrier. Lectins damage the intestinal wall causing inflammation. Lectins survive the acidity of the stomach and interfere with the nutrient absorption in the small intestines.
What can you do if you suspect you have leaky gut? In an article by Dr. Axe (you can read it HERE), he states four steps to heal leaky gut. Remove the foods that are causing damage to the gut (sugar, grains, conventional meat, conventional dairy and GMO foods). Also, eliminate tap water, pesticides, NSAIDS and antibiotics (check with your doctor on this one). Replace with healing foods (bone broth, coconut products, fermented foods and sprouted seeds). Repair with specific supplements (probiotics, digestive enzymes, quercetin, and DGL Licorice Root). Rebalance with probiotics.
Leaky gut can be repaired. I am living proof that healing the gut is possible! It’s an ongoing process that needs to be addressed daily. Once the gut is healed, maintaining gut health is essential in staying on the right side of disease.
Check out Dr. Axe’s article on the seven signs and symptoms of leaky gut HERE.