What exactly is Leaky Gut? The name conjures up disturbing images not appropriate for polite dinner conversation, but it is a term you have probably heard. Technically, it means that your intestines have increased permeability, or to put it bluntly…you have holes in your gut. The lining of the gut is damaged and allows toxins to pass into the body through your bloodstream. Your immune system is triggered to react to these toxins as if they were foreign invaders. The result is inflammation throughout the body causing a wide variety of symptoms. I read a great analogy online…”Think of it like party crashers who slip through security and proceed to make a mess of the venue.”
What causes your gut to become leaky? Many things, but most commonly chronic stress, medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, and other anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, a diet high in processed foods and refined sugar, excessive alcohol, and gluten if you are sensitive to it.
In addition to digestive disturbances and bloating, most leaky gut sufferers develop other symptoms like multiple food allergies, environmental allergies, chronic sinus infections, aching joints, skin rashes, fatigue, and brain fog. As the holes in the digestive tract lining become bigger, more and more particles slip through. The villi in the small intestine become damaged and eventually lose their ability to absorb vital nutrients. Many autoimmune disorders are being linked to Leaky Gut. Diagnosing it is very difficult because traditional blood tests typically doesn’t show any abnormalities until the body is severely broken down. It is more of a clinical diagnosis, but if you strongly suspect you may have this issue you may want to look into specific intestinal permeability testing.
There is no magic pill for Leaky Gut, but there are many things you can do to begin to heal your gut lining. The first is eating an anti-inflammatory diet that eliminates gluten, sugar, dairy, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners. I know…NOT fun! But, neither is feeling horrible all of the time. Add lots of anti-inflammatory leafy green vegetables and essential fatty acids from nuts and wild caught fish to your diet. Food is a powerful healer! Taking an EFA supplement and a good Probiotic product will help to repair and rebuild the normal, beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract. Glutamine, an essential amino acid, is also very helpful in fixing those leaks. Many people will notice a difference in 1-2 months, but for some it can take longer. As always, when you are truly FIXING a problem, not just throwing drugs at symptoms, consistency and patience are key ingredients.