How To fix gut health
One of the biggest failures I have seen people make is not understanding gut health. You can diet, exercise, count calories, count macro's, and still be unable to reach your goals, all the while feeling miserable. Why? It all boils down to your gut health. Poor gut health can prevent your body from absorbing the nutrients you are eating, depriving your body of necessary nutrients, and causing your body to metabolize food differently. Which means even if you think you are eating healthy and working out and counting calories perfectly, you may not be able to achieve your goals. So, how do we fix that? Check out this article by Dr. Josh Axe! (I told you I love this guy!)
"Leaky Gut Syndrome
May 8, 2018
Original article & page source can be found here.
If you’ve been around the natural health world very long, you’ve probably heard of a condition known as leaky gut syndrome. It sounds pretty gross, but it’s an important enough problem to consider. There are several leaky gut symptoms to be aware of, which is particularly important since leaky gut is associated with dozens of related conditions and diseases.
As more Americans are affected by poor diet choices, chronic stress, toxic overload and bacterial imbalance, it appears that the prevalence of leaky gut has reached epidemic proportions. The medical profession is just now agreeing this condition may even exist, which is especially shocking to me because “intestinal permeability” (another name for leaky gut) has been discussed in the medical literature for over 100 years!
Why should leaky gut syndrome concern you? Recently leaky gut has been called a “danger signal for autoimmune disease.” (1) If you’re wondering if you may be experiencing leaky gut, the first thing to do is access your symptoms. Keep in mind that it’s very common for people on a Standard American Diet to struggle with poor gut function and high levels of inflammation — but just because digestive issues and autoimmune conditions are common doesn’t make them “normal”!
In this article, I’ve outlined a brief description of common leaky gut syndrome seen in people struggling with this condition. Can you heal leaky gut syndrome? As you’ll learn about below, there are four steps I recommend taking in order to repair leaky gut, which includes removing trigger foods from your diet, taking beneficial supplements and rebalancing your microflora with probiotics.
What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, said, “All disease begins in the gut.” More than two millennia after his death, scientific research has now proven he was onto something all those years ago. For over three decades, study after study has been published (several thousand articles exist to date) discussing our growing understanding of immunity, gut function and how modern diets and lifestyles negatively contribute to overall health by damaging our digestive system.
I (and many others in the medical field) refer to this particular phenomenon as leaky gut syndrome. In the medical literature, leaky gut is also referred to as “intestinal hyperpermeability.”
What Causes Leaky Gut?
The intestines are protected by a single layer of specialized epithelial cells that are linked together by tight junction (or TJ) proteins. Leaky gut symptoms are a consequence of intestinal tight-junction malfunction.
These tight junctions are the gateway between your intestines and your bloodstream. They control what is allowed to pass into the bloodstream from your digestive system. More than 40 different TJ proteins have now been recognized to play a role in gut health. Tight junctions have a very precise job — they have to maintain the delicate balance between allowing vital nutrients to enter your bloodstream, while remaining small enough to prevent xenobiotics (disease-causing compounds from your diet or lifestyle) from passing out of your digestive system into the rest of your body. (1)
Here’s how a report published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology describes the pathology of leaky gut: (2)
The intestinal epithelial lining, together with factors secreted from it, forms a barrier that separates the host from the environment. In pathologic conditions, the permeability of the epithelial lining may be compromised allowing the passage of toxins, antigens, and bacteria in the lumen to enter the bloodstream creating a ‘leaky gut.’
When you have leaky gut, certain tiny particles that should never be able to enter your bloodstream start to make their way through. There’s also commonly abnormalities in the gut stemming from antimicrobial molecules, immunoglobulins and cytokine activities. This presents a major problem, as the vast majority of your immune system is found inside the gut.
The result? A disruption of acute inflammation, and sometimes autoimmune reactions. A normal part of your immune response that serves to fight infections and diseases winds up over-performing, leading to chronic inflammation, which is at the root of most diseases.
Some of the underlying causes of leaky gut include:
Genetic predisposition — certain people may be more predisposed to developing leaky gut because they are sensitive to environmental factors that “trigger” their bodies into initiating autoimmune responses.
Poor diet — especially a diet that includes allergens and inflammatory foods such as un-sprouted grains, added sugar, GMOs, refined oils, synthetic food additives and conventional dairy products.
Toxin overload — including high drug and alcohol consumption. We come into contact with over 80,000 chemicals and toxins every single year, but the worst offenders for causing leaky gut include antibiotics, pesticides, tap water, aspirin and NSAIDS. I recommend buying a high-quality water filter to eliminate chlorine and fluoride and look to natural plant-based herbs to reduce inflammation in your body.
Bacterial imbalance — also called dysbiosis, which means an imbalance between beneficial and harmful species of bacteria in your gut. A large body of evidence now shows that gut microbiota is important in supporting the epithelial barrier and preventing autoimmune reactions. At least 10 percent of all gene transcriptions found in intestinal epithelial cells that are related to immunity, cell proliferation and metabolism are regulated by gut microbiota.
How Serious Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Well, according to a 2014 review of the facts and research about intestinal permeability (among other sources), the chronic condition of hyperpermeability is linked to numerous symptoms and health conditions.
What are the symptoms of leaky gut? Some of the most prominent signs you may have leaky gut include:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis)
Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
Esophageal and colorectal cancer
Acute inflammation conditions (sepsis, SIRS, multiple organ failure)
Chronic inflammatory conditions (such as arthritis)
Obesity-related metabolic diseases (fatty liver, Type II diabetes, heart disease)
Autoimmune disease (lupus, multiple sclerosis, Type I diabetes, Hashimoto’s, and more)
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Propensity towards weight gain or obesity
While these diseases are linked to leaky gut syndrome, it hasn’t been proven that there is a causal relationship; in other words, it’s not yet established that leaky gut causes any of these conditions, just that people who have leaky gut are more likely to have a number of other health problems. So while the scientific evidence has not yet proven that intestinal hyperpermeability (leaky gut syndrome) is actually responsible for these conditions, it strongly suggests that leaky gut and other dysfunctions tend to occur simultaneously.
Symptoms and Signs
How do you know if you have leaky gut? Below you’ll find seven leaky gut symptoms and early occurring conditions that may point to an issue with your gut health.
1. Food Sensitivities
Because of the onslaught of toxins that enter the bloodstream, the immune systems of people with intestinal hyperpermeability are on overdrive mass-producing various antibodies, which may make their bodies more susceptible to antigens in certain foods (especially gluten and dairy). In studies involving rats and human children, leaky gut and food allergies have been linked. (9, 10) Allergies are believed to be one of the most common leaky gut symptoms.
2. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Researchers from Hungary uncovered in 2012 that elevated gut permeability is oftentimes localized to the colon in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis. (11) As far back as 1988, scientists suggested that Crohn’s disease may be more of a risk for people with leaky gut. (12)
A small study (observing 12 patients) discovered that zinc supplementation may help resolve the tight junction dysfunction in these cases, although more research is required on a larger scale to confirm these results. (13)
3. Autoimmune Disease
The key to understanding how leaky gut can cause an autoimmune disease is through the research done on a protein known as “zonulin.” According to a 2011 article published in the journal Physiologic Reviews: (14)
Zonulin is the only physiological modulator of intercellular tight junctions described so far that is involved in trafficking of macromolecules and, therefore, in tolerance/immune response balance. When the finely tuned zonulin pathway is deregulated in genetically susceptible individuals, both intestinal and extraintestinal autoimmune, inflammatory, and neoplastic disorders can occur.
Eating gluten may trigger this dangerous cascade. University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers have uncovered that gluten “activates zonulin signaling irrespective of the genetic expression of autoimmunity, leading to increased intestinal permeability to macromolecules.” (15)
The good news is that, at least as far as leaky gut plays a role in autoimmune conditions, it is reversible and could potentially alleviate some of these problematic immune responses. (16)
4. Thyroid Problems
One of the autoimmune diseases that leaky gut syndrome may directly affect is Hashimoto’s disease. (17) Also known as “chronic thyroiditis,” this disorder is displayed with hypothyroidism (low thyroid function), impaired metabolism, fatigue, depression, weight gain and a host of other concerns.
5. Nutrient Malabsorption
In my patients I saw at my Nashville chiropractic clinic from 2007 to 2014, I observed various nutritional deficiencies resulting from leaky gut, including vitamin B12, magnesium and digestive enzymes. Those common nutrient deficiencies are one reason why many functional medicine practitioners prescribe a whole-food multivitamin in addition to probiotics for people suffering leaky gut problems.
6. Inflammatory Skin Conditions
First described over 70 years ago, the gut-skin connection theory has described how intestinal hyperpermeability can cause a slew of skin conditions, particularly acne and psoriasis. (18) Creams and drugs with endless lists of (sometimes dangerous) side effects are often prescribed for these skin disorders, yet there has been evidence for several decades that part of the root cause might exist in the gut.
7. Mood Issues and Autism
According to a study published in the journal Neuroendocrinology Letters, leaky gut has been shown to cause various neurocognitive disorders. For example, the inflammatory response characteristic of intestinal hyperpermeability triggers the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and other chemicals that are thought to induce depression. (19)
A study published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience described the “vicious circle between immune system impairment and increasing dysbiosis that leads to leaky gut and neurochemical compounds and/or neurotoxic xenobiotics production and absorption.”
The authors go on to describe findings from a number of studies that point to their theory that autism may be connected to problems in the gut microbiome, particularly within the first year of life. (20) It is actually a common hypothesis in modern science that leaky gut is strongly related to autism. (21)
What the Medical Community Has to Say About Leaky Gut Syndrome
Do most conventional doctors support the idea that leaky gut is real?
WebMD refers to leaky gut as “something of a medical mystery.” (22) This isn’t surprising, since it’s not a diagnosis that most doctors have been taught in medical school. “From an MD’s standpoint, it’s a very gray area,” says gastroenterologist Donald Kirby, MD – Director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic. In his opinion, “Physicians don’t know enough about the gut, which is our biggest immune system organ.” (21)
To make matters worse, government agencies have also contributed to the confusion. According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), “There is currently little evidence to support the theory that a porous bowel is the direct cause of any significant, widespread problems.” (23)
Yet, not everyone agrees. A roundtable review quotes the researchers at seven different European universities in 2014 agreeing upon the following: (24)
Alteration of the gut barrier seems to have multiple consequences facilitating the onset of a variety of diseases depending on other hits and on genetic or epigenetic constellations, respectively. The growing significance of the gut barrier and bacterial translocation raises the questions of how we can improve gut barrier functions and gut microbiota.
So while it’s encouraging that science is coming around to leaky gut syndrome being a real problem, we are by no means at a point where there are standard diagnostic tools for testing and treating leaky gut.
In the Western/conventional medical world, if there are no standard diagnostic criteria for a disease, then there are no specific therapies or treatments available. Moreover, if there are no “proven” treatment models, then most MD’s are left with no other choice than to follow what they believe to be the “safe path” and prescribe drugs that only treat leaky gut symptoms. For example, medications (like proton pump inhibitors or antacids) can be used to manage symptoms like acid reflux medications but these drugs don’t solve the root problem.
Because much of the medical community denies leaky gut’s very existence, it’s critical that you understand what leaky gut is and what to look out for in case you or a loved one is affected by it. The good news is that many functional and integrative medicine practitioners have a greater understanding of this condition than they did even a decade ago. They are much more likely to help you determine if you are suffering from leaky gut syndrome and to give you tools to help repair your gut.
How Do You Get Rid of Leaky Gut?
Now that we’ve been talked about leaky gut symptoms, causes and opinions, let’s talk about how to test for and repair leaky gut.
How do you test for leaky gut?
Several leaky gut syndrome tests are available that can help confirm a diagnosis and point you in the right treatment direction. Tests are helpful for identifying specific sensitivities and uncovering which types of toxins or deficiencies are contributing to your symptoms. Leaky gut tests include:
Zonulin or Lactulose Tests
IgG Food Intolerance Test
Organic Acid Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies Tests
Lactulose Mannitol Test
What leaky gut treatments are available?
After years of research and patient care, I developed a four-step process for helping to heal leaky gut. I cover this process in my article entitled the Leaky Gut Diet and Treatment Plan. If you’re concerned that you or a loved one may have leaky gut symptoms, I encourage you to read the detailed instructions, food suggestions and recommended leaky gut supplements listed in this article.
The basic steps to healing leaky gut are as follows:
Remove foods and factors that damage the gut.
Replace these with healing foods as you follow an anti-inflammatory leaky gut diet.
Repair the gut with specific leaky gut supplements like butyric acid.
Rebalance your microbiome with probiotics (beneficial bacteria). This is key because bacteria in your gut are a major component of the intestinal barrier. They help promote resistance to the colonization of harmful or pathogenic bacteria species by competing for nutrients. Gut microbiota also regulate the digestion and absorption of nutrients and help supply epithelial cells with energy.
Two of the most common questions people ask are: “What can I eat if I have leaky gut syndrome? And what should I NOT eat when I have leaky gut?”
If you’re struggling with leaky gut or other GI issues, remove processed foods — including un-sprouted grains, added sugar, GMO’s, refined oils, synthetic additives and conventional dairy products. A healing leaky gut syndrome diet includes foods like:
Raw cultured dairy (like kefir, yogurt, amasai, butter and raw cheeses)
Fermented vegetables and other probiotics foods. Probiotics may help reverse leaky gut by enhancing the production of tight junction proteins that defend against intestinal permeability.
Sprouted seeds (like chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds)
Foods with omega-3 fatty acids, especially salmon and other wild-caught fish
Herbs and spices
Other nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods like grass-fed beef, lamb, other fresh veggies and most fruits, apple cider vinegar, sea veggies, and other superfoods"
It does not surprise me how few people understand the importance of a proper diet and the nutrients needed for optimal functionality. But, it is real and something to focus on in order to achieve your goals. Want to know how? Read below. Once again, Dr. Josh Axe coming in clutch with the info for you!
"The Leaky Gut Diet and Treatment Plan, Including Top Gut Foods
January 7, 2021
Original article and page source found here.
Leaky gut syndrome is a condition that’s thought to affect millions of people, many of whom don’t even know it. The good news is following a leaky gut diet can help overcome this condition.
From the sound of it, you might think leaky gut syndrome only impacts digestive health, but in reality it can lead to many other health conditions. For example, according to recent research, the cause of your food allergies, fatigue, joint pain, thyroid disease and autoimmune conditions may be a leaky gut.
What is the fastest way to treat leaky gut? Following a healing leaky gut syndrome diet is one of the best strategies for getting your body back on track.
In this article, I outline specifically how a leaky gut diet works, so you can break through some of the stubborn health problems you’ve been struggling with.
What Is Leaky Gut?
Leaky gut syndrome is a condition that affects the integrity of the gut lining, which normally serves as the barrier of the intestines. Also called “intestinal permeability,” it occurs when the gut wall becomes damaged, allowing compounds to enter become absorbed into the bloodstream that normally shouldn’t.
For example, partially digested proteins and fats may seep through the intestinal lining, making their way into the bloodstream, which causes an allergic response.
How do you know that you may benefit from a leaky gut treatment plan? One of the biggest warning signs that you may have leaky gut is that you’re experiencing multiple food sensitivities.
Allergic responses caused by a leaky gut don’t necessarily mean you’ll break out in a rash all over your body, but it can lead to various other symptoms. Some potential symptoms linked to leaky gut can include:
Skin issues, like rosacea and acne
If not repaired, intestinal permeability can potentially lead to more severe health issues, such as:
inflammatory bowel disease or IBS
Additionally, another problem with leaky gut is that it can cause malabsorption of vital minerals and nutrients, including zinc, iron and vitamin B12.
Experts recommend that you take a leaky gut test to better identify if this may be a root cause of your symptoms and to help pinpoint potential contributing factors.
What causes leaky gut?
Leaky gut can be caused by a number of factors, including:
a poor diet (low in fiber and high in sugar)
frequent use of some medications
Some potential dietary causes include:
Lectins — These are found in many foods, not just grains, and when consumed in smaller amounts, your body normally does just fine with them. But foods that have large amounts of lectins are more problematic. Some of the lectins and foods that cause leaky gut include wheat, rice, spelt and soy.
Conventional cow’s milk — This is another food that can cause leaky gut. The component of dairy that harms your gut is the protein A1 casein. Also, the pasteurization process destroys vital enzymes, making sugars like lactose very difficult to digest. For this reason, I only recommend buying raw dairy and from A2 cows, goats, sheep or buffalo.
Gluten-containing grains — These may damage your intestinal lining depending on how well you tolerate them. Once your gut is healthy, you can likely add back in grains that have been fermented and sprouted to eat occasionally.
Sugar — Added sugar is another substance that can wreak havoc on your digestive system when eaten in large amounts. Sugar can feed the growth of yeast, candida and bad bacteria, which further damages your gut. Bad bacteria actually creates toxins called exotoxins that damage healthy cells and can eat a hole into your intestinal wall.
Leaky Gut Diet Foods to Eat
If you suffer from leaky gut syndrome, you’re overdue to consider adopting a leaky gut diet. Such a diet contains foods that support healing because they are easy to digest and can help repair the lining of the intestines.
Here are the best foods to include in a leaky gut syndrome diet:
Bone Broth — Bone broth contains collagen and the amino acids proline and glycine that can help heal your damaged cell walls. I’ve had many of my patients do a bone broth fast for three days to help treat leaky gut and autoimmune disease.
Raw Cultured Dairy — Raw dairy contains beneficial bacteria when fermented and short-chain fatty acids that can help heal the gut. Pastured kefir, yogurt, amasai, butter and raw cheese are some of the best options.
Fermented Foods — In addition to fermented dairy products, fermented vegetables are some of the healthiest probiotic foods. They contain organic acids that balance intestinal pH and probiotics to support the gut. Sauerkraut, kimchi and kvass are excellent sources.
Coconut Products — All coconut products are especially good for your gut. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut are thought to be easier to digest than other fats so they work well for maintaining digestive health. Also, coconut kefir contains healthy microbes that support your digestive system.
Sprouted Seeds — Chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds that have been sprouted are great sources of fiber that can help support the growth of beneficial bacteria. If you have severe leaky gut, you may need to start out getting your fiber from steamed vegetables and fruit.
Healthy Fats — Consuming healthy fats in moderation like egg yolks, avocados, ghee and coconut oil is easy on the gut and promotes nutrient absorption.
Omega-3 Fats — Certain protein foods also contain healthy omega-3 fats, such as grass-fed beef, lamb and wild-caught fish like salmon.
Fruit – Consuming one to two servings of fruit daily is a good way to obtain vitamins and minerals. You can steam apples and pears to make homemade apple sauce or fruit sauce. Fruit is best consumed in the morning and not later on in the day, and remember to keep fruit intake in moderation.
In addition to eating a leaky gut diet, you can help repair your gut with certain supplements.
In a leaky gut treatment plan, there are many supplements that support digestive health as well as protect the gut lining from further damage. I believe the six most beneficial leaky gut supplements are:
Probiotics (50–100 billion units daily) — This is the most important supplement to take because it helps replenish good bacteria and crowds out bad bacteria. I recommend getting probiotics in both food and supplement form. By only following part of the protocol in treating leaky gut syndrome by removing the damaging irritants, you may fail to re-inoculate the gut with beneficial bacteria that will keep bad bacteria at bay. Based on available research, look for strains like Bacillus clausii, Bacillus subtilis, Saccharomyces boulardii and Bacillus coagulans.
Digestive enzymes (one to two capsules at the beginning of each meal) — These ensure that foods are fully digested, decreasing the chance that partially digested foods particles and proteins are damaging your gut wall.
L-Glutamine — Critical for any program designed to heal leaky gut, glutamine powder is an essential amino acid supplement that has anti-inflammatory properties and is necessary for the growth and repair of your intestinal lining. L-glutamine benefits include acting as a protector, coating your cell walls and acting as a repellent to irritants.
Licorice Root — An adaptogenic herb that helps balance cortisol levels and improves acid production in the stomach, licorice root supports the body’s natural processes for maintaining the mucosal lining of the stomach and duodenum. This herb is especially beneficial if someone’s leaky gut is caused by emotional stress due to how it can help improve the way you produce and metabolize cortisol.
Shilajit — A tar-like medicinal herb used frequently in Ayurvedic medicine, shilajt can protect from stomach ulcers as well as reduce inflammation triggered or exacerbated by leaky gut.
Marshmallow Root — Because it has antioxidant and antihistamine properties, marshmallow root makes a great addition to any natural medicine cabinet, particularly for those struggling with gut-related issues.
Leaky Gut Diet Foods to Avoid
What foods should you avoid if you have leaky gut syndrome? It’s essential to avoid or greatly limit allergens and inflammatory foods when following a leaky gut diet.
Foods/ingredients to avoid include:
Unsprouted grains, especially those containing gluten (wheat, rye and barley) — note that sprouting and fermenting grains reduces phytates and lectins, making these foods easier to digest
Processed foods made with added sugar
GMOs foods (GMO and hybridized foods tend to be the highest in lectins since they have been modified to fight off bugs)
Processed foods made with synthetic food additives
Conventional dairy products
Heavy alcohol use
Leaky Gut Diet Sample Menu
Based on the recommendations above regarding the best and worst leaky gut foods, here is what a few days of meals might look like when following a leaky gut diet plan:
Breakfast: avocado on sprouted grain toast topped with sauerkraut and tomatoes
Lunch: salad topped with sliced grass-fed steak and cooked or cultured veggies
Dinner: stir-fry made with mixed veggies and protein of our choice
Breakfast: yogurt parfait made with plain yogurt, chia seeds and berries
Lunch: cooked fish, such as salmon, with steamed veggies topped with olive oil
Dinner: seared chicken served with a mixed salad or vegetable soup
Breakfast: smoothie made with coconut milk, kefir or raw milk, sprouted almond butter and collagen protein powder
Lunch: chicken salad made with yogurt and avocado, served with veggies or salad
Dinner: steak or fish served with vegetable soup
Other Tips for Gut Health
In addition to following the eating plan described above, it’s beneficial to avoid exposure to potential “toxins” found in to tap water, alcohol, cigarettes, pesticides, NSAID pain-killer medications and antibiotics, all of which can stress the gut. However, always consult with your physician if he or she has prescribed these for you.
Another tip is to consider following an elimination diet at first. Some foods seem to be in a “gray area” when it comes to worsening or promoting digestive health. For example, some people do better with certain protein foods than others do.
You may be wondering, are eggs bad for leaky gut? What about beans and legumes?
You may choose to eliminate eggs and legumes at first and then to try reintroducing them after several weeks. This can help you uncover whether they are problematic for you or not.
In place of eggs and legumes, try meat, poultry, fish and collagen protein or bone broth instead.
Reducing intake of FODMAP foods is also recommended as part of an elimination diet, since FODMAP carbohydrates can worsen digestive issues like bloating and gas.
Also called intestinal permeability, leaky gut is a condition that occurs when the intestinal lining becomes damaged.
Not only does it impact digestive health, but this condition can also cause widespread symptoms related to inflammation and autoimmune reactions. Symptoms can include bloating, gas, joint pain, fatigue, skin issues, thyroid issues, headaches and others.
What foods are bad for your gut? When following a leaky gut diet, avoid processed foods, added sugar, refined oils, unsprouted grains, gluten, conventional dairy and foods high in lectins.
What should you eat if you have leaky gut symptoms? Prioritize fermented foods, bone broth, coconut, fruits and veggies, and high-quality meat, fish and poultry."
Next time we will dig into How to uncover Food allergies & sensitivities.
Until next time, stay healthy, my friends.