Science is beginning to show us what ancients seem to have known: that the gut is the seat of our health. It is a dynamic biosphere full of probiotic activity and vitality that supports our overall health.
We’ve learned that a healthy gut full of these amazing probiotics creates health in the entire body. We’ve also learned that a sick and toxic gut full of pathogenic bacteria creates disease in the body.
The Amazing Small Intestine
Our small intestines are a 30-foot long tube covered with epithelial cells. These cell membranes fuse together to form protein complexes called tight junctions.
The tight junctions are the dynamic, selective parts of the gut. It discerns what belongs inside our bloodstream and what does not. Tight junctions keep out pathogens, antigens, and toxins. And the tight junctions allow nutrients and water to enter the bloodstream. There are many variables that determine whether or not the tight junction is doing its job correctly.
If you have issues with bad things gaining entry along with nutrients, or even with not allowing nutrients in appropriately, you may have leaky gut syndrome.
What is a leaky gut?
A leaky gut is characterized by a small intestine that allows things that it shouldn’t through those tight junctions. Everyone has some issues with bad stuff getting through the tight junctions. Serious health issues ensue when the problems gets bad enough If you’re suffering from any of the following illnesses, leaky gut can be to blame.
Celiac disease. When gluten is broken up during digestion, it induces the release of zonulin. Zonulin makes the tight junctions become more permeable. For celiac sufferers, gluten-induced leaky gut is incredibly permeable, and it stays that way long after the gluten is out of their system.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)/Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Patients with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease characterized by severe inflammation, tend to have leaky guts. Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis and IBD all tend to have high intestinal permeability prior to developing disease.
Food allergies/intolerances. If a bad molecule crosses the permeability of the small intestine, your body tends towards developing an allergic response to something being where it’s not supposed to be. If you are allergic to eggs or intolerant to dairy, those compounds likely showed up in places in your body they were unwelcome. Your body is just making sure they don’t cause problems again, hence histamine reaction.
Asthma. Folks who suffer with asthma also have leaky guts, however researchers don’t know whether it is caused by leaky gut or not.
Autism. Children with autism and their first-degree relatives tend to have abnormal gut permeability, suggesting a gene-environment component to autism.
Rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and other autoimmune diseases.
Hashimoto’s disease. Gluten is also a problem for people with hashimoto’s disease. Because gluten proteins and thyroid proteins are similar, the autoimmune response attacks the thyroid along with the gluten showing up in the bloodstream.
Obesity and metabolic syndrome. Both obesity and metabolic syndrome are often linked with intestinal permeability.
Skin issues. Boils, eczema, acne, psoriasis can all be caused by leaky gut.
Type 1 Diabetes. Some research hints at the connection between gut health and type 1 diabetes.
Depression. According to Scientific American, 35% of depressed patients show signs of leaky gut.
Some of these connections may be coincidental; more research needs to be done.
Not sure if you have leaky gut or not?
You can take an intestinal permeability test. To test, the patient drinks a solution containing a pre-measured amount of mannitol and lactulose, two indigestible sugars. Then, the patient collects urine over the next 6 hours, measuring the amount of excreted mannitol and lactulose. The difference measures the degree of leakiness happening in the gut.
Healing Leaky Gut
If you think you have a leaky gut or if tests are showing leaky gut, then there are things you can do to heal yourself. You’ll need to avoid some things and take some other things. Healing these complex illnesses takes time and patience.
NSAIDs. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen contribute to leaky gut.
Gluten. As discussed above, gluten is a causative problem for leaky gut.
Stress. Stress creates all sorts of problems in your body; it can also directly create leaky gut conditions. Stress can be caused by anything at all, whether it is an argument with a loved one or worry about the future.
Alcohol. Alcohol increases gut permeability at the tight junctions.
Poor sleep habits. This may be associated with stress, as poor sleeping habits create a stress on the body.
Processed food and sugar. An overgrowth of H. pylori, a bacterium in the stomach, can cause ulcers and leaky gut. Overgrowth of other harmful bacteria can cause leaky gut as well. Processed food and sugar contribute to candida and pathogen overgrowth and contribute to leaky gut.
Things to do:
Supplement with whey protein and glutamine. Both supplements reduce leaky gut in patience with Crohn’s disease. Glutamine is an essential amino acid that is anti-inflammatory and necessary for the growth and repair of your intestinal lining. L-Glutamine acts a protector and coats your cell walls, acting as a repellent to irritants.
Consume Colostrum. Supplementing with a good high quality Colostrum will help heal the gut.
Supplement with probiotics. L. rhamnosus and L. reuteri probiotic supplements reduce leaky gut and have proven to help kids with skin conditions restore the gut barrier. Probiotics with a number of different strains are helpful in ensuring that a good balance of bacteria call your gut home. You can read more about helpful probiotics in our probiotic guide on the GloriousGut.
Eat and supplement with prebiotics. Prebiotics feed the healthy bacteria that protect your gut. Green bananas, plantains, inulin powder, jerusalem artichokes, leeks, pectin, apples. These reduce intestinal permeability and feed your probiotic gut bacteria.
Eat fermented food. Sauerkraut, kim chi, kombucha, yogurt and other fermented foods contain many probiotic organisms that will improve intestinal permeability.
Supplement with Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 helps protect against injury to the intestinal lining, reduces inflammation, and promotes healthy intestinal permeability.
Supplement with Zinc. Oysters, red meat, and zinc supplement reduce leaky gut.
Eat Coconut Products. All coconut products are good for your gut. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut are easier to digest than other fats so it’s easier on a leaky gut. Also, coconut kefir contains probiotics that support your digestive system.
Consume digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes ensure that foods are fully broken down. Enzymes reduce the chance partially digested foods particles and proteins from damaging your gut wall or get into your bloodstream.
Exercise moderately. Too much exercise creates stress, which we need to avoid to heal our leaky guts. Moderate activity improves gut barrier function.
Meditate. Meditation reduces stress and plants you firmly in the now where all things are possible. If you have a hard time meditating, there are some great guided meditation videos on YouTube.
Healing leaky gut issues takes commitment to a healthy lifestyle full of vegetables, fruits, and healthy proteins. It takes commitment, but it can be done.
For more information, visit Kathy at GloriousGut.com or write to kathy -at- gloriousgut -dot- com