Ask a person 10 years ago about leaky gut and you would more than likely get a response “A Leaky What?” Fast forward to today and “leaky gut” is becoming a common household phrase. A leaky gut (medically known as increased intestinal permeability) is a digestive health condition that occurs when the tight junctions that hold intestinal cells together become damaged or inflamed thus “letting go” of the neighboring digestive cell allowing for food particles, bacteria, viruses and toxins to leak across the digestive barrier directly into the blood stream.
Once this occurs, the “foreign” substances now in the blood react with the immune system producing systemic wide inflammation and activation of the immune system. Over time this leads to chronic inflammation, food allergies, auto-auto-immunity and even development of chronic disease such as heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.
Your body systems are interconnected, and when one is malfunctioning others are too affected. Leaky gut can manifest as many different ailments, some as simple as chronic headaches or lower back pain others more complex like fatigue syndromes or auto immune conditions (psoriasis, lupus, multiple sclerosis) making the real diagnosis a challenge for health care practitioners. Most medical practitioners don’t seek the root cause of illness but simply treat the symptoms for what they believe to be the cause with medications, often only making the leaky gut worse!
Steps to Heal A Leaky Gut
1. Discover how leaky gut is. Truth be told, all digestive systems leak – that’s the very means we absorb quality nutrients and filter waste. Otherwise everything that came would end up in the toilet!. One way to find out if you have a leaky gut is simply to see if you have been diagnosed with any of the following: (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Parkinson’s, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, arthritis, skin disorders (acne, psoriasis, eczema), digestive disorders (acid reflux, IBS, Celiac, Crohn’s) or any auto-immune disease). If yes – your gut is leaking for sure (skip to step 2). If the answer is no, that doesn’t put you in the clear immediately. Early signs and symptoms include sensitivities to foods you once could eat without reaction (joint pains, headaches, upset stomach etc). Another early indicator is aches and pains in your joints, specifically worse in the morning that improves as the day goes on. Ultimately the only way to find out for certain is to test – and thankfully there are urine, stool and even breath tests available to determine if your gut is leaking.
- Remove Known Irritants / Triggers. Common sense tells us you must stop irritating the proteins that hold your digestive system together if you ever want to heal from leaky gut. Research has shown that grains (specifically those high in gluten – wheat, barley and rye) and sugar create inflammation, weaken the immune system and even attack your guts gap junctions directly. Worse than whole grains and natural sugars, refined grains, sugars (HFCS etc) and GMO (genetically modified) foods produce an even greater destructive effect to the digestive tract. The herbicides and pesticides, along with thousands of chemicals approved for use in the food industry, only add insult to the injury. Roundup (Glyphosate) is the most commonly used herbicide on non-organic fruits and vegetables and various articles point out that it destroys the gap junctions found in the digestive system and promotes bacterial overgrowth creating leaky gut.
- Activate Gut Repair Protocols. Like the other organs in your body, the digestive tract is self healing. It’s known that the intestinal lining is 100% replaced under normal healthy circumstances in as little as 21 days. How long will it take for yours? It depends on how long its been there and the severity. Note: the average leaking gut requires 12 to 24 weeks to fully repair.
Step 1: Fasting
Fasting is by far the best way to recharge a weakened immunity and cancel systemic inflammation. In addition, it provides a 100% rest phase from the digestive system processing any foods which provides a “heal and seal” effect to your digestive cells. Fasting has been used for centuries and even innately by animals when sick. Ever notice how your appetite goes out the door when you are under the weather – it’s your body kicking on self-healing mode. Fasting can with water alone or with bone broth.
Step 2: Fermenting
Fermentation is by far the best way to provide a wide range of healthy, active and living bacteria to your intestine. It can take TRILLIONS of probiotics to repair the digestive system, and most probiotics fall short in the billions. Unlike store bought probiotics, which often only contain a few different strains of bacteria, fermentation activates trillions of naturally occurring soil-based bacteria that are found on the food being fermented. You can also ferment grass fed dairy and nondairy milks to add to your fermentation menu.
Step 3: Cellular Detoxification
Fixing a leaky gut also means cleaning the other areas of the body that have been affected due to toxin recirculation (a process known as autointoxication). Cleansing wont even touch this level of involvement – instead you must engage with detoxification at the cellular level, activating all phases of detoxification (methylation, phase I and II conjugation, elimination and binding). This is where products like CytoDetox (a zeolite chelator) and BIND (activated charcoal, pectin, fulvic acid and magnesium) help to target, isolate and remove toxins from both urinary and digestive system.
Step 4: Food Intolerances
Food intolerances are part of the package with leaky gut. Sadly, you can become intolerant to even foods that should help you to heal your gut, like coconut, butter, avocados even grass-fed meats! This is why getting a specific list of your intolerances is VITAL for truly healing a leaky gut. Remember, you must avoid all foods that produce inflammation and irritation to your tight junctions. A food sensitivity test will define exactly which foods you can, and cannot, have for the duration of your healing phase. Once re- moved, and with following the steps above, your gut will begin its self-healing process allowing you to become digestively health again.