Leaky gut is the state where the protective gut lining loses its integrity, and bacteria and toxins can leak into the body through a permeable intestine and create inflammation in the body.The damage of the gut lining leads to malabsorption, which is the root of most health issues experienced today. Due to the modern age, our once strong and healthy digestive systems now exhibit negative physiological and hormonal changes.
Malabsorption impacts the immune system, skin, the liver, the reproductive system, the thyroid function, as well as the heart. This goes to show how critical a healthy gut is to your health. Addressing a leaky gut at an early stage can result in many illnesses prevented along the way.
How do you know if you have leaky gut?When it comes to matters of the gut- test, do not guess. Some functional laboratory tests can help to confirm various aspects of leaky gut including the digestive function, candida or bacteria level, and food allergies. But many of these tests are expensive, inconclusive, and not always accurate.
Alternatively, you can start working on your digestion by making gradual diet and lifestyle modifications. Most people experience better digestion, more energy, and improved mental clarity when up leveling their nutrition.
How to improve your digestive health
To truly relieve symptoms, you’d want to start looking at the ‘why’ behind digestive issues instead of chasing the symptoms themselves. An example of this would look like investigating why you’re bloated, not quick detoxes that alleviate said bloating.
Majority of health issues can be rooted back to malabsorption found in the digestive tract, rather than focusing on the diagnosis of the symptom itself. Here are some simple tools that you can focus on right away that will guide you in the right direction.
1) Keep track of your regular bowel movement. (Take PurelyB’s test here)
2) Keep a food diary and learn how food and your digestion affect your everyday life as well as how your lifestyle affects your digestion (ie. stress)
3) Be more alert if you experience any of these symptoms and take note on when they arise:
- frequent gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn;
- skin rashes, acne, eczema, psoriasis, yeast infections;
- headaches, chronic fatigue, brain fog;
- autoimmune diseases like fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s, irritable bowel syndrome
Stop the leakage with the Gastrointestinal Restoration Programme
Step 1- Remove
- First, get rid of all food causing allergies or sensitivities: dairy, eggs, gluten, corn, sugar, processed food, refined grains, yeast products, peanuts and shellfish. Sometimes, the core issue may not be the food that you are eating, but when the digestion is poor and the gut is injured, anything that you have eaten frequently may become problematic.
- Although food allergy testing can be a beneficial guideline on what food to avoid initially, its accuracy is always questionable and it doesn't really address the root cause of the problem. If you are constantly being exposed to a food that stimulates a significant immune response, it can sabotage the treatment in the intestinal healing.
Step 2 - Replace:
- Digestive enzymes are here to restore and address the proper pH to the damaged gut, problematic peptides, food intolerances, and malabsorption all at the same time. Bromelain and papain in the enzymes help to reduce inflammation in the gut directly; Proteases and cellulases can help to break the outer shells of the virus, parasites and yeasts, and clear toxins and dead cells out of the body effectively.
- Increase nutrient-dense foods with plenty of colour-rich vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and get your protein from plant sources: all green leafy vegetables, quinoa, millet, beans and lentils. Alternatively, choose free-range chicken, deep-ocean fish and up your intake of essential fatty acids such as avocado, chia seeds, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, and almonds nuts. As the lining of the gut are partially damaged or inflamed, it is important to cook and chew your food thoroughly so that your gut and immune system have a chance to heal properly.
Step 3 - Reinoculate:
- Add a course of therapeutic probiotics and prebiotics to restore and rehabilitate the selective barrier of the small intestinal wall. Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum have been proven to be safe and effective for improving digestive functions, bringing the friendly bacteria into balance and starving the 'bad guys' to keep them from thriving. Probiotic-rich food (fermented foods) such as miso, tempeh, kefir and sauerkraut may help to support the immune system, digestive system and can even reduce unhealthy food cravings like sugar and refined grains. Ground flaxseed meal can be added to the diet to help to 'scrape' the sticky residue of processed foods from the intestinal wall.
- A healthy gut environment is the key to preventing candidiasis, but using anti-fungal remedy alone without addressing the gut terrain may allow it to return at any time. However, Candida itself normally lives harmlessly along with other native bacteria in the body and can be destroyed quickly by our immune defenses (unless it is completely depleted) when it enters the bloodstream. With proper support from a controlled diet and lifestyle, the symptoms of candidiasis can be reversed just like the leaky gut.
Step 4 - Repair:
- Although food is incredibly powerful, it's by no means the only answer. Nutritional supplements help to target and fix some of these body systems that are starving for raw nutrients. But if the gut is not absorbing food well, then the supplementation may not be useful either. Fixing the hole and strengthening the integrity of the gut is vital to the whole healing process, allowing the gut, liver, spleen, kidney, adrenal and thyroid to be restored to its functions.
- Zinc is necessary in the healing of intestinal wall integrity and a healthy immune system. L-glutamine amino acid is used to heal the intestinal lining. Other important nutrients or herbs such as slippery elm, aloe vera, bioflavonoids, Vitamin B complex, omega-3/ fish oil and magnesium are wonderful in supporting the healing of the leaky gut.
- Slowly reintroduce foods back into the diet after two months. If a food disagrees with you then eliminate it, and wait for another 4 to 6 weeks before reintroducing it. Keep processed food and all sugars to a minimum. Don't forget to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Step 5 - Rebalance:
- Our mindsets matter just as much as the physical treatment I mentioned above. In fact, many physical illnesses are also signs of imbalances in the mind, body and spirit. I strongly believe that our thoughts, beliefs and emotions shape our world. Everything we do and every experience we have, are preceded by our mind.
- It is very difficult to heal the leaky gut without considering the role of emotional stress and one's mental power. Practice mindfulness such as meditation and breathing, allowing the brain to become more resilient. During meditation, think about what stressful life events had led you off track before you developed your illness. And how have the events in your life altered the life force that lies within you and manifested itself in your physical body? By recognising all these and realigning your lifestyle and emotional issues, rebalancing your whole self, and reprogramming your mind, your body's inherent healing power will definitely give you the best chance of healing.
Let's be clear, there is never a one-size-fits-all approach. This gastrointestinal restoration programme is a clinically proven approach to manage the imbalances in the core physiological process of assimilation and elimination. It can typically take 3 to 6 months to heal the leaky gut. Some may need a year or two if the condition is more complicated. Once you address the root cause of your symptoms promptly, your body is perfectly capable of healing and repairing itself as every single cell of the intestinal lining will be replaced weekly when they are given adequate nourishment support.
Although it is hard to keep all of these in balance and harmony, our body deserves all the love and attention it needs to maintain its vitality. So, treat the cause, not the symptoms. Remember to take care of your mind and your emotions, your future self will thank you for it.
Ps: Always seek advice and work with your practitioner if you are under any chronic health condition.
- Henry Osiecki. The Physician's Handbook of Clinical Nutrition, 7th Edition.
- PubMed.Gov. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Leaky+gut
- Hadjivassiliou M, Sanders DS, Grunewald RA, Woodroofe N, Bosco,I S, et al. Gluten Sensitivity: from gut to brain. lancet Neurol. 2010 Mar;9(3):318-30.
- David Permultter. Grain Brain: The surprising truth about wheat, carbs and sugar - Your brain's silent killers. New York, 2013.
- Moreira AP, Texeira TF, Ferreira AB, Peluzio Mdo C, Alfenas Rde C. Influence of a high-fat diet on gut microbiota, intestinal permeability and metabolic endotoxaemia. Br J Nutri. 2012 Sep;108(5):801-9.
- Kiefer D, Ali-Akbarian L (2004). “A brief evidence-based review of two gastrointestinal illnesses: irritable bowel and leaky gut syndromes”. Alternative Therapy Health Medicine 10 (3): 22–30.
- Pike, M. G.; Heddle, R. J.; Boulton, P.; Turner, M. W.; Atherton, D. J. (1986). “Increased Intestinal Permeability in Atopic Eczema”. Journal of Investigative Dermatology 86 (2): 101–104.
- Humbert, P.; Bidet, A.; Treffel, P.; Drobacheff, C.; Agache, P. (1991). “Intestinal permeability in patients with psoriasis”. Journal of dermatological science 2 (4): 324–326.
- Dr Jeffrey Bland, Dr Mark Hyman, The Disease Delusion: Conquering the Causes of Chronic Illness for a Healthier, Longer, and Happier Life. New York, 2014.