Is Your Leaky Gut Causing Your Chronic Health Problem?
Why it happens and how to fix it
Leaky gut syndrome is the lurking underside of arthritis, ADHD, dementia and Alzheimer's, depression, PMS, skin problems, weight gain, diabetes, and a bewildering array of other chronic health problems. But it is often overlooked.
Do you have a health problem you just can’t get clear of? Your leaky gut and the quality of your digestive flora may be the reason you’re not getting better.
Is your gut full of holes like this collander?
Over 70 million Americans have digestive problems – and that’s just the people who report to their doctors. So there could be millions more of us. This epidemic of gut issues has far-reaching consequences for our health.
Fortunately, you CAN get better.
In fact, even if you don’t think you have a digestive problem, you might have leaky gut syndrome (intestinal permeability) and gut flora that’s out of balance (dysbiosis.) If you’re like me, you’ll find that doing some healing in this area will make an enormous improvement in your physical and emotional health.
When people talk about leaky gut syndrome, they’re talking about your intestines.
You might not realize it but your intestines are quite sophisticated.
When they’re healthy, they let the nutrients from food flow out into your bloodstream through their walls. At the same time, they keep toxins in. Those toxins are supposed to go down your body’s waste disposal with the rest of the trash.
But here’s the problem…
The cells in the walls of your intestines may be damaged so they can’t do their job properly. Then they let molecules of virus, bacteria, fungus, gluten, undigested food, and other toxic microbes leak out into your bloodstream where they should not be! That is leaky gut syndrome.
Now you’ve got this garbage circulating to the rest of your body (yuck.) Of course, your immune system mounts an attack to try and clean up the mess, so you may end up with an auto-immune condition, inflammation, or one of these…
2. Health problems that are linked to leaky gut syndrome and dysbiosis.
One of the reasons leaky gut syndrome is linked to so many apparently unrelated health problems is because of your intestinal flora.
There are literally billions of microbes in your digestive tract. Some are friendly, some neutral, and some are pathogens like virus – not so friendly. In fact, if this third group gets out of control, they cause digestive problems and disease.
And if they get out into the rest of your body through your leaky gut, they can migrate to…
your joints, giving you inflammation and arthritis - especially rheumatoid arthritis, or...
to other parts of your body, contributing to some of the other health issues on the list above.
But when your gut flora is healthy, it doesn’t matter if a few baddies are in your system because the good guys keep them in check.
Here’s what good intestinal bacteria does for you. It…
Digests your food so that you can absorb the nutrients your body and brain need to function properly,
Helps to produce vitamins,
Breaks down viruses and other pathogens that make you sick,
Coats the inside of the digestive tract to protect it from invaders like parasites, undigested food, and toxins from foods, chemicals and heavy metals – and keep you from having leaky gut syndrome
Suppresses many carcinogenic substances to protect you from cancer.
So, as you can see, keeping your flora healthy is incredibly important!
3. Why do you have leaky gut syndrome and out-of-balance gut flora?
Antibiotics – Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride says: “Antibiotics change bacteria, virus and fungi from benign to pathogenic, giving them an ability to invade tissues and cause disease.”
Birth control pills.
Other drugs such as pain killers, analgesics, steroids, sleeping pills, heartburn pills.
Vaccines, especially those containing Thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative commonly used in vaccines. Apparently it has been phased out of most vaccines in North America and Europe with the exception of the flu vaccine.
Mercury amalgam fillings.
Infections; H-Pylori; some viral infections; salmonella; diseases such as typhoid, cholera, dysentery.
Tobacco smoke, air pollution.
Environmental toxins. Personal care and household products containing chemical fragrance and toxins. Renovation materials, fireproofing, moth balls, dry cleaning chemicals, solvents, vinyls, preservatives, fungicides, pesticides, herbicides, paints, glues, petrochemically-based products.
And foods such as:
Sugary, high-carbohydrate foods. These promote the overgrowth of fungi, particularly Candida, as well as bad bacteria, worms, and parasites
High fibre grains. These are very harsh on the sensitive digestive system because they are so hard to break down.
Gluten. Research from Alessio Fasano MD shows that gluten stimulates the release of zonulin in the gut. Zonulin is a human protein that opens gaps between cells of the intestinal walls, allowing molecules to escape into other parts of the body and trigger inflammation, autoimmunity, and even cancer.
4. How to heal leaky gut, balance gut flora and improve your digestion.
I’m not going to lie. Healing leaky gut syndrome and rebalancing your gut flora doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a bit of work, but it is SO worth it! This is one of the most important things you’ll ever do for your health – not just for your body but for your brain and emotions.
Four key healers...
Targeted nutrients – Use these essential nutrients to heal and restore gut flora and the lining of the intestines.
Health-supporting foods – Choose foods that allow leaky gut syndrome to heal and avoid the foods that feed bad bacteria.
Detoxify – Keep toxins that harm your digestive system and cause disease out of your body and your home.
Relax! – Stress is one of the major causes of gut problems and dysbiosis.
Targeted nutrients that heal leaky gut syndrome and rebalance gut flora...
Probiotics Restore beneficial bacteria to your gut. This is an absolute must.
I prefer the dairy-free version especially as they do not need to be refrigerated, so you can travel with them. Some experts say the best time to take probiotics is in the morning before breakfast but you may want to take them more than once a day.
L-Glutamine, MSM, Vitamins A and D Help to repair the lining of the intestines and restore mucosa to heal leaky gut syndrome.
L-Glutamine and MSM come in powder form that you can mix into smoothies. The best form of bioavailable vitamin A and D I’ve found is in high quality cod liver oil. If you don’t like the taste, it comes in capsule form.
Digestive enzymes A broad range digestive enzyme to help break down foods. I prefer ones containing bile for the best results. Enzymes can also be taken between meals to act as natural anti-inflammatories.
Ground Flax Seed Ground flax seeds bind toxins in your digestive tract and help to “escort” them out to be excreted. You can grind organic whole flax seed in a coffee grinder and keep the ground seeds in a closed jar in the fridge for a week or longer - or use pre-ground flax. Both are excellent.
Flax gives you healthy omega 3 fatty acids and fiber, and is anti-cancer, anti-tumour, and anti-inflammatory.
Anti-microbials to rebalance gut flora
Cat’s claw, Caprylic Acid – particularly useful if Candida yeast is a problem Olive leaf extract – helps reduce “bad” flora. Caution for people with high blood pressure. Grapefruit seed extract – along with other good qualities, helps to inhibit H pylori. Oil of oregano – COX 2 inhibitor – natural anti-inflammatory
Extracts of Cat’s claw, Olive leaf, Grapefruit seed and Oregano are anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-parasitic so they help to deal with the pathogenic (bad) microbes in your gut to rebalance flora. If you do well with coconut, Caprylic Acid is excellent: it's anti-fungal, anti-infection and anti-cancer.
Take them on alternate days – e.g. Monday – Cat’s Claw, Tuesday – Olive leaf extract, Wednesday, Grapefruit seed extract, and so on, then start again.
When I took these, they made me very tired, probably because of the die-off of the bad micro-organisms in my system, so I decided to take them at night before bed when I was going to sleep anyway.
Some people get flu-like symptoms or headaches from this die-off, so if you suspect you have an overgrowth of Candida yeast, you might want to start by changing your diet before you take the anti-microbials. That way, you won't be adding to the problem.
Personally, I would start them on a Friday or when I had time off, in case I needed to rest for the first couple of days.
Health-supporting foods to heal leaky gut syndrome and starve bad bacteria...
Meat, fish, poultry, eggs. If you have trouble digesting meats initially, make meat or fish broths and stews. These will soothe inflammation in the gut and provide the nutrients that help restore the lining of the gut. People with diarrhea may have trouble with animal fats, so proceed slowly and/or be sure to eat some soluble fibre vegetables such as carrots, beets, pumpkin, or squash at the beginning of your meal to help pre-condition the bowel.
Raw or organic pasteurized milkmade into home-made yogurt or kefir. Fermenting the pasteurized milk into yogurt and kefir makes it alive again and is helpful to people with diarrhea, though not necessarily those with constipation. The reason for making your own is because store-bought yogurt is not fermented long enough to provide enough active good bacteria to help restore your gut flora.
Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut. These work better for people with constipation than yogurt and kefir. To begin with, have a spoonful of sauerkraut juice daily. You may not be able to tolerate the sauerkraut or other fermented veg until your digestion has had time to heal. These fermented foods help to repopulate the good flora in your gut.
Cooked and raw vegetables. But not white potatoes, which are basically just starch. If you're having a lot of digestive trouble, start with cooked veg. Once digestion is healed, raw vegetables can be added. Vegetables such as squash, parsnips and carrots contain soluble fiber which can be soothing.
Ripe fruit, unless you have diarrhea. Once diarrhea settles, start with cooked fruit and move on to raw fruit, especially berries. Do not combine fruit with meat as it interferes with protein digestion.
Sea salt or Himalayan salt to provide minerals.
Nuts and seeds, unless you have diarrhea. Nuts and seeds can be made more digestible by soaking for 24 hours in lightly salted water (use sea salt or Himalayan salt only) and drying in your oven or dehydrator at a low temperature.
Eat organically-grown food whenever possible, to avoid re-poisoning yourself with the chemicals in conventionally-grown food.
In my experience, the Paleo diet is the easiest way to eat to heal your gut. I consider it a natural remedy for gut health all by itself.
Here’s a list of the foods to avoid because they feed the bad micro-organisms in your gut or put toxins into your system.
By the way, when you have an overgrowth of yeast, virus or other baddies in your system, you will crave these foods like crazy – which is totally unfair, but now you know it’s the bad microbes that are driving your cravings, not a lack of will power.
Most of these foods must be avoided because they are tremendously hard to digest and damage your digestive system (e.g. complex carbohydrates.)
All sweets, containing any kind of sweetener whatsoever. Sweets feed Candida yeast. Artificial sweeteners should be avoided because they are linked to some very negative health consequences including digestive and neurological problems.
Soda pop. If you want a fizzy drink, make your own with organic fruit juice and sparkling water.
Alcohol - feeds Candida yeast and is hard on your liver when you are trying to detoxify. Once your digestion is healed, you may tolerate a dry wine or a plain liquor such as vodka, scotch or gin – no fancy cocktails which are usually full of sugar.
Potatoes and potato chips or crisps – white potatoes are basically sugar. Deep-fried foods are extremely hard to digest – super-heated oils become toxic and are unrecognizable to your body as food.
Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and legumes (beans) which are extremely difficult to digest. Many grains contain gluten which triggers zonulin release and promotes leaky gut syndrome. You'll get better fiber from vegetables.
Grain products – Breads and yeasted foods, cookies, breakfast cereals, cakes, pastries, bagels, crackers, biscuits, pasta, etc. Yeast, sugar and gluten damage gut flora and lining.
Processed foods. Your body needs the nutrition of real food, not manufactured substitutes that have had one or two vitamins added back in.
Regular milk, yogurt, and cheeses from conventionally-farmed animals. May contain drugs and lack vitality.
Regular table salt – may contain aluminum or dextrose (sugar.)
Keep toxins that harm your digestive system and cause disease out of your body and your home.
Chemical toxins in ordinary household and personal care products damage your gut flora and increase problems with leaky gut syndrome.
Toxins in your home environment end up in your body when you touch, inhale or eat them. Then your liver and digestive system have to try to clear them out of you. This puts a huge strain on your immune system and helps bad gut bacteria to flourish.
To protect your health and help heal your leaky gut…
Choose natural and unscented personal care products, household cleaners and laundry products instead of chemical versions.
Throw out the fabric softener (yes, the liquid for the washer AND the dryer sheets) and stop over-drying your clothes if they have static cling. Instead, use dryer balls and/or natural fabric softener. Everyone we’ve worked with who has bowel problems has reacted badly to fabric softener, perhaps because of the mercury and formaldehyde - which are also found in nice, thick, soft, expensive toilet paper.
Avoid products and foods that contain heavy metals: mercury, lead, cadmium, and aluminum. Cigarettes contain lead and cadmium which will not help leaky gut syndrome.
Minimize plastic and vinyl in your house. Don’t microwave food under plastic wrap or cook with non-stick coated cookware.
Drink, cook, and brush your teeth with good quality water. If your water is chlorinated, get a chlorine filter or put your water in a pitcher and let it stand for an hour to evaporate the chlorine. Avoid fluoride in water and toothpaste. Sodium fluoride is a controversial substance linked to constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and many other symptoms.
Eat organically-grown foods as much as possible.
Use natural insecticides and sunscreens.
Remember that children and pets are harmed even more than adults by chemical products on lawns, floors, furniture or on other surfaces in your house because they often walk on them in bare feet, and may lick, chew or roll on surfaces. Children have smaller bodies and less developed immune systems, so are more vulnerable to chemicals in food, water and ordinary household products.
Chronic stress is one of the most common causes of leaky gut syndrome and unbalanced gut bacteria. Reduce stress with EFT Tapping, yoga, meditation, therapeutic massage, and more sleep.
When the mind is relaxed the whole body can heal – including your digestive tract and leaky gut.
This article contains a huge amount of information but don’t be overwhelmed! You don’t have to do everything at once.
The simplest way to start healing leaky gut syndrome is a gluten-free or Paleo diet. Take some of the targeted nutrients listed above to boost your healing process and balance your gut flora.
Over time, as your health and energy levels improve, you can make some of the other changes. But start now! You’re making a wise investment in your health that will improve your quality of life – for the rest of your life.
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