Leaky gut can have many causes which is why it is important to address the underlying cause of your leaky gut so that you can actually heal your leaky gut and reverse all the symptoms that are a result of your leaky gut. Leaky gut symptoms include food sensitivities, autoimmune challenges, inflammation, skin irritation, environmental sensitivities, asthma, brain fog, food mal-absorption and headaches to name a few.
Many health conditions can be related to poor digestive function and a leaky gut as it is our barrier to the outside world. Think of it as your internal skin protecting you from the outside world of parasites, bacteria, viruses and anything that is harmful to the body. 70-80 percent of our immune system lies in the gut and a healthy robust microbiome full of diversity is needed for immune system function.
We want the lining of the gut to be filled with healthy probiotic bacteria to help ward off harmful pathogens that can enter the body through the GI tract. The intestinal lining is our line of defense where we have our troops and warriors ready to combat foreign invaders. A healthy microbiome plays a necessary role in preventing pathogens from taking up residence in the GI tract. An intact intestinal lining lets nutrients pass through yet prevents large food particles and foreign pathogens from passing through.
What is leaky gut?
Leaky gut syndrome stands for increased intestinal permeability where the junctions between the cells that make up the intestinal lining become loose and as a result the gut lining becomes leaky and can let through substances that are not meant to pass through such as undigested food particles, disease causing bacteria, fungi and foreign invaders.
These substances are seen by our immune system as foreign an as a result stimulates the immune system to create antibodies to these substances and begins to fight them off. When the immune system is actively fighting pathogens or undigested food particles that have passed through the gut lining a lot of inflammation is produced which is why you always want to look to the optimal function of the digestive system and heal your gut in any health condition in which inflammation is present.
What causes leaky gut
Leaky gut can have many underlying causes such as chronic stress, dysbiosis, poor digestion, SIBO, environmental toxins, endotoxins produced by internal gut bacteria, overuse of alcohol, poor food choices such as processed refined high carbohydrate food that feed yeast, presence of pathogenic bacteria, candida over growth and lectins primarily found in legumes. Gluten is one of the worst foods for gut health as it is very irritating to the gut lining.
Now you might look at this list of what causes leaky gut and say whoa this is too much to handle but don’t worry it all starts with eating healthy whole foods and optimizing digestive function and thus optimizing the terrain to prevent all these problems from occurring. It is also smart to take a good look at our lifestyle and dietary choices that may be contributing to a leaky gut.
Leaky gut and candida
Candida overgrowth can contribute to leaky gut as the yeast burrows into the intestinal lining causing irritation and breaking down the tight junctions between the cells that line the gut.
If you have a history of taking antibiotics, candida could be contributing to your leaky gut as antibiotics kill of the bacterial pathogen along with a lot of your healthy probiotic bacteria, yet it does not kill candida. After antibiotics candida acts as an opportunistic organism that can take over and overgrow in the spaces where our healthy probiotic bacteria once resided.
Candida also loves sugar, starchy carbs and refined carbohydrates such as bread and pasta so these foods should be eliminated or reduced when healing leaky gut.
How to heal your gut
Healing your leaky gut starts with optimizing your digestive function while also providing healing and sealing nutrients to help heal your gut.
Properly chewing your food and utilizing digestive enzymes to ensure the proper breakdown of food. It is undigested food that impacts the gut lining provides fuel for opportunistic organisms and when undigested large food particles pass through the gut lining, that food will trigger an immune response and inflammation that further damages the gut lining.
Utilizing a broad spectrum such as seeking health’s pro digestion intensive and chewing your food helps to ensure the breakdown of all food into small particles that are meant to pass through the gut lining. This digestive enzyme includes additional enzymes to help with the break down of all sugars, gluten and lactose.
The small intestine has brush border enzymes that further breakdown longer chains of sugar molecules into absorbable glucose molecules. If the villi is damaged along the intestinal lining brush border enzymes may not be produced which is where it is helpful to provide these enzymes externally while healing leaky gut. Pro Digestion Intensive includes additional enzymes such as maltase, sucrase and lactase to further breakdown sugar molecules preventing dysbiosis and candida overgrowth
How to fix leaky gut by avoiding food sensitivities
Avoiding foods in which you know you have developed food sensitivities too is critical while healing your gut. Rotating through different types of food is also important to prevent further food sensitivities from developing. The most common food sensitivities are wheat, dairy, soy and eggs but more importantly is what are your trigger foods?
Whatever foods most frequently eaten are the foods that you are also most likely to have developed food sensitivities to when leaky gut is present.
How to heal your gut by optimizing bile flow which is antimicrobial
Optimizing your liver gallbladder function and bile flow is another important step in healing leaky gut as bile is antimicrobial which helps to prevent pathogens from taking up residence and keeps the small intestine free of excess bacteria which can be irritating to the gut lining as in the case of SIBO.
Bile also helps to emulsify and break down fats so that undigested fats do not pass through the gut lining causing additional inflammation.
Taking sunflower lecithin which contains phosphatidylcholine helps to promote bile flow to prevent SIBO overgrowth. If bacteria overgrow in the small intestine the bacteria can produce endotoxins which irritate the gut lining contributing to leaky gut therefore optimizing bile flow for its antimicrobial properties is important for healing your leaky gut.
The cells that make up the gut lining are continuously renewing themselves and phosphatidylcholine is a key component for making new cells with healthy cell membranes.
How to heal your leaky gut with nutrients to help soothe, heal and seal.
One of the best supplements for leaky gut is seeking health’s optimal GI powder which contains a blend of powerful nutrients to help support healthy mucous membranes including slippery elm, l-glutamine, zinc, aloe, marsh mellow root, quercetin, superoxide dismutase and curcuminoids.
Now how do these nutrients help to heal and seal a leaky gut?
Optimal GI powder contains l-glutamine which is a key amino acid that is used by the cells of the intestinal lining as their main fuel source for maintenance and repair.
Zinc carnosine is another nutrient that can help to reduce inflammation in the gut and maintain a healthy mucosal lining.
Gut soothing nutrients such as aloe, marsh mellow and slippery elm all help to coat the intestinal lining while helping to calm down inflammation in the intestinal lining. Curcuminoids, superoxide dismutase and quercetin further help to calm down inflammation in the gut which is critical for healing the gut.
These nutrients plus more are found in Seeking Health’s Optimal GI Powder formula and is a great supplement to utilize to help heal and seal the gut lining while addressing the other underlying root causes to leaky gut.
The optimal GI powder can be mixed into water, blended into smoothies, made into a tea mixed with warm almond milk and cinnamon. I like to utilize gut soothing nutrients prior to eating to help coat and soothe before food enters the small intestine.
Gut healing foods
Supportive foods to help heal leaky gut include, cabbage juice, bone broth (as long as you don’t have histamine intolerance) fresh vegetable juices, vegetable broths, soups and smoothies.
If the gut lining is really irritated and inflamed and there is poor upper digestive function eating raw and difficult to digest foods such as legumes and raw vegetables may be to hard on the intestinal lining while trying to heal. Supporting the body with easy to digest foods such as blended soups and smoothies that are easy to digest can help to speed the healing of leaky gut.
Most importantly is the question, what foods are your trigger and what foods make you feel good and is soothing to the gut?
If you suspect leaky gut and have not yet supported your digestive system with Phosphatidylcholine, digestive enzymes and gut healing nutrients then this is a great start. Identifying food sensitivities and avoiding trigger foods while implementing gut healing foods can help to make a drastic improvement in symptoms associated with leaky gut. If symptoms don’t fully clear after the initial protocol you may need to investigate for pathogens, parasites or opportunistic organisms that may have overgrown as in the case with SIBO and candida.
Hey! I'm Amber, a nutritional therapy consultant helping people to improve digestion, beat the bloat and lose weight. Sharing weight loss tips, gut health tips and whole food recipes that are gluten free. Grab your freebie below:)
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