The term leaky gut is all over now in the health world, and mainstream. So you might be wondering how would you know if that was your gut, and what can be done about it?
A Healthy Gut
This means that the function of the digestive tract is working the way it should. It’s a north to south process. That means it literally starts in the brain, then triggers the system to start up (think car and key in ignition to turn it on). We smell food, see food and think about the meal (CALMLY) and this triggers system ON for digestion.
At that point the mouth starts salivating to help, the stomach starts putting in stomach acid (YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO HAVE THIS HAPPEN – which is where it starts going wrong for some people). Then you eat. At that point the acid does what it should and keeps the pH correct. With this properly functioning the stomach empties in a perfect timing fashion, and the correct type of contents (not thick and chunky – another problem) enter the small intestines. They are combined with needed enzymes in this process to break apart the nutrients for distribution in the cells. This happens throughout the small intestine, with just a few things absorbed in large intestine, until it then arrives at the exit of the system as just waste products left for elimination.
In the small intestine, when it’s healthy you have great little projections that grab nutrients and send them out to the body. It’s a tight junction between these little projections (villi). That keeps particles INSIDE the tract, and absorbing ONLY what nutrients need to go out. It also keeps pathogens (if present) INSIDE the tract to be eliminated. We do NOT want them passing out of this enclosed system.
By this description you might already be thinking about when this goes wrong and where the “leak” is in the system.
First off, it starts with not having the correct acid production and release time from the stomach. So if you have leaky gut you ALSO have a stomach/upper GI problem that needs addressing. When that doesn’t happen properly the food is eventually released after sitting in the stomach way too long. (Think summer party food on table left out situation). This rancid chunky food then gets dumped into the small intestine.
This type of pH and food chunks are not able to be handled so they basically push against and damage the junctions and villi. This creates gaps or “leaks” where large food particles, microbes and more get released into the blood stream. This then causes an IMMUNE response because they do NOT belong there. ALERT!
You will then get inflammation in the gut (because that isn’t supposed to happen) as well as possible systemic body inflammation, food sensitivities (immune system tags the escaped food for a response next time it’s eaten).
Usually when this is happening it isn’t the gut itself in small intestine that you get the symptoms from (but sometimes you do). Usually complaints about acid reflux, burning or upper GI issues signal a problem. Sometimes it is a problem with lower right side pain (the exit point from small to large intestine that gets overgrowth of poor microbes or gets stuck OPEN), sometimes it is constipation, or diarrhea, or pain around mid abdomen, or sometimes the digestive tract doesn’t show itself and it’s a SYSTEMIC IMMUNE alert that is the issue. Most people present with food sensitivities (a lot of them), and some type of autoimmunity or immune response problem.
Causes of Leaky Gut
Some of these have already been described such as improper acid in the stomach (which comes from a number of things), but other things that happen daily in life lead to this as well.
• Stress (chronic)
• Blood sugar imbalance
• Processed food diet (or standard American diet)
• Antibiotic use
Why is this a problem?
Leaky gut means you have a really impaired immune system. Over 3/4 of the immune system lies within the digestive tract. It’s in the DAMAGED layer of the tract when you have leaky gut. Which means you are left nearly defenseless. In addition as time goes on, more and more foods will become intolerable because of the immune response when they are eaten.
You will have enormous inflammation levels, which will eventually result in chronic disease – like autoimmunity, and more.
What can we do to eat at home for gut healing?
* Slow down before a meal. You don’t have to even be SUPER slow – but being relaxed is key. Just taking a moment (30 seconds) to pause before eating (take 3 deep breaths) – clear your mind and think good things about your meal. This will help enormously.
* Whole/read foods – ditch the boxes and bags. I CANNOT SAY IT ENOUGH. Whole Foods, nutrients, and fibers will help repair the damaged areas and will also help alleviate foods that might have been an issue creating a problem.
* Bone Broth – organic or homemade is best. Check your ingredients to be sure they are only the whole/real foods and no additives. It should say BONE BROTH if buying from the store. Making your own is as simple as good a whole animal with bones in and straining off the bits, or taking the bones as a cook and doing one more cook with them in the same fashion.
– 1 cup per meal if you have symptoms, and if not, 1 cup daily otherwise.
* Coconut Oil – this has antimicrobial properties to help you control microbes overgrowing, growing or entering the tract while you are working on sealing it up. This also helps lower inflammation and help your body heal the tissue in the tract. Organic and unrefined is best.
* Apple Cider Vinegar – this not only helps improve stomach acid, but also help with microbes and overall nutrients and gut balance. If you have a lot of burning pain or upper GI pain or reflux this might be challenging to do without first trying to work with a practitioner to get the right supplements to get your body to heal the mucus layer in the digestive tract. If tolerable using 3-4 tbsp of ACV daily on salads, in food, or mixed with water.
* Collagen powder (grass fed and organic is best) – this helps with necessary amino acids that the digestive tract tissues need for function and to heal themselves. These will also help with proteins that assist in detox as well. 1 scoop a day can make all the difference.
• Pumpkin seeds – these are a FAVORITE in our house. Not only can they be added to yogurt, or smoothies or as part of a meal but they are PACKED with nutrients that are often missing in most diets and in the digestive tract, like zinc, magnesium and B vitamins. These will help increase those nutrients to support proper digestive function and get you these vitamins and minerals naturally!
Have reflux pain? Burning? Gas? Bloating? Constipation or Diarrhea? Let’s consult to see what services I can offer you to get your body back on track.