How to heal leaky gut syndrome naturally: Signs and symptoms of a leaky gut
Do you have chronic illnesses such as immune health issues? Skin problems or perhaps anxiety and depression?
If you said yes to any of these or the others mentioned below, then you may have a leaky gut. These and many more symptoms can sometimes be traced all the way to your gut.
Leaky gut is now more common than ever. But the good news is that leaky gut can be healed naturally with some lifestyle changes.
The fact is that if you have a leaky gut, so many other things in the body tend to go wrong.
In a 2012 article published in the American Psychological Association, Dr. Siri Carpenter states that if humans were to be examined closely and compared cell to cell with bacteria, we would find out that we are mostly bacteria, with bacteria outnumbering our own cells 10 to 1. Say what now? Isn’t that amazing, kind of cool, and gross all at the same time?
And most of these bacteria reside in the gut.
The gut is also home to trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that all live in harmony, or not, depending on what we do to disrupt the delicate balance of this ecosystem.
It is now evident that many of us are not doing a good job of keeping this balance of the microbiome.
Extensive research now shows that these microbial organisms are essential to our health, and gut dysbiosis affects many bodily systems and functions- including the brain.
You probably have by now heard that the gut is your second brain. Indeed!
Per this article, and there are many sources on the subject, the gut has an extensive neural network that uses the powers of the gut bacteria, and impacts both the physical and psychological wellbeing.
According to Dr. Siri Carpenter in an article published in the American Psychological Association, the gut contains its very own nervous system.
And that explains all the times you have had a gut feeling. That’s your gut-brain signaling at work. One of the many ways our brain prepares us to take notice in case we are in danger.
And that is just one way the gut communicates your health status.
The gut bacteria work closely with each other and with the brain. The communication between the bacteria and the brain is a two ways system where the brain can influence the microbiome and the bacteria can also send a message to the brain and influence the nervous system.
So why does this matter as far as gut health is concerned? Well, let’s see, shall we?
The thing is, issues affecting the brain such as stress, can lead to increased harmful bacteria. The results are increased infections and lowered immunity. This in turn then influences the brain chemistry and many other molecular reactions throughout the body ( source ).
Studies have shown a link between the microbiome and the disturbances to autoimmune diseases, endocrine disorders, skin conditions, and even cancer.
It seems for so long the way we learned about the gastrointestinal tract was so misleading- where we saw the gut as this one transit system from the mouth to the other end where food got in and wastes were expelled after nutrients were extracted.
It turns out we were wrong! The gut does so much more than just process our food.
Most amazing is the realization that gut health may cause brain problems and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Research is finding gut health problems, go hand in hand with mood disorders, and generally, mood disorders are found to occur with excessive bad/abnormal gut bacteria, and having a large number of good bacteria can improve immune health, depression, and battle obesity and much more.
Sources also state that in animal studies, changing the balance between beneficial and bad bacteria can ” alter brain chemistry.”
Gut bacteria influence so much of health- from immunity to weight metabolism and even emotional health. So yes, if we are overweight, to some extent we have the gut bacteria to blame, but we may have done things that brought us to this point and the bacteria just took it from there.
Especially of note is the fact scientist are finding that autoimmune diseases are on the increase and that this increase is associated and is caused by the increase in industrial food additives per a 2015 article in Autoimmune Reviews and that changes in the tight junctions are due to these industrial food addictives.
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What is leaky gut and what causes leaky gut?
The leaky gut syndrome has not yet been recognized in the medical world as a diagnosis, but doctors agree hyperpermeability in the gut does exist.
The gut is one long tube from the esophagus to the rectum. This tube is lined with a barrier that keeps the food and other substances that are contained there from seeping into the inner parts( like the bloodstream) and only select molecules, and nutrients are let in.
This lining also containers little gates called tight junctions that open and close only to let tiny molecules and nutrients in.
Leaky gut happens when these tight junctions get damaged and loosen up and then big molecules of food and antigens and bacteria and toxins are able to seep through and enter the bloodstream.
This leads to increased gut permeability or a leaky gut. When the intestines lining becomes too permeable letting food particles, bacteria, and other toxins enter the bloodstream, inflammation occurs and the result is many systemic wide health problems that at times appear mysterious.
Now we can see why Hippocrates the father of modern medicine was way ahead of us when he said “all disease begins in the gut. ” It is true.
Exactly what causes the gut to become permeable and leaky?
In a nutshell? The main cause of leaky gut really is gut dysbiosis. You see the gut has its own biome. Complete with a well-balanced ecosystem of bacteria, fungus, and viruses.
It is a happy place indeed when it is balanced. So dysbiosis is the imbalance between the gut flora leading to overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeast, candida, viruses, and even parasites.
The cause is a modern lifestyle. What are we doing as modern civilized human beings that lead to leaky gut?
First, we are stressed and we sleep too little and of course, that leads to more stress and a vicious cycle begins. Stress is linked not only to heart disease but to stomach ulcers,
We are indulging in all manner of foods that should not even be called food such as processed food. We eat too much sugar and foods full of chemicals (preservatives, additives, etc.)
But the biggest culprit is antibiotics. Antibiotics while great at treating bacterial infections, unfortunately, kills all the bacteria, good and bad. The problem is that this gives the bad bacteria advantage and they take over your gut. And cause havoc.
This is why when you go to the hospital, (and of course, you are likely really sick to be there), you may have healed the original infection that you had or whatever other illness you had, but you come out with C Difficile, a really bad gut infection that causes profuse diarrhea.
And worse still, it is one of the most difficult to kill as it has a way of reproducing itself through spores that can lay dormant for a long time.
Medications such as antibiotics play a part in the healthy gut by killing all the good bacteria. We have many more infections because we have leaky gut so we treat with antibiotics and that causes more permeability in the gut.
This leads to a host of health issues. This includes health problems due to malabsorption caused by damage of the carrier proteins which no longer work to pick up nutrient molecules and take them to the cells.
That causes a deficiency in key nutrients such as B12, iron, magnesium, zinc (source), and then disease including skin issues such as rashes, muscle pain, fatigue, and many more.
Gut health can affect the whole body and the signs and symptoms of an unhealthy gut are many.
Other causes of a leaky gut include Gut infections such as fungal, and SIBO, or small bowel intestinal bacterial overgrowth also may invade the gut when the good bacteria die.
Some people may also have a genetic predisposition
Through no fault of theirs, some people are much more susceptible to the leaky gut conditions
Other causes of leaky gut the toxins in food especially toxins ins some drinks such as alcohol, chlorine, and fluoride in water, and many more.
Certain diets especially those high in certain fats sugars, and gluten, dairy products.
High saturated fat diets can also lead to leaky gut. They may lead to a fatty liver and then the liver stops functioning normally.
That means toxins are not excreted leading to inflammation in the body including the gut.
Excessive chronic stress also can cause inflammation and leaky gut. Many people are extremely stressed daily and that is causing many health problems as mentioned the chemicals released during stress affects gut function.
So what happens when you have a leaky gut?
This permeability leads to many health problems due to systemic inflammation. When food particles and bacteria and their toxins enter the bloodstream the immune system then wages war against this invasion. This leads to systemic inflammation and many diseases. See the following symptoms of leaky gut.
What are the signs and symptoms of leaky gut?
- Immune health issues; Autoimmune diseases such :
- Hashimoto’s, lupus, celiac, Rheumatoid arthritis, Multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s, celiac
- Endocrine health/Hormonal: PCOS, PMS, irregular periods
- Brain health, difficulty concentrating, ADH ADD
- Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes
- Skin issues: Eczema, Psoriasis rosacea, Acne
- Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia
- Nutrient deficiencies such as vitamin B12
- Depression and anxiety
- Blotting constipation diarrhea
- Weight gain/obesity
- Candida and yeast overgrowth
- Craving for sugar and carbs( guess who is control here… bad bacteria…they can control your actions!)
So here are some things you need to do to improve the health of your gut.
How to Heal your Leaky gut
Start by eliminating grains which can be very inflammatory especially such as wheat due to gluten. Corn and many other grains can be very inflammatory. Eliminate as many foods as possible to see which ones can be causing you trouble. Let your gut heal and rest.
First, you need to really educate yourself on all thing’s gut health.
Read everything you can about gut health and arm yourself with knowledge.
This book is a great resource. And of course, talk to your doctor. Your dr can do various tests to diagnose leaky gut. But be aware though that tests such as hydrogen breath test and stool tests are not specific enough. Two recommended tests may include the lactose plus mannitol test, and the zonulin test.
The mannitol and lactose test aim are to see if large molecules of sugar are found in the urine something that should not happen, and if found that may be an indication of leaky gut.
The Zonulin is a protein that affects the tight junctions -it is a carrier protein, and is meant to just open the junction just enough for nutrients to pass through, but the more zonulin, the more likely your junctions are no longer tight and you have leaky gut.
Keep in mind that western medicine, unfortunately, is so bent on the curative as opposed to preventative so more meds may not be the answer. So again get yourself as knowledgeable on gut health as possible. Go here to get the book I mentioned and start learning in-depth about gut health.
You may also need to find a natural path practitioner to get the right treatment.
Then use the three R approach to healing your gut…
Remove: Start by learning the foods you are sensitive to and start eliminating those. Keep a food diary and start evaluating how certain foods make you feel. Work with an allergist specialist to determine sensitivities and food allergies and eliminate those.
Replace: start eating the foods that are friendly to gut health, which is replacing the sugary processed foods with whole organic natural foods.
Replenish/Restore: Replenish the good bacteria by supplementing with pre and probiotics, and may even use enzymes to aid digestion as well as eating natural foods such as organic vegetables and fruits.
Repair the gut: Here you go further by supplementing with healing vitamins and minerals, and other natural supplements such as probiotics, prebiotics, fiber, collagen, and L glutamine, an amino acid that is helpful in repairing cells that line the intestines.
If you are experiencing symptoms of a leaky gut you need a change in lifestyle. A problem that affects your WHOLE health requires a big change.
So start by REMOVING stuff that is causing your gut to be leaky.
Cut out food that irritates the gut.
Gluten-containing foods such as grains. The problem with gluten is that is highly inflammatory to the gut lining. When gluten is eaten, and when it reaches the small intestine it triggers the release of zonulin, a chemical that tells the tight junctions in the intestinal wall to open up
Nightshades- nightshades food include eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. These foods should especially be avoided by anyone who has an autoimmune disease. They contain alkaloids ( lectins) that can irritate the gi tract in fact source sates some of them can even induce vomiting and they were thought to be poisonous when Europeans first came across them
Avoid legumes such as beans and pseudo-grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, chia seeds, and others. Beans and the pseudo-grains are healthy but if you have leaky gut, you may have trouble digesting them due to lectin which doesn’t completely break down in the digestive tract. That may explain why so many people have such bloat and gas when they eat beans.
Dairy: Dairy products are touted to be healthy but many people have lactose intolerance and many also sensitive to casein and whey proteins. Additionally, due to our modern farming practices dairy is now loaded with hormones and antibiotics leading to further health problems including leaky gut.
Avoid alcohol or at least cut way back as alcohol contains toxins that will contribute to damaging the cut mucosal lining.
Avoid smoking as this is one of the things that damage collagen. Just look at the face of someone who smokes too much. You see a dull wrinkly course skin. Yap collagen damage and constricted blood vessel give that look
Fruits; I have to admit I love fruit and this is hard for me to do. While very healthy for the time being it best to cut most fruit out till your gut heals. Many fruits have a lot of sugar and that will only feed the bad guys.
As you stop eating the inflammatory foods, you start REPLACING those with healing gut foods.
Eat whole foods
- Eating natural foods will provide your gut and your body with healing required and stops the gut inflammation. Go for organic fruits and vegetables and meats that are raised naturally. Avoid chemicals laded foods.
- Eat plenty of vegetables and this will provide you with fiber and benefit good gut flora.
- Stay away from sugar. That means also avoiding processed and fast foods as they are high in refined sugar and destroy the good bacteria while feeding the bad one. The bad bacteria and yeast feed o sugar so more your eat the more you feed the bad guys.
In the next steps, you eat whole natural foods to REPLENISH and REINOCULATE good gut bacteria. At the same time, these healthy foods and supplements will REPAIR your damaged and inflamed gut lining.
Replenish your gut flora with good bacteria
Due to reasons such as too much sugar, medications and especially antibiotics, your gut may be lacking in a good number of good gut bacteria.
You need to replenish these by eating for the gut, or precisely for your bacteria. I know you eat for your brain, and your heart now you need to eat for your gut- for your gut health. After all your gut is your second brain.
What to eat to heal a leaky gut
The following foods are great for healing your gut.
Fermented food; Fermented foods such as Kimchi, tempeh, Kombucha, yogurt, and kefir or raw apple cider vinegar are all great for healing your leaky gut.
Food such as yogurt studies show does a lot in improving gut health by increasing the number of good gut bacteria. So buy a good brand that is not laden with added sugar and your gut will thank you.
You may also wish to use supplements and make sure you get good quality such as this one that comes with probiotic and prebiotic with 4-4 cultured live strains of good bacteria.
Cook veggies that are hard to digest such as broccoli, carrots, cauliflower for the being so your gut can heal and you don’t tear into it with hard foods.
Eat collagen-boosting foods such
Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in the body found in muscles, tendons, and ligaments tissue and acts as a glue. It holds things together. The word collagen comes from the Greek word for glue, Kolla. And maybe there is an association with collard green? well, all I know is that collard greens are a great way of getting many nutrients including vitamins C necessary for collagen production.
as bone broths: Bone broth is now receiving the recognition it deserves as a healing food. Have you ever wondered why bone broth is so good? It really is healing and not an old wives’ tale. Ther is a reason why chicken soup makes s you feel so good when you have a cold/.
And an article in Healthline states that:
Since bone broth since bone broth is made of bones and connective tssue,it contains, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin, chondroitin and many other nutrients
The best thing to do to get high-quality bone broth is t make your own at home using bones from natural farmed animals.
Other collagen foods include Garlic, collard greens, egg whites, chicken, fish, citrus, berries, beans, bell peppers. ( But you may need to avoid some of these initiatives such as the citrus, peppers, and beans as they may irritate an inflamed gut).
Eat foods high in omega 3 fatty Acids.
Omega-three fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and a great way yo heal your gut and calm systemic inflammation. The best sources are fatty fish such as wild salmon.
Other good sources of omega-three include seeds such as chia seeds and flax seeds, nuts such as almonds, and walnuts.
Eating other sources of good fat such as those found in coconut and avocadoes is great as well.
Use High-quality supplements to heal your gut
Take a liquid Vitamin B complex. When your gut is inflamed, it won’t do a great job of breaking down food into nutrients. So using an easy to absorb liquid vitamin is easy and quick for you to get the necessary nutrients. This will solve the problem of fatigue and brain fog and make you feel so much better.
L glutamine, an amino acid that the body uses in large amounts is needed for immune health especially in situations of stressed immunity such as in the case of inflammation that leads to leaky gut and research is finding that I critically ill patients it aid recovery. While the body can make its own, so much is needed that many people don’t actually get enough from food alone.
This amino acid is a building block to muscles, and it promotes gut health, brain health and (may even help you lose some, of course, all other things considered.)
And you may also want to use a liquid trace mineral supplement because as we have already seen in leaky gut malabsorption of nutrients can lead to deficiencies in key nutrients.
These trace minerals are crucial for metabolism, energy synthesis and many other intracellular functions that let your body function so you can get to healing the long list of symptoms cataloged here.
If you feel you are still not getting enough omega 3s, from food, a good supplement is great to heal the inflammation.
Manage your stress
As you remove harmful substances and harmful foods, so must you also remove stress. Stress like a leaky gut can wreak havoc systemically affecting your whole body dues to excessive cortisol release. Stressful situations and chronic stress affect your gut health.
You know that feeling you get in your gut when you are dreading something or are afraid. Yes, we talk of a gut feeling a lot. And with good reason because as mention already the gut is your another brain, your second.
The gut and the brain are in continued communication through the gut-brain axis. So when you are stressed and fight or fright epinephrine is released, it impacts your digestion. Blood is routed to the muscles so you can run, and digestion halts. So if this happens over and over your gut health suffers.
And apparently, your gut contains 500 million, neurons that are connected to your brain through your nervous system according to this article in Healthline research has found.
And that means through this bidirectional communication, your gut can affect your brain health and your brain health, or lack of can affect your gut health.
Therefore stress can lead to issues in indigestion that lead to issues such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, cramping, and many other digestive issues.
The important thing is to have systems in place that will help you decrease, prevent and overcome chronic stress.
Simple ways to decrease stress maybe things like having a routine like evening and morning routines to help you stay organized so you are not always rushing.
You can include daily self-care ideas so you are able to relax and unwind. Practice yoga, and exercise. Plan and stay organized. and when bad things happen, have ways to handle that so you don’t get overwhelmed.
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So many people are going about life in perpetual dehydrated states as they indulge in too many sugary dring or coffee both of which are dehydrating.
Now you don’t have to drink water to be hydrated but it is best to try to drink enough. About 8 cups are recommended per day. Of course, if you have a health problem and are on fluid restriction talk to your dr to be sure of optimal fluid intake for you.
But eating food high in fluids such as cucumbers is helpful or fruits such s watermelons are also helpful. You can also drink herbal teas to keep up with hydration.
Besides, when you don’t drink enough water constipation can happen. This leads to toxins staying too long in the colon and may cause inflammation.
You may be aware now that we are living in a very toxified world. With industrialization and commercial agriculture our foods are poisoned by chemicals such as pesticides, and GMO foods, as well as extensive use of plastics for food storage, and meat from animals injected with antibiotics which all lead to gut inflammation and leaky gut.
So eat natural foods and naturally raised foods and avoid heating your foods in plastic containers. Avoid prepackaged foods. Convenient foods and packaged foods and fast foods are may contain toxins, such as GMOs, preservatives, additives, trans and hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, and more chemicals that harm your gut and your whole bodily health.
Smoking contributes to the inflammation in the gut. There is no denying cigarettes are full of toxins ad really bad for your whole health including gut health. And sources say that avoiding smoking can raise your levels of good bacteria and reduce the bad bacteria.
Decrease alcohol intake
It shouldn’t really surprise us that research has found that the more you drink the more you are likely to have changes in gut permeability. But researchers found that the change was due to alcohol-induced change in the tight junction protein expression. So be good to your gut and drink less. ‘nough said.
We are a really sleepless society, many of us walking forever sleep deprived. Sleep we are finding out does so much more for health. And now it turns out that sleep deprivation and fragmentation can actually alter the microbiota and giving more free range to the bad bacteria.
The research found out that there was a definite change in the bacteria in animal studies, and this lead to systemic inflammation and visceral adipose tissue inflammation, insulin insensitivity and they attributed these changes to colonic barrier disruption.
If you have a busy mind that just doesn’t quit easily, you need a good night routine to help you ease into sleep. This may involve getting ready by putting away electronics, 2 hours before bed, taking a relaxing bath with essential oils, journaling, praying, and even reading in bed. This routine which you can enhance on will ease and quieten your mind for a good night’s rest.
Read more about how to sleep better at night and why it is necessary to prioritize sleep.
So it is possible to heal leaky gut and in so doing heal your whole body. Start today and make the choice to start a lifestyle that supports your gut health.
Do you suspect that you may have a leaky gut or did you ever have one? If you ever suffered from leaky gut, what steps did you take to heal and what helped the most? I would love to know. And if you think you have leaky gut, what steps are you taking to reverse it and heal?