LEAKY GUT: WHAT IS IT, WHAT FOODS CAUSE THIS COMMON CONDITION, AND HOW CAN YOU HEAL YOUR DIGESTIVE TRACT?
Is your tummy bloated? Are constipation or diarrhea constant companions? Do you experience brain fog, achy joints, headaches, fatigue, or skin flare-ups?
You might have a leaky gut.
While misunderstood in the mainstream, in the scientific field it’s referred to as increased intestinal permeability. Sadly, as research continues to grow so too, it appears, does the prevalence of this condition…
Which raises several key questions: What is a leaky gut? Why does it happen? Which foods might trigger or exacerbate this condition? And how can you heal?
How does a leaky gut develop?
Your digestive system is a long, complex tube that includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, and the anus. It is lined with a robust layer of single cells. This hardy veneer has a number of important functions. Two are key…
Firstly, the lining must stop harmful compounds and infectious agents from crossing over. If they do, they move from the relative safety of the lumen - the inside of the gut, where they are bound for excretion - to the body proper - the true “inside of you,” where they trigger inflammation and damage.
Secondly, the lining must allow nutrients to navigate from the inside of the gut to the inside of you. Vitamins, amino acids, water, for example.
This lining is substantial; if removed and laid flat it would cover a staggering 4,000 square feet in surface area. That’s a lot of space where things can go wrong! And go wrong they do in a leaky gut.
See, these single cells are joined together by tight junctions; biological gateways that decide what can pass. In health, optimal regulation ensures the good may enter while the bad cannot. However, when a leaky gut develops the barrier becomes damaged…
Imagine your front door. If securely latched, only those with the appropriate key can open the lock and enter. However, if the jam has been smashed, the hinges are rusted, or there is a block that prevents the door from being shut, a passing opportunist can waltz on in. In leaky gut, the latter occurs.
Because compounds that shouldn’t traverse the lining do, the immune system notices, sparking into action to remove the treat. This creates an inflammatory response that keeps the biological door propped open. Then once across the lining and into the bloodstream, inflammatory products can be delivered to far flung locations. This is why a leaky gut can have a broad range of seemingly unrelated symptoms.
Why does leaky gut happen?
How wonderful it would be if there was a single, simple answer. But like all things health, there is a complex mix of intertwining factors. The gut lining can be altered by:
- Environmental stress
- Psychological strain
- Consuming alcohol
- Medications including antibiotics and non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Genetic susceptibility
- The Western diet
On that last note…
Which foods can act as a trigger?
As a 2020 article published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences said:
The cause of leaky gut includes prolonged contact with an environmental contaminant, overconsumption of alcoholic beverages, and unhealthy food choices.
Yes, unhealthy food choices… The reality is that, while convenient, the Western diet damages the gut.
Unhealthy foods choices include:
- Refined sugar
- The excess consumption of fat
So, if you love bakery goods like cakes, biscuits and donuts, this might be why your tummy is in trouble!
The good news is that while foods can harm, they can also absolutely heal. Reduce or eliminate poor choices and enjoy those that soothe your gut lining like a settling balm (more on this shortly). The choice is yours.
How can you heal your digestive tract?
A range of approaches are needed to heal a leaky gut: reduce environmental toxins, manage stress, quit smoking, reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption, check any medications, switch up your diet, and supplement wisely.
Reduce environmental toxins
Because the gut is sensitive to environmental toxins, choose natural skin, beauty, and cleaning products as a great start. Reduce all toxins where possible as physical stress can harm your digestive tract; organic options are best.
Psychological strain is a big problem. You might already know this… When you feel nervous, do you need to visit the loo? When you experience hardship, does it feel like a kick in the guts?
This past year and a half has been unrelenting. The modern world is incessantly busy, always on. The prevalence of anxiety and depression is growing. These take a substantial toll on gut health. Stress management becomes crucial.
- Follow a healthy diet
- Practice mindfulness
- Engage in regular exercise
- Prioritise sufficient sleep
- Talk to a loved one
- Practice deep breathing
- Have fun!
Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption
Check any medications
Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about any medications (both prescription and over-the-counter) that may affect your digestive health. Find alternatives, if possible.
Change your diet and supplement wisely
If you follow a typical Western diet, it’s time for change. Ditch the refined sugar, excess fat (particularly trans fats), and packaged foods.
Now you know what to avoid, which foods heal the lining of your gut?
Foods that support healthy gut permeability and function
You are, as the saying goes, what you eat. Diet and supplements provide nutrients: too few and you lack the ingredients to heal; the perfect amount and you’ll likely recover well. What you choose to put in your mouth matters greatly.
To understand which nutrients are required to heal a leaky gut, you must know the causative processes. This will guide therapeutic intervention.
An article published in the Natural Medicine Journal gives us the answer…
In most cases of altered intestinal barrier function [leaky gut], mucosal inflammation and oxidative stress have been identified as central pathophysiological mechanisms.
In short, you must address two issues. The first step is to calm inflammation of the gut lining. The second is to reduce the production of oxidative stress. The latter occurs when too many free radicals are generated with too few antioxidants to quell them. The result is like a fire in your intestines; too many flames, not enough fire retardant.
Nutrients are required to address these problems. A variety of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants are the fire retardant!
The best way to supercharge your intake is through supplementation. Organic is a must!
Supplement sensibly with SuperGreens
You’ve probably heard of supplemental greens before but not all greens are made equal. Many contain synthetics, a small range of ingredients, come up short on nutrients, and are not worth the money.
SuperGreens, on the other hand, is jam-packed with produce and nutrients known to heal a leaky gut.
Berries like black currant, blueberries, cranberries, pomegranate, raspberries, strawberries…
Vibrantly colored fruit like cherries, lemon, mango, papaya, peach, pineapple…
Produce like carrots, beet root, and tomatoes…
Greens including alfalfa, barley grass, broccoli, cabbage, celery, chlorella, kale, parsley, spinach, spirulina, wheat grass…
And more, all organic, naturally.
We think our SuperGreens are the best in the world!
The leaky gut takeaway
Leaky gut is real. It can leave you exhausted, sore, and with difficulties finding appropriate advice. But the right steps can help to turn this around. These tips have provided respite for many people. We trust they will guide you to the right path too. Because you deserve to have a wonderful, energized, enjoyable life!