Understanding Leaky Gut and How to Heal Your Gut Naturally
To understand leaky gut we need to understand why a healthy gut is important. The backbone of good health is a healthy intestinal tract, and when your gut is in tip-top shape, everything else falls into place. Intestinal damage is often caused by modern-day lifestyle patterns. Many of today’s foods lack nutrients and fiber and are filled with toxins. If you have acne, rashes, eczema, psoriasis, poor skin tone, etc., leaky gut (where the cells of your small intestine lose their integrity and become porous, creating inflammation and havoc in your body) may be the problem.
If you've consumed a lot of the pro-inflammatory offenders listed below over the past several years, you may have leaky gut, and thus chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can cause just about every disease of aging. I’m talking obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Yikes! Even worse, it makes you look and feel old, keeps you tired, and stops you from losing weight.
Needless to say, there’s nothing good about inflammation. Yet, it’s so common that we are the own cause of our inflammation. It may not be intentional, but everything from what you eat to your sleeping habits to daily dress is causing you inflammation. The good news is that this condition can be reversed fairly easily.
And how do you know if chronic inflammation is an issue for you?Well, if you have an autoimmune condition, there’s no doubt about it. If you’re in “okay” health, here are some of the major warning signs:
- You have major belly fat. Fat cells in the abdomen produce inflammatory chemicals. So, the more belly fat you have, the more inflammation you’re creating for yourself. And as you know, inflammation stops weight loss...so it’s this vicious cycle that keeps on going.
- You have high blood glucose levels. This guarantees you’re chronically inflamed. High blood sugar shoots up the number of inflammatory cells (cytokines) in your blood.
- You have lots of digestion problems like gas, diarrhea, bloating, or constipation. And it’s not only from the last meal you ate. This happens when you have a sick, inflamed gut (which I’ll get into later).
- You’re always so tired. When your cells are inflamed, they can’t produce energy for you to feel alive and invigorated.
- You have skin problems like eczema or psoriasis. And if your skin is red and blotchy, well, it means you’re definitely inflamed. Think about it--red skin is an external sign of the fire inside.
- You have allergies. Can’t get through a picnic or BBQ without watery eyes, a runny nose, and endless sneezes? Hate to say it--you’re chronically inflamed.
- Your face is puffy or you have puffy bags under your eyes. These are some of the most classic signs of internal inflammation. As you can see, inflammation rears its ugly head when it makes you look different. It’s not just bad for you internally!
- You have gum disease. This is one more thing you can blame internal inflammation for.
- You suffer from “brain fog,” depression, and/or anxiety. Sad to say, inflammation affects your brain chemistry. So your focus and mood take a hit when your body is inflamed.
- You’re a man who suffers from erectile dysfunction (ED). Guess what? Chronic inflammation is a primary cause of this problem.
These are all clues your body is sending you to take action. Even if you’re not technically chronically inflamed, but you feel some of these symptoms, it’s worth paying attention to. So, if you want to FEEL your best, look your best, and prevent debilitating diseases...focus on healing your inflammation.
It All Starts With the Gut
So, what’s the first step to healing inflammation? Tackle your gut (but not literally). When your gut is sick and “leaky,” your body becomes inflamed. Meaning, inflammation starts at the gut...that’s because 80% of your immune system is in your gut.
Leaky Gut Syndrome is more common than ever. The scary part is, it’s the root of so many contemporary health issues. Here’s a full list of diseases leaky gut is directly linked to or pinpointed as a contributing factor:
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Food allergies
- Fungal disorders
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Type 1 diabetes
Ack! What a long list of ugly diseases. The bottom line is, a leaky gut weakens your immune system and makes you vulnerable to so many issues.
How Does Leaky Gut Syndrome Happen?
The walls of a healthy gut are just permeable enough to absorb nutrients. That means they allow very small molecules to pass through. But certain conditions can cause tight areas in the intestinal wall to break apart, making it possible for much bigger molecules—in the form of metabolic waste and microbial toxins—to permeate the wall and enter the bloodstream. Imagine you’re driving through the mountains on a rainy day.
You have the heater cranked up, but you also like to crack the window just a little bit to get some fresh air. It’s perfect, right? Now, imagine two of your car windows are broken. You’re freezing now! It’s so cold outside, but you can’t close the windows because they don’t work. Your gut works the same way. The walls of a healthy gut are just permeable enough to absorb nutrients your body needs.
But sometimes, these intestinal walls have holes in them, allowing bigger molecules--like metabolic waste and microbial toxins--to go through your gut walls and enter your bloodstream, which then causes inflammation. These holes are caused by:
- Gluten sensitivity
- Excess consumption of inflammatory foods (we’ll get into what these are later)
- Antibiotics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Infections like candida, intestinal parasites, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
Like I mentioned earlier, the foods you eat have a major part in how much inflammation you have. So make sure you avoid these foods I’m about to list so you can keep your gut healthy.
Cut Out These Pro-Inflammatory FoodsYou are what you eat, folks. So if you’re eating inflammatory foods, your body will be FULL of inflammation. These gut-irritating foods can be to blame for inflammation:
- Legumes--especially soy
- Processed and canned foods
- Seed oils (these are high in omega-6 oils, and overconsumption of them leads to inflammatory disease)
- Sugars and sweeteners
Some of those are pretty surprising, aren’t they? Even if some of these appear to be healthy, you want to cut these foods out to heal your gut. And then, start eating a lot of gut-healing foods.
Incorporate Anti-Inflammatory FoodsOne of the biggies in anti-inflammatory foods is bone broth, which is loaded with nutrients and has exceptional intestinal healing powers. And it’s so packed with flavor--it tastes good on its own! Other healing foods you want to incorporate in your diet are:
- Coconut: That means coconut oil, milk, dried coconut, coconut water. Coconut helps fight the overgrowth of bacteria, yeast, and fungus in the gut to keep those gut walls sealed up.
- Fermented foods: Like kimchi and sauerkraut
- Herbal teas
- Low glycemic fruits
- Meats (Go for grass-fed and avoid factory-farmed)
- Most vegetables other than those listed above
- Olives and olive oil (but don’t use olive oil for frying!)
To get more of the good bacteria in your gut to keep it healthy, take a strong probiotic. Note: If you’re taking supplements, it isn’t an excuse to go crazy on the inflammatory foods. Remember, these supplements won’t undo any damage you’re doing by wrecking your diet. It’s simply used to accelerate your way to better health.
How long does it take to heal Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Like most things, it totally depends. Everyone is different, and depending on how good you are about diet and managing stress, it could take anywhere from a couple months to a couple years. Healing your leaky gut requires commitment. If you do heal your gut, you WILL look and feel your best.
You’ll start to lose weight, your skin will be free of wrinkles, and you’ll be filled to the brim with energy. If you need more guidance on treatment for leaky gut, my Bone Broth Diet Quick Start Kit will give you step-by-step guides on eliminating inflammation with a healthy lifestyle...in just 21 days! Oh, and you’ll enjoy fantastic foods like deviled eggs, taco salad, and banana nut pancakes. Get my Quick Start Kit here.
Keep thinking Big and living BOLD!