What is leaking? Where is it leaking and why? It just sounds gross! Is waste just leaking into the rest of my body? Well, it is not far off!
Leaky Gut can appear as fatigue, anxiety, depression, digestive symptoms, weight problems, and other serious conditions. It has been found to be associated with chronic diseases including: asthma, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel, kidney disease, psoriasis, and chronic fatigue syndrome. And even with all the latest technology and over 10,000+ research papers on it, it is not a known diagnosis.
Well….what is it??
It allows toxic food particles, environmental chemicals, and bacterial waste to leak through your digestive tract and into your body – once inside, these foreign particles travel to different areas of your body and trigger an immune response, promoting inflammation and jump-starting the development of chronic disease.
Instead of keeping the bad stuff out, the lining of your intestine is letting all the bad stuff in, and your body is breaking down from the inside out. The real name of this hidden epidemic is: Increased Intestinal Permeability, or “Leaky Gut.”
Because conventional medicine does not recognize or treat Leaky Gut, it is making a lot of people sick!
In fact, now you can put just about any of the conditions listed above into Google along with “Intestinal Permeability” and find hours of research papers associating the two.
Here are two examples-
How Do You Know If a Leaky Gut Is Making You Sick?
Leaky gut is a tricky condition. It can show up in every human being in a different way…
It’s not obvious. In fact, only 70% of people with leaky gut have digestive problems. To put it simply: if you’re struggling with chronic health complaints, you’re at risk for leaky gut. Gut health is important for every system in the body, and in turn, it can create symptoms and problems in just about every system in the body.
Do I have it??
There are two common ways to test for Leaky Gut: the lactulose-mannitol intestinal permeability test and Cyrex Labs “Array #2”. Each test has their benefits. For example, the lactulose-mannitol test is commonly used as the gold standard in research settings. The Cyrex panel is possibly a better option to measure the immune response from leaky gut, but both of these tests have inherent unreliability.
We have to ask, “Will the test result change the outcome of the treatment?”
The answer is most likely not. You can save money by focusing on your risk factors for leaky gut instead.
How to Stop Your Guts From Leaking:
There are three really common leaky gut triggers and the first step in preventing your gut from leaking is to start turning some of these triggers off.
Leaky Gut Trigger 1: Food
If you have leaky gut and you’re still struggling with chronic illness, the 80/20 rule doesn’t fly. Eat gluten on the weekends? Stop it. Occasional beer on a hot day? Stop it. The research is very clear that gluten contributes to leaky gut and when it comes to dealing with serious health problems, there’s no room for a “Cheat Day.”
We get it. We understand it has its place… for healthy people. One day you too might be able to live a happy healthy life with 80/20 healthy eating. But not today.
With leaky gut, there are undigested food particles sneaking right into your bloodstream, which causes the immune system to attack them as foreign invaders. That starts a cascade of inflammation. The autoimmune protocol removes many of the most problematic foods for people with leaky gut, things like eggs, tomatoes & eggplants, peppers including bell peppers and hot peppers, spices such as curries, paprika, and chili powder, and nuts and seeds.
For the majority of us, if we just remove certain classes of foods that are harder to digest, we can begin to reverse leaky gut and hopefully get some relief in the process.
Leaky Gut Trigger 2: Pills
Who hasn’t reached for an Advil or Motrin in times of pain? The inconvenient truth is: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) cause your gut to leak.
The worst part is MANY doctors prescribe these meds and NEVER tell people what it’s doing to their gut.
Research shows that 50%-70% of long-term NSAID users have increased leaky gut and 5 days of prescription use can cause 3x increase in permeability.
If you take NSAIDS, especially the stronger kind that are used to treat autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, you’ll be putting your gut barrier at risk. Immediately talk with your primary care provider to explore other solutions.
Leaky Gut Trigger 3: Stress
If we discovered that sleeping more and reducing our stress would make us live forever, we think we’d all still die. We are constantly told that we need 8 hours of sleep a night to stay healthy, but yet not very many people accomplish this.
But when you’re sick, it’s the same as the 80/20 diet rule… there’s no room for stress and sleep deprivation if you want to keep your poop where it belongs.
Studies are very clear that stress wrecks your gut and makes it leaky. You WILL NOT heal your gut if it’s experiencing chronic stress. Think about it like having a broken bone… we put it in a cast for a reason, so it stays protected and can heal.
Also, remember that sometimes stress isn’t what you think. Sure, stress can be emotional, like a crappy job or a bad relationship. But it can also be physical stress, like over training. Working out too hard can be extremely stressful on your body if you’re struggling with chronic illness.
There’s another hidden stressor we have seen in our clients: gut infections. Those parasite and bacterial infections are a constant stressor on your body, sometimes just as powerful as guzzling gluten every day.
If you are concerned with an infection and haven’t had a stool test yet, do it. Pooping in a plastic tube doesn’t sound like a party, but trust us it is way better than letting a nasty infection live on in your body.
How to Fix Leaky Gut
Your gut isn’t going to heal in a day. If you are already on a “real food diet,” avoiding NSAIDs, and reducing your stress and you are still sick, there is more work to do. Many of us are “tough cases” and we need more than just a healthy diet to heal. Complex problems rarely ever have simple solutions.
Step 1: Remove the Bad
The goal is to get rid of things that negatively affect the environment of the GI tract such as inflammatory foods, infections, and gastric irritants like alcohol, caffeine or drugs. Inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs and sugar can lead to food sensitivities. We recommend an IgG food sensitivity testing to determine if any foods are a problem for you. Infections can be from parasites, yeast or bacteria. A comprehensive stool analysis is key to determining the levels of good bacteria as well as any infections that may be present. Removing the infections may require treatment with herbs, anti-parasite medication, anti-fungal medication, anti-fungal supplements or even antibiotics.
Step 2: Restore the Good
Add back in the essential ingredients for proper digestion and absorption that may have been depleted by diet, drugs (such as antacid medications) diseases or aging. This includes digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid and bile acids that are required for proper digestion.
Step 3: Reinoculate
Restoring beneficial bacteria to reestablish a healthy balance of good bacteria is critical. This may be accomplished by taking a probiotic supplement that contains beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacillus species. Also, taking a prebiotic (food for the good bacteria) supplement or consuming foods high soluble fiber is important. Work with a health care provider to find out which probiotic is best for you.
Step 4: Repair
Providing the nutrients necessary to help the gut repair itself is essential. One of our favorite supplements is L-glutamine, an amino acid that helps to rejuvenate the gut wall lining. Other key nutrients include zinc, omega 3 fish oils, vitamin A, C, E as well as certain herbs.
If you think you leaky gut could be contributing to your chronic health issues, we can help. Call our office to schedule an initial consult to start the healing process.