A healthy gut is a healthy person…..“All disease begins in the gut.” –Hippocrates
During the last fifty years, the average person’s health has been significantly challenged and weakened due to unhealthy food choices, poor food quality, depleted soils, antibiotic overuse, GMOs, NSAIDs, and altered gut bacteria. Many individuals are completely unaware that intestinal permeability and an unhealthy gut is the root cause of their health problems.
Intestinal permeability aka leaky gut syndrome can be the very reason why you’re feeling fatigue, depressed, have so many food sensitivities, struggling to get rid of excess belly fat, experiencing weight loss resistance, skin problems, bloating and digestion problems, joint pain, malabsorption problems, nutrient deficiencies, thyroid dysfunction, autoimmune disorders, and many other chronic health complaints and complicated diseases.
What is Leaky Gut? Leaky gut is a modern epidemic and a major cause of disease and dysfunction. The intestinal lining has tight junctions and acts as a barrier to prevent foreign particles passing into the bloodstream. The health and integrity of this lining is crucial to immune function and overall health.
Leaky gut is a condition where microscopic holes occur in the lining of the small intestine, which results in undigested food, gluten, bacterial by-products, microbes (fungus, Candida, parasites, viruses), waste and toxins to weaken the tight junctions and actually “leak” into the bloodstream. Over time, these items accumulate and damage the intestinal lining. The immune system views this as a foreign invasion creating antibodies against its own tissues resulting in chronic inflammation and is linked several diseases including diabetes, IBS, IBD, eczema, chronic fatigue, autism, Alzheimer’s, asthma, heart disease and autoimmune disorders. If the resulting antibodies are attracted to the thyroid, we call it Hashimoto's thyroiditis. If antibodies are attracted to connective tissue, we call it Lupus; to skin tissue, psoriasis; nerve tissue, MS.
Leaky gut syndrome affects the brain too, and has been linked to psychological disorders such as anxiety, bi-polar and depression. In a study published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, approximately 35 percent of those who were depressed showed signs of leaky gut syndrome.
The mechanisms that cause leaky gut are the same that cause leaky brain. The brain communicates with the gut via the enteric nervous system. The intestinal nervous system is wired back to your brain and cellular communication occurs between the two. When there’s communication problems from the gut to the brain or from the brain to the gut, health is compromised.
David Perlmutter, MD, Board-Certified Neurologist and author of Grain Brain says if his patients have brain problems, he always looks to the gut first. He believes no organ is more susceptible to the damaging effects of inflammation than the brain. Although the blood brain barrier protects it to some degree, if you have a leaky gut, you probably have a leaky blood brain barrier, which increases oxidation, chronic inflammation and an overactive immune system (three main killer insults) according to Mark Houston, MD.
Culprits that Weaken the GI System & Increase Intestinal Permeability
1. Gluten is the number one cause of leaky gut. Gluten activates zonulin, a protein that opens up the spaces between the cells of the intestinal lining. Gliadin, the protein found in wheat causes zonulin levels to increase, which results in leaky gut and leaky brain. The more zonulin in the blood, the more permeable the tight junctions of the GI lining become.
Other pro-inflammatory foods that are especially problematic and trigger leaky gut include wheat, unsprouted grains, sugar, processed foods, genetically modified foods, conventional animal protein and dairy, casein, and any particular food an individual may be sensitive to. Alessio Fasano, MD, a GI specialist and one of the world’s leading researchers in gluten and celiac disease says, “every time you eat wheat, you get a leaky gut…..EVERY TIME!”
2. Glyphosate, GMOs, genetically-engineered foods, and pesticides
3. Infections (Candida, bacterial, fungal, parasites, viruses, mold, SIBO, HIV)
4. Environmental toxins, heavy metal toxicity, fluoride, chlorine
5. Dysbiosis, an altered microbiome and bacterial imbalances
6. Chronic physical, emotional & mental stress (adrenal dysfunction & exhaustion)
8. HCL, bile and digestive enzyme insufficiency
9. Disruption of circadian rhythms and sleep problems
10. Poor liver function
12. Underlying causes that drive chronic inflammation
14. Essential fatty acids, zinc, magnesium, B12 and other nutrient deficiencies
15. The Standard American Diet (SAD) and poor lifestyle choices
As a functional nutritionist, my philosophy is to determine the root cause of any health complaint or disorder and design a healing protocol with lifestyle modifications unique to each individual and slowly “peel the layers of the onion” to restore vibrant health. Oftentimes, there are many deep layers that must slowly be peeled away one by one for optimal and vibrant health restoration.
5-Step Formula for a Healthy Gut: How to Heal Leaky Gut
1. Remove inflammatory items that irritate and damage the gut and contribute to leaky gut syndrome. These include gluten, wheat, sugar, conventional animal protein, artificial sweeteners, dairy, soy, alcohol, pesticides and GMOs, carrageenan, lectins, antibiotics, NSAIDs, food sensitivities, contraceptives, antacids, vegetable oils, chronic stressors and heavy metal body burdens. Permanently avoiding these items as part of a healthier lifestyle works best for gut restoration and long-term health.
Of primary importance is identifying the root cause so that healing and repair can occur. Rule out Candida, SIBO, fungal, parasite, bacterial and viral infections, H. pylori, heavy metal toxicity, and removing these infections from the body is crucial for the healing process to occur.
I recommend a Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis and Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA) with Parasitology. The CDSA is a test that provides an extensive look at the health and function of your gut. It evaluates microbiota, levels of healthy gut flora (bacteria balance & imbalances), detects underlying pathogens, parasites, fungi, Candida, bacterial, maldigestion and malabsorption, inflammation, immune function (sIgA), short chain fatty acid status & other biomarkers of GI health. Contact my office to order the CDSA.
2. Repair. Critical to the success of healing leaky gut is repairing the intestinal mucosa. Omit the irritating and inflammatory factors (see list above under “Remove”).
Supplemental nutrients to support, repair and heal the gut may include L-glutamine, hydrochloric acid (HCl), bile salts, pancreatic or digestive enzymes, probiotics, licorice root (DGL), N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), curcumin, bioflavonoids such as quercetin, essential fatty acids, slippery elm, aloe vera, Butyric Cal:Mag, alpha lipoic acid (R-ALA), and zinc carnosine. If an infection is identified, a specific diet and healing regimen must be followed for a specific length of time.
3. Restore. Eat organic foods as much as possible. This especially applies to all animal protein and the EWG’s “dirty dozen” fruits & veggies. Restore gut function with homemade bone broth, coconut products, grass-fed and pastured-raised meats, organic veggies and leafy greens, healing fats, fermented veggies, probiotics, and nutrients specific to the individual.
Minimizing stress is crucial in gut restoration and may include yoga, dantian Qi gong, breathing exercises, meditation, music therapy, nature walks, biofeedback, spending time with animals, journaling, aromatherapy, or using the Inner Balance™ App, which helps you change your reaction to stress, gain insights into your shifting moods and create a more positive outlook on life. More Stress-LESS Solutions
4. Replace. Eat nutrient-dense food and drink clean water. Supplement appropriately with Probiotics, hydrochloric acid (HCl), bile salts, pancreatic or digestive enzymes. Correct nutrient deficiencies or excesses (unique to each person) that can be identified through a functional blood chemistry analysis and functional health assessment.
5. Revolutionize. Of primary importance, and often neglected in healing leaky gut is addressing the underlying causes, prioritizing a healthy gut as a lifestyle (and, not reverting back to unhealthy dietary and lifestyle habits), and managing and minimizing various sources of stress (emotional, physical, mental, lifestyle, environmental, spiritual and climate exposure). Making dietary and lifestyle changes that support a healthier gut needs to be an ongoing permanent lifestyle change.
You can eat the healthiest, organic foods, move your body and meditate every day, and take all the supplements in the world, but if you’re in a miserable, unfulfilling relationship or there’s deep underlying emotional pain that has not been dealt with, healing, inner peace, happiness, a healthy gut and vibrant health will evade you. “Doing your work” to heal, surrender and release the deeper components of underlying stress is a must for gut restoration, cellular healing, and optimal health.
The holistic healing process for gut health can take as little as 6 weeks or as long as a few months or ongoing for life for those with an autoimmune disease. As the layers of healing unfold, unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices are replaced with healthier options, and health is restored, the amount of toxins dumped into the bloodstream lessen, toxic load decreases, nutrient absorption improves, organ function improves, the integrity of the intestinal lining heals, energy levels increase, and vibrant health and quality of life is inevitably experienced.
Schedule a free-15 minute consult. I consult with men and women around the world via telephone and Skype and with clients locally in the Phoenix area. I will identify the root cause of any underlying health issue and design a healing plan specific to your unique biochemistry so you can heal, restore your health and look and feel better than ever.
- A Healthy Gut = A Healthy Person
- Autoimmune Disease – What you should know
- Probiotics for Health, Vitality, Longevity & Fat Loss
- Natural Remedies for Constipation
- GMOs – Oh NO!
- 20 Tips to Beat the Bloat
- Blood Chemistry – Know Your Numbers
- Is Candida Affecting Your Health?
- Tips to Optimize Digestion
- Are Your Symptoms Related to the Foods You’re Eating?
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- “Putting Out the Gluten Fire.” Biotics Research, Tuesday Minute
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