So, a month or so ago I wrote a post on some of my favorite supplements that help me control bloating and gas, but it's more so important to figure out the root cause of your symptoms instead of guzzling down supplements or medication for forever. A lot of you reached out to me about having the same uncomfortable and unpleasant symptoms, so today's post is for you :-)
The past few months I've been doing a lot of research on leaky gut and intestinal permeability. In the autoimmune community, there has been a lot of acceptance that individuals living with an autoimmune disease most likely have stomach lining issues. Or at least those of us with Hashimoto's do, so this makes a lot of sense to me. One more piece added to my puzzle *pumps fists* *hoorays* *jumps for joy* Oh, and even if you don't have an autoimmune disease, there is a good chance that your stomach lining could use a little assistance, so please read on!
As an aside, for those of you who don't have a chronic illness, it may seem weird to celebrate a diagnose or an ailment, but it helps me create an operational healthcare plan that will make me feel better sooner rather than later. Prior to my hashi's diagnosis I spent most of the summer tooling around the Internet, spending tons of money on unnecessary supplements, and stabbing around in the dark for solutions.
Anyway, I digress, it's a bad habit. Today I am going to talk about what leaky gut is, the causes of leaky gut, and how to work to correct it (I'm definitely still in the process of doing this...). *Disclaimer* There will be a lot of references in this article because I cannot explain these terms as well as some of the lovely scientists and doctors that exist within the autoimmune/chronic illness community.
What is leaky gut?
So, one of our gut's main functions is to digest food and break that food down into its basic form. Whatever we can't break down is turned into waste and out it goes! Moreover, only a small layer of cells called enterocytes separates our stomach lining from the rest of our insides/body/bloodstream (hopefully you get the point... Bill Nye help a sister out!!!).
In healthy people, the enterocytes are fully intact and keep our stomach lining tight and are not permeable. In individuals with leaky gut the stomach lining is permeable, which causes undigested proteins, bacteria, and other waste products to enter into our blood stream or lymphatic system. This leakage (I don't like that phrasing, but it is what it is), and the release of toxins into our blood stream, causes our bodies to wage an attack on these unrecognized invaders.
Once this happens, inflammation and overtaxation of the liver can occur. The body can then launch an attack on itself as it becomes confused and is unsure of what to do with the multitude of undigested particles floating around one's blood stream and lymphatic system.
Okay, I'm going to stop trying to play scientist and direct you toward a very reputable article by The Paleo Mom by clicking here... oh, and here's another article worth reading to shed more light on this issue.
Where does leaky gut come from?
Well, now that you have somewhat of an idea as to what leaky gut is, you may be wondering, but how do you get it? Or why do I have it in the first place? This question is easier for me to answer/write about since it doesn't involve too much sciencey jargon ;-) Simply put, certain foods, infections, toxins, and medications can cause leaky gut.
Gluten, dairy, sugar, and alcohol can all negatively affect your stomach lining. Good thing these items comprised literally 75%, if not more so, of my diet in college and growing up. It's amazing to look back and reflect on how all of my past decisions and health choices have directly impacted my health today.
Moreover, candida, parasites, and small intestine bacterial growth also can contribute to leaky gut. I can definitely check off candida and parasites, so it's really no surprise as to why I have leaky gut, but you have to be your own detective if you suspect you have leaky gut! I'll get to the symptoms in a second here, so you can begin to unpack your personal intestinal mysteries :-)
Next, mercury poisoning, over-exposure to BPA, and pesticides may also be a contributing factor. Oh, and as with pretty much any illness, lack of sleep and stress will mess your stomach up. Lastly, medications such as Advil, Motrin, antibiotics, steroids, and acid-reducing drugs may cause leaky gut.
What are the symptoms?
- Issues with digestion, bloating, and gas
- Food intolerances or allergies
- Acne, rosacea, eczema
- Mood imbalances and mental struggles (ADD, ADHD, etc.)
- Chronic fatigue
- Hormonal issues/imbalances
- Candida overgrowth
(A more extensive list can be found here)
How can I fix leaky gut?
Every time I go to type leaky gut I accidentally type leaky guy! Ewwwwww. Anyway, can you tell I'm a bit overtired and burnt out at the moment? More importantly, how can we repair our gut lining to fix all of the aforementioned symptoms? I'm still struggling with this, and I have only recently really started following any type of protocol to fix these issues. Eating a healthy diet is not enough - certain steps and supplements need to be implemented.
1) Stop eating crappy food, no seriously, put down the slice of pizza and don't drink that soda. In order to repair your gut lining, you have to 100% commit to a healthy diet and stick to it. Also, not drinking alcohol is CRUCIAL, which can be challenging at times. I feel so much better now that I don't drink though, so it's definitely worth it. Plus, it's nice to actually remember what happened the night before when I wake up every morning. Here's some information on a diet that will help repair your gut lining, it's what I eat, and is called the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol.
2) Include digestive aids such as digestive enzymes and betaine HCL. See my prior post on why these supplements are so helpful by clicking the link above.
3) Incorporate healing foods/beverages
4) Take the following supplements
Okay, so that was A LOT of information, but hopefully it all made sense and flowed nicely. Fixing leaky gut is not an overnight cure, and it requires time, patience, and discipline, but it will be worth it for me in the end. My motivation is clear skin and being able to reintroduce foods such as eggs and nuts back into my diet. Oh almond butter, how I miss you so!
Readers, what's your take on this topic? Do you suspect you might have leaky gut? Do you have any suggestions on how to ease stomach discomfort? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time!
4 Steps to Heal Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Disease - Dr Axe. (2013, August 7). Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://draxe.com/4-steps-to-heal-leaky-gut-and-autoimmune-disease/
Meyers, D. (2013, September 12). 9 Signs You Have A Leaky Gut. Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-10908/9-signs-you-have-a-leaky-gut.html
The Paleo Mom. (2012, March 12). Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/03/what-is-leaky-gut-and-how-can-it-cause.html
The Paleo Mom. (2012, April 5). Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/04/what-should-you-eat-to-heal-leaky-gut.html
Weil, D. (2005, December 12). Q & A Library. Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA361058/what-is-leaky-gut.html
Wilson, S. (2014, September 26). My latest gut health obsession: Gelatin. Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.sarahwilson.com/2014/09/my-latest-gut-health-obsession-gelatin/