Leaky gut syndrome is a condition that falls into the same grey area as adrenal fatigue in that it is not an officially recognized medical condition. Despite this fact, there are many animal studies proving that leaky gut is a real condition and thus many medical providers are moving forward in the care and treatment of this condition. Scientists at the Massachusetts General for example, are “establishing the role that increased intestinal permeability, sometimes called a “leaky gut,” plays in chronic inflammatory conditions.”
What is Leaky Gut?
The lining of the digestive system plays an important function as the barrier between the stomach and the body; allowing nutrients to be absorbed, but preventing toxins from leaking out. It works very similar to a net with small holes that permits certain substances through while keeping the unwanted bigger particles out.
With leaky gut, the lining of the digestive system becomes impaired and the holes become larger, allowing substances through that would normally be blocked.
When the barrier in your digestive system becomes less effective, bacteria, viruses, undigested foods, and toxic waste can leak through the digestive lining and into the small intestine. From this point, all of these undesirable particles enter into your bloodstream and are circulated around the body. This is a major catalyst for your immune system to kick in and this, in turn, causes inflammation in numerous parts of the body.
Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome:
- Low energy levels and fatigue
- Joint pain
- A slow and sluggish metabolism
- Weight gain
- Thyroid conditions
- Autoimmune conditions
- Digestive issues
- Skin conditions, such as acne
Long Term Effects with Leaky Gut
Leaky gut has two major negative impacts: the digestive lining of the body is compromised and the normal absorption of foods is impaired. Nutritional deficiencies can arise as a consequence of damaged villi in the small intestine. Villi are finger like projections that are responsible for absorbing the foods.
If left unrepaired, increased permeability may cause conditions such as:
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Chronic fatigue
Treatment Leaky Gut
Dietary restrictions and supplementing with probiotics are the mainstay treatment for leaky gut. Fasting or following an autoimmune/ anti-inflammatory diet is an astringent and simple approach to heal the intestines and improve symptoms. You should follow an anti-inflammatory diet for 30-60 days to achieve the best results.
In one study, taking probiotics showed an increase in the number of antibodies in the gut. Antibodies are an important part of the immune system and protect us from disease. IgA antibody, for example, plays a vital role in keeping the cells of the gut barrier tightly together, which decreases risk for leaky gut.
Foods To Avoid
The best approach is to take a food allergy test to determine which foods you need to avoid, but below is a list of common foods that may contribute to an inflamed gut wall. Avoid these foods for 30 days and then after 30 days you can start to add them back, one at a time, to see which ones cause you GI upset.
- Sugars and refined foods
- High glycemic fruits like bananas
- Nuts and seeds
- Dairy including eggs
- Beans and legumes
Food to Enjoy
The leaky gut diet can seem daunting at first so proper planning is essential for its success. You should replace the foods mentioned above with the following food groups:
- Organic vegetables
- Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, etc.
- Meats- beef, chicken, lamb, turkey, and wild caught fish
- Low glycemic fruits such as apples, berries, and pears
- Coconut and coconut oil
- Herbs and spices