Bloating? Chronic fatigue? Headaches? It’s important to understand what leaky gut is, what causes it, and how to heal leaky gut. It may be possible that the culprit of your symptoms lies within your gut. Healthy Digestive health is important to your immune system, weight management, and more.
What is Leaky Gut?
Leaky gut is a syndrome that has been gaining more attraction as patients are demanding to search for answers to these vague symptoms. Increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut), is where bacteria and toxins pass through the gut that shouldn’t (1). Digestive issues can lead to undigested food particles traveling throughout your system, which can cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
A leaky gut begins at the cellular level, where the lining of the intestine is made up of millions of cells that are supposed to create a tight security barrier (tight junctions). This security barrier decides what is absorbed into the bloodstream and what stays out. If “holes” develop within this security system, the barrier can weaken and transmit toxins and bacteria into the bloodstream. Over time, this can cause a chronic inflammation effect that can lead to unexplained complaints and embarrassment.
What Causes a Leaky Gut?
We all have a degree of leaky gut, as the security barrier is not supposed to be completely impermeable. However, genetics, diet, stress, and age can all potentially impact the permeability of this lining for each individual. The factor that can be modified the “easiest” out of this list is diet.
It is important to determine with your healthcare provider any foods that are causing inflammation on a daily basis at the gut level. The most common offenders are excessive intake of alcohol, processed foods, sugar, and in some cases gluten and dairy. For example, celiac disease is one of many harmful autoimmune diseases that causes inflammation when eating gluten (2). Chronic inflammation can lead to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and more serious issues. One could try eliminating these food groups as a whole, trying a thirty-day elimination diet, or visiting a practitioner that test for food sensitivities in order to be more specific about what to remove.
How to Heal Leaky Gut
Exercise is also beneficial in repairing the digestive system. Many studies have suggested that walking for 15-20 minutes after a meal can help strengthen this system and aid in digestion. Another important lifestyle goal on how to heal leaky gut is incorporating fiber every day. According to the USDA, men under 50 should consume 38 grams and women under 50 should consume 25 grams of fiber daily (3).
In order to heal a leaky gut, it is important to try and remove the offending stressor at the gut level. Once this has been removed, it is important to repair and replenish the complexity of the microbiome. Eating anti-inflammatory foods can be a big help! The microbiome can be repaired through diet, but sometimes it takes additional supplements to help correct. If one is trying to repair through diet, it is recommended to add fermented foods such as tempeh, pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, and roughage such as Jerusalem artichoke, flaxseed, and jicama. Add in some probiotic rich foods such as kefir, kombucha, and coconut yogurt for a source of healthy bacteria.
When diet does not improve the microbiome, there are a range of different supplements that can be added. s L-glutamine, probiotics of certain strains, and medical foods. It is best to visit your healthcare practitioner before starting these supplements to make sure you are taking the correct dosage and the proper form.
Heal Your Gut with the Help of CentreSpringMD
It is important to note that prolonged inflammation that is not addressed and taken care of, can lead to long-term GI tract damage and disease (4).
At CentreSpringMD, all of our providers are well versed on leaky gut syndrome and can assist you in making these choices to help heal your microbiome. We understand just how vital a healthy gut is and the discomfort it can bring.
As Atlanta’s leading integrative family medical center, CentreSpringMD has helped men, women, and children with a variety of medical conditions and overall health and wellness.