Friday, July 19, 2019

What In The World Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?!

A lot of people who have digestive issues, including IBS, have (or have had) leaky gut syndrome. Unfortunately, not many people know what leaky gut is. Instead they are told to not eat this, eat more of that, and it should go away. 

Sadly it doesn't always go away, and their in lies more of the issues with the digestive system: the small intestine. The small intestine is that magical place where we absorb 90% of the nutrition from our food in a very short period of time before moving on to the large intestine.

Please know that you can not live long without your small intestine functioning properly. 

If you are aren't getting adequate nutrition you become malnourished. When not corrected it can create disease in the body including cancer, liver disease and some lung conditions (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). I'm not saying all this to scare you, but instead hoping you will realize how serious it can be to just go on living life with your IBS without ever knowing why or how to correct it.

Don't forget, IBS and other digestive issues are symptoms of something else going on. From side effects from medications and supplements, to not eating a balanced diet. And with all my patients who come to me with IBS, most do not eat fruits or vegetables. It goes without saying that if you do not eat fruits or vegetables every day, especially green vegetables, you will continue to struggle. Even if you find some relief now, say from an elimination diet, you must give your body what it needs to survive. And if you do not do that, you are giving up on yourself.

Please don't tell me how you don't like this or don't like that, because in all likely hood you never had that food prepared in a way that you could like it. You are holding fast to the one way you had it, or the only way your grandma fixed it, as your benchmark for a food source. And that is a significantly low starting off point. You can also hide those veggies you don't like in a smoothie using a plant based protein powder (this is the company I use).

I understand all too well about not getting enough nutrition. In 2012, during a hiking accident where I ricocheted off a boulder and did much damage to all of my body, I knocked out several teeth and crushed my upper jaw. It took more than a year to heal and during the first few months I was on liquids (and then soft foods). In order to get the adequate nutrition, not just proteins but all foods I was unable to eat, I found a high quality plant based protein powder and had smoothies twice a day. Once I started eating solid food again, I continued with a smoothie every morning in order to get all the nutrients I needed to give me energy to just make it through a few hours of being functional each day.

And before you say but you still have issues, wasn't that a lost cause? The answer is NO it was not. In fact I am certain that if I didn't consume enough nutrition then and eat as well as I do now, I would have much more serious issues. I might not even be here...and that's how important your small intestine is!

So lets get back to the topic ~ what actually is leaky gut and why should someone with digestive disorders be concerned about it?

Leaky gut is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged, causing undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria to "leak" through the intestines and flood the blood stream. It can cause widespread inflammation and trigger a reaction from the immune system. Symptoms of leaky gut syndrome include bloating, food sensitivities, fatigue, digestive issues and skin problems.

So the lining becomes damaged for several reasons, but most notably for eating far more acidic foods than alkaline foods. Acidic foods include meat, dairy, processed grains, processed foods, and alcohol. When your body has little to no alkaline foods being consumed, the lining of the gut starts to separate and become damaged, creating pockets where the toxins are able to leak out into your bloodstream going to every other area of your body. This toxin causes inflammation throughout the body and those places where you are susceptible to pain, including those places of the body previously damaged (joints, previously broken/sprained/damaged areas of the body, the brain, spinal cord, thyroid, etc) .

This is why some diseases are diagnosed long before the digestive issues are. This is because doctors, for a very long time, believed that everything in body worked separately. Today, in the year 2019, we know differently. We also know that the gut regulates almost every other area of the body, so it stands to reason that if your gut problems are not being addressed than the other things happening to you will never completely go away. In fact you could easily trigger an autoimmune disorder instead.

So what do you do if you suspect Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Since leaky gut syndrome is not thrown around a lot in the GI doctors office, it's important to know your body well and do what you can on your own, to find healing. First, remove all processed foods (bread, pasta, cookies, cake, candy, soft drinks, juices, and pretty much anything that is not a whole food straight from the farm). If after a few weeks you still experience symptoms, drop diary, then land animals (starting with chicken, then pork, then beef), and so on. If you find you have found relief, reintroduce one thing at a time (over several days, followed by a few days of nothing added) to determine if you can have a specified portion of a food you are eliminating, or the entire food itself. Also be sure to look at the quality of your foods and be certain to select high quality items when reintroducing them to your body. Oftentimes, the quality of the product is what is detrimental to our well being.

For example, try a good quality bread (not the kind in the processed foods aisle of the store, the kind you get at the bakery) and see if you can tolerate 1 slice. Next day try two slices. Third day three slices. If no gut pain, than wheat is OK, and move on to pasta (however, do not test pasta and eat bread in the same days, instead when you are testing to reintroduce foods it is important to not eat tested foods until you have determined what you need to stay away from completely). You will also learn what portions you can handle: i.e. 1 slice of bread at a sitting, not 2). but it's not the same as eating a Big Mac, Twinkies or drinking Mountain Dew. Those are highly processed carbs that turn into sugar in the body spiking blood sugar and leaving toxins behind. Avoid them and your gut (and pancreas!) will be happy.

Remember to have patience with yourself through this, as it will take several months and a lot of trial and error to find exactly what is the cause of your leaky gut.

Also know you can have leaky gut more than once in your life!

I had it before I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. In fact the symptoms I had of leaky gut is the reason I sought out answers for gut health. Once I removed the gluten, even though I looked and felt great three months later, something was still amiss. That's when I found out I had a diary allergen and was limited to the number of eggs I could consume (1 in a sitting) before the over production of mucus occurred. This was good news, because it meant I could eat eggs, I just had to portion control them in order for my gut to live well with them.

Now that you have found and removed the offending foods that your body reacts to, you need to allow the gut time to heal, bring back in all the foods you can eat, AND to combat leaky gut syndrome, eat foods that promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria, including fruits, cultured dairy products, healthy fats, lean meats and fibrous and fermented vegetables. You can take a probiotic supplements (for a few months, do not rely on these for not eating properly), reduce stress, limit NSAID use, avoid all alcohol and get more sleep too.

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About This Site

My work fluctuates between human and animal, discerning the best means of healing for each. I use my medical intuitive gifts for both, my naturopathic knowledge for humans, my ability to communicate with and lay hands on animals, and all so both can live harmoniously together with great health and well being. The articles on this site are for reference only. Please consult your physician or veterinarian before making any questionable changes to your, or your pets, wellness routine.

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Information shared on this site is not intended for use without first consulting your personal physician. In shamanic cultures naturopathic means are used first because patients are taught to be in tune with their own body's needs from childhood. If you are on conventional medicine, be sure to learn about the side effects that they can create when adding naturopathic herbs to your wellness program.