As you read in my last blog “Do You Have a Leaky Gut?” – aka increased intestinal permeability, you now know that this is without a doubt a pretty common condition and it is linked to MANY health conditions. Luckily there is a series of strategies you can implement to help correct it.
Keep in mind: the food is not the problem – the health of the gut is…
How to fix a leaky gut… The 4 R’s.
Step #1 – Remove
First off you have to identify and remove whatever is irritating the gut lining. You can start with an elimination diet. Typically we recommend removing sugar, dairy, gluten, soy, caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods. Journaling during the elimination diet will help you identify how certain foods make you feel. Plus, it’s a great way to keep track of new recipes.
Eliminate the food(s) for between 2 to 4 weeks then re-introduce them one at a time and take note of how you feel. Symptoms can include: headaches, mood swings, sleep disturbances, aches, skin conditions, joint pain, bloating, gassy and /or a stuffy nose… Anything can be a reaction.
If you don’t want to wait for the results of an elimination diet, there are food sensitivity tests (IgG tests) that can be conducted along with the Zonulin (leaky gut) test.
If removing foods isn’t helping, it is possible that the leaky gut is being caused by candidiasis and/or parasites that thrive in the gut’s warm, mucosal environment. You can ask a healthcare practitioner to run tests and recommend a protocol that will deal with an overgrowth of microorganisms.
Step #2 Replace
The next step is to give your body what it needs to rebuild the gut lining. Eating whole foods is key. The gut lining is lined with finger-like projections villi, each villi is covered with microvilli. (see image) These fibres can get matted and hinder the absorption of nutrients. Eating whole foods that are full of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, plus enzymes can help to rebuild healthy new tissue. Try to focus on eating non-starchy vegetables and lean proteins, along with plenty of good fats.
Include good fibre such as chia or flaxseeds along with lots of filtered water to help rid the body of toxins and by-products as your body heals.
The microvilli are covered with digestive enzymes that your body needs to break down food into fats, carbs and proteins. Taking digestive enzymes will help support the villi during this repairing phase.
Taking extra omega 3 fatty acids in the form of a fish oil supplement can help to reduce inflammation and rebuild healthy cell. Include foods such as coldwater fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil and olive oil
L-Glutamine is a supplement that can also help repair gut lining. It can be found naturally in Bone Broth and Hydrolyzed Collagen.
Step # 3 Restore
Once your body has patched up the leaks in the gut you need to help it grow a healthy layer of good bacteria. As seen in the picture below the good bacteria (microbiota) helps to act as a barrier to protect the gut lining. Good bacteria also helps to strengthen your immune system, improve metabolism as well as make vitamins and help with the absorption of minerals.
Enzymes help to breakdown foods into fats, carbs and proteins making them easier for the body to absorb.
Good bacteria helps to lower inflammation and protect the lining of the digestive tract.
Supplementing with a high-quality enteric-coated probiotic is helpful at this time. Also eating a variety of probiotic foods, such as naturally prepared (without vinegar) sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, tempeh, yogourt and/or kefir.
#4 Repair and Balance
Finally it is necessary to support the digestive system by ensuring that there are adequate enzymes and hydrochloric acid to aid in the breakdown of nutrients. Lifestyle habits such as eating slowly and more mindfully while chewing food until it is mush will help to improve the body’s ability to stimulate enzymes. These habits may seem overly simplistic, but in fact can be a very effective way to make sure that your health and the health of your gut doesn’t start sliding backwards.
One of the significant contributors to leaky gut is STRESS! Incorporating a mindfulness practice can help to calm your central nervous system, because when you are stressed your body is in fight or flight mode, which is the opposite of the rest and digest state.
The Good News!
I often see in my practice how individuals get an IgG (food sensitivity) test and then go through the next many years assuming that they cannot eat the foods that they react to. It’s time we all start looking at the possible underlying causes of food sensitivities and the many other symptoms that go along with them.
Everyone is different, but there is a chance that you may be able to re-introduce some of the foods that your body was once sensitive to by following the 4 R’s above.
My Story – How I accidentally fixed my gut
As I mentioned in my last blog, almost 10 years ago, I discovered that I had a leaky gut.
What I did is NOT what I would typically recommend – not to mention I was very lucky as I really didn’t know what I was doing.
So basically what I did was – I went on a radical raw food diet for 3 months. I starting juicing, sprouting seeds and nuts, making homemade crackers in my dehydrator, made homemade, dairy free cheese and milk. Everything I ate for the next three months was raw. After about 10 days of this diet I started to feel a difference – my energy was improving – this was fantastic, so I kept it up for the next 3 to 4 months.
-This is me happily eating in a restaurant 😉
How did this diet fix my gut? – of course this is just an educated guess:
I removed all gluten and dairy (except raw cheese). After being a lacto-vegetarian for 20 years I had probably developed a sensitivity to these foods.
- I did not consume any grains. They can be very difficult to digest, especially on an already inflamed gut, hence removing these foods helped give my digestive system a break.
- I added loads of enzymes. Raw foods have enzymes, cooked foods do not, sprouted foods contain exponentially more enzymes than raw foods. Enzymes help to lower inflammation in the body and improve digestion.
Voila! – A healthier gut
NOTE: I had been taking nutritional supplements (copious amounts of them) for over 2 years. Although they didn’t make me all better, I was still in a better place than I had been before taking them. What I’m saying is that I did not do this radical diet when my health was in a severely compromised state.
Interested in discovering whether or not you have a leaky gut? – Contact me for more information about the Zonulin Test. This is the newest most effective laboratory test on the market today to help establish just how permeable your gut is. Click HERE for more information from Fluids IQ.
In good health!