Struggling to find the root cause of your health issue? Maybe you’ve heard the term leaky gut, but you don’t know how it could possibly relate to your chronic fatigue and eczema. I’ll explain why your symptom could be leaky gut and what you can do about it.
Leaky gut is the coined term for your intestine lining becoming hyper-permeable and “leaking” food particles out into your bloodstream.
This causes your body to respond by protecting you from these particles that don’t belong there. In that process, your body gets confused and focuses its jobs on defending you against these particles instead of what it’s supposed to be doing, setting off chain reactions throughout your bodily systems.
If I impart any sage wisdom to you, let it be this: your health starts in your gut.
That, and you are an amazing woman and human being on your own badass journey, and I celebrate you!
When you aren’t feeling like the amazing human being you are, check in with your gut – the literal and figurative versions. Your literal gut is absolutely essential to the optimal functioning of your whole body. If your gut isn’t on its game, the rest of your body’s systems get knocked off their games, too.
Because your gut processes what you eat and drink, it helps regulate your immune system, and it produces over 90% of the hormones your brain needs to make you Cool, Calm, Collected Cathy. Everything in your body, mind and spirit are interwoven, and the gut steers the wheel for most of it.
Think your symptoms aren’t correlated to your gut? Let’s take a look at them.
Do you suffer from:
- Constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas
- Food allergies or sensitivities
- Skin issues, like rashes, eczema, or acne
- Chronic fatigue
- Thyroid issues
- Autoimmune issues
- Weight gain
- Mood disorders
- Brain/memory fog
- Joint pain
- Chronic bad breath
If you said yes to even one item on the list above, I recommend checking in with your gut—it might be leaking.
These 11 signs of leaky gut are likely to have been caused by some combination of poor diet, toxins, infections, even stress.
Any of these factors if out of balance could lead to…
- Your stomach acid levels being too low (low stomach acid reduces your body’s ability to break down proteins. These under-digested proteins can cause inflammation when they reach your colon).
- Your digestive enzyme production being below optimal and having too many “bad” microbes in your gut.
- A communication disconnect between your gut and brain.
- Imbalanced sex hormone levels that make you feel…not great.
- Increases in fight-flight-freeze hormones that perpetuate gut hyper-permeability and lead to more inflammation.
Every problem has a solution. Leaky gut is no exception. There’s a silver lining to healthy gut lining! Restoring your leaky gut is done through the 4Rs Protocols:
- Remove (triggers of leaky gut)
- Replace (nutrients lost to inflammation)
- Repair (the lining of the gut with specific nutrients)
- Reinoculate (the gut with good bacteria)
If you only make diet changes and neglect to address toxins, infections, and stress your efforts may be in vain.
First, let’s look at your diet and its connection with your gut.
Your gut is made up of an abundant microbiome—its own little world of chemical production and digestion all working in harmony to optimize the rest of your body’s systems. This microbiome is in charge of your wellness, physically and mentally.
Step 1: Remove
These foods have been shown to be problematic for your gut:
- Hard-to-digest grains
- Even gum and mints (they’re made with artificial ingredients that disrupt the gut microbiome and contribute to inflammation)
If your gut is leaking, you may want to experiment with eliminating the foods above.
And a little more about gluten… Wheat and cereal grains contribute to gut inflammation and leaky gut. Even people who are non-celiac were found to have a marked increase in gut permeability by consuming gluten.
Depending on your leaky gut severity, I may suggest avoiding wheat and cereal grains for a while or indefinitely. I personally have been following a gluten-free lifestyle for about 6 years since I found out I have a chronic inflammatory disease.
If you have food sensitivities, you have a leaky gut red flag. It’s connected in a cycle:
Inflammation >> Leaky gut >> food sensitivities >> Inflammation. This is why just removing the offending foods isn’t enough – you need to determine what the root cause of inflammation is, resolve it, and help repair the lining of the gut.
Reviewing your food sensitivity panel results together will give us clear action steps to restore balance to the immune system allow your body to tolerate foods again (hooray!).
Step 2: Replace
As you mend your leaky gut, here’s what I recommend for foods to include or increase:
- Foods that are fantastic for restoring and supporting a healthy gut microflora are fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kefir. Sorry gals, even though alcohol is technically fermented, it’s excluded from my list of gut healing foods.
- Foods that help the lining of the gut to repair itself – my favorite is bone broth, which is high in the amino acids your gut needs to knit back together.
- Foods that promote healthy digestion are ginger, papaya, mint, apple, fermented foods (like kombucha), and bone broth.
Pro tip: Regarding how you eat, your necessary stomach acid levels could be thwarted by drinking water within 20-30 minutes before and after eating. Drinking close to eating can also limit the amount of nutrients your body absorbs from your food.
Diet change recap:
- Experiment with removing foods that have been shown to be problematic for your gut. You may benefit from therapeutic diets like low-FODMAP, GAPS, or Autoimmune Paleo for example.
- Add more digestion-promoting foods to your daily diet.
- Resist drinking water for 20-30 minutes before and after meals.
Step 3: Repair
Stress… The other culprit to leaky gut.
Stress can alter gut motility – the small contractions that your digestive system uses to move foods along. For some people, this can manifest as constipation while others may experience diarrhea. Beyond changing the speed that your foods travel through your gut, chronic stress sabotages the digestion process likely leading to poor processing of nutrients, overgrowth of bad bacteria, and inflammation locally and systemically. It is not your gut’s friend.
Addressing mental health can look differently to everyone. A couple options to try are:
Mindfulness practices like meditation, breathwork, and yoga. However, you can become more present with this moment and not the past or the future, spend more time doing it.
Restful sleep is essential to every part of your wellness. Prioritize better sleep.
Step 4: Reinoculate
Lastly, and just as importantly, your leaky gut may benefit greatly by adding supplements to your lifestyle. These will bring good bacteria back into your gut and restore healthy balance.
I gathered my top favorites that helped my own leaky gut and those of my clients in my Leaky Gut Support Pack.
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