Research points to the majority of those, suffering from many autoimmune conditions, as experiencing this problem in the digestive tract where the intestinal wall becomes more easily penetrated so that toxins pass into the bloodstream, often triggering an inflammatory response and compromising the immune system.
The first line of defence when autoimmune diseases occur, is to mend the gut and reduce permeability
Leaky gut syndrome
is the name of this condition and it has been shown to lead to long term damage to the lining of the digestive tract, causing gaps in the membrane lining of the intestinal wall. These tiny gaps allow toxic substances to leak out and they can come from numerous sources, such as Candida
yeast overgrowth, undigested food particles or waste products, irritating the intestinal lining, compromising its integrity and allowing a flow of toxic particles.
These leaking particles prompt an inflammatory reaction from your body that can cause a wide variety of symptoms and conditions including asthma, eczema
, allergies, insomnia, obesity, bad breath, arthritis
and many more.
Some facts you might like to know about leaky gut syndrome
- Leaky gut contributes to autoimmune disease and in fact, the only known cause for any autoimmune disease is gluten sensitivity. If you do have an autoimmune disease, consider investigating gluten sensitivity as a contributing factor.
- Your gut is your second brain but if it is not functioning as it should, you could be missing out on serotonin and the other neurotransmitters that you need to stay healthy.
- While most often leaky gut syndrome is associated with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's, ulcerative colitis or celiac disease, even healthy people can have varying degrees of intestinal permeability.
- Having a leaky gut can predispose you to carry higher levels of visceral fat, increasing the risk of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases.
- Your gut flora can be damaged from environmental toxins such as the overuse or misuse of anti-biotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), chlorinated water, meat from factory farms, processed food, sodas and artificial sweeteners.
- A natural birth, breast feeding, a whole-food based diet and a toxin-free lifestyle offer the best start in life to ensure a good defence against leaky gut syndrome.
How can you heal a leaky gut?
Digestive enzymes are one of the most critical food supplements for optimizing overall health and in the same way, their importance for repairing a leaky gut is also critical. Enzymes are generally very safe to consume because they are made of protein, helping to break food down into the building blocks used by the cells. While the body does make enzymes, they can also be found in fresh fruits such as papaya, pineapple and kiwi.
Other ways to heal the gut
- Increase your intake of fermented foods, especially fermented vegetables (being the most palatable), to help replenish the beneficial bacteria that produce serotonin. Probiotics are another excellent choice like those found in kefir and yogurt.
- Remove hard-to-digest proteins such as gluten and dairy from the diet.
- Adopt an organic whole food diet including lots of veggies, fiber, whole sprouted grains and freshly juiced greens while avoiding processed and gluten-containing foods, dairy, meat from factory farmed animals, grains and sugar.
- Include quality soluble and insoluble fiber into the diet. Fiber ensures that bulk is formed in the colon and toxic wastes are absorbed and gently eliminated.
- Homemade bone broth is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons while the minerals in broth are easily absorbed by the body. It supplies the amino acids that help the body detoxify while the gelatin in it helps to coat the digestive tract and its high collagen content assists in healing the gut.
- Address nutritional deficiencies by taking some of these: Carotenoids, B complex. vitamin C, E, zinc, selenium, germanium, coenzyme Q10, bioflavinoids, catechin, hesperidin, rutin and proanthocyanidins, pycnogonals, grape seed extract, pine bark extract and bilberry. It makes good sense to be tested for any vitamin deficiencies before commencing a vigorous supplement regimen. For example, vitamin C intake is often considered to be an anti-allergy vitamin, helping to stabilize mast cells that often trigger the release of histamine and other allergy mediating chemicals.
- The amino acid L-glutamine will strengthen the intestinal lining and boost the immune system while reducing allergies and improving overall nutrient absorption.
- Increase the consumption of essential fatty acids such as fish oils, coconut oil, milled flax, flax seed oil, chia seeds, evening primrose oil, borage oil, olive oil, black currant seed oil. These essential fatty acids help to balance inflammatory response.
- Increase the consumption of soluble fiber such as pysillium seed husks and powder, apple and citrus pectin, and the rice derived gamma oryzanol.
- Cat's claw is a herb that will clean the digestive tract of dangerous pathogens, reducing those reactions that exacerbate health problems.
- Another helpful medicinal herb is persimmon leaf extract, offering many anti-inflammatory properties to minimize discomfort.
I know this list of suggestions may seem daunting but start with baby steps and build from there.
With many of us having varying degrees of damage to the gut, it would seem sensible for everyone to start paying more attention as to how they can improve their own gut health.