Your gut is the most under-rated organ in your body. A lot of people believe that your heart or your brain control your emotions and body but there’s a good reason why people say “trust your gut” or “listen to your gut”. So that’s exactly my new approach to nutrition and diet at the moment. No more fads or detoxes or trying out new diets from the internet – I am listening to my gut!!
I have a lot of problems with digestion and food intolerances and was therefore diagnosed with ‘leaky gut syndrome’. Sounds kinda hectic but long story it is a condition that happens as a consequence of intestinal tight junction malfunction. These “tight junctions” are the gateway between your intestines and what is allowed to pass into the blood stream. Your tight junctions keep things out like toxins, microbes and undigested food particles. But when your gut is ‘leaky’ it means that many particles can enter your blood stream and cause inflammation throughout your body leading to a variety of health issues and disease. eg. diabetes, IBS, eczema, auto immune disease and allergies.
There are many signs and symptoms that your gut is ‘leaky’ but before you all go and self diagnose yourself for something unrelated, I’ll explain my symptoms and reasoning.
- Weight gain / bloating; recently I’ve tried hard to lose weight and it just isn’t working. It isn’t my diet or my training… so what? My thyroid and hormones were tested and came back fine and my stress levels aren’t overly high either.
- Low iron/ malabsorption; When I had my bloods taken my iron came back low however I eat a substantial amount of red meat, spinach and leafy greens so this just didn’t make sense.
- Fatigue / moodiness; I am the happiest and most balanced at the moment yet I’m guilty of some pretty crazy mood swings as of late. I’m tired and grumpy more often that normal even though I am absolutely loving my life and excited for each day.
- Lingering cold and flu symptoms; I blamed it on the London winter (slash it’s actually summer so what’s doing London?) but when I take a step back and think, I’ve been on and off sick with some sort of fever or snot/flu for some time. Again something that someone so fit and healthy should NOT deal with or accept.
- Itchy ankles / random pimples; I have always had good skin. I kind of joked all my life that I would get adult acne because I never had skin issues growing up. I should touch wood because recently I’ve been getting the odd random pimp that’s been sticking around longer than it should. My ankles have also been flaring up in an eczema like rash?
So what does my slightly heavy, snotty, low iron, moody, pimple head have to say for itself? Considering I love nutrition and fitness and live a healthy lifestyle daily I found myself getting down and frustrating and needing answers (slash some ‘one or thing’ to blame). So here is it. Leaky bloody GUT!!!
Here are some nice little images about Leaky Gut Syndrome from Dr Axe – Food is medicine website. Images certainly help me understand and considering I’ve been saying “oh you know just leaky gut” for years now and never knowing what it meant – it was time to get to the bottom. Pardon the pun!
Did that help? Hope so!! NOW how do I stop my intestine wall from leaking toxins into my blood stream? I came across this 4 step process for healing a leaky gut and it sounds pretty good to me. I will elaborate on each step with some quick and easy little tips. Just remember you are not cutting out food groups forever as this in unhealthy, you are just removing them whilst you are healing your gut and can add them back in later when your gut is strong. So;
REMOVE foods and factors that damage the gut;
REPLACE with healing foods
REPAIR with specific supplements
REBALANCE with probiotics
Let me elaborate.
Damaging foods; The biggest culprits here are lectins, grains, certain dairy products and sugar. Lectins are found in many types of foods although only 30% of the foods we eat contain them in significant amounts. Legumes (dare I say peanuts) and all grains contain the most lectins, followed by dairy, seafood and nightshade plants ie potato, eggplant and capsicums. Concentrated amounts can cause digestive issues and long-term health problems.
Healing foods; foods with high amino acids and pro-biotics are great such as bone broth, raw cultivated dairy, fermented vegetables, coconut products and sprouted seeds/grains. Think kefir, sauerkraut etc for happy gut flora.
- licorice root is an adaptogenic herb that helps balance cortisol levels and improves acid production in the stomach. Try having a licorice peppermint tea at nighttime. It is the perfect sweet cuppa to curve sugar cravings and sooth the belly before bed.
- L glutamine is an essential amino acid supplement that is anti-inflammatory and necessary for the growth and repair of your intestinal lining.
- digestive enzymes (one or two capsules at the beginning of each meal) ensure that foods are fully digested, or apple cider vinegar in water also works.
Finally PROBIOTICS !! are the most important supplement to take because it helps replenish good bacteria and crowds out bad bacteria. I recommend getting probiotics in both food and supplement form. I see people all the time only follow part of the protocol in healing their leaky gut syndrome by removing the damaging irritants. But the part they often leave out is re-inoculating their gut with beneficial bacteria that will keep bad bacteria at bay.
If you can follow the above protocol, you are well on your way to successfully treating your gut for good. And remember listen to you GUT!!