Your gut lining is not supposed to be completely impenetrable, but there should be little transfer between the contents of the stomach, small intestine and large intestine to the bloodstream. There are approximately 4,000 square feet of gut tissue inside a fully grown adult. If your gut lining is not healthy, you may have waste, toxins, and bacteria moving from the gut into the bloodstream. This inappropriate transfer can also damage the balance of your gut flora, which can lead to even more inflammation and damage over time. Leaky gut syndrome can be genetic. Your intestines may be excessively permeable due to illness, such as
- ulcerative colitis
- irritable bowel syndrome
We can also develop it over time due to poor diet, low levels of fiber and too much sugar. High levels of alcohol intake can also lead to damage to the gut wall. A damaged gut is an imbalanced gut, and once your gut is out of balance the inflammation can rapidly get worse. Additionally, the product that crosses the barrier from the gut and gets into the bloodstream can increase inflammation elsewhere. Illnesses with an anecdotal tie to leaky gut syndrome include many forms of inflammation, including pain challenges such as
- joint pain
- nerve pain flare-ups
Some who suffer from autoimmune disorders also find that working to heal their leaky gut reduced the impact of conditions from thyroid disease to fibromyalgia to chronic fatigue. If you are dealing with an autoimmune disease that is limiting your life, be aware that the healing may require you to radically change your life.
Healing Leaky Gut May Take Lifestyle Changes
Current research considers leaky gut to be an initial diagnosis. Protecting and repairing the gut can be extremely challenging; gut health is often tied to lifestyle, so correcting the condition may take a great deal of time and huge changes in ordinary activities. Current research is focused on the protein zonulin. High levels of zonulin are shown to increase intestinal permeability, or leaky gut. Gluten is one of the products that is consistently tied to higher levels of zonulin; for those who are sensitive to gluten, increased zonulin may change the bacterial balance and damage the gut.
However, if you’re not gluten sensitive, you may or may not have high levels of zonulin. If you believe that the inflammation in your body is tied to leaky gut, you can reduce permeability by
- cutting back on NSAID painkillers
- eating more foods that promote healthy bacterial growth
- cutting back on breads and other gluten sources
If you have gut pain or at risk of IBS or ulcerative colitis, discuss any dietary changes with your doctor. Boosting your fiber intake may not be safe if you already have documented gut damage. However, you can make simple changes to your diet and better support your healthy gut. Consider a gluten-free bread product, such as buckwheat or amaranth. Increase your intake of cruciferous veggies in small batches to let your gut adjust. These products, as well as fermented veggies like sauerkraut, are great food for your healthy gut bacteria population. If you can tolerate dairy, consider boosting your intake of unsweetened yogurt. Citrus fruits and berries are a nice way to naturally sweeten plain yogurts.
Avoid artificial sweeteners and carbonated beverages for best support of your new gut bacteria. Many people who have struggled with the inflammation and pain of leaky gut syndrome have found relief by eliminating some products and tracking their reaction. Many in the natural foods industry recommend giving up coffee. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many foods ingested while drinking coffee end up in the bloodstream and are an indication that coffee increases the permeability of the membrane. Before making any major dietary changes, discuss your plans and concerns with your doctor. Consider keeping a food journal to help you understand the foods that are especially triggering for you. There is great power in understanding the source of your illness and pain. We can help you make the best choice to protect and heal your gut, call now 205-352-9141.