This is Part 2 of the Leaky Gut series. Check Part 1 out here which explains what Leaky Gut (Intestinal Hyperpermeability) is and why you should care!
As previously explained, up to 80% of our immune systems lie within our digestive tract. If it is out of whack, we will not have optimal health. This is the case with ailments from acne to eczema and arthritis, autoimmune conditions to autism, and even cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Many conditions lead to leaky gut including food sensitivities, pesticides in our foods and medications we take. As I have said before, our bodies are absolutely amazing and can heal themselves when given the right components and the right environment. Let’s take a look to see what can be done.
Functional medicine likes to refer to this as the “4R” approach. Remove, Replace, Reinoculate and Repair.
- We need to remove offending foods, alcohol, medications, and stress. Yes, I know this does not seem easy! But, once you start feeling better and optimizing your health, you will wonder why you waited so long to take this approach.
- The most inflammatory foods tend to be gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, sugar, and corn. Are you asking yourself “What will I eat?” Try to focus on the foods you can have! There are many! Refer to my Getting Started Guide to see the best approaches to take and the most nutrient dense foods to eat.
- Don’t remove any medications without speaking to your doctor! But, ask him/her which ones you may be able to get off. Once implementing a whole foods diet and removing offending foods which are causing inflammation and reactions in your body, most people find they are able to get off medications such as PPI (prevacid, Nexium, etc.), Statins, and NSAIDS. All of these wreak havoc on the digestive tract and therefore, the immune system. They inflame the gut lining and they prevent critical nutrients from absorbing.
- Stress---Who doesn’t have it?! We all have stress…but we have to learn to effectively manage that stress. Take time for yourself; get a massage, go on a long walk, pray/meditate, do yoga, get out in nature. Nature in itself is truly healing. Find what you love to do and make sure to do it!
- We need to replace the agents needed for optimal digestive support. Years of all of the above ↑↑ has diminished enzymes in our gut which is crucial for it to be at optimal performance.
- Consider a short course of pancreatic enzymes and in some cases Betaine HCL; your Clinical Nutritionist or Functional Medicine practitioner can advise further in this area.
- The good, friendly bacteria must be replaced. Antibiotic use wipes these healing bacteria away. Replenish them with a probiotic supplement including Lactobacilli and Biffidobacteria. These friendly bacteria in the colon produce lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide that keeps the growth of bad bacteria in check. They have been found to improve diarrhea in those taking antibiotics and have been found to be helpful in reducing the growth of yeast (very common in many ailments but especially autism—more on this in another article). These amazing bacteria also help support the integrity of the lining of the intestines. Fermented foods such as Bubbies Fermented Pickles and Sauerkraut are also awesome ways to get these good bacteria.
- Pre-biotics---These feed the probiotics! If you are taking your probiotic in supplement form make sure it has FOS (fructooligosaccharides) added. Otherwise, you can eat bananas, Jerusalem artichoke, onions, asparagus and garlic to help feed the supply! 🙂
- Now we have to repair the mucosal lining….remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Unfortunately, it is not an overnight process. However, the results are well worth it.
- Regular aerobic exercise can help with this. Stress induced enzymes which disrupt the GI barrier is greatly reduced just with exercise alone.
- Soluble and Insoluble fiber is a must. This can be done with adequate intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, steel cut oats (gluten free), and ground flax seeds.
- Additional supplements may also be needed to further repair the gut lining, depending on the severity of leaky gut. Your functional medicine practitioner or Clinical Nutritionist can help guide you in this area.
If you have any questions or would like to set up a private consultation, Contact Me.
Good luck on your transition to optimal health!