“Leaky gut” is a buzzword in the health sphere that gets thrown around like “kombucha” and “functional fitness”…but what is leaky gut?
Essentially it is exactly what it sounds like:
A gut that is leaky.
By design, your gut lining is designed with tight tissue junction that hold together and prevent outside invaders from coming in and out of your digestive system.
However, when the gut lining gets irritated (from a slew of stressors—from processed food to GMOs to environmental toxins), it takes a hit…and it can only take so much.
Over time, repeated stressors lead to intestinal wall “permeability”—leaks or openings in these tight junctions that allow food particles to leak into the bloodstream, and outside invaders to leak into the digestive system.
Bingo: Leaky gut.
Once food particles escape the digestive system, all hell breaks loose in the body, as the body attacks these foreign invaders, often resulting in one of these 10 signs of leaky gut:
- Seasonal allergies, food allergies or food sensitivities
- Constipation, bloating, cramps, GERD, loose stools and/or gas after meals
- Autoimmune conditions
- Lowered mood (depression, blues)
- Low energy and/or sluggish metabolism (from not absorbing all the nutrients your body needs)
- Poor focus/concentration and ADD/ADHD
- Acne and skin breakouts
- Poor blood sugar regulation (shaky between meals, 3 pm headaches, sugar cravings)
- Hormonal imbalances (crazy PMS, infrequent or missed periods)
- Achy joints
A leaky gut does not happen overnight. It results from a combination of outside stressors that, over time, have created the perfect storm in your digestive system. Some of these stressors include:
- Poptarts and Goldfish you ate growing up
- The fake franken-foods—like Lean Cuisines, Quest Bars or Special K that are staples in your diet
- Not chewing your food
- Running off coffee
- Your insatiable sweet tooth
- Lack of water
- Overtraining or stressing your body physically
- BPA plastic waterbottles and other environmental toxins
- Toxic hygiene products—from shampoo to face wash to tooth paste
- Harsh cleaning products
- Sedentary lifestyles (that prevent our digestive system from moving and grooving)
- C-Section or non-breastfed baby
- Medications—especially long term use
Yada. Yada. Yada.
No matter what the cause(s), you CAN heal your leaky gut with a targeted approach. Although Rome was NOT built in a day, the more proactive steps you take today will better impact your “tomorrow” and set you on the path to success.
Here are three steps to get you started (Plus a Bonus offer for my 7-Day Gut Healing Program).
How to Fix It
- Breathe & Chew. Digestion starts in your brain…and then mouth. When you sit down to meals, take a couple minutes to simply relax—and breathe. Get your body in a “parasympathetic” (relaxed) state of being. And…just be. Couple this with thoroughly chewing your food (instead of the “chew, chew, GULP…chew, chew, GULP” most folks do) and you start the digestive process off strong.
- Take a Break. Give your bod a break from the foods most irritating to your gut. This takes a little bit of digging. Unlike diets where you restrict your food intake, a gut-healing approach to removing “trigger” foods is about making your body stronger for the re-introduction or occasional incorporation of such foods. Common gut irritants include the common culprits: sugar, refined and processed foods. In addition, an initial gut-healing approach recommends eliminating grains, dairy and alcohol, as well as, for some, eggs, shellfish, nuts, or FODMAPS (like apples, onions, garlic)—high-allergen foods This approach will be individualized to every person (see my 7 Day Gut Healing Program for your approach).
- Support. Support your bod with outside reinforcements for gut-healing with resources at your fingertips, including: a probiotic and a little serving of fermented foods (water kefir, kefir, “live and active culture” full-fat organic yogurt, sauerkraut, fermented veggies, kimichi, kombucha). Digestive Enzymes with meals, 1 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar with meals and an L-Glutamine supplement can also help boost your gut.