Leaky gut is the phenomenon by which the lining of the intestine becomes damaged, leading to increased intestinal permeability. The intestinal barrier can become damaged from a variety of factors, including a variety of dietary and lifestyle factors, as well as environmental exposures. You can read more about the causes of leaky gut here.
If you suspect that you have a leaky gut, there are several ways to address it:
● Eat a whole food, nutrient-dense diet that excludes foods that irritate the gut: It is critical to eliminate all processed foods and eat a real food, nutrient-dense diet that eliminates foods that are known to irritate or damage the lining of the gut. Foods that irritate the intestinal barrier and can lead to inflammation include grains, legumes, dairy products, processed foods, refined sugars, and alcohol. With any healing dietary approach to leaky gut syndrome, the popular “80/20” approach to healthy eating is not recommended because your commitment needs to be 100% in order to allow the lining of the intestine to heal.
● Make sure digestion is working: You can eat a perfect diet, but if you aren’t digesting food appropriately, it is not going to help you much. You are not just what you eat, but you are what you eat and are able to digest. Supporting digestion often involves addressing gut dysbiosis and ensuring healthy liver, gallbladder, and pancreas function.
● Discover and eliminate underlying food sensitivities: The best way to discover food sensitivities is to eliminate a suspected food for a period of time (usually at least 30 days) and then try to reintroduce it. Often, transitioning to a whole food, nutrient dense diet will be enough to discover common underlying food sensitivities. However, if people are still experiencing issues while following the real food, nutrient dense diet described above, the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol can help to identify additional sensitivities to nightshade vegetables, egg, nuts, and seeds. The GAPS diet is a strict elimination diet that can help to determine sensitivities to many different foods if used appropriately. In particularly challenging cases in which clients do not respond to elimination techniques, there are various types of food sensitivity testing that can useful to pinpoint which foods may be causing a subtle immune response in the body.
● Find ways to reduce and eliminate stress: Finding methods to reduce and eliminate stress is a priority for healing a leaky gut. I tell my clients to find a little bit of time every day and spend it doing something that they enjoy doing for themselves. Prayer, meditation, yoga, moderate exercise, adequate sleep, regular massage, and acupuncture also help with stress relief.
● Consume gut healing foods and nutrients: If you have a leaky gut, drinking bone broth on a daily basis can be helpful. Bone broth is a super food that contains numerous minerals and amino acids that provide the building blocks for replenishing intestinal cells and help to calm inflammation in the digestive tract. Other gut healing nutrients include Vitamin A, Vitamin U, and L-glutamine.
In Part 2 of this series, we’ll continue to explore leading ways to heal a leaky gut. Stay tuned!