Leaky gut syndrome is a condition that develops when parts of the digestive system are damaged, in effect allowing undigested food particles, proteins and bacteria into blood circulation. The condition, also referred to as increased intestinal permeability, results in systemic inflammation over a period of time. This in turn leads to an immune reaction which manifests with a myriad of symptoms. To understand how the condition affects the digestive system, it is important to learn how the condition develops.
Leaky gut syndrome starts off within the small intestine which is where the absorption of nutrients takes place. For this to happen, there are tiny openings found along the small intestine. These openings are semi-permeable which means that they permit certain substances to pass through and block off others from entering into circulation. This system is put in place to ensure that only the beneficial nutrients get into the bloodstream.
With a leaky gut however, these openings are widened so much so that there is no regulation of the particles that enter the bloodstream. As a result of this, the undigested particles of food that are ordinarily blocked from entering the blood stream enter circulation and are then taken through the body. The result is systemic inflammation that, over a period of time, causes an immune response.
This happens because the food particles are recognized as toxic and foreign compounds. To get rid of these foreign compounds, the immune system mounts an adverse reaction, which instead of protecting you, causes intense inflammation.
Some of the symptoms of leaky gut syndrome include allergic reactions to specific food groups, skin conditions especially acne as well as a myriad of digestive problems which range from gas to indigestion and bloating. Left unchecked, the condition could easily lead to an autoimmune disease. There are several ways in which you can treat the condition naturally, all of which revolve around diet.
NOTE: This is only a handy guide for the natural management of leaky gut syndrome. Consult your doctor for professional guidance and a proper diagnosis.
The natural treatment of leaky gut-syndrome takes on a four-pronged approach that includes the removal of foods and factors that damage the gut, the replacement of these foods, the repair of the gut using specified supplements and lastly, the rebalance of the gut. Below are these four steps in greater deal, alongside practical and natural steps that you can take for the same.
1. Remove the Foods and Factors that Cause Inflammation Within the Gut:
In managing a leaky gut, the first step revolves around eliminating the foods that irritate the gut as opposed to containing the symptoms with the use of medication.
Get rid of common-place irritants such as dairy and dairy products, gluten, sugar and soy and other chemicals that are common in processed foods. Doing this provides great relief for many people, especially when you consider that gluten and dairy can be problematic even for people who do not suffer from a leaky gut.
When done carefully, the process of food elimination should help you nail down the particular foods causing trouble in the gut. Remove a specific food for a fortnight, introduce it once more and monitor the effects.
For this to be an effective tool, it helps to keep a food journal and use it daily. Write down what you eat, when you do and the effects that it has on your digestive system. If you experience bloating, gas, headache or fatigue, then that is a food that you need to remove.
In many cases, your gut lets you know what foods you need to eliminate – you just need to be able to discern these messages. While at it, you want to ensure that you limit the amount of alcohol you take. Excessive alcohol intake strains the liver and tends to use nutrients which you need for a functional gut.
2. Replace the Trigger Foods with Healthier Options:
Having outlined what causes the inflammation of the gut, the next step revolves around replacing these foods. The key to making these changes is to go for homemade and nutrient-rich foods that will help with the healing of the gut.
Make sure your diet includes lots of whole foods to assist in the repair of the damaged tissue. What’s more, whole foods are rich in antioxidants, enzymes, minerals and vitamins all of which are necessary for the healing process. As the gut heals, it will be necessary to aid in the elimination of this waste. This is where fiber comes in handy as it allows for bowel movements for waste removal.
Excellent sources of fiber include chia seeds, oats, flaxseeds, legumes, nuts and seeds. Some of these foods can be combined for greater benefits. For instance, you may choose to add chia seeds to your oat breakfast for a power-packed meal in the morning to get your day started on the right note.
Remember to add omega-3 fatty acids to your daily diet. These are quite helpful in reducing inflammation and building up healthy cells. Different studies indicate that these fatty acids also help reduce the size of the pores found in the intestines, thus helping to regulate the intestinal permeability.
Some of the sources of omega-3 include nuts, seeds, avocado and cold water fish. If possible, include fish-oil supplements. Shop for high quality oil that has undergone testing for impurities to ensure that you get the very best that is available in the market.
Other foods that are ideal in the replacement phase include Bone broth is also an excellent replacement for foods that irritate the gut, fermented foods and cultured dairy.
Bone broth is recommended because it is extremely rich on amino acids and minerals which improve the gut structure and address mineral deficiencies. Prepare the bone broth from scratch to enjoy its immense benefits.
Raw cultured dairy is made of foods that are rich in probiotics such as yoghurt and kefir. These are great for the gut because they help eliminate populations of the ‘bad’ bacteria. You may also include fermented vegetables that are also rich in probiotics. These include kimchi, sauerkraut and kvass among others.
NOTE: Whenever possible, always opt for fresh food to improve the optimal functioning of the gut.
3. Repair the Gut:
Once you have replaced the trigger foods, the next step in the natural treatment of leaky gut syndrome is to repair the gut. This involves growing healthy bacteria within the gut in order to aid in digestion. This is done to strengthen the immune system, improve the metabolic processes as well as aid the body in vitamin synthesis.
This stage also goes a long way in improving mineral absorption within the gut. Think of it as a lifestyle change that should get you well on your way to total recovery and ensure that you beat the bad habits that caused a leaky gut in the first place. Ensure that you eat the replacement foods as often as possible to maintain this state.
There are a number of supplements that you may also add to your diet in addition to the foods. Licorice root is a herb that plays a key role in managing digestion. It is especially effective for those whose leaky gut syndrome is triggered by varied emotional states.
4. Rebalance of the Gut:
The last step in the natural treatment of leaky gut syndrome is the rebalance of the gut. this stage is all about supporting the health of your gut. A good place to start is to eat mindfully.
This includes avoiding distractions such as scrolling on the phone, texting, reading and even online chats. It means that before chomping your food, you should look at the food and appreciate its visual properties.
Take a deep breath to soak in its aroma because as you do this, the digestive system responds by secreting digestive enzymes and juices that will help with breaking down food. When you start eating, make sure that you chew enough times.
This will allow signals to be sent to the brain in response to the taste and texture of the food. Take short breaths and eat slowly to allow the digestive system to keep up with food breakdown. It also helps to maintain a calm outlook and take care of the body.
When subjected to stress, the body responds by producing cortisol, a stress hormone that places great strain on the digestive system. Creating calm in your inner self will go a long way in improving your gut health.
The most important thing you need to do is to maintain the healthy habits that you have worked on in the steps discussed above. Treating leaky gut syndrome naturally is manageable and is a great way to halt the advancement of autoimmune diseases.