You may have heard about Leaky Gut recently because, increasingly, it is being recognized as one of the primary causes of the increasing number of chronic diseases. For example, inflammatory diseases, like, allergies, asthma, Alzheimers, autism, and autoimmune diseases like Hashimotos’s thyroiditis, Chrohn’s disease, Graves disease, IBS, MS, and lupus are growing at epidemic proportions; and, increasingly, science is proving that a leaky gut is at the core of the growing crisis of chronic illnesses.
What is Leaky Gut?
Leaky Gut is when the tight junctures of the gut wall become loose, and allow undigested food particles, toxins, viruses and bacteria to “leak” through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. Then immune cells identify these abnormal particles as the “enemy” and begin to create antibodies to fight these invaders.
Signs and Symptoms of Leaky Gut
To assess if you may have an inflammatory or autoimmune disorder, or possibly in the beginning stages, look out for the following signs and symptoms. All of these symptoms can mean that you have a leaky gut, especially if you have more than one from this list:
- Digestive Problems such as gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, or constipation
- Brain Fog (difficulty concentrating and focusing)
- Weight Gain
- Mood Irregularities (Swings) such as depression, anxiety, or ADD/ADHD
- Chronic Infections such as Herpes or Epstein Barr Virus
- Diagnosis of Autoimmune Disease, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Osteoporosis, or Osteopenia
- Hormonal Imbalances (weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, gas, bloat, belly fat)
- Skin problems (acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis)
Why Healing Leaky Gut is Important
When toxins, bacteria, and undigested food particles leak into your bloodstream, your immune cells don’t recognize them and then “mark” these foreign substances as intruders and begin to attack them, causing chronic inflammation throughout the body. In essence, Leaky Gut causes the body to be under constant attack from its own immune system, causing damage to the cells. The immune system, which is designed to protect the body from occasional threats to its health, now has to deal with constant threats and becomes less able to do its real job of protecting you from the more serious threats of bacteria, microbes, and toxins.
The constant attack from the immune cells leads to cell damage, autoimmunity (when your own body attacks itself), inflammation, and disease.
How to Prevent and Heal a Leaky Gut
Leaky Gut can be caused by inflammatory foods because these types of foods cause damage to the gut and weaken the tight junctures of the intestinal wall. Once leaked into the bloodstream, your immune system creates antibodies, which lead to food sensitivities and promote inflammation. Even healthy foods can become inflammatory to your body once they are marked as an intruder by the immune system.
Avoid Inflammatory Foods
Below is a list of foods that are known to create inflammation in the body, and should be avoided. By eliminating the following foods and substances for 30 days, you can identify what foods are causing you problems by re-introducing them, one at a time, after the thirty days are finished.
This is not a “forever” elimination diet! But, without first eliminating the potentially damaging foods, your body cannot calm down enough to heal and repair, nor can you identify which foods are causing you problems. I have included this diet in my upcoming book, Rebuild Your Immune System in 10 Minutes a Day, that will be released mid to late June.
Foods/chemicals that cause inflammation:
- Wheat gluten
- Dairy products
- Nightshade vegetables (peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, onion)
- Processed Foods
- Chemical Additives
Besides inflammatory foods, the following medications have been shown to cause Leaky Gut and should also be avoided (use them sparingly and only when necessary):
- NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.)
- Birth control medications
You may also want to assess if you have begun to develop autoimmunity, as it often results from the prolonged symptoms of a leaky gut and inflammatory conditions:
What are the Symptoms of Autoimmune Disease?
This is not an exhaustive list of symptoms to look for if you suspect you or someone close to you may have an autoimmune disorder, but the most common symptoms are listed below. If you have been experiencing any of these warning signs, or, particularly a combination of several of them, you may have an autoimmune or an autoimmune related disease.
- Feeling more tired than usual or fatigued
- Problems with focusing or concentration
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Joint pain and/or swelling
- Muscle pain/weakness/twitching/tremor
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation, pain, gas, bloating, blood or mucous in stool
- Dry eyes, mouth or skin
- Numbness or tingling in hands or feet
- Hair loss, rashes or hives
- White patches on skin or inside mouth
- Headaches or dizziness/vertigo
- Sensitivity to cold or heat
- Periodic fevers
- Vision changes*
*Amy Meyers, The Autoimmune Solution (New York: HarperCollins, 2015), Susan Blum, The Immune System Recovery Plan (New York: Schribner, 2013) and Amy Myers, “10 Signs You Have An Autoimmune Disease + How To Reverse It,” mindbodygreen, April 18, 2013
Hope this article has shed some light on some of the symptoms that frequently go undiagnosed, or misdiagnose. Wishing you a wonderful week, filled with peace, joy and love.