Leaky Gut - 4 steps to Fix it!

Written by Alison Bell

What is Leaky Gut?

Gut health is something that has been respected in Eastern cultures and medicine for all time. According to Eastern beliefs, it is the house of the spirit and soul. It appears that Western medicine is now catching up with gut health becoming the answer for patients presenting with a list of digestive system disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), coeliac disease, heartburn, constipation, diarrhoea, allergies, food intolerances, boating, gut dysbiosis, autoimmune disorders and the like. Many of these issues can be brought back to gut permeability[1].

So what is this gut permeability, known more commonly as leaky gut? The gut lining is naturally a permeable structure allowing you to absorb nutrients. According to the leaky gut hypothesis, the tight junctions being opened up causes your bowel lining to become “leaky”. This allows nasty toxins and undigested food particles to pass through from your gut into your blood stream wreaking havoc on your immune system.

At this point the immune system jumps to attention and attacks the invaders. This response is what practitioners who support the gut permeability hypothesis believe is causing symptoms that have previously been given different diagnosis[2]. This immune response can be seen most clearly with those suffering from coeliac disease[4]. Foods containing gluten can cause cells in the gut to release zonulin, a protein that forces tight junctions in the intestinal lining to separate, allowing the "leak" from the bowel lining to the bloodstream.

Experts are not in agreement over the leaky gut hypothesis as there is little clinical data on humans to support it. But the evidence is growing to the point where it is believed that our stomach bacteria and its ability to permeate the gut lining is affecting our health[5]. This combined with growing evidence to show the gut microbiome and the gastrointestinal barrier impact our gut health[3] will change the way of medical diagnosis and treatments in the near future.

So, how can you avoid a leaky gut?

1. Revisit Diet

Are you consuming any foods that your body may be perceiving as a toxin? One common food that causes immune response is gluten. Perhaps try living a gluten free life for one month, and see if you can feel the difference. Increase fermented foods and bone broth to aid gut health. Bone broth is filled with nutrients which aid digestion, and the collagen will help "patch up" any "holes" in the gut lining.

2. Remove Genetically Modified Foods

Many GM crops, including corn, were engineered to produce their own insecticide, to kill insects by destroying the lining of their digestive tracts. That insecticide has been proven to also damage human intestines[6], causing gut permeability. 

3. Manage Stress

Our modern fast paced lifestyle is also a major contributor to a leaky gut. Under stress, the body kicks into fight or flight mode. Try to find time in the day to meditate, do some restorative yoga, tai chi or qi gong. Swap out the weights and cardio in the gym for an outdoor activity that is purely done for fun! We want to encourage playful exercise paired with rest and digest!

4. Introduce Probiotics

Once the toxic inflammation has been identified and removed, it's time to introduce more of the good guys.. the friendly bacteria. The easiest way to do this is through probiotics. As the bad bacteria die off, there needs to be a constant supply of good bacteria to replace it. This will help nutrients be absorbed and keep the bad guys in check.

 

References:

[1] Mediators Inflamm. 2015;2015:628157. doi: 10.1155/2015/628157. Epub 2015 Oct 25. Intestinal Permeability in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Pathogenesis, Clinical Evaluation, and Therapy of LeakyGut
Michielan A1D'Incà R1.Department of Surgical, Oncological and Gastroenterological Sciences, University of Padua, 35128 Padova, Italy. 
 
[2] Front Cell Neurosci. 2015 Oct 14;9:392. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2015.00392. eCollection 2015. 
Breaking down the barriers: the gut microbiome, intestinal permeability and stress-related psychiatric disorders. 
Kelly JR1Kennedy PJ2Cryan JF3Dinan TG1Clarke G1Hyland NP4.

[3] Meddings J. The significance of the gut barrier in disease. Gut 2008, 57.

[4] Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2016 Jan;9(1):37-49. doi: 10.1177/1756283X15616576. 
The potential utility of tight junction regulation in celiac disease: focus on larazotide acetate.Khaleghi S1Ju JM1Lamba A1Murray JA2.

[5] J Clin Gastroenterol. 2014 Nov-Dec;48 Suppl 1:S62-6. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000000255.
Leaky gut, microbiota, and cancer: an incoming hypothesis.

Saggioro A1.

[6] Cytotoxicity on human cells of Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac Bt insecticidal toxins alone or with a glyphosate-based herbicide. Mesnage R1, Clair E, Gress S, Then C, Székács A, Séralini GE.

 

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3 comments

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Alison @ Broth Of Life

Wow, thank you for your kind words Linda! I had no idea the comment you made would appear in multiple places either!!! That is not usually the case (and isn’t with the 2nd post you made!) A wee mystery there. So glad you are enjoying the newsletter and yes, there are so many it can certainly become information overload!

Linda

OK … so now I realise it doesn’t matter where I post the comment …

Linda

Hi Ada and Alison. Just wanted to say that I really enjoy your newsletters. I have subscribed to many over the years and there are only so many one can read in a week, so I am often “culling” the ones that don’t appeal. What really impresses me about yours is the fact that not only do you cover a great range of subjects, but you make them so easy for me to read – good grammar, sentence structure, no spelling mistakes – can’t tell you what a breath of fresh air that is to me (I am a “precise”!) Really glad your business going well with the Changing Habits joint venture – yay. (Just posted same comment on another page but maybe it should have been this one instead, as I see “Alison Bell” as the author – you may remember I am rather technically challenged!)

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