Leaky gut is a condition that causes many health problems, yet it’s rarely talked about in the media or in doctors’ offices. As a matter of fact, many people have this condition but have no clue! Here’s a look at what leaky gut is, how it occurs, and what you can do to heal it without the use of pharmaceuticals.
What is leaky gut?
The leaky gut story begins in a very important organ: your small intestine. The small intestine is so important because most of the vitamins and minerals in the foods you eat are absorbed there. In order for the vitamins and minerals to be absorbed, the small intestine contains microscopic pores so the nutrients can be transferred into the bloodstream. Once transferred, the nutrients are then shuttled and deposited all around the body by the blood.
The wall of the intestine is considered a semipermeable. This means the pores only allow certain things to enter the bloodstream and block other things from entering the bloodstream. For instance, specific molecules and nutrients are allowed to pass through but toxins and large undigested food particles are blocked.
The problem with leaky gut is it causes the pores in your intestine to widen. When this happens, the undigested food particles and toxins that are supposed to be blocked are allowed to make their way into the bloodstream. Because these items are not supposed to be in the blood, they cause the immune system to go into attack mode, which can often lead to allergies.
To give you an example, imagine you have leaky gut and eat an apple. When it makes its way into your small intestine, bits of undigested apple that should stay in the small intestine will slip through the large pores directly into your blood. Because these particles are not supposed to be in your bloodstream, the immune system identifies them as dangerous invaders.
Basically, the immune system says, “Hey, this particle shouldn’t be here, so we need to attack it with an immune response and build up antibodies to protect ourselves from it.” The problem is the immune system doesn’t just build up antibodies to the food particles; it attacks your healthy cells, too. This is one of the ways food allergies and autoimmune disorders develop.
So, how does leaky gut happen?
There are a few different ways you can develop leaky gut. For example, if you are chronically constipated, overtime the toxins in your stool will irritate the lining of your intestines. This irritation leads to inflammation which will cause the pores in the small intestine to expand. If the irritation and inflammation are allowed to continue for an extended period of time, it can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, or colitis.
The other common cause of leaky gut is an imbalance of the flora inside your gut. We all have good and bad bacteria in our digestive system. When your gut flora is in balance the bad bacteria pose no threat. But when the bad bacteria outweighs the good, irritation and inflammation occur, again, causing the pores of the intestine to open up.
How to heal a leaky gut
One thing you can do to heal a leaky gut is take glutamine. Glutamine, also known as L-glutamine, is an amazing amino acid that has the ability to heal soft tissue like the lining of your intestines. It is very good for improving the health and integrity of your gut.
Another thing you can do is take a probiotic. Probiotics are full of good bacteria which will help to restore the balance of your gut flora. You want to have more good bacteria in your gut.
I normally don’t recommend dairy, but if you enjoy eating yogurt, try Kefir, which is full of probiotics…or even better try the non dairy Coconut Kefir. I also recommend fermented foods like sauerkraut, which help balance your gut flora out. Your other option is to just take a good probiotic, which you can find at most health food stores.
As you can see, one of the main causes of leaky gut is inflammation. Omega-3 is known for its ability to combat inflammation. You can increase the amount of omega-3 in your diet by eating more fatty fish like salmon, or by taking a fish oil supplement.
In my opinion, leaky gut is a huge issue that the conventional medical community seems to ignore. As a holistic coach, one of the first things I focus on with my clients is healing the gut. Luckily, there are a number of different ways to do this. Now that you know what leaky gut is and how you can heal it, you have the tools you need to keep your gut healthy without the help of a doctor and without taking medication.
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