You are here

What is Leaky Gut? How to Heal Your Digestive System

March 1, 2013

Leaky gut syndrome is a condition of the digestive system characterized by increased permeability of the intestinal lining, allowing pieces of undigested food and other toxins to enter the bloodstream where they do not belong.

This process activates the immune system in an effort to eliminate the foreign substances from the body, and thereby causes inflammation. The result is a wide range of physical symptoms such as bloating, multiple food sensitivity, headaches, eczema, and chronic fatigue, among others.

Essentially this means that having a leaky gut can seriously impair your overall health, and you could have it without even knowing! It also doesn’t help that it goes mainly undiagnosed by many mainstream medical professionals because they tend to focus on treating the presented symptoms, not the underlying root cause.

A multi-pronged approach is often necessary in order to heal a leaky gut. A balance of a wholesome natural diet, stress-reduction, supplementation, and a generous dose of patience are all required.

The following recommendations will help you begin to regain digestive balance, as you work with a wellness professional to measure your progress:

Eat alkaline foods
Alkaline foods contain natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant compounds, which reduce inflammation, fight free radicals, and aid in the healing process. Not to mention they also play a role in naturally increasing energy and boosting overall health! Such foods include most raw vegetables and fruit, apple cider vinegar, and certain herbs and spices such as ginger.

Consume whole foods that are high in zinc and vitamin D
These nutrients are especially helpful at healing the intestinal lining and can be found in pumpkin seeds, salmon and other fish, garlic, dark chocolate, eggs, shitake and button mushrooms, and of course sunshine! Supplements can also be beneficial if your healthcare professional recommends them.

Reduce stress
It is important to avoid stress as it suppresses the immune system, prevents healing, and could contribute to greater intestinal permeability. Even if you have a busy lifestyle, there are many simple ways to limit the daily stress in life.

Avoid sugar
Sugar and starchy foods contribute to an overgrowth of yeast, which attaches to the intestinal lining to cause inflammation and thwart the healing process. Low glycemic fruits are OK if eaten sparingly and if your condition is not severe. However, you may want to experiment by avoiding fruit completely for 2 weeks, and reintroducing it slowly to see how you react.

Consume probiotics and digestive enzymes
The restoration of proper intestinal flora is essential to regaining digestive health. Probiotics and digestive enzymes help the gut to effectively break down and digest food, thereby reducing the likelihood of entrance into the bloodstream. These are available naturally in raw and fermented foods.

What have you found helpful in treating a delicate digestive system?