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Originally published on DrAxe.com
Leaky gut syndrome is a rapidly growing condition that millions of people are struggling with and don't even know it. From the sound of it, you might think leaky gut only affects the digestive system, but in reality it can lead to many other health conditions.
According to research, leaky gut could be the cause of your food allergies, low energy, joint pain, thyroid disease, autoimmune conditions and slow metabolism.
In this article I will outline specifically how you can heal leaky gut syndrome and breakthrough the health problems you've been struggling with.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Think of the lining of your digestive tract like a net with extremely small holes in it that only allow specific substances to pass through. Your gut lining works as a barrier keeping out bigger particles that can damage your system.
When someone has leaky gut (often referred to as increased intestinal permeability) the "net" in your digestive tract gets damaged, which causes even bigger holes to develop in your net, so things that normally can't pass through, are now be able to. Some of the things that can now pass through include proteins like gluten, bad bacteria and undigested foods particles. Toxic waste can also leak from the inside of your intestinal wall into your blood stream causing an immune reaction.1
Leaky Gut Symptoms and Progression
This leads to inflammation throughout your system and can cause symptoms, such as:
- Food sensitivities
- Thyroid conditions
- Joint pain
- Skin issues, like rosacea and acne
- Digestive problems
- Weight gain
- Syndrome X
One of the biggest warning signs that you may have leaky gut can be that you're experiencing multiple food sensitivities. Partially digested protein and fat can seep through your intestinal lining making their way into your bloodstream which will cause an allergic response.
This allergic response doesn't mean you'll break out in a rash all over your body, but it can lead to one of the symptoms mentioned above. If left un-repaired, it can lead to more severe health issues like inflammatory bowel disease, IBS, arthritis, eczema,2 psoriasis,3 depression, anxiety, migraine headaches, muscle pain and chronic fatigue.
According to the Journal of Diabetes there is a strong body of evidence pointing to leaky gut as a major cause of autoimmune diseases, including Type 1 Diabetes.4
What Causes Leaky Gut?
There are 4 main causes of leaky gut which include:
- Poor diet
- Chronic stress
- Toxin overload
- Bacterial imbalance.5
We're about to cover some in-depth nutrition here. Read carefully, and in a few sections I will outline the top 5 Foods and Supplements to heal your leaky gut ...
The most common components of food that can damage your intestinal lining are the proteins found in un-sprouted grains, sugar, GMO's, and conventional dairy.
The problem with unsprouted grains is they contain large amounts of nutrient blockers called phytates and lectins. Lectins are sugar-binding proteins that act as a natural defense system for plants that protect them from outside invaders like mold and parasites.
This is good news for plants but bad news for your body.
Your digestive lining is covered with sugar containing cells that help break down your food. Lectins gravitate toward this area and when they attach to your digestive lining it damages your gut, causing inflammation.
Lectins and Foods that Cause Leaky Gut
Lectins are found in many foods, not just grains. If consumed in smaller amounts, your body will do just fine with them. But foods that have large amounts of lectins, like wheat, rice, spelt, and soy, are more problematic.
Sprouting and fermenting grains reduces phytates and lectins, and makes these foods easier to digest.
GMO and hybridized foods tend to be the highest in lectins since they have been modified to fight off bugs.
Also, gluten containing grains will damage your intestinal lining causing leaky gut. So while you are working to heal your system stay away from all grains especially ones that contain gluten like wheat. Once your gut is healthy you can add back in grains that have been fermented and sprouted to eat occasionally.
Conventional cows milk is another food that can cause leaky gut. The component of dairy that will harm your gut is the protein A1 Casein. Also, the pasteurization process will destroy vital enzymes making sugars like lactose very difficult to digest. For this reason, I only recommend buying dairy that is raw and from: A2 cows, goat's, sheep, or buffalo.
Sugar is another substance that will wreak havoc on your digestive system. Sugar will feed the growth of yeast, candida, and bad bacteria which will further damage your gut. Bad bacteria actually creates toxins called exotoxins that damage healthy cells and can eat a hole into your intestinal wall.
Other Factors that Cause Leaky Gut
Chronic Stress - Chronic stress weakens your immune system over time which cripples your ability to fight off foreign invaders, like bad bacteria and viruses leading to inflammation and leaky gut. To reduce stress I recommend getting more sleep, schedule fun into your week, rest one day a week, meditate on scripture, and hang out with positive, uplifting people.
Toxins - We come into contact with over 80,000 chemicals and toxins every single year, but the worst offenders for causing leaky gut include antibiotics, pesticides, tap water, aspirin, and NSAIDS. I recommend buying a high quality water filter to eliminate chlorine and fluoride and look to natural plant based herbs to reduce inflammation in your body.
Dysbiosis - Finally, one of the leading causes of leaky gut is a condition called dysbiosis, which means an imbalance between beneficial and harmful species of bacteria in your gut. For many, this imbalance can begin at birth because of a C-section or because the mother didn't have a healthy gut herself. The overuse of prescription antibiotic drugs, tap water with chlorine and fluoride, and the lack of probiotic rich foods contribute to this imbalance of good and bad bacteria.