Getting a common cold doesn’t have to be so… common. There are things you can do naturally to make getting ill less likely.
But, if you do happen to get ill, there are things you can also do to help support your body to fight it off.
Good hand hygiene and overall healthy habits can reduce your risk of getting ill in the first place. And good nutrition can help your immune system fight off a cold more quickly. Imagine your germ-fighting immune cells all hungry and tired, versus them being nourished and full of energy.
And that’s what this post is all about.
Many people with ME/CFS have underlying viruses such as Epsteinn Barr virus and cytomegalovirus. So the tips below can help you to boost your immune system.
First I’ll give you some tips to reduce your risk of getting ill in the first place. Then, I’ll let you in on some of my strategies to recover from that cold you may still get from time to time.
Here are some great ideas to incorporate into your daily life to reduce your risk of getting a cold.
1 – Wash your hands. A lot. Your hands can trap and transport all kinds of microbes that cause illness. And I’m not just talking about colds here, but lots of different germs.
NOTE: Antibacterial soap is not recommended! Not only is it no more effective than regular soap and water, but it can contribute to antibiotic resistance.
2 – Get enough nutrients. I know this is way oversimplified, but I would be remiss to exclude it. Every cell in your body, including your immune cells, need enough of all the essential nutrients. The more nutrition you have, the better and stronger you will be, especially with vitamins A, C, and E. Vitamin A-rich foods include carrots, sweet potato, and organ meats. Vitamin C-rich foods include bell peppers, broccoli and citrus fruits. Vitamin E-rich foods include nuts, seeds, and leafy greens.
3 – Probiotic foods. Helping our health-promoting gut microbes with more of their probiotic friends is in order here to help keep the immune system strong. Try 1-2 servings/day of fermented foods and drinks like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kefir, or kombucha.
4 – Prebiotic foods. Feeding those friendly gut microbes their favourite foods can help them to grow and flourish. They love fibrous foods like onions, asparagus, berries, bananas, sweet potatoes, whole grains, and seeds. Aim for 2-3 servings/day.
5 – Get enough sleep. Did you know that our immune system cycles with our circadian system? When we sleep our immune cells produce antibodies to fight infections. Try to get at least 7 hours every single night, even when you’re feeling great.
When you do get an infection, not only do you need more nutrients to fight it off, but your body also has a harder time absorbing and using the nutrients you take in. Sometimes this is because of reduced hunger, sometimes due to gastrointestinal reasons. Either way, nourishing your body is even more important. When you do get ill, make sure you are implementing tips 1-5 plus the tips below that are crucial for getting over a common cold.
6 – Drink lots of fluids. Being ill can be dehydrating. Fluids like water, chicken soup, and green tea are warm, hydrating comfort drinks. Chicken soup is a source of electrolytes, especially if homemade from a real chicken with lots of vegetables. Green tea has been shown to boost some of our immune cells, and this can help to better fight off the invading germ.
7 – Rest and recover. When your body is fighting an infection, it’s busy working hard for your health. Give it a break and relax while you’re feeling under the weather.
There are lots of things we can do to stay healthy and reduce infections naturally. Washing your hands is a proven way to reduce your risk. And staying healthy in all other ways helps a lot. Getting enough nutrition, eating probiotic and prebiotic foods, and getting enough sleep are key year round.
If you do get ill, keep up all of your good habits above, and make sure to add some warm, healthy fluids, and extra rest.
What do you do when you get a cold? Leave a comment below to let me know.
½ cup honey
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp freshly grated ginger root
Put ingredients into a small saucepan.
Stir frequently until it becomes foamy. Be careful because the honey can burn easily.
Remove from heat and continue to stir until the foam reduces.
Put the saucepan back on the heat.
Repeat this until a candy thermometer reads 300F.
Drop a bit into a glass of ice water. If the mixture forms a hard, crunchy ball, it’s ready! If not, keep stirring and heating for another minute or two and try with the ice water again.
Once a hard ball forms from a drop into the ice water, let the saucepan cool until the foam has reduced.
Drizzle the candy into a candy mold or onto oiled parchment paper.
Let cool at room temperature until the cough drops are hard.
Pop out of the mold or break into pieces, and store in an airtight container.
Tip: You can sprinkle them with vitamin C powder to keep them from sticking together.
Leaky gut is also known as increased intestinal permeability. It’s when the cells lining our intestines (gut) separate a bit from each other. They’re supposed to be nice and tightly joined to the cell beside it; this is to allow certain things into our bodies (like nutrients), and keep other things out.
When the tight junctions between intestinal cells weaken it can cause the gut to be more permeable – leakier – than normal. When this happens, it allows things into our bodies that should not get in; things like large pieces of protein, toxins, or even bacteria and waste.
When substances that shouldn’t be there get into our bloodstream through the “leaks” in our gut, our immune system kicks in. These leaked bits mimic a food allergy, and our body reacts accordingly. It mounts a response to try to attack the invaders, and this causes inflammation.
Leaky gut is associated with a number of issues including food allergies, Coeliac disease, autoimmune diseases (e.g., Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Hashimoto’s, asthma, type 1 diabetes, acne, eczema), joint pain, and neurological problems (e.g., multiple sclerosis). Some research shows that leaky gut might contribute to or worsen these conditions.
Also leaky gut is common in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). It can be caused by the roots of a Candida overgrowth piercing holes in the gut lining. In addition it can be caused be deficiencies of nutrients such as omega 3, zinc and glutamine.
While some of our gut permeability may have a genetic factor, there are lifestyle habits that contribute as well. Too much sugar or alcohol, and not enough fibre can make things worse. Even certain compounds in foods (e.g., gluten, lectins, casein, fructose) and food additives (e.g., MSG) can weaken tight junctions.
So, what should we eat, and ditch, for optimal gut health?
There are certain foods that irritate the gut or can cause those loosened junctions to get even looser.
Some of these include:
It’s a good idea to reduce these foods and if leaky gut is a confirmed issue for you, avoid them until the leaky gut has been addressed.
If you’re ready to learn what to do about leaky gut, contact Kate for a free 15 minute discovery call.
There are also a bunch of foods that support gut health, including the intestinal cells themselves, as well as our friendly gut microbes. Many of these also reduce inflammation.
These are all nutritious foods that can help with gut health and overall health.
It’s not just what you eat that can affect your gut. Other lifestyle habits can help too.
All of these are great healthy habits to get into, gut problems or not.
To help keep our guts (and our bodies) in optimal condition, there are a lot of foods we should eat (and lots we should reduce).
Sticking with nutrient-dense unprocessed foods is always a good plan, whether you have gut issues, other concerns, or feel completely healthy.
And, don’t forget the importance of a healthy lifestyle like good eating habits, sleep, and stress management.
Which of these foods have you added or reduced? Let me know in the comments below.
2 bunches leafy greens (kale, chard, collards), washed and chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp turmeric
2 dashes salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the greens and a splash of water.
Sauté until the greens start to wilt.
Remove from heat and sprinkle with lemon juice, turmeric, salt and pepper.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Serve this as a side dish (hot or cold), or add to soup.
For more information about what to do about leaky gut, contact Kate for a free 15 minute discovery call.
Antioxidants are just that: they fight (anti) oxidation.
The chemical process of oxidation is like rusting metal. A molecule loses electrons and creates the infamous free radicals. Oxidation is also the reason why apples, bananas, and avocados go brown when the skin is broken, and they’re exposed to air – they’re getting oxidised.
Free radicals in the body cause inflammation and can contribute to diseases like cancers, diabetes, and heart disease (to name a few). So, the antidote to oxidation is the antioxidant. Vitamins like vitamins A, C, and E are examples of antioxidants. So are other compounds in foods like carotenoids and phenols. These compounds sacrifice their electrons to stop the oxidation process; this why squirting some lemon juice on your sliced apples, bananas and avocados slows down the browning process.
But don’t think that all oxidation in the body is bad. It’s not. Your body naturally oxidizes compounds all the time when it’s doing healthy things like metabolizing nutrients or exercising.
As with many things in life and health, the key is maintaining a good balance. In this case, as the balance between oxidation and antioxidation.
We can throw off that balance with exposure to too much alcohol, smoking, or environmental pollutants. Even over-exercising or too much sun exposure can create too much oxidation.
The best sources of antioxidants to combat this effect are nutritious whole foods, like colourful fresh produce, e.g., blueberries, purple cabbage, etc. In fact, the more colourful and darker the plant is, the higher levels of antioxidants it usually has. Chemicals that give the plants their deep colours are often the antioxidants themselves.
Let me list out a bunch of antioxidants and the foods they’re found in:
Blueberries are probably one of the most studied antioxidant foods. They contain a range of phytochemical (i.e., plant chemical) compounds and are very high in anthocyanins (the blue-coloured compound).
Furthermore the antioxidant capacity can be measured in a laboratory; this is called the “oxygen radical absorption capacity,” or “ORAC.” And blueberries have one of the highest ORAC levels.
If you’re ready to learn more about how antioxidants can reduce your symptoms of fatigue, contact Kate for a free 15 minute call.
While antioxidant supplements have been tested, their results haven’t been as good as many hoped. Compared with eating a nutrient-dense antioxidant-rich colourful array of plants, antioxidants supplements have fallen short.
Many studies of antioxidant supplements haven’t shown any benefit against heart disease, cancer, or other diseases. And these are diseases that are known to be reduced in people who eat a lot of foods that are naturally full of antioxidants.
In fact, too much of any individual antioxidant, like when overdoing supplements, can be harmful. Too much vitamin A is linked to increased risk of hip fractures and prostate cancer. Too much beta-carotene increases the risk of lung cancer in smokers. In addition, too much vitamin E increases the risk of prostate cancer, lung infections, heart failure, and even death.
One of the reasons why we think that antioxidant foods work oh-so-much better than antioxidant supplements is because of synergy. The concept of synergy means that by taking one component out of healthful food (i.e., the antioxidant), it loses the effect it has when combined with all the other healthy components it came with from nature. This is the difference between eating a whole orange and taking a vitamin C supplement. The orange is going to have more than just vitamin C, and many of those compounds will work together for overall health better than just isolating one and having higher-than-normal doses of it.
Overall there are antioxidant vitamins (A, C & E) and other antioxidants like carotenoids and polyphenols. They’re highest in colourful fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some meats, tea, coffee, and cocoa.
Also you can’t replace a diet full of nutrient-dense antioxidant-rich whole foods with supplements. So stick with the foods.
Which antioxidant-rich foods and drinks are your favourites? Let me know in the comments below.
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
A pinch of cinnamon
Handful baby spinach leaves
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Use any greens you have on hand in place of the spinach, if you wish.
If you would like more information on how antioxidants can reduce your symptoms of fatigue, contact Kate for a free 15 minute call.
Many people who have CFS or adrenal fatigue crave coffee. This could be because you are struggling to have enough energy to keep going every day and get everything done.
Coffee is one of those things – you either love it or hate it. You know if you like the taste or not (or if it’s just a reason to drink sugar and cream). You know how it makes you feel (i.e. your gut, your mind, etc.).
Not to mention the crazy headlines that say coffee is great, and the next day you should avoid it!
There is actual science behind why different people react differently to it. It’s a matter of your genetics and how much coffee you’re used to drinking.
NOTE: Coffee does not equal caffeine. Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Drinking coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But… a cup of coffee contains a lot of things over and above the caffeine. Not just water, but antioxidants such as polyphenols, and hundreds of other compounds. These are the reasons drinking a cup of coffee is not the same as taking a caffeine pill. And decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine; but, it still contains some.
Let’s look at caffeine metabolism, its effects on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.
Not all people metabolise caffeine at the same speed. How fast you metabolise caffeine will impact how you’re affected by the caffeine. In fact, caffeine metabolism can be up to 40x faster in some people than others.
About half of us are “slow” metabolisers of caffeine. We can get jitters, heart palpitations, and feel “wired” for up to 9 hours after having a coffee. The other half is “fast” metabolisers of caffeine. They get energy and increased alertness and are back to normal a few hours later.
This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much – because we’re all different!
NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.
The effects of drinking coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body also differ between people; this is partly from the metabolism I mentioned. But it also has to do with your body’s amazing ability to adapt (read: become more tolerant) to long-term caffeine use. Many people who start drinking coffee feel the effects a lot more than people who have coffee every day.
Here’s a list of the effects of drinking coffee (that usually decrease with long-term use):
Stimulates the brain
Boosts energy and exercise performance
Increases your stress hormone cortisol
So, while some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how they affect you and decide if it’s worth it or not.
There are a ton of studies on the health effects of drinking coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.
Here’s a quick summary of what coffee can lead to:
Caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability)
Increased sleep disruption
Lower risk of Alzheimer‘s and Parkinson’s
Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
A lower risk of certain liver diseases
Lower risk of death (“all cause mortality”)
Mixed reviews on whether it lowers risks of cancer and heart disease
Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (except the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).
NOTE: What’s super-important to note here is that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors that can affect your risks for these diseases. Please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical things to consider for your disease risk. It’s not just about the coffee.
There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. No one food or drink will make or break your long-term health.
Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:
People with arrhythmias (e.g. irregular heartbeat)
Those who often feel anxious
People who have trouble sleeping
Women who are pregnant
If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have coffee. Does it:
Give you the jitters?
Increase anxious feelings?
Affect your sleep?
Give you heart palpitations?
Affect your digestion (e.g. heartburn, etc.)?
Give you a reason to drink a lot of sugar and cream?
In conclusion, depending on how your body reacts, decide whether these reactions are worth it to you. If you’re not sure, I recommend eliminating it for a while and see the difference.
3 tbsp coconut milk
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp pumpkin puree
½ tsp maple syrup (optional)
1 cup coffee (decaf if preferred)
Add all ingredients to blender and blend until creamy.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can use tea instead of milk if you prefer.
Finally for more information of the health effects of drinking coffee and how addiction may be driving your adrenal fatigue, contact Kate to book an appointment today.
If you are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may be thinking “what can I eat for IBS?”Below I describe the best diet for IBS.
IBS is an umbrella term used to describe a set of symptoms. There are 2 types of IBS:
Also the FODMAP diet can help with IBS.
Courteney, H. (2008). 500 of the Most Important Health Tips You’ll Ever Need. 3rd edn. London: CICO Books. pp. 212-214
For more information on diet for IBS, contact Kate to book a consultation today.
The low FODMAP diet is a 7 to 10 day treatment that is often effective for:
The low-FODMAP diet is thought to work by reducing fermentation in the gut. Fermentation happens when naturally-occurring gut bacteria break down certain foods, and produce gases such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane as by-products. In people who are susceptible, this fermentation process can trigger uncomfortable gut symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and constipation.
It is less restrictive than the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD).
Following the low FODMAP diet is a short-term treatment to reduce symptoms of IBS and SIBO. A lot of the excluded foods are very beneficial for feeding the good bacteria in your gut such as the vegetables, fruits and legumes. Also dairy products can boost levels of the good bacteria lactobacillus in the gut. Therefore I would not recommend continuing the diet in the long-term.
For more information on the low FODMAP diet, contact Kate for a free 15 minute discovery call.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that releases hormones. Thyroid hormones help your body regulate a few things – not a big deal – just the metabolism of ALL cells. And this is critical for having the energy to live your life.
(Yes, your thyroid IS a big deal!)
Furthermore it’s estimated that at least 3.7% of UK adults have an underactive thyroid.
When you don’t have enough thyroid hormone, you have what’s called hypothyroidism. This can result in the slowing down of your metabolism and chronic fatigue. Some of the other symptoms can include weight gain, forgetfulness, dry hair and skin, constipation and feeling cold.
You can get a diagnosis of underactive thyroid from a blood test from your health professional.
There are many reasons why your thyroid may become underactive. The most common is autoimmunity, where the immune cells attack other cells in the body. In this case, the cells of the thyroid gland.
It can also be the result of low levels of iodine, which is an essential mineral.
Below I explain about nutrients for underactive thyroid.
Enough iodine from food – you will find iodine naturally in fish and seafood. Other foods that contain iodine are navy beans, potatoes, and eggs. Sometimes levels of natural iodine depend on the amount of iodine in the soil. Also you will find that iodine is also added (i.e., fortified) to some foods.
Enough selenium from food – selenium is another essential mineral to support the thyroid. Selenium-rich foods include Brazil nuts, mushrooms, meat, and fish.
Enough protein – One of the common symptoms of thyroid issues is fatigue. If this is the case, one thing you can eat more of is protein. Protein keeps you feeling full for longer and has plenty of B vitamins to support your adrenals and energy production.
Gluten-free – Try going gluten-free. There is evidence of a link between underactive thyroid and gluten sensitivity. There may be a “cross-reactivity” where the immune cells that are sensitised to gluten can attack the thyroid cells by mistake. This is essentially how autoimmunity works and can affect more than just your thyroid. Also you could request to get tested for coeliac disease if you are experiencing thyroid issues.
Lifestyle upgrade – additionally tiredness and fatigue are very common when it comes to thyroid issues. In this case, it’s important to get enough quality sleep and reduce stress.
If you have concerns about your thyroid, then ask to be tested. That along with asking for testing for coeliac disease can help to confirm your best plan to move forward in good health.
Foods to support your thyroid include iodine- and selenium-containing foods and gluten-free foods. Don’t forget to eat enough protein to help boost your metabolism.
If you want to supplement with iodine, you should work with a qualified health professional.
Also regular exercise, quality sleep, and stress-reduction are all part of the holistic approach to supporting your thyroid.
Do you or someone you know have concerns about your thyroid? What diet and lifestyle factors have you got the most benefit from? Let me know by commenting below.
Finally for more information on using nutrition to support your thyroid, contact Kate for a free 15 minute phone consultation.
With the stressful pace of modern living in the West, the adrenal glands can struggle to keep up! Your adrenal glands secrete adrenaline and other stress hormones to help you to cope with stress. When you are feeling exhausted, your adrenals give you the energy to keep going!
With constant stress, your adrenals are continuously being stimulated until they crash. This is when you can experience adrenal fatigue.
People with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) often have adrenal fatigue leaving them bed bound.
So how can you use nutrition for supporting the adrenal glands?
For more information on using nutrition for supporting your adrenal glands, contact Kate for a free 15 minute phone chat.
If you’re reading this, then you’re likely or are considering how to go dairy-free . You may have a food intolerance, have been told to eliminate dairy, or just want to have less of it.
Either way, dairy is not an essential nutrient, and there are lots of things you can have instead. Dairy foods include not just milk, but also yoghurt, butter, parmesan, and ice cream!
Calcium is important for bone health and there is a good amount in dairy products but don’t worry. There are lots of other foods that contain calcium such as broccoli, almonds, tahini, salmon, collard greens and spinach.
Dairy-free products are becoming more and more popular. Nowadays you can easily find them in the grocery store. But read your labels! Some contain way too much sugar, or other ingredients you may not want to eat or drink.
Read below to learn how to go dairy-free.
I’ve put together some simple recipes to make delicious dairy-free foods right in your kitchen. Go ahead and try my dairy substitutes.
Dairy-free milk is so easy to make and flavour yourself. You can make milk out of just about any nut or seed. You can even make alternative milk out of grains like rice, oats, or quinoa. And you can flavour them too.
It just takes a high-powered blender, some water, and cheesecloth to filter out any remaining bits.
For flavouring, you can add a pinch of cinnamon, cardamom, or vanilla extract. You can also sweeten your milk with soaked dates, maple syrup, or honey.
To make a super-simple dairy-free milk just soak ½ cup of almonds, cashew, coconut, or even hemp seeds for a few hours (if you have the time). Soaking is optional, but it makes the blending process easier and the final milk creamier. Then drain the soaking water, rinse, and add to a blender with 2 cups of fresh water. Blend on high until smooth (about 1 minute). Add your flavourings, if desired. Then strain through a nut milk bag, fine mesh strainer, or a few layers of cheesecloth.
If you want to make a dairy-free cream, just blend your nuts, seeds and/or grains with 1 cup of water instead of 2 for a thicker, creamier, dairy-free milk.
Technically, with the right yoghurt starter probiotic culture, you can make yoghurt out of any dairy-free milk. The most common one to ferment into yoghurt is coconut milk. But you can use almond milk or other nut or seed milk.
The trick here is with the fermentation. Follow the instructions on the label of the yoghurt starter culture, and enjoy delicious dairy-free yoghurt in a few days.
Have you tried coconut oil? It’s a great dairy-free substitute for butter. You can fry with it, or even bake with it. You can even use it to pop popping corn in a pot on your stove.
I love the mild flavour of coconut oil in anything I bake with bananas. It tastes better than butter anyway.
If you haven’t tried nutritional yeast, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much it tastes like grated parmesan. Plus, it contains some B vitamins as well.
It’s a salty, cheesy, flaky powder that you can use wherever you want to add a pop of savoury flavour to any dish.
TIP: After you’ve popped your popcorn, sprinkle it with a bit of nutritional yeast for a salty, cheesy flavour.
Did you know you can make a delicious and thick pudding without dairy? That’s right; the plant kingdom has some natural thickeners that are full of fibre.
You can make a chocolate pudding with avocado. Take one whole avocado and blend it up with ¼ cup cocoa powder, ¼ cup dairy-free milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and honey or maple syrup to taste. Then add dairy-free milk to thin if desired.
For chocolate chia pudding, use ⅓ cup chia seeds and place in food processor with 1.5 cups dairy-free milk. Wait for 5-10 minutes until the seeds soak up the liquid. Then add ¼ cup cocoa powder, tsp vanilla extract, and honey or maple syrup to taste. Blend into a smooth pudding.
Chocolate almond ice cream is another delicious dessert made with frozen bananas. I’ve included the recipe for this below.
Dairy-free is easy! Making delicious dairy-free yoghurt, milk, butter, parmesan flavour, and even pudding and ice cream is simple.
Are you going to try any of these recipes? Do you have a great one to share as well?
Reply to this email and let me know.
2 bananas, chopped and frozen
1 tbsp cacao powder, unsweetened
2 tbsp almond butter, unsweetened
Add chopped frozen bananas to a food processor. Pulse or lightly blend until almost smooth. Add cacao powder and nut butter. Pulse or lightly blend until mixed.
Serve immediately & enjoy!
Tip: Try different nut and/or seed butter. Or instead of cocoa powder and/or seed butter, use just the bananas with a ½ cup of frozen berries. The recipe combinations are endless.
Finally for more information on how to go dairy free and dairy free substitutes, contact Kate to book an appointment today.
“Leaky gut” is a popular topic in the health and wellness spheres these days. It’s been blamed for many symptoms and conditions that seem to be all-too-common. Allergies, intolerances, joint pain, even autoimmune diseases can all be linked back to leaky gut. But what is leaky gut? What causes it? What kinds of issues are related to it? And most of all, what can you eat for leaky gut?
Simply put, your “gut” (a.k.a. “intestinal tract”) is a tube that makes up part of your digestive system. It’s not as simple as a hose or pipe; it’s an amazing tube made of live cells tightly bound together. Your gut helps your body absorb fluids and nutrients, digests your food, and houses billions of friendly gut microbes.
It’s also selective to what it allows past its barrier. Your intestinal tract purposefully keeps some things from being absorbed, so they pass right on through to the other end to be eliminated as waste. You don’t want to absorb many harmful microbes or toxins into your body, right?
FUN FACT: About 70-80% of our immune system is housed around our gut, so it’s ready for foreign invaders.
Absorption of fluids and nutrients happens when they’re allowed through this cellular tube into the circulation. And this is great! As long as what’s being absorbed are fluids and nutrients. The blood and lymph then carry the nutrients to your liver, and then around to the rest of your body; this is so that all your cells, all the way to your toenails, get the nutrition they need to be healthy and grow.
Your gut can become leaky if the cells get damaged, or if the bonds that hold the cells together get damaged. Leaky gut can be caused or worsened by a number of diet and lifestyle factors. Dietary factors like too much sugar or alcohol or even eating things that you’re intolerant to can all contribute to leaky gut.
Lifestyle factors like stress, lack of sleep, infections, and some medications can also be culprits in this area. Sometimes, if the balance of gut microbes inside the gut is thrown off, this can also contribute to a leaky gut.
Any contributing factors that alter the balance in your gut may cause our gut to become “permeable” or leak. At this point incompletely digested nutrients, microbes (infectious or friendly), toxins, or waste products can more easily get into our bodies.
Scientifically speaking, a “leaky gut” is known as “intestinal permeability.” This means that our intestines are permeable and allow things through that they normally would keep out. They “leak.”
As you can imagine, this is not a good thing.
How do I know if I have leaky gut?
Because so much of your immune system is around your gut, the immune cells quickly recognize a “foreign invader” and start their response. This is normal and good if the gut is working properly and not allowing too many things to “leak” in.
But when that happens too much, and the immune system starts responding, the notorious inflammation starts. Once the immune system starts responding it can look like allergies, food intolerances, and even autoimmune diseases.
Because the first place affected is the gut, there are a number of symptoms right there. Things such as:
Not to mention that if foods, even healthy foods, aren’t properly digested, their nutrients aren’t properly absorbed. Poor absorption can lead to lack of essential vitamins and minerals for the optimal health of every cell in your body.
Some of the symptoms can also occur on the skin:
Even rosacea and psoriasis can be linked here due to their autoimmune component.
It’s possible that even some neurological symptoms are linked with leaky gut. For example:
Finally, a number of chronic inflammatory diseases are thought to be linked with a leaky gut. Things like Crohn’s, colitis, Coeliac disease, IBS, and MS. Even things like heart disease and stroke are possibilities.
The general recommendation is to stop eating inflammatory foods and eat more gut-soothing foods.
Incorporating a gut-soothing diet means cutting out grains, legumes, and dairy. Add to that list, food additives, alcohol, and refined sugars.
Leaky gut, or “intestinal permeability” can happen when your gut gets damaged due to too much sugar and alcohol, or eating foods you’re intolerant to. It can also be from stress, lack of sleep, or imbalance in your friendly gut microbes. The symptoms of leaky gut are vast – spanning from digestive woes to skin conditions, even to autoimmune conditions.
It’s important to cut out problem foods and drinks and add in more gut-soothing things like green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and probiotic foods. It’s also important to ensure you’re getting enough omega-3 fats, vitamin D, and amino acids.
If you need help tailoring a diet, feel free to respond to this email and I can get you on your way.
1 whole chicken, cooked, bones with or without meat
3 carrots, chopped
2 celery, chopped
4 bay leaves
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Herbs and spices as desired (salt, pepper, paprika, parsley)
2 handfuls spinach
1 – Place chicken bones, and meat if using, into a slow cooker.
2 – Add chopped vegetables, vinegar, and herbs/spices.
3 – Cover with hot water (about 2 litres/8 cups).
4 – Cook for 8 hours on medium or overnight on low.
5 – Add spinach 30 minutes before serving.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can strain it before serving, or serve it with the cooked vegetables as soup.