“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.
One of my clients came up with this idea! She was looking for a way to make a healthy dessert. So she combined Coyo Vanilla Coconut yoghurt with flaxseed and blueberries to create this tasty and healthy treat! This dairy-free blueberry cheesecake recipe takes 5 minutes to put together and only has 4 ingredients! It is a great solution for a tasty dessert for those with lactose intolerance. It is also gluten-free!
2 tbsp Ground Flaxseed
6 tbsp Coyo Vanilla Coconut Yoghurt
Firstly place the ground flaxseed into a 3 inch dessert dish. Smooth down with the back of a spoon until the flaxseed forms the flat base of the cheesecake.
Now add in the coconut yoghurt. Again flatten down the top of the layer with the back of a spoon.
Now place the blueberries on top of the coconut yoghurt until the whole top layer is completely covered.
Next drizzle the honey over the blueberries to sweeten the cheesecake.
Finally place the cheesecake in the fridge to set for 30 minutes. Enjoy!
You can make this water kefir recipe at home. If you are intolerant to lactose in dairy, this water kefir recipe is a good option to get your daily dose of probiotics. It will save you money buying probiotic supplements or kefir yoghurts as you can make it yourself. This water kefir recipe is simple to make but requires you to strain it every 2-3 days.
2tbsp Kefir grains
500ml Filtered water
2tbsp Brown sugar
Firstly in a large 1 litre glass jar, dissolve the sugar in 100ml hot water. When the sugar is dissolved add the remaining cold water. make sure the water is room temperature.
Now add the kefir water grains into the jar and cover the top of the jar with a muslin cloth. The kefir grains are living organisms and feed on the sugar to ferment it.
Leave the jar in a warm, dark place such as an airing cupboard for 2-3 days. Do not leave it for too long or it can starve the grains if there is no sugar left. The longer you leave it, the more acidic the taste is.
After 2-3 days strain the mixture through a small sieve into another glass jar. You can now drink the kefir liquid and store it in the fridge. Try a small glass to see if you like it and if it agrees with you. Keep the kefir grains to reuse.
Wash the fermenting jar and repeat the process again.
If you are going away you can freeze the kefir grains and defrost them to start the process again on your return.