All in the gut: Why your health problems probably started in the digestive system

Nutrition Digestion

Health problems often start in your digestive system. Read about leaky gut in this blog post by clicking below.

Many people suffer from digestive problems such as bloating, heartburn and weight gain but did you know that your digestive system can be responsible for a range of other health problems? Believe it or not, food allergies, low energy levels, autoimmune conditions and even joint pain can be caused by leaky gut syndrome.

What is leaky gut?

In the digestive tract, the cells are all bunched together with tiny gaps between them to let nutrients move through. However, these gaps can gradually increase in size, wearing down the barrier that blocks bad bacteria and other unwanted things from getting through to the rest of the body. Leaky gut syndrome can increase your risk of autoimmune problems developing.

What causes it?

The lining of your gut can be worn down by things like medications, toxins, stress, bacteria and some foods.

Bad foods

As expected, because they interact directly with the gut lining, foods are one of the most common causes of leaky gut. Foods that have high amounts of lectins (wheat, spelt, soy), gluten, sugar or dairy can be particularly problematic. This is because many of these foods either feed bad bacteria and fungus or because they look similar to harmful pathogens which can confuse the immune system and cause it to turn on itself, resulting in a breaking down of the gut lining.

Chronic stress

Where the body has been under stress for a long time (that means most people), it wears the immune system down making it harder for your body to fight bad bacteria. Unfortunately this also leads to inflammation (including in the gut) which causes problems such as fatigue and leaky gut.

Toxins

Whether caused by medications such as antibiotics, pesticides in foods or any other number of chemicals that find their way into the body, these all have the ability to trigger an immune response in the gut, damaging the lining.

Dysbiosis

Mostly a result of the other three causes listed above, dysbiosis occurs when the balance between good and bad bacteria in the digestive system is thrown off. Whether the bad bacteria are fed by bad foods or good bacteria are killed off by stress and toxins, an increase in the number of bad bacteria also triggers an immune response which weakens the strength of the gut lining.

3 steps to heal the gut

Fortunately, where leaky gut is responsible for your symptoms, there are three easy things you can do to help repair the gut lining.

1)      Remove foods and factors that will cause further damage

This probably sounds so obvious it almost isn't worth writing but as expected, if you remove the catalyst or trigger, the body is given the chance to heal and recover. As such, if your gut is already inflamed, try removing or at least cutting down on foods such as gluten, alcohol, sugar and dairy from your diet.

2)      Opt for healing foods such as bone broth and fermented vegetables

Foods with anti-inflammatory properties such as high levels of omega-3 fats (think fish and red meat) and fermented vegetables which provide a natural source of probiotics are great for helping to heal the digestive tract. Vitamin and mineral rich foods are also really important because leaky gut means that your body struggles to absorb nutrients like zinc, iron and B12. Amino acid rich bone broth is therefore a great, gentle and healing addition to the diet.

3)      Repair and rebalance the gut with probiotics and supplements

As mentioned above, when suffering from leaky gut, the body is missing out on a range of really important vitamins and minerals and the balance of good vs bad bacteria is inevitably off. As such, it’s really important to add probiotics (to boost levels of good bacteria) and digestive enzymes (to help break down foods and improve absorption of nutrients). To help reduce the inflammation, a supplement such as L-Glutamine (an amino acid) can also be really helpful in reducing the immune response and allowing the gut to heal.

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