Our gut is a major component of your immune system, which is why you see it referred to as the "second brain". The roughly 100 trillion bacteria that live inside our guts greatly influence our overall health, so any problems with the gut can cause problems in other areas of the body.
And because of our modern lifestyles, most of us are prone to some degree of gut dysbiosis, which can often generate a whole host of unpleasant symptoms such as bloating and constipation. Sometimes there may be no obvious symptoms at all – according to research, up to 70% of people have experienced digestive issues in the past year.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky gut is a condition in which the lining of your small intestine becomes permeable, or “leaky.” This allows undigested food particles to enter into the bloodstream, where they can cause inflammation and contribute to chronic health problems. Leaky gut is often caused by a combination of factors including stress, diet, infections and environmental toxins.
It's important to address leaky gut if you suspect you might have it because doing so can make all the difference between feeling good one day and feeling lousy for weeks (or longer).
Can I get tested for Leaky Gut?
If you suspect you have leaky gut, get tested for food sensitivities. Food sensitivities and food allergies are not the same thing. Food sensitivity is a reaction to a specific food that occurs after eating it, while an allergic reaction happens immediately upon ingestion. If you react within minutes or hours of eating certain foods, they may be causing inflammation in your body and contributing to leaky gut syndrome.
These reactions can be caused by one or more of the following:
Nuts (such as walnuts)
Shellfish (such as shrimp)
It all depends on your own biology. Here are some ways to start healing your leaky gut:
1. Restore the mucosal lining
When your gut is healthy, it has a mucosal lining that can withstand the daily assault of food particles and toxins. But when your system is out of balance, things like SIBO or leaky gut can cause damage to the mucosal lining. In order to restore this protective layer, you need to start with what you eat.
Avoiding certain foods (and food sensitivities) as well as adding others is an important step in rebuilding your digestive tract and restoring balance in the microbiome:
Avoid refined sugars
Limit processed foods
2. Special care for the bacteria in your microbiome
Probiotics are good bacteria that help to restore the gut microbiome. Probiotics can be taken as a supplement or fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir. But before we repopulate the good bacteria, it is important to balance the gut microbiome first.
Here is an example of our gut microbiome test that looks at intestinal microbial growth, amongst many other key indicators.
After rebalancing the gut, the best way to get probiotics is by eating fermented foods or taking them in supplement form. You should also avoid antibiotics unless absolutely necessary, as they kill both bad and good bacteria in your gut.
Stress has a negative effect on your microbiome too, so find ways to manage stress through exercise, meditation or other methods you find effective for you.
3. Eat probiotic foods
Probiotic foods are foods that contain live microorganisms that are good for your body. These live microorganisms can help improve your gut health and reduce inflammation in the gut, which may be a cause of many issues like IBS, bloating and gas.
They also help improve digestion by stimulating the growth of good bacteria in the small intestine (the major site for nutrient absorption) so it processes food better.
Probiotic foods support a healthy immune system by boosting levels of “friendly” bacteria throughout your digestive tract. In addition, they may play an important role in weight regulation by improving appetite control and reducing food cravings due to their effect on serotonin levels.
Tip: Try low sugar coconut yogurt if you're trying to stay off dairy.
4. Reduce stress levels
Stress can cause digestive issues. Stress can cause leaky gut. Stress can cause inflammation, which is a precursor to many health conditions, including heart disease and cancer. The good news is that you can reduce your stress levels by doing something as simple as deep breathing or taking the time to meditate for 20 minutes every day (or both).
Just taking a few deep breaths before you eat will help reduce how much tension and anxiety you feel while eating and digesting food—and it'll also make sure that what goes in stays down!
Stress also causes poor gut health, which leads to lower energy levels and nutrient absorption problems.
At The Nutrition Clinic, you will also work with our Functional Behaviour Coach Bonnie to help optimise your food and lifestyle -- Knowing what to do is one thing, but it is always helpful have someone help you stay accountable.
5. Supplement with key nutrients
Vitamins: Vitamin A helps improve the immune system and protects against free radical damage.
Vitamin B12 works with folic acid to aid cell growth and division
Vitamin C helps protect against oxidative stress from environmental toxins—like cigarette smoke or car exhaust fumes—and enhances iron absorption so you get more nutrients from your food sources (it’s also great for skin health).
Tip: Always look for pharmaceutical grade supplements - which means only high grade raw ingredients are used. Supplements are not as regulated as you might think.
When you heal your gut, you can heal your health.
At The Nutrition Clinic, we believe that when you heal your gut, you can heal your health. Gut health is just as important as physical fitness and mental wellbeing! As a specialist in functional medicine, it's our mission to help people achieve their optimal health.
With these simple steps, you can start taking control of your symptoms and on the road toward good health. It may take time to reach your goals, but with each step, you'll be closer. And even if you feel discouraged at times, remember that healing is always possible—and it's worth the effort!
Personalize your nutrition and lifestyle
Interested to know about how we can help you personalize your nutrition and improve your health and wellbeing for the long run? Schedule a call with our care manager or viewer Schedule a free 10 minute call with our care manager or learn more here.