The Leaky Gut Solution…
The gut, or gastrointestinal system, is truly a gateway to overall health. The gut microbiome is an ecosystem of organisms including bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses, and protozoan throughout the digestive tract.
Far beyond just digestive health, the following organ systems are also closely related to gut health:
- Immune system
- Endocrine system
- Nervous system
- Circulatory system
- Integumentary system
- Respiratory system
- Reproductive system
Did you know…
1. There is TEN TIMES the amount of bacteria in our body than our own cells and the majority of them are found within our digestive system.
2. The gastrointestinal system contains 90% of the body’s happy hormone, serotonin.
3. Most importantly, approximately 70% of our immune system is housed in our gut!
What is Leaky Gut??
Leaky gut is a term that refers to intestinal hyperpermeability and has become an increasingly more common health problem seen today. Leaky gut causes MAJOR health problems, including autoimmunity.
Intestinal hyperpermeability is exactly what it sounds like... the digestive tract is no longer able to ensure the good stays in and the bad stays out. Instead, the tight junctions, or the proteins holding the intestinal walls together, are loosened. This leaves sizable gaps for undigested food particles, digestive fluids, and toxins to enter the bloodstream.
The body reacts to these foreign particles in the blood by producing immune antibodies, or pro-inflammatory cells, to fight them off. This breeds chronic inflammation, food allergies, and various health complications. Of course, there are no signs of improvement until the gut’s permeability is addressed. Fortunately, we now have a better understanding of the causes, obstacles, and treatment methods for leaky gut so there IS a stop to the cycle!
How the Gut Gets Leaky??
Several factors have proved to negatively affect the gut’s integrity. The most prominent include:
- The Standard American Diet
- Exposure to Chemicals
- Chronic Infections
- Gluten and Other Grains
- Food Allergies
- Excessive Medications
- Poorly Managed Stress
The 5 Critical Elements of Healthy Gut Function:
Our gut has 5 critical elements, or defenses, that it truly needs for healthy gut function. In order from the most outer layer of defense, they include:
- Mucosal IgA Otherwise known as immunoglobulin A, this antibody found in the mucus membranes is considered your gut’s first line of defense against toxins.
- Tight Junctions These are small proteins that are responsible for holding the gut’s cells together. This is what is most directly affected with leaky gut syndrome.
- Gastro Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT) This is the gut’s concentrated immune system and in fact, 70% of our immune system altogether. This the gut’s last and most powerful layer of defense.
The gut’s accessory defenses include:
- Friendly Bacteria As we mentioned, we have more bacteria in our bodies than we do our own cells. This bacteria can communicate with the GALT warning it of potential danger.
- Stomach Acid This is absolutely essential for the digestion, absorption of nutrients, and defense against infections.
If there is any dysfunction throughout your gut’s line of defense, these five primary barriers need to be evaluated in order to heal and be treated properly.
The Beginning of Functional Treatment:
The first steps of healing is ruling out the fundamental causes of leaky gut. It’s important to recognize that it is very rarely ONLY one cause, but a combination of several causing the damage.
You must first rule out, or begin to recognize, the following:
- Vitamin deficiencies by functional nutrition testing
- Infectious pathogens by blood and GI tract tests
- Heavy metal toxicity by urine or hair testing
- Gluten sensitivity through HLA-DQ genetic testing
- Environmental allergies via skin or blood tests
If any of these come back positive, you have your first step of instructions: address the deficiencies, implement dietary changes, limit exposure to allergens, and consider detoxification methods.
Once you have a better understanding of your body’s unique needs, you can begin the formal functional medicine protocol: The 4 R’s.
The Functional 4 R Program:
The 4 R program is administered to help you heal from digestive distress, reverse gut complications, and rebalance your gastrointestinal microbiome. It is an incredible tool to acknowledge and treat health issues, dysfunctions, imbalances, and personal health needs.
It is done in the following order:
REMOVE: Eliminate problem foods, toxins, low-grade infections, and oxidative stress.
REPAIR: Begin reintroducing a clean diet with essential nutrients your body needs.
RESTORE: Repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria to restore the proper balance of gut flora.
REPLACE: Replace digestive enzymes, antioxidants, and immune-boosting vitamins to promote a sustainable and healthy digestion.
Top Supplements for Healing Leaky Gut:
Nutrients must be replaced for effective healing. While everyone’s needs are highly individualized, here are some of the best supplements on the market that have been proven to be helpful in the gut healing process:
- ProbioMax DF Plus: Includes a prebiotic, probiotic (4 highly researched strains), Saccromycin (a beneficial yeast)
- OptiFiber Lean – a Fiber supplement
- Curcumin 95 – turmeric supplement
- OptiCleanse GHI – a plant based protein specific for gut healing
(These are ONLY suggestions. We are unable to prescribe these supplements to you without comprehensive testing as everyone’s nutritional needs vary!)
Skip the Guesswork!
Although there is plenty of research on the dangers of leaky gut, it is still considered a medical mystery. Many cases go misdiagnosed and in turn, not properly treated. It is crucial to work with a doctor familiar with the condition and will perform the appropriate tests in order for you to heal effectively and efficiently.
Always start with the fundamentals, honor your body’s unique needs, and skip the guesswork!