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Do You Have a Leaky Gut, and How Can You Heal It Naturally?

The mere thought that your gut could have a leak isn’t a pleasant one, but this is actually a common condition that leads to a wide range of health problems. Current research suggests that everything from food allergies to joint pain and low energy can be linked to a progressively leaky gut. Here is an explanation of what this condition really is and how you can treat it naturally without prescription medications or simply suffering in silence.

Photo credit: Brett Johnson via Flickr

Understanding Leaky Gut

Leaky gut syndrome involves the tiny holes in the lining of your digestive tract that only allow certain materials to pass through. The gut is naturally permeable so that it can absorb the good nutrients and protect itself from harmful substances. But when someone has increased intestinal permeability, those holes get bigger so that proteins, bad bacteria, and particles of undigested food can now pass through too.

Causes of Leaky Gut

Negative lifestyle habits are the primary causes of leaky gut, which is both good and bad news. It’s good because habits can be corrected and reversed, but it’s bad because of how hard habits are to break. Poor diet, an excess of toxins, and chronic stress often lead to leaky gut syndrome. Certain foods can cause bacterial imbalances in the body that lead to leaky gut, such as GMOs, sugar, and dairy products.

It is also believed that the lectins contained in rice, wheat, and soy products can cause leaky gut over time. Gluten is often blamed for the development of leaky gut, but excessive alcohol use can also be a contributing cause. The toxins that lead to this condition may come from over-the-counter medications, steroids, antibiotics, pesticides, and even BPA from plastics.

Symptoms of Leaky Gut

The main symptom of leaky gut is bodily inflammation, but this can present itself in many different ways. Many people with this condition experience bloating, but others notice new food sensitivities, fatigue, headaches, and even skin issues. You may notice increased seasonal allergies or asthma, hormonal imbalances, mood issues, and worsening of an existing autoimmune disease.

This really is a condition that seems to affect the entire body, including the thyroid, adrenals, sinuses, colon, and brain. With all of this going on, it can be very difficult to come to an accurate diagnosis of leaky gut, and some medical professionals are skeptical about the legitimacy of such diagnoses.

Photo credit: Ryan Snyder via Flickr

Treating a Leaky Gut

Unlike other medical conditions, there is no need to rush onto a regimen of prescription medications or discuss invasive treatments if you are diagnosed with leaky gut. The best plan to heal your leaky gut involves removing unhealthy food and habits from your life and replacing them with healthy, healing foods. Natural supplements and probiotics may be able to offer additional support.

Some healthy foods that are used to heal leaky gut are fermented vegetables, like kimchi and sauerkraut, and also bone broth. Chia, hemp, and flax seeds that have been sprouted may help beneficial bacteria grow in the gut and repair damage. Coconut oil and other coconut projects are often recommended because they contain easily digestible fats.

Meanwhile, things to generally avoid include processed foods, refined sugar, coffee, and alcohol. It’s important to eat a good amount of fiber, consume healthy fats through fish and avocados, and to stay well-hydrated with pure water. 

L-glutamine is an amino acid and supplement that is sometimes recommended to leaky gut patients to help rebuild and strengthen the lining of the gut wall. Taking probiotic supplements may also reintroduce the good forms of bacteria to the gut and intestines to bring about digestive balance. Finding ways to manage chronic stress, such as getting enough sleep and exercising, go a long way in keeping your gut healthy – and the rest of your body too!

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