Did you know that seemingly unrelated symptoms, such as headaches, joint pain, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome and autoimmune diseases may actually be caused by a digestive disturbance called leaky gut? And that by healing that condition, you may become free of these symptoms?
You are probably wondering just what leaky gut is, what causes it and how you can heal from it.
What is Leaky Gut?
You can picture your digestive system like a large tube with small holes in it, like a net. This net allows the beneficial nutrients from your diet to pass through and enter into your bloodstream, to be delivered to cells, organs and tissues for use. This net should also be able to prevent harmful substances from getting through, thereby protecting your immune system and the rest of your body from negative reactions.
If you are eating foods that you are not digesting properly, these larger food particles cause micro-tears and damage to this net, allowing harmful food particles, toxins and bacteria to pass through and enter into your bloodstream. Your immune system actually sees these substances as threats, like it would to viruses or bacteria, and mounts an immune/inflammation reaction that can impact not only the digestive tract, but other areas of the body. You build antibodies to the food particles, which then can travel around the body and deposit in areas such as the joints, brain, and skin, causing not only digestive symptoms but also joint pain, headaches, brain fog, acne, eczema, and rosacea. It is important to note that digestive symptoms don’t always manifest with leaky gut…your warning sign that you may have it could be your recurrent headaches or arthritic symptoms. Each person reacts in their own unique way and you don’t have to have all of the above symptoms to be diagnosed with leaky gut.
Food Sensitivities vs. Food Allergies
Most people know someone who has an allergy to peanuts. If that person were to ingest anything with even a trace amount, they would go into anaphylaxis; meaning that their airways would constrict, their tongue would swell up and they would struggle to breath. If they didn’t get a shot of epinephrine within minutes, they could even die.
A food sensitivity reaction is much milder but still harmful to health. If you eat a food that your immune system reacts to (in a different way, producing what is called IgG antibodies, as opposed to the immediate-release IgE antibodies in a food allergy), a delayed reaction (up to 3 days after eating that food) occurs. Common food sensitivity reactions include: skin rashes, such as eczema, acne and rosacea; digestive issues, such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea; and pain that can manifest in the joints or as a headache or migraine. Food sensitivities can also affect the immune system negatively, making it more likely that you get sick or suffer from an autoimmune condition. If you continue to eat the foods you are sensitive to, over time, you can develop leaky gut.
Additional Causes of Leaky Gut
Eating foods that you are sensitive to is not the only cause of leaky gut. Taking antibiotics can wipe out your good gut bacteria which are there to act as a protective lining to your digestive system. Toxins can damage your protective net, as can stress.
What You Can Do About It
- Identify and remove with foods you are sensitive to. This can be done by a simple blood test that your Naturopathic Doctor can order for you. This is the easiest way to determine your food sensitivities. Or, you can complete a month-long elimination diet, after which you would re-introduce the commonly offending foods and note any reactions.
- Repopulate your good gut bacteria. This involves eating fermented foods (such as kimchi and sauerkraut), eating organic and plain yogurt (I prefer homemade coconut milk yogurt, but you could eat either sheep or goat milk yogurt if you can tolerate them), and taking a high-potency, human-strain probiotic daily. If you suffer from leaky gut, food sources won’t give you enough; you will need to take a probiotic supplement.
- Repair the damage that has been done. Bone broth provides collagen and gut-healing amino acids. Herbs and nutrients, such as collagen powder, slippery elm, DGL and glutatmine are soothing and healing to the digestive tract.
After a period of at least 3 months of avoiding your food sensitivities and following this gut-healing program, you may be able to tolerate the foods you were sensitive to, eating them occasionally without eliciting a reaction. Some people may need to avoid their food sensitivities indefinitely to avoid reactions; each person is different.
Dr. Lisa Weeks, Naturopathic Doctor can order the food sensitivity blood test for you or prescribe an elimination diet and then create a unique gut-healing plan to heal your leaky gut to help get rid of headaches, joint pain, skin rashes and digestive complaints.
CONTACT Dr. Lisa to find out more TODAY.