How To Identify & Treat Leaky Gut
Leaky gut syndrome is a disorder that affects the very vast and complex digestive system. Your extensive intestinal lining covers more than 4,000 square feet of surface area. When it is working properly it forms a barrier that tightly controls what gets absorbed into the bloodstream. Your intestines have small gaps, also known as tight junctions, which allow nutrients and water to pass through the bloodstream. The accessibility of substances passing through the intestinal walls is known as intestinal permeability. For individuals who have a leaky gut, their tight junctions are loose, allowing potentially harmful substances such as toxins, and bacteria into the bloodstream triggering inflammation in the gut as well as the rest of the body. Typically this results in a chain reaction of problems including bloating, gas, food sensitivities, fatigue, headaches, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and joint pain.
What causes a leaky gut?
The exact cause of a leaky gut is still unknown to healthcare professionals. While some individuals have a genetic predisposition to developing a leaky gut, our genetics is not the only factor. More and more evidence continues to show that diet may play a large role in the development of a leaky gut. According to Harvard Health (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/leaky-gut-what-is-it-and-what-does-it-mean-for-you-2017092212451), studies have shown that a diet high in processed sugars, and saturated fat, as well as a diet that is low in fiber can initiate the process. Furthermore, stress and heavy alcohol consumption can also cause additional damage to the intestinal wall. If you have any food allergies or food sensitivities such as lactose intolerance, or a gluten sensitivity continuing to eat the offending food can also have harmful effects on your intestinal lining.
Best foods to eat for a leaky gut
The idea of using diet to heal the gut and treat chronic diseases has been used for decades by alternative and functional medicine professionals. The following are a list of foods that should be considered and included in the diet to promote gut health, and prevent gut leakage.
- Fermented vegetables: Kimchi, tempeh, miso, and sauerkraut.
- Vegetables: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, eggplant, spinach, ginger, mushrooms, zucchini, arugula, and Swiss chard.
- Fruit: Bananas, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, pineapple, passion fruit, and papaya.
- Healthy fats: Avocado, extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oil.
- Fish: Salmon, tuna, and other omega-3-rich fish.
- Cultured dairy products: Yogurt, kefir, and Greek yogurt.
- Nuts: Raw almonds, and peanuts.
- Sprouted seeds: Chia seeds, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds.
Best foods to avoid for a leaky gut
Removing foods that may cause inflammation to the gastrointestinal wall is another good first step to promote positive changes in the gut flora. Reducing highly processed foods, alcohol, certain medications, and foods that you may be allergic or sensitive to will also help rebuild the gut lining and prevent further leakage. The following are a few additional foods and aspects to consider removing from the diet.
- Any foods that you may be sensitive or allergic to: The most common highly food sensitive foods are wheat products (gluten), and dairy.
- Highly processed meats: Deli meats, bacon, hot dogs, and cold cuts.
- Artificial sweeteners: Aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin.
- Beverages: Alcohol, sugar sweetened beverages, and carbonated drinks.
- Foods that are highly processed and contain high amounts of processed sugar: baked goods, fast foods, sugary cereal, and candy.
If you are experiencing symptoms of leaky gut syndrome consider a consult with a doctor of functional medicine Overland Park KS trusts who can assist you. A treatment plan will be created to help promote gut health, and prevent gut leakage, as well as improve your overall health.