t’s time to take a good look at your gut…and I don’t mean your abs after indulging in treats this holiday season!
Tired of feeling like you are going round and round with health issues? Do you ever suffer from an inability to focus, a lack of energy, unexplained headaches, inability to lose weight or just an overall “icky feeling”? You’re not alone. Countless Americans live with chronic fatigue, allergies and digestive issues, but most don’t realize they hold the keys to healing their gut and thriving with their health.
Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) is a condition effecting many Americans today, and they may not even realize it. In fact, you may be suffering from LGS.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Leaky Gut Syndrome is a condition where the lining of the small intestines becomes damaged, causing undigested or partially digested food (nutrients, toxins, bacteria and wastes) to “leak” through the intestinal wall and enter the blood stream. Sounds pretty gross, right? Well, it is! And the damage it can cause is seemingly endless.
LGS can cause an autoimmune response in the body which can result in a whole host of problems. It can be responsible for inflammatory and allergic reactions such as respiratory problems, digestive issues and headaches, to joint pain, skin conditions and more.
Over time, cells in the intestines become damaged and may even fail to produce the enzymes needed for proper digestion. When this happens, your body is unable to properly absorb essential nutrients and even further imbalance throughout the body results. This can contribute to issues such as hormone imbalance, autoimmune diseases and an overall weakened immune system.
What causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?
The cause of LGS varies from person to person, but some common culprits could be stress, the use of antibiotics, unhealthy dieting practices, an imbalance of intestinal flora (known as candida), weak digestion (includes all small children), allergies or food sensitivities, too much refined sugar, inadequate dietary fiber, the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Advil and Tylenol), excessive alcohol intake, parasitical infections, radiation and cytotoxic drugs.
Do I have Leaky Gut Syndrome?
I’m not sure! But there is a great quiz you can take to help clue you in to some of the side effects of LGS. In the book, Leaky Gut Syndrome, Elizabeth Lipski lists some general questions to ask yourself. You then rate your responses from 0-3 (0=Symptom is not present or rarely present; 1=Mild/Sometimes; 2=Moderate/Often; 3=Severe/Almost Always) and compare your results with the included score chart.
Do keep in mind, this quiz is not meant to diagnose you, but rather to arm you with more information. It would be my recommendation to read through the questions in the quiz and then pay close attention to your body as you eat normally over the course of a week. Then, come back and take the quiz again to accurately answer the questions.
What do I do if I think I have Leaky Gut Syndrome?
I’d like to pause right now and remind you that I’m not a licensed healthcare practitioner. And if you’re suffering from what you think is Leaky Gut Syndrome, you should seek out professional care from a naturopath doctor, or a doctor well versed in LGS (as symptoms can easily be misdiagnosed by doctors who are unfamiliar with LGS).
There is some good news! There are many healthy habits you can adopt today that will greatly aid the healing of your gut! Healthy habits that can be adopted by anyone, whether you’re suffering from LGS or not.
- Eat coconut oil. 8 years ago our family worked with a naturopath doctor to heal my daughters leaky gut syndrome, he explained that the properties in coconut oil are very similar to that in mother’s breast milk. We gave her 1 teaspoon (melted) three times a day which helped her heal greatly. As an adult, I take 3-4 tablespoons of coconut oil daily for the blood sugar stabilizing properties, healthy fats and instant energy it offers.
- Drink bone broth and eat soups made from bone broth. (But not the broth you buy in the cans or cartons at the store. I mean real homemade bone broth). We can all benefit from sipping on bone broth two or three times each day. Properly prepared broth is full of amino acids, protein, gelatin and collagen which are all useful for healing.
- Eat fresh, organic, and local as much as possible (the goal here is eliminating genetically modified organisms -GMO’s- and limiting added chemicals from non-organic farming practices).
- Eliminate processed foods (which helps eliminate preservatives and way more ingredients than I would use to make something from scratch…not to mention, cooking from scratch can save you money!)
- Eliminate processed and refined sugar, which masquerades under names like fructose, sucrose, dextrose (pretty much any ingredient ending in “-ose” is a form of sugar), corn syrup, brown rice syrup, fruit juice, even organic sugar is still sugar! If you’re going to have sugar, stick to those that have not been refined such as raw, organic honey and organic grade B maple syrup. Best to avoid all sugar if suffering from LGS, and to use only in moderation when not!
- Take a high quality probiotic (do keep in mind, fermented foods are high in probiotics but can cause intestinal irritation if suffering from LGS…start small and increase slowly…we also use this brand when fighting off illness and adding additional probiotics to our diet).
- Consume prebiotics. The “good guys” in your gut need food too! Prebiotics feed your beneficial gut bacteria allowing them to flourish and ward off the “bad guys” helping you stay healthy and strong.
Leaky Gut Syndrome quiz courtesy of Nourishing Holistic Nutrition.
The Leaky Gut Syndrome, by Elizabeth Lipski.
Gut and Psychology Syndrome, by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.
Dr. Mercola Although my opinions very on grains in the diet, an elimination diet for those suffering LGS may be temporarily necessary, therefore this article is still informative to those suffering from LGS.