What Is Leaky Gut?

Are you having sensitivities to certain foods but you just can't pinpoint it?  

Have you been frustrated by the onslaught of symptoms:  constipation, diarrhea, sugar intolerances, depression, anxiety, joint pain, muscle weakness, etc., wondering if they're all related?

And why you keep going downhill but can't seem to figure out the underlying root cause of it all?  


Your Intestines...

Your intestines is responsible for breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and moving the bulk that eventually becomes stool along the intestines to be released. It also protects your body by controlling what goes in and out of the blood stream.

Your intestinal lining is a very specialized layer of cells that are held together by tight junctions (TJ).  That simply means that the junctions between each cell is very tight, and is held together by a protein complex that creates a selectively permeable seal.  This seal allows water and nutrients to be absorbed, yet serves as a barrier to pathogens, foods, and mucosal tissue, keeping what should stay in your intestines in your intestines rather than passing through the intestinal lining into the blood stream. 

The Big Problem...

The problem is when these tight junctions become loose and allow more than water and nutrients through.  When these TJs lose their integrity, bacteria, toxins and food particles can pass through the cell layer and make their way into the blood stream.  Bacteria, toxins and food particles should NEVER be in your blood stream, so an alarm goes off in your body and your immune system goes to work! Systemic inflammation begins throughout your body which leads to symptoms like muscle and joint pain,  fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and, of course, digestive issues that can include constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, you name it!  This is called "intestinal permeability", aka: Leaky Gut Syndrome.

What Causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Some people may be genetically predisposed, but your genes can be turned on and off, so let's get down to the nitty-gritty so you know how to avoid the things that may trigger this problem.  

Poor Dietary Choices - Eating inflammatory foods are a direct hit to your intestinal wall. Processed sugar, white flour, breads and pastries, corn, soy, and pasteurized dairy can all create an inflammatory response and may cause your TJs to loosen. Refined oils like canola, sunflower,  cottonseed, and soybean oil and artificial sweeteners can impact your intestinal wall lining as well.

Yeast Overgrowth - Just like the bacteria in your gut, you have yeast that typically lives in harmony in your body. And, sometimes yeast can overgrow, causing a systemic reaction. I see this often on patient's tongues, toenails and how they smell.  Yes, yeast overgrowth has a peculiar smell and one you probably don't want to emit. Let's get this one under control!

Toxin Overload - approximately 10 million tons (over 21 billion pounds) of toxic chemicals released into our environment by industries each year with 2 million of those tons recognized as carcinogens (1).  That doesn't include the toxins you may be putting on your body, in your water and food, and what you are using to clean your house.  In today's world, you can't help but be hit with toxins every single day.  The biggest culprits for Leaky Gut are antibiotics, pesticides (yes, they are even in your organic foods!), tap water, and pain relievers like aspirin and NSAIDS. 

Chronic Stress - This one is easily overlooked because many people feel they handle their stress well, or what they're going through isn't as big of a deal as most other people, so they don't feel stress is a big deal.  But the truth is that all stress has an impact on your body.  Stress depletes micronutrient stores and increases demand for specific nutrients like B vitamins. Stress also impacts gut flora and diminishes your ability to absorb nutrients, therefore you may be eating well but not absorbing, leading to nutrient deficiencies and you may not even know.  You may want to consider getting your micronutrients tested. 

Dysbiosis - This is a condition in your intestines where you have an imbalance of gut flora.  To make it simple, you have "good guys" and "bad guys" which should be living in balance in your gut.  Sometimes, with antibiotic usage, drugs and alcohol, and eating processed foods, these good guys and bad guys get out of balance and the bad guys take over and wreak havoc on your digestive system.  The kicker is that the gut bacteria supports the barrier created by the lining of the intestines, so when these guys get out of balance they can't do their job and creates more of the same problem.

Do I Have Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Leaky Gut Syndrome has been poo-pooed by the medical community, although you will find holistic practitioners all over considering this as a part of their treatment plan. the fact is that science hasn't quite caught up to what we intuitively know, but it is certainly on its way. 

There are numerous tests being conducted and it won't be long before the medical community can trust that the innate wisdom inside each of us has been guiding us in the right direction all along. (2), (3)

I always say: 

"Your body knows way before it shows up on a lab test". 

What Can I Do?

Start by taking a good look at what you are eating.  Really start to give your body a chance to heal by eliminating processed foods and eating a fresh, whole food diet with foods that are in season.  You can also add fermented foods to your diet which feed those good guys!  Raw sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi are a few that are commonly used.  

There are very specific things I do for my patients with yeast overgrowth, but the one thing you can do today is stop feeding the yeast, and guess what it loves to eat? SUGAR!  Yep, get off the sugar and sweeteners and acidify your digestive tract. You can take 1-2 tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar each day to improve acidity. This changes the environment so that your good guys can thrive.  

Reduce your stress! Take a yoga class, begin a meditation practice, quit your job, whatever it takes, change your stress patterns.  You have the ability to do this for yourself, and you deserve it!  If you want to get right down to it, it is your responsibility to mitigate stress since your stress patterns are likely getting in your way of you showing up as your grandest self, and who would choose that?

NOTE: if you feel you have a medical problem, seek a medical doctor. This information is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure. Use your senses and take care of yourself

About the Author DrBrandy

Dr. Brandy helps women optimize their lives and and step into their greatness by embracing their feminine warrior. Utilizing feminine empowerment coaching, functional medicine and shamanistic healing principles, she affects change in body, mind and spirit. She teaches from experience, having been 12 sizes bigger, recovered from Bi-Polar Manic Depression, Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue. Dr. Brandy's Story

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