Green banana's as gut food, well that's hard to believe. But it's true, green banana's along with many other foods can rebuild and restore a broken tummy. Don't care... you don't have digestive problems? Well perhaps those issues with your skin, or memory problems or sore joints might peak your interest? That's right, because those issues all stem back to the health of our gut. When we heal our gut, we heal non-digestive issues as well. In this blog post, I will explore the world of intestinal permeability and how a “ leaky gut” can impact the entire body and how you can start healing from the inside out.
What is Leaky Gut?
In my world it’s referred to as “Intestinal permeability” and it’s when the area of intestines (where food is absorbed) becomes loose. Tight junctions between the cells are meant to hold the cells in place to prevent any undigested food particles, bacteria or other toxins leaking through the intestines and into the bloodstream, which kicks off an immune system response, thought to contribute to a wide variety of different conditions.
Our food is absorbed through the small intestine, but when this area is inflamed from either poor diet, stress, alcohol or medications, gaps in the gut lining widen. In addition, the microflora of the small intestine is disrupted, which is thought to worsen the intestinal permeability.
Some of the common signs of a leaky gut include:
· Gas & Bloating
· Diarrhea or Constipation
· Heartburn & Reflux
However, because of the leaky intestines larger particles and bacterial fragments can sneak through, non-digestive symptoms can occur in other parts of the body as the immune system goes to work to fight off the intruders. It releases inflammatory cells called cytokines, which create inflammation. Some of the non-digestive symptoms reported range from:
· Brain fog
· Fatigue after eating
· Allergic reactions
· Anxiety & Depression
What are the risk factors?
A variety of research has explored risk factors that leads to intestinal permeability. As you might expect a lot of it comes from what we consume, but sleep and stress also play a big role. Let’s take a look:
Diets high in refined carbohydrates and processed sugars – irritate gut lining and cause inflammation.
Gluten – causes zonulin to open tight jap junctions of the intestinal wall.
Excessive alcohol consumption – Irritates gut lining and causes inflammation.
Excessive use of NSAIDS (Ibuprofen etc) and medications – Erodes the gut lining and reduces gastric secretions.
High stress, leads to high cortisol, which increases inflammation and irritation of the gut lining.
Gut infection – adds to inflammation and can reduce gastric secretions and important protective mechanisms.
Poor sleep – means there is no recovery
So how do you repair a leaky gut?
Simple changes can have a big impact to gut health. Go back to basics, like chewing your food or eating sitting down in a calm space, versus eating on the run while stressed out.
Consider the following changes:
· Reducing alcohol intake and having a few days off each week.
· Implement stress management techniques, remember you are meant to be in rest digest mode 70% of your day.
· Exercise daily!
· Don’t use heartburn meds, change your diet instead.
· Use alternatives to NSAIDS.
· Get adequate sleep.
You have to stop the assault. It may be removing sugar, gluten or potential food allergens. Elimination diets are ideal to isolate potential allergens and low FODMAP diets or gluten free diets have shown good success in healing a leaky gut. Importantly with diets, there isn’t a one size fits all. Professional support can help find the one that is right for you and help you implement it safely.
Use supplements to hasten healing. There are a lot of options here and everyone's situation is unique but I also include, L-glutamine, vitamin D and probiotics in my mix.
So start your healing from the inside out. By restoring your gut health many other areas of dysfunction will start to recover. Plus, it doesn’t have to be difficult, sometimes very simple changes to diet, lifestyle and a little added support can do the trick.