Leaky gut is a sleeper of a problem – rarely the first thing doctors think might be ailing you - but it can be responsible for a wide range of conditions including fatigue, anxiety, depression, digestive issues, weight problems and diseases associated with chronic inflammation.
It’s as though contemporary physicians have completely forgotten that Hippocrates – the father of modern medicine – said, “All disease begins in the gut.” (Ref. 1)
What is leaky gut?
Our gut – which contains about 80 percent of our immune system – is tasked with the important responsibility of assimilating the nutrients we take in through food and supplements so that our body’s cells can use these nutrient, while dealing with toxins, so they can be expelled through our bowels.
Nutrients pass through our digestive lining, which is like a tightly woven net. With leaky gut, the net weave loosens.
And when the digestive lining becomes compromised – thanks to age, poor diet and medications among other things - toxins can escape, causing our immune system to go into overdrive. That effort by the immune system to reign in toxins can trigger chronic inflammation, which has been linked to a host of serious conditions. (Ref. 2)
Doctors sometimes miss the boat
Despite those wise words from Hippocrates, doctors aren’t learning enough about the gut in med school, according to some experts in this area, so they still aren’t sure how to diagnose leaky gut, let alone solve it.
“From an MD’s standpoint, it’s a very gray area,” gastroenterologist Dr. Donald Kirby, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic, told WebMD.com. “Physicians don’t know enough about the gut. You hope that your doctor is a good-enough Sherlock Holmes, but sometimes it is very hard to make a diagnosis.” (Ref. 3)
But here’s the problem.
Chronic inflammation is associated with some of the big guns in the disease world.
“It’s an underlying cause for many, many diseases,” said Dr. Frank Lipman, a New York City-based integrative medicine specialist. (Ref. 4)
That makes diagnosing leaky gut syndrome – and solving it – a pretty important health issue.
Do you have leaky gut?
According to most experts, almost all of us have leaky gut to some degree, but there are some tell-tale signs, including:
- Digestive woes including gas, bloating, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome.
- Allergies or asthma.
- Premenstrual syndrome or polycystic ovary syndrome, both related to hormone imbalance potentially triggered by leaky gut.
- Autoimmune disorders including celiac disease (a gluten allergy), lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis, among others.
- Fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Depression or anxiety, as well as attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
- Skin problems, including rosacea, acne or eczema.
- Food allergies or food groups that cause digestive issues, such as lactose intolerance.
- Overgrowth of candida. (Ref. 5)
While it may seem like a complicated problem, here’s the good news. Our digestive lining is able to regenerate itself quickly, often within a within a few days. The bad news is that stress may slow the process considerably, because our bodies can only handle so much.
“Our bodies can only fight so many fires at one time. If someone is suffering from excess stress, disease, or chronic inflammation, the normal repair and maintenance of the gut gets deferred,” said Liz Lipski, PhD, author of “Digestive Wellness.” (Ref. 6)
The four Rs
Expert say that effectively repairing leaky gut syndrome is a four-step process that involves eliminating the problems that caused it in the first place, rebuilding the damaged gut lining and replacing lost digestive enzymes, while also boosting beneficial gut flora to restore digestive health.
Remove. Find out what caused your leaky gut – gluten is a common culprit, but sugar, dairy, soy and processed foods might also be behind the problem – then eliminate the source of the problem. The easiest way is to cut back to a super-clean, Paleo diet, including lean proteins, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Slowly add foods you like – including grains such as oatmeal, dairy, etc. - and when symptoms return, you know you’ve found your dietary villain.
Repair.Rebuilding the lining of the gut requires a diet of whole foods packed with phytonutrients, and adding nutrient-dense supplements such as Total Balance Premium, is a very helpful addition, since it contains the many important nutrients that will boost your health, including L-glutamine.
“Glutamine supports the intestinal lining more than any other nutrient,” Lipski said. (Ref. 6)
Restore. Adding digestive enzymes such as those found in Xtend-Life's Kiwi Klenz can be beneficial to supporting gut health because it helps your body break down food better, so that the nutrients are more effectively assimilated, while toxins are once again swept away.
Reinocculate. Kiwi Klenz can also help replace the good bacteria in the gut that help keep it functioning as it should. It includes prebiotics that help feed existing probiotics and stimulate the body’s production of new ones, phenolics that suppress the production of bad bacteria that can trigger a new outbreak of leaky gut and fiber to keep things moving along, so buildup won’t prevent nutrients from passing through your gut lining.
Once your gut health is back to normal, your immune system will be stronger, healthy inflammation management occurs and your sense of overall health and well-being can receive an important boost.