Leaky gut syndrome is a real thing with real symptoms, but many in the medical community find it frustrating when it comes to treatment. They see it more as a manifestation of symptoms, but are not always clear on the cause or treatment to pursue. One thing that does seem to be agreed on though is that the condition can cause symptoms such as bloating, gas, cramps, food sensitivities, brain fog, headaches, diarrhea, constipation, sore throat and pain in various parts of the body and is most probably due to the filtering function of the intestinal lining not working properly. Leaky gut syndrome is a condition that allows undigested food molecules, yeast, toxins, and waste to flow into the bloodstream. Normally, micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals and macronutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates and fats, are broken down into small particles such as amino acids, and glucose. When larger macronutrients get into the bloodstream, especially proteins, the immune system releases white blood cells to attack them. This then causes swelling and inflammation as these white blood cells release chemicals that cause this reaction. Often the immune system can’t keep up this attack and these invaders are able to get into body tissues causing inflammation in various body organs. The body is basically fighting itself at this point and the result can range from uncomfortable and painful symptoms to a variety of autoimmune diseases. One rule of thumb to follow in relation to leaky gut syndrome is keeping track of how many foods you show reactions to. If you have intolerance or sensitivity to more than 12 different foods, then the likelihood of having leaky gut syndrome is high.
You can see by the variety of symptoms why leaky gut syndrome is often baffling for health care providers. It can manifest in many different ways, in various parts of the body and with a wide array of symptoms. Some discoveries that help explain this variance include:
- damaged microvilli in intestinal lining reduces amount of digestive enzymes being produced which means food is not being broken down into small enough particles and larger one are getting into the bloodstream
- particles not broken down do not provide needed nutrients, vitamins and minerals for body to function properly
- inflammation of the intestinal wall can result in constipation and/or diarrhea
- when the body is trying to get rid of toxins through the skin, rashes result
- tissue inflammation and increased toxicity can result in headaches, memory loss, extreme fatigue, and brain fog
- an overworked, stressed, or poorly functioning immune system cannot handle “bad” bacteria and viruses causing ongoing sickness
- yeast overgrowth leads to a variety of symptoms including gas, cravings for sugar, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, heartburn, mood swings, depression, and anxiety
Healthy Food Options for Leaky Gut Syndrome
It’s not really the foods being eaten that are the problem here although certain foods not broken down properly can be labeled by the immune system as foreign invaders and targeted as such. The problem is really what happens to the foods we eat rather than the foods themselves. There are some foods though that can support the digestive process and are easier to digest than others. When it comes to leaky gut syndrome, the best defense is supporting the digestive system and the immune system and there are healthy food options and lifestyle changes that can help with this. Here are a few to get you started.
95% of visits to the doctor in the U.S. are from stress related conditions. Vitamins and minerals considered to be stress relievers include magnesium, B vitamins, especially B-12, coenzyme Q10, and chlorophyll. Your body uses these up quicker when under stress. So just when you need them the most to help you battle stress, you have a lack of them. Therefore, eating foods such as oysters, halibut, nuts and seeds, or spinach and other leafy greens will increase your intake of these vitamins and minerals to give you the extra stress relief. If you can’t get enough from the foods you eat, then consider taking supplements of bluegreen algae which loaded with chlorophyll and magnesium and coenzyme Q10 that not only helps with stress relief, but also energy, cardiovascular system support and immune system support.
Antioxidants are very important in promoting a healthy immune system and in the prevention of disease. Antioxidants help prevent cell damage from free radicals and go around your body cleaning up toxins and substances that make your aches and pains worse during stress. Foods high in antioxidants include cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, beans, artichokes, Russet potatoes, pecans, walnuts, and hazelnuts. A good way to choose high antioxidant foods is to look for brightly colored fruits and vegetables. If your leaky gut syndrome symptoms indicate that you have an overgrowth of yeast, modify your diet to cut out processed foods, sugars and starches.
Vitamin D, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids can help with restoring the lining of the intestines. Omega-3 has also been shown as beneficial in inflammation reduction. Glutamine has been used to repair intestinal damage including the lining as well as reduce cravings for sugar. Slippery Elm has been used to protect the stomach lining, reduce the risk of ulcers and reduce acid in the digestive system. It also has antioxidants that can help with inflammation in the intestines We especially like this supplement that is full of antioxidants to repair cellular damage from free radicals and is a stem cell support supplement. Stem cells exist in every organ and tissue in our bodies and produce over 30 types of growth factors and tissue chemicals, help recruit other local and systemic stem cells to focus on repairing damaged tissue, and are active in immune modulation to promote or suppress T-cell function. Supporting the health of your natural adult stem cells is a way to support your body’s own renewal systems. The enzymes bromelain and papain can help support the immune system and reduce inflammation. Our favorite way to get these enzymes is with this supplement that has both these enzymes to help combat the stress of cellular oxidation and breakdown and nourish cells.
Probiotics and Enzymes
You can get probiotics from food such as yogurt, but not enough to really do what you need which is to have enough of these “friendly” bacteria to combat the “unfriendly” bacteria and yeast that are causing problems. Probiotics such as acidophilus and bifidus help in repairing damage to the wall of the intestines and reduction of inflammation. They also aid in the production of B vitamins like B-12 that help us deal with stress.
Digestive enzymes are needed to breakdown foods properly. Unfortunately we don’t usually get enough of these from the processed foods and over cooked foods we eat. Taking digestive enzymes can help with the process of breaking down foods into smaller particles so that we get the nutrition our bodies need from them and don’t have so many of the larger particles trying to get through the damaged filtering system of the intestinal wall. Enzymes also help with scouting out bad bacteria and toxins and removing them.
As you can see there are healthy food options and supplements that can help give you relief from your miserable symptoms of leaky gut syndrome. It is still a good idea to work with your healthcare provider especially if you have severe symptoms that could be an indication of a more serious condition, but these healthy food options and supplements can help get you on the way to having a more enjoyable and healthy life.
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