If you suffer from sudden food sensitivities, aching joints, digestive upset, fatigue or weight gain, you may be suffering from leaky gut, which is also referred to as increased intestinal permeability. Leaky gut is characterized by the opening of pores in the small intestine, resulting in undigested food particles, bacteria, and toxins traveling to the bloodstream. The presence of these substances in the bloodstream triggers an immune response, whereby the body builds antibodies to the foreign substances but also attacks itself, creating food allergies and autoimmune disorders.
You are probably wondering how something like this occurs and if you are at risk. Let’s look at the main causative factors leading to leaky gut syndrome:
1. Chronic constipation – If you are usually constipated, toxins will often build up in stool, irritating the intestinal lining and causing inflammation, which then causes the pores in the small intestine to expand. In severe cases, Crohn’s Disease, irritable bowel syndrome,or colitis can occur.
2. Chronic stress – The immune system really takes a beating when subjected to chronic stress. If the immune response is compromised, pathogenic bacteria can cause widespread inflammation in the intestines, and leaky gut is a common result.
3. Dysbiosis – This is an imbalance between beneficial and harmful bacteria which can result from antibiotics or poor diet. Inflammation develops, causing the pores to widen.
4. Toxins – We are exposed to many thousands of toxins, but the worst offenders are found in our water supply, pesticides, and in certain medications.
I have several dietary recommendations for treating a leaky gut.
1. Glutamine – I am already a big fan of glutamine in general, but especially for those who suffer from leaky gut. This amino acid has specific activity in the intestine, and restores healthy soft tissue in the region. Over time, regular supplementation with glutamine has a protective effect against intestinal disease. I tend to be fairly aggressive with glutamine and recommend 6 to 8 grams per day, or more if you engage in frequent exercise.
2. Fish oil – Try to find a formula which contains primarily omega-3 fatty acids. You can also increase your consumption of salmon.
3. Digestive enzymes – Digestive enzymes will aid in the breakdown of food substances, especially in older individuals and those suffering from leaky gut. Try taking them with every meal.
4. Betaine hydrochloric acid – Some people produce insufficient amounts of hydrochloric acid, which is needed to break down food in the stomach. If that is the case, betaine hydrochloric acid optimizes the process.
5. probiotics – Most individuals will benefit from adding probiotics into their daily regimen. Make sure to take at least 25 billion units per day for optimal gut health.