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You may have heard of “leaky gut”—but what is it exactly? And how do you know if you have one?
To understand leaky gut, it’s helpful to first understand what makes one. A healthy gut is one that’s balanced (has more “good” bacteria than “bad”), nourished with the right nutrients (like the ones you find in our nutrition programs), and has a lining that’s effective at keeping the contents of your gut—including microorganisms, undigested food, and toxins—from entering your bloodstream.
Sometimes, the gut can become unbalanced (from factors such as highly processed foods, stress, and antibiotic overuse), resulting in an unhealthy or weak gut barrier. Such troubles and tribulations may lead to “leaky gut”—a phrase used to describe what happens when your gut barrier is hyperpermeable and unable to prevent bacteria and bits of food from entering your bloodstream. When this happens, your body recognizes the escaped bacteria and food particles as “invaders,” triggering inflammation, your immune system’s response to a pathogen or foreign invader, and potentially sparking a multitude of unpleasant symptoms.
We tapped our in-house nutritionist Colleen Coffey, MS, RDN, LDN, to discuss the symptoms of a leaky gut and ways in which we can promote a flourishing one instead.
Symptoms of a Leaky Gut
Leaky gut can present in many ways—sometimes as minor discomfort, and in more severe cases as larger diseases and disorders. Symptoms of leaky gut can include:
Bloating, Brain fog/difficulty concentrating, Constipation, Cramps, Irritability and Mood Swings, Chronic Diarrhea, Fatigue, Food allergies and sensitivities, Gas, Headaches, Hormone imbalances, Indigestion, Insomnia, Joint pain, Skin problems (i.e., acne, rashes, eczema), Weight gain.
In some cases, symptoms can build up, and lead to more serious conditions like autoimmune diseases and Type 2 Diabetes.
While correlation doesn't necessarily equal causation, if you’ve been experiencing the aforementioned symptoms and haven’t been providing your gut with the TLC it deserves—be it an influx of stress, back-to-back late nights, inflammatory processed foods, or long-term antibiotic or acid-blocking drug use—it might be time to focus on helping your gut heal (and, with enough care, thrive).
How to Mend a Leaky Gut
An essential element in maintaining a healthy gut balance and gut lining? Your diet. Instead of processed and low-quality foods, brimming with preservatives and pesticides, fill up on diverse, high-quality, plant-rich foods. Alcohol, alongside an excess of gluten, sugar, and dairy, can do more harm than good for a leaky gut, so now’s the time to opt for more whole, clean, organic ingredients.
Add in some prebiotic fiber (like artichokes, asparagus, chicory, cruciferous veggies, leeks, onions, garlic) to nourish the gut, and find a high-quality supplement to help repair any damage. L-glutamine is our go-to for helping heal the intestinal lining, and vitamin D, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids also work wonders on our gut health. Nourish good gut bacteria by adding a high-quality probiotic and fermented foods—like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir—to your diet, and your gut will thank you.
Alongside diet, managing stress (both the physical and emotional) can promote your gut’s healing. Incorporate gentle movement, like yoga or a long walk, into your week and release toxic, tension-causing thoughts, behaviors, and people—prompting your body to follow suit.
Join us for our Gut Health Reboot, designed to eliminate the stressors that can cause leaky gut, and to rebuild and strengthen your gut barrier.
By S LIFE MAG • February 8, 2023