Hello readers! Welcome to our blog! Today we explain an overview of what leaky gut is, how does it happen, what happens in leaky gut and how to fix it? Though it’s difficult to cover everything in a single blog, we have given an overview to help you understand the seriousness of gut health.
Leaky gut is a medical condition where the gut microbes decrease in number, resulting in lack of absorption of foods and nutrients, and hence virtually making the gut (intestine) to leak of nutrients (hence the term leaky). In terms of symptoms, it could either of constipation or diarrhoea could precipitate, as they both are consequences of a leaky gut (explained later in this blog) OR it could indicate absorption of partially digested foods from bowel into the bloodstream (explained later as well).
Leaky gut remains one of most hypothetical conditions because it’s not recognised easily and difficult to diagnose. Moreover, there has been a lot of debate about people accepting the existence of leaky gut. But now it has been proven that leaky gut is a real condition with serious potential drastic effects to the body.
WHAT HAPPENS IN A LEAKY GUT SITUATION? HOW DOES THE GUT BECOME LEAKY?
The term leaky gut describes the condition called “hyperpermeable intestine”. The human intestine is a tightly bound organ in a net kind of arrangement made of about a trillion bacteria (most of them-about 85% are good bacteria) which are responsible for absorption of nutrients. In a leaky gut situation, these bacteria greatly reduce in number leading to thinning of this net and essentially increasing the size and number of pores in the net. As these pores keep increasing, the gut starts to “leak” and it causes the several malfunctions in our body, primarily the absorption of food and nutrients but also re-absorption of food toxins (from bowel) which is not ideal.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF LEAKY GUT?
Leaky gut is usually caused due to following reasons:
A high sugar diet: Consuming high amounts of sugar in direct forms and through indirect forms- refined carbs, refined sugar, processed foods, preserved foods, beverages, flour causes leaky gut. These increase toxins in body but also provide food for the bad bacteria (yeast) leading to reduction in number of good gut bacteria (by competing with food which WE consume, using OUR ingested food for their consumption AND essentially by disabling the good bacteria to use that food-leading to pores in the gut)
Chronic stress: Chronic stress weakens the immune system of our body along with increasing stress on the digestive system. Stress causes inflammation which weakens absorption of nutrients and secondly, as a natural response body needs more glucose to handle stress, hence the person stress eats-increasing damage to the intestinal lining. This stress eating further weakens the intestinal lining and hence the leaky gut precipitates.
Toxins: Toxins present in food, accumulated in body due to lack of physical activity, stress and poor lifestyle contribute to weakening of the gut.
Yeast: Probably the biggest cause in the list, yeast indicates the bad bacteria which is ALWAYS present in the gut as a result of metabolic reactions. However, the normal functioning of the body is such that the good bacteria take care of this yeast. However, in a leaky gut situation, good gut bacteria decrease and this allows yeast to grow and multiply, essentially killing the good bacteria by competing for foods. Sugar is the primary food for yeast and modern diet has too much sugar.
Glandular/Hormonal Imbalances: Long term imbalances of thyroid gland (iodine levels), adrenal glands (stress) and pancreas (high sugar levels) will also affect gut health, increasing the chances for leaky gut to happen.
WHY IS LEAKY GUT DANGEROUS?
Because of the “leaking” in gut, food either passes from the body undigested or is absorbed partially digested in the blood.
In the first case, the body will be devoid of nutrition-iron, magnesium, vitamin B12 to begin with but fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and amino acids (proteins) in chronic condition. This will lead to diseases with food deficiencies (fatigue, debility initially and weak nerves, sleeplessness, chronic fatigue, thyroid dysfunction in the long run).
In the second case where partially digested food is absorbed from the bowel from the leaky gut (because of excess permeability than required), this will cause food allergies, infections, infections and is potentially threatening. An example of how this could be life threatening is if too many toxins are released in the blood stream, body can generate high amounts of WBCs which in long term could lead to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes type I.
Hence, treating the problem from the root is required to prevent all the complications.
HOW TO FIX LEAKY GUT:
The cure for leaky gut is much debated as its existence was questioned till recent years in the first place. As leaky gut is a result of (not in order) alcohol, prescription and over the counter drugs, high amounts of sugar in diet, yeast in food, yeast in the gut, lack of probiotics, and lack of nutrients in the foods, the ideal solution is twofold: One, stop the precipitating (factors which make it worse) factors and two, start doing things which fixes the leak in the gut, or reverses the leaky gut.
As per this scientific rationale, a person suffering from leaky gut should do the following things.
Avoiding the precipitating factors-Restriction of bad foods/lifestyle:
- The main cause that causes the intestine lining to disrupt is improper food consumption over long periods of time (It takes a long time to disrupt the gut lining indicating the diet of the patient is not ideal).
- The person suffering from leaky gut ABSOLUTELY NEEDS TO STOP PROCESSED SUGAR till leaky gut is healed. Unaddressed, leaky gut could be potentially very dangerous and hence absolute cessation (stopping) of processed sugar is critical to heal the gut. This is because sugar is highly inflammatory and causes irritation in the gut. It also is a food for the bad bacteria (yeast) and will continue to kill the healthy bacteria, essentially leading to severing of the condition.
- It is also essential to stop processed foods, alcohol, refined carbohydrates.
- The person will also need to stop taking drugs like ibuprofen and drugs like Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as paracetamol and aspirin as these also exacerbate the situation by increasing irritation and inflammation.
- Stress also increases inflammation and irritation and causes worsening of the gut. Hence the person will need to avoid all stressful activities till the time the leaky gut is cured.
Doing things which fix leaky gut-What can I do to cure/reverse leaky gut?
Enzymes in the digestive tract: Digestive enzymes are normally found in the raw foods such as fruit, vegetable, and green leaves. Upon cooking, many of these enzymes are destroyed and hence it would be best to consume raw foods in this period. Vegetables are better than fruits as they do NOT have any sugar. The person needs to consume about 400 grams of green vegetables suited to their body to reverse this quick. These enzymes play a vital role in our digestion, the enzyme will the break down the food molecules into small pieces and works properly to break down the food particles. Enzymes do not allow the large food molecules to passes through the intestine lining. The enzyme acts as garbage bin and it collects the unwanted foods that contain harmful bacteria, fungi, yeast and toxins; essentially healing the leaky gut.
Raw cultured dairy: Raw dairy products such as kefir, amasi, cheese, butter, ghee etc help in replenishing the gut health and gut bacteria. The reason for not including milk and yogurt is because both of them have lactose which is a kind of sugar. As the person suffering from leaky gut needs to avoid sugar IN ALL FORMS completely till they are healed, milk and yogurt will not be ideal. Instead, kefir and amasi which are fermented and lactose free will help as they are devoid of sugar AND have massive amounts of gut friendly, gut healing bacteria (Both kefir and amasi have about 50-60 strains of different probiotic strains, as compared to about five in curd/yogurt). Also, as cheese, ghee and butter do not have any sugars, they are better options in terms of dairy.
Coconut products: Coconuts and its products contain lauric acid which is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, provides immediate energy and has good ratio of healthy fats. Products such as coconut water , coconut oil and Cultures Market Coconut Water Kefir strengthens the immune system of our body and improve gut health. These products also maintain the correct pH levels in our intestine; providing faster recovery to leaky gut patients.
Fermented Foods: Fermented foods supplied by us like Kombucha, Amasi, Kefir, Sauerkraut, Kimchi are some of the best foods for curing leaky gut. While the good bacteria in these foods replenish the levels of bacteria in the human gut, the acid in these foods allows the otherwise weak stomach of such patients to digest everything they eat, essentially leading all food to digest.
WHAT SHOULD BE THE IDEAL STRATEGY TO HANDLE LEAKY GUT?
First step is acknowledgement and correct diagnosis. It is critical to acknowledge that leaky gut is dangerous if not addressed. Second is accepting the fact that current lifestyle and high amounts of sugar has led to leaky gut. Hence, absolute cessation of such activities and foods needs to be done. Thirdly, consume healthy vegetables and fermented foods to heal gut and gut bacteria naturally. You can browse through our website for all our products. It is our promise that your gut will thank you after few months of using our products.
We hope you have enjoyed reading our insights on the subject. Please leave a comment for discussion or contact us to learn more.
Have a happy eating and a healthy life! Enjoy!