Leaky gut is a relatively new concept to me and to the world at large, really. I was diagnosed with it by a functional medicine doctor about two years ago. Some doctors believe in it, others don’t. Some also refer to it as increased intestinal permeability. The idea behind leaky gut is that due to some form of stress on the intestines, the intestinal lining is damaged and becomes more permeable. Due to the increased permeability, undigested food particles and waste can escape into the bloodstream causing an autoimmune response. This can lead to digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, cramps, joint pain, diarrhea etc.
Here are some tips I’ve pulled together along the way that I hope can help you on your path towards healing! The key is to keep experimenting, to find what works for you.
1. Eat Whole Foods. Clean up your diet. Make sure you are eating whole foods. Eating a whole foods diet is important for managing almost any health condition. That means incorporating whole grains, fruits and vegetables into your diet and avoiding processed foods.
2. Avoid Triggers. Avoiding triggers is very important with leaky gut. It’s going to be different for everyone. Here are some things to try:
1. Go Gluten-Free: A lot of people find that going gluten-free also helps with leaky gut. Just remember that in this case, going gluten-free doesn’t mean eating gluten-free donuts and other highly refined and processed foods. It means eating a whole foods diet and avoiding wheat, rye and barley.
2. Elimination Diet: An elimination diet can be helpful in identifying your triggers. Start by eliminating foods that are known to cause allergies (such as dairy, eggs, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, and gluten) for at least three weeks. Add each food back in, one by one, to see which affect you. Once you figure out which foods you are allergic or sensitive to you can figure out ways to keep them out of your diet.
3. Avoid alcohol and sugary processed foods.
4. Allergy testing is also important, but won’t provide all the answers, since it doesn’t reveal lower-level food sensitivities. That said, there is a blood test some practitioners use to diagnose food sensitivities, called ALCAT. While the evidence of its effectiveness is not 100%, you and your doctor/practitioner can work together to figure out if it could be beneficial to you.
3. The Supplementation Sensation. This is sometimes helpful as leaky gut can mean lower absorption rates of needed nutrients. These are the ones I try to increase in my diet:
1. Glutamine: Supplements such as glutamine can be very helpful for healing the gut. Glutamine is the primary nutrient for the cells of the intestinal lining where it helps regulate cellular reproduction. It is concentrated in foods such as grass-fed beef, bison, chicken, free range eggs, and red cabbage (especially in pickled form).
2. Probiotics: Probiotics are measured in CFUs, or colony forming units. You want as many CFUs to be living when you take your probiotics, and refrigeration helps. I personally take at least 50 billion CFUs per day.
4. Find Support. The help of a naturopath, functional medicine practitioner, health coach or a community that can support you in your journey is really important. Leaky gut is a relatively new “named” condition and the gut health community is still figuring out the best ways to treat it. Cultivate patience with yourself and do your best. Find what works for you and keep expanding on it. You’ll get there!
You can find more about Samantha at simplysamanthaNYC.com!
Samantha is a health and wellness coach as well as a plant-based private chef. Her classes have been featured in the New York Times and New York Post. For more information about Samantha, visit her website and download her free 4 simple steps to meal planning.
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Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.