What's all this talk about leaky gut?!
Are you suffering from- digestive distress, skin issues, respiratory problems, autoimmunity, mood instability, weight gain, migraines, brain fog, or fatigue? All of these things (and more) can be traced back to gut health. The gut is truly a gateway to overall health.
The gut microbiome is an ecosystem of organisms including bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses, and protozoan throughout the digestive tract. There are TEN TIMES the amount of bacteria in our body than our own cells and the majority of them are found within our digestive system. The gut contains 90% of the body's 'happy' hormone, serotonin. Most importantly, 70% of our immune system is housed in our gut. I'd say our gut is pretty darn important! It affects nearly every system in our bodies.
Leaky gut is a term that refers to intestinal hyperpermeability and has become an increasingly more common health problem seen today. The digestive tract is no longer able to ensure the good stays in and the bad stays out. Think of the intestinal wall being lined with little cells that make up chains. With leaky gut, those chains are loosened leaving gaps for undigested food particles, digestive fluids, and toxins to enter the bloodstream. The body reacts to these foreign particles in the blood by producing immune antibodies, or pro inflammatory cells, to fight them off. This breeds chronic inflammation, food allergies, and various health complications.
Fortunately, we now have a better understanding of the causes, obstacles, and treatment methods for leaky gut so there IS a stop to the cycle! Several factors have proven to negatively affect the gut's integrity. The most prominent include:
-The standard American diet
-Exposure to chemicals
-Poorly managed stress
The standard American diet, rightfully known as the SAD diet, is one of the leading causes of leaky gut. When the majority of our diets are packaged meals with paragraph-long ingredient lists and labels we can't understand, we are not eating real food! The FDA has approved 3,000 different food additives, preservatives, and coloring. The average person ingests over 150 pounds of additives each year! This is just one factor in leaky gut, but definitely a big one. Between these chemicals and added inflammation in the body, overall digestive distress is inevitable and alters the balance of the microbiome.
Our microbiome must be equipped with healthy bacteria in order to be successful in carrying out its necessary functions. Without proper balance the following functions are disrupted:
-And many more
I know I know, this is all depressing and overwhelming. There is hope! You can decide today you are going to buy more organic and local foods so you know what was put in/on them. You can decide that you are going to cook with whole foods and leave the processed stuff on the shelf at the store. You can also try to incorporate the 4 R's. The 4 R program is designed to help you heal from digestive distress. It is done in the following order:
Remove- Eliminate problem foods, toxins, low grade infections, and oxidative stress.
Repair- Begin reintroducing a clean diet with essential nutrients your body needs.
Restore- Repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria to restore the proper balance of gut flora.
Replace- Replace digestive enzymes, antioxidants, and immune-boosting vitamins to promote sustainable and healthy digestion.
Everyone's repair route will look a little different because every body is different. Talk to a professional about how to add digestive enzymes, probiotics, essential fiber, vitamins, minerals, and acid into your daily life. Remember, health is a journey, not a destination. We are complicated beings that are always changing. Listen to your body's signals...especially your gut!