A happy gut is a healthy gut. Gut health is extremely important to restore health. Oftentimes a leaky gut is found where the intestinal permeability is compromised. Molecules that are not supposed to pass through the cells that are lining the intestinal wall travel into the blood stream. This causes low-grade chronic inflammation. Gluten for example, in sensitive people, has a tendency to cause gut cells to release zonulin, a protein that breaks apart tight junctions in the intestinal lining. The purpose of the tight junctions is to keep everything consumed contained in the gut.
Toxins, infections and stress disrupt tight junctions, leading to leaky gut syndrome. When particles move from the gut into the bloodstream, the immune system triggers a response to these invaders and attacks them. Leaky gut triggers symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), seasonal allergies and asthma, PMS, PCOS, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, Celiac disease, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, ADHD, acne, rosacea, eczema, candida overgrowth and food sensitivities.
Quite often, the reason an individual has food sensitivities is because they have leaky gut. By fixing the condition, the individual will fix the way their body reacts to food sensitivities. With a food sensitivity test, you are able to eliminate the foods that are causing inflammation in the body so that you can give your gut a rest while it is healed.
Foods like gluten, dairy, sugar, processed foods and alcohol trigger inflammation in the body, as does prescriptive and over the counter drugs, candida, intestinal parasites, small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), pesticides, herbicides, BPA, mercury and other heavy metals. Sometimes a person may not experience any gut symptoms and still have leaky gut. As a matter of fact, around 22 percent of people with gut problems can have significant damage to their small intestines without suffering any gastrointestinal symptoms.
The surface area of the gut is around three hundred square meters, the size of a house. With such a large surface area, healing the gut takes time. A study from Harvard, published in the medical journal Nature, found significant changes in the makeup of gut bacteria occurring three days after a dietary change. What you eat matters and impacts the overall health of your gut, especially the bacteria that take residence. Eating clean and organic food is of utmost importance.
If you suspect leaky gut, you can test the severity of your leaky gut with functional labs and perform a stool test to reveal if there is any dysbiosis, parasites or imbalances. It’s also very important to start an elimination diet to remove all toxic and inflammatory triggers from your diet and lifestyle. Lastly, stress is a great obstacle to cure as your gut is your second brain and is largely affected by chronic stress. Getting a handle on stress is the best thing you can do for your overall health and well-being.
Dr. Isabel Sharkar is a licensed naturopathic physician and co-owner of Indigo Integrative Health Clinic, in Georgetown. She helps her clients with the Indigo Gut Restore program of removing the bad, replacing the good, restoring beneficial bacteria and repairing the gut with essential nutrients. For more information, call 202-298-9131 or visit IndigoHealthClinic.com.