Your gut plays a vital role in your overall health and is often referred to as your body’s “second brain”. If you value your health, you’ll want to know how to keep this part of your body in tip-top shape!
Leaky gut is also known as increased intestinal permeability which refers to how easily substances pass through the wall of the intestine. It is a digestive condition where gaps in the intestinal walls allow bacteria and other toxins to “leak” into the bloodstream.
When you are in good health, your stomach lining only has tiny openings to allow water and nutrients to pass through into the bloodstream while keeping harmful substances inside.
However, with leaky gut syndrome, these gaps become wider, and may contribute to a range of unpleasant symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation or bloating, along with tiredness, headaches and skin problems.
Leaky gut may also play a role in health conditions such a irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease and polycystic ovary syndrome, although conventional medical science is not 100% convinced there are direct link.
What causes leaky gut?
Although traditional and alternative medicine differ on causes and treatment, it is likely to arise from a variety of factors. These include an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria in the gut, a poor diet and the overuse of antibiotics.
Your gastrointestinal tract i lined with millions of microbes which, if not kept in balance, may lead to health problems as when the “bad” microbes outnumber the “good. This can trigger inflammation within your digestive tract, and irritation which can lead to leaky gut.
Treatment for leaky gut
Because it’s all about gut flora, your doctor may recommend adjusting your diet to remove inflammatory foods, such as fatty fried food, breads, biscuits and pasta, alcohol and certain red meat.
Specialists say one of the keys to health is fermentation in the large intestine and you can help to fix this by cutting back on processed foods and opting for a diet high in easily digestible fibre.
A diet low in fermentable carbs – known as FODMAPS and which is often clinically recommended to manage IBS – also may help with leaky gut. In addition to the foods listed above, this may mean cutting out dairy due to its lactose content, anything that contains gluten, and other foods which may irritate or inflame your intestine.
You can also try adding foods that contain probiotics and prebiotics, such as kefir, kimchi, natural yoghurt and fruit such as bananas and berries.
In addition to diet, it’s wise to aim for:
- More sleep
- More exercise
- Less stress.
These are part of a wholesome lifestyle, and other general recommendations are to stop smoking, as tobacco smoke is a risk factor for several bowel conditions.
Despite conventional medicine’s cautious approach to leaky gut, alternative and integrative medicine practitioners have been working on healing the “second brain” as part of treatment for a range of illnesses for decades.
It’s not a quick fix as it takes at least two weeks to generate a new gut lining, and between three months and a year to close the gaps in a leaky gut.
One thing that is clear, though, and this is that a healthy lifestyle is more likely to lead to a healthy gut. This is one leak that you definitely will want to fix!
Date Published: 15 April 2021