The gut is your first immune system. Some even say it’s your first brain. Your health starts and ends with your gut. The strangest part of all this is, your gut is probably a part of your body that you don’t give much thought to unless it’s causing your problems.
More Than Just Digestion
You may be surprised to learn that a lot more happens in your gut than just processing food. Waste, toxins, and extra materials that your body doesn’t need pass through the gut to be discarded. Critical hormones like serotonin are produced in the gut. And the gut is also full of billions of bacteria that regulate the environment. In fact, the human colon contains over 8000 species of microbiota and at least 7000 strains . The balance is delicate.
Keeping these gut bacteria happy is the key to a happy gut and good health. If your gut bacteria are the wrong type, it can cause inflammation, insulin resistance, and a domino effect of other more serious health conditions . On the other hand, if your gut bacteria are the correct type of good gut bugs, you can reap the benefits of a highly efficient and effective biome to regulate this part of your body.
Let’s talk about why your gut bacteria can take a turn for the worse, what that means for your health, and what you can do to heal leaky gut.
Got leaky gut?
When you eat inflammatory foods like gluten, tiny tears can occur in the lining of your gut. This exposes your blood stream to the food particles traveling through your gut . As a result, food particles can escape into the bloodstream causing inflammation all over the body [4, 5]. Inflammation is the root cause of most modern diseases like cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease [6, 7]. These tears in the gut lining also cause inflammationin the gut. That’s problem #1.
Problem #2 happens when you eat highly processed foods like sugarand carbs. These foods feed bad gut bacteria. Bacteria works in groups in a very “good vs. evil” kind of way. When the bad gut bacteria start to take over, it kills off the good gut bacteria. The fancy way of saying this is gut dysbiosis. Having a diverse system of good, healthy bacteria is absolutely vital to yourself. Without a well-balanced biome, your health suffers.
Problem #1 and #2 are linked, which means that if the food you’re eating is putting little tears in your gut lining, then it’s also probably feeding the bad types of bacteria. And if you’re eating food that feeds bad bacteria, then you’re probably also getting those little tears in your gut lining. It goes both ways.
When the gut is unhealthy like this, we call it “leaky gut”. Why leaky gut? Well, because these little tears in your gut lining literally make your gut leaky.
It gets worse… then better.
Leaky gut has been linked to the major serious health conditions like cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disease, autism, and cardiovascular disease [8, 9]. It’s also linked to mental health conditions, like anxietyand depression, and more “minor” physical health problems like joint problems, headaches, and IBS, just to name a few . It’s hard to pin down because the symptoms of leaky gut are so varied that you might easily dismiss it for a smaller, less consequential problem .
The good news is that leaky gut is not necessarily permanent. If you’re damaging your gut with the food that you’re eating, the first step is to change your diet. Get anti-inflammatory, highly nutritious foods into your body ASAP . Food is the best medicine. Make sure to load up on prebiotics like polyphenols, also [13, 14, 15]. Prebioticsare the food that good bacteria (also known as probiotics) eat. Polyphenols can be found in high concentrations in coffee, leafy green veggies, blueberries, & green tea — just to name a few. And who doesn’t love coffee!
Now, obviously I’m not promising that a few days of no sugarand extra greens is going to reverse these health conditions. What I am suggesting is that you have to give your body the best conditions to heal and rebuild. It takes time to heal because it took time to do the damage. Getting the foods out of your diet that are doing the damage in the first place is the best place to start . And then you can start the healing process.
Leaky gut might not sound like a menacing health conditions, but it’s actually very serious and very real. What you eat has a direct impact on your health and how your body operates. If you force it to work under crappy conditions with crappy building materials for too long, it will start to break down. To avoid this, make sure you’re getting plenty of high-nutrient foods and use supplements when appropriate.