Last Updated: September 20, 2019
If you already know why gut health is important, you may be wondering how to start healing a leaky gut. The good news is that you can stop leaky gut in its tracks if you avoid some of the nasty habits that wreak havoc on your digestive health.
You may not realize how much stress you place on your gut each and every day. Most of us know that what we eat can impact the health of our digestive system. Too many, however, remain completely unaware that their gut is also heavily affected by a myriad of other lifestyle factors.
If left unchecked, constant stress on your digestive system can result in tiny holes appearing in the lining of your intestinal wall, resulting in a digestive issue known as “leaky gut“.
Luckily, leaky gut syndrome is not a death sentence. By avoiding specific gut damaging factors, you can start healing a leaky gut immediately.
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Healing a Leaky Gut: Habits to Quit
There are a number of factors that can contribute to a leaky gut. Here are the top 5 offenders and how you can avoid them!
We all know that smoking isn’t good for us. It’s well known for increasing the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Interestingly, smoking has also been shown to negatively impact the health of your gut.
Smoking has been shown to cause a shift in the types of bacteria found in the gut. Specifically, exposure to cigarette smoke leads to fewer good gut bacteria and more bad gut bacteria.
Additionally, smoking leads to a decrease in the amount of mucin made in the gut. Mucin is a type of protein that lubricates your digestive tract (picture a thick goop that covers your intestinal wall), protecting it from harmful germs and trauma.
Loss of mucin and a shift towards unhealthier gut bacteria can both contribute to leaky gut syndrome.
It may seem like a rather simple solution, but the best way to avoid the harmful effects of smoking on your gut is to avoid cigarette smoke as much as possible.
2. Living a Sedentary Lifestyle
Over the last 50 years or so, technology has advanced at an incredible rate. While, for the most part, this is extremely positive (Game of Thrones on demand anyone?) there is a major downside to our advancements.
We have become very sedentary.
We no longer need to put in any effort to commute. And many, many daily tasks that once required a lot of effort are now done entirely by machines.
Unfortunately, a sedentary lifestyle has long been known to increase your risk of developing chronic diseases.
With this in mind, it should come as no surprise your exercise levels can heavily impact the health of your digestive system.
Exercise improves blood flow to your digestive organs and increases the speed food moves through your digestive tract. This reduces the amount of time dangerous bacteria spend making contact with your intestinal walls, making it less likely they will be able to set up camp and harm your gut wall.
It is recommended that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. This could mean going for 3-4 short bike rides or a couple of jogs. The type of exercise you choose isn’t all that important, as long as you enjoy it and it helps you build up a sweat.
3. Having Poor Sleep Habits
Sleep is one of your body’s most important recovery tools. Unfortunately, too many of us do not get anywhere near enough of it. And if you are not getting enough sleep, you may be really harming the health of your gut bacteria.
You see, your gut bacteria are always turning over. Lots of them are dying and lots of new bacteria are being made all the time. And a large portion of your gut bacterial renewal occurs during sleep, when the body is in an optimal state of recovery.
This is thought to explain why people who don’t get enough sleep tend to have far fewer healthy gut bacteria than people who get plenty of sleep.
Practicing good sleep hygiene may help improve the duration and quality of your sleep, improving the health of your gut bacteria and your digestive tract.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, good sleep hygiene practices include:
- taking no more than a single 30-minute nap during the day
- avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bed
- avoiding foods that may cause heartburn (such as fatty or spicy foods) before bed
- getting plenty of exposure to bright sunlight during the day
- finding a relaxing bedtime routine that you do every night
- avoiding bright light from TVs, computers, and cell phones before bed
- setting a bedtime and be strict with yourself
- making your bedroom relaxing and comfortable
4. Taking Harmful Medications
Antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (like ibuprofen) can wreak havoc on your gut microbiota and promote leaky gut syndrome.
Of course, sometimes, you have to take antibiotics or pain killers. If your doctor prescribes them — definitely take them!
But for your daily aches and pains, you should consider keeping your pain killer intake to a minimum in order to protect your gut health as much as possible.
5. Exposure to Chemicals
Chemical products appear in nearly every aspect of our day to day lives. Many of them have short-term benefits (making it easier to clean the bathroom, for example). But, in the long run, they are toxic to your health.
Exposure to disinfectants, detergents, pesticides, and herbicides can all harm the health of your gut bacteria, promoting the development of leaky gut syndrome.
While you may not be able to completely avoid gut-harming chemicals, opting for green cleaning products and organic foods can go a long way in reducing your exposure and protecting your (and your family’s!) gut health!
How Long Does It Take to Heal Leaky Gut?
Many of those who suffer from leaky gut syndrome are after a quick fix. (And given how icky it can make you feel, this is quite understandable!)
But it’s hard to say exactly how quickly you’ll start feeling better. It all depends on how damaged your gut is.
If you’re in the early stages of digestive dysfunction, healing your gut could be a mere matter of weeks. If you have somewhat serious gut dysfunction, though, healing your leaky gut could take months.
Next Steps to Take in Healing a Leaky Gut
Avoiding the 5 key factors outlined in this article is the initial step to healing a leaky gut. It is, however, not the only thing you must do to heal your leaky gut.
You also have to clean up your diet! Cutting out leaky gut foods and replacing them with gut-health-promoting foods is essential to seeing your digestion heal!
And if you want a healing boost, you can also add leaky gut supplements that can speed up the repair process! Check out the supplements Nutrishatives recommends here.
Related Reading: Why, How, and When to Take Probiotics? [Quick Guide]
What Are The Signs Your Leaky Gut is Healing?
There are a handful of clear signs that can tip you off that the changes you’ve made are working and that your leaky gut is healing. The best ones to look out for are:
- a noticeable reduction in digestive discomfort
- less bloating
- the return of regular bowel movements
- solid and healthy stool
- fewer headaches
- improved skin quality
- improved mood
- increased energy levels
If you find yourself improving daily basis, you can safely assume that your leaky gut is mending and you’re well on your way back to true digestive health!
Take Home Message
There are 5 key lifestyle and environmental factors that can cause leaky gut syndrome. By avoiding cigarette smoke, a sedentary lifestyle, poor sleep habits, gut-harming medications, and gut-harming chemicals, you can significantly improve your gut health and take big steps toward healing your leaky gut.