Healing Your Leaky Gut Syndrome
Luckily, scientists and doctors believe that once identified, a leaky gut can be treated with a few, simple changes to your diet and lifestyle, helping heal the syndrome before it can become too serious.
Based on the current scientific evidence, here the 4 simplest, most effective steps you can take to correct dysbiosis and heal your leaky gut naturally.
There are a variety of environmental and lifestyle factors that can be extremely damaging to the health of your gut bacteria. Avoiding the factors that are driving your dysbiosis is essential to allowing your leaky gut to heal.
1 – Smoking
Exposure to cigarette smoke has been shown to be able to cause unhealthy changes in your gut bacteria. If you have leaky gut syndrome and smoke, you should stop immediately. As long as you smoke, your gut bacteria will be fighting an uphill battle to try to keep the wall of your intestine intact!
2 – Sedentary Lifestyle
Physical activity is necessary to keep optimal levels of healthy gut bacteria. Not getting enough physical activity can make it difficult to avoid developing dysbiosis and a leaky gut. If you have symptoms of a leaky gut and currently do not meet the recommended minimum amount daily exercise (at least 30 minutes a day of exercise, with at least 2 days of resistance training exercises), you should begin increasing your physical activity! Choosing an exercise routine you like and can stick to long-term is key in giving your gut time to properly heal and to prevent your dysbiosis from returning.
3 – Poor Sleep Habits
Your sleep habits strongly affect the ability of your immune system to function properly. Hormones that control your immune system are released by your brain during your daily 24-hour wake-sleep cycle. If you are not getting full nights of good quality sleep (i.e., going to bed when you are tired and raising when you wake naturally in the morning) the levels of these hormones may become imbalanced, causing your immune system to malfunction. It may begin recognizing your normal, healthy gut bacteria as dangerous and begin attacking them as if they were infectious bacteria! This can make it harder to keep normal levels of healthy bacteria in your gut.
Getting a full 7-9 hours of sleep each night can help ensure that your immune system is not attacking your healthy gut bacteria and contributing to your leaky gut!
4 – Gut-Bacteria Damaging Medications
Some medications, including antibiotics, non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), have been shown to kill your healthy gut bacteria, boost the growth of unhealthy gut bacteria, or both. Decreasing your use of these drugs as much as possible (with the approval of your doctor!) can help your gut bacteria regain a healthy balance, helping heal your leaky gut.
5 – Exposure to Pesticides, Disinfectants, and Detergents
There is evidence that some pesticides, such as imazilil and propomacarb, may be able to damage the health of your gut bacteria. If you have a leaky gut, you may want to avoid produce treated with these and similar chemicals, perhaps opting for organic produce.
Other commonly used industrial chemicals, such as industrial disinfectants and detergents used in many public places (restaurants, athletic arenas, playgrounds, factories), may be able to induce dysbiosis as well. Avoiding these chemicals altogether may be extremely difficult, but you may see benefits for your gut if you simply avoid handling them directly yourself.
The modern western diet contains foods that are extremely damaging to your healthy gut bacteria. Avoiding gut damaging foods that promote dysbiosis is important for allowing your gut to heal. If you have a leaky gut, you should consider reducing or eliminating the following foods from your diet:
1 – Processed Foods
Processed foods contain highly processed ingredients and industrially-produced chemicals that have been shown to be able to promote dysbiosis and leaky gut syndrome.
2 – Gluten
For about 8% of the population, gluten, a protein found in wheat products, can induce leaky gut syndrome. This includes people with celiac disease (an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten), and those with what doctors call non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Though it may not help everyone with a leaky gut, for some people, removing gluten from your diet may improve your symptoms.
3 – Fried Foods
Fried foods contain toxins that can kill off your healthy gut bacteria. Avoiding fried food and these toxic compounds can help heal your leaky gut syndrome.
4 – Alcohol
Drinking alcohol can significantly change the health of your gut bacteria. If you have leaky gut syndrome, you may want to consider reducing or eliminating alcohol from your diet until your symptoms have cleared up.
5 – Dairy Products
Specific types of fat found in milk and milk products are able to increase your liver’s production of a special type of bile acid, called taurine-conjugated bile acid. This bile acid promotes the growth of unhealthy gut bacteria.
Once you’ve removed damaging lifestyle factors and foods, you can speed the healing process by adding gut healthy foods to your diet. These include:
1 – Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Since the toxins that get into your intestinal wall can cause inflammation and inflammatory damage, eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties can help minimize your symptoms and help your gut wall heal.
Anti-inflammatory foods that may be helpful include:
- Chia seeds and flax seeds
- Leafy Greens
2 – Fiber-Rich Foods
Healthy gut bacteria use fiber for nutrients and fuel, helping them grow and thrive. Though all plant-foods (and only plant-foods!) contain fiber, some are richer sources than others. Excellent sources of fiber to include in your daily diet to help heal your leaky gut syndrome include:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Cruciferous vegetables
3 – Non-Dairy Fermented Foods
Fermented foods like kimchi, tempeh, pickled vegetables, and sauerkraut contain healthy gut bacteria that can set up new colonies in your intestines, helping reverse dysbiosis and heal your leaky gut syndrome.
If you want to improve your gut health even faster than by simply adding the gut health-promoting foods to your diet, you may want to consider taking a prebiotic supplement, probiotic supplement, or both. We recommend Benefiber Fiber Supplement and Culturelle Digestive Health Probiotic.
1 – Prebiotic Supplements
Prebiotic supplements contain purified, non-digestible fiber (usually some form of inulin or oligofructose) that your healthy gut bacteria can use for food and fuel. Strong, well-fed healthy gut bacteria can grow, pushing unhealthy gut bacteria out, helping you to heal your leaky gut syndrome.
2 – Probiotic Supplements
Probiotic supplements contain purified strains of healthy human gut bacteria, usually one or more species of Lactobacillus or Bifidobacteria. These bacteria can set up new, healthy colonies in your intestines, helping replace lost healthy bacteria and reverse dysbiosis. Regular intake of probiotics may be able to help you heal your leaky gut syndrome.
Take Home Message
Having leaky gut syndrome can put you at serious risk for developing many serious conditions, ranging from infections to diabetes, cancer and heart attacks. Luckily, if you catch it early, you can heal your leaky gut syndrome with 4 simple dietary and lifestyle changes.
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