Fatigue, bloating, inflamed skin & food sensitivities are accepted as the norm in today’s society. In fact, many people put up with these uncomfortable symptoms for most of their lives without understanding why they are there. The truth is, the presence of these kinds of symptoms is your body's way of communicating to you that there is a deeper issue. For many, these symptoms may stem from intestinal permeability, commonly known as Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS).
What is leaky gut?
Along the inside of the digestive tract there is a net-like lining of tiny holes that controls which substances pass from the gut through to the bloodstream. When this lining is damaged, large molecules such as undigested food, toxins and microbes are able to pass through the lining, causing an immune response that results in chronic inflammation.
“All disease begins in the gut”
There are a number of factors that can contribute to the destruction of the lining in the digestive tract including - a high sugar and/or fat diet, chronic stress, excessive alcohol consumption, food allergies, gastrointestinal infections, bacterial imbalance, yeast overgrowth, antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(1).
- Skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis
- Food sensitivity
- Weight gain
- Autoimmune diseases
- Mood issues
Nutritional Guidelines for Healing
- Eliminate grains & wheat - Going gluten-free and reducing or eliminating grain consumption, at least for a 21-day period, could reap huge benefits if you are suffering from gut issues. This is because grain consumption has been linked to aggravating the gut wall, which leads to leaky gut and inflammation. If this seems a bit overwhelming and you’re unsure how to get started, let us guide you with our Food Matters 21 Day Clean Eating Program.
- Make friends with fermented food - Begin to add fermented foods to each meal. This could include sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir, fermented salsa, yogurt or kimchi. These foods are rich in good probiotics (good bacteria) which help to slowly ‘crowd out’ the bad bacteria and restore balance in the gut. This strengthens the immune system, improves digestion & reduces the likelihood of bacterial infection! You can find out more about the power of these foods here.
- Add prebiotic foods - When you begin to increase your consumption of probiotics, it is important to also ensure there is enough food to keep them alive within your gut. Their preferred food source is known as ‘prebiotics’. This is abundant in foods such as sweet potatoes & yams, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, leeks, asparagus, barley, oats & apples(2). Try to include one or more of these foods in your diet daily!
- Have bitter foods before meals - Bitter foods such as lemon juice or apple cider vinegar in water or dandelion leaves stimulate gastric acid production in the stomach. Adequate gastric acid is essential for proper digestion of foods to prevent large undigested food particles passing through to the intestines.
- Increase your Omega-3 intake - Include at least one of the following foods in your diet daily: chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, wild-caught fish such as salmon, trout or tuna. These foods are all great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation & the presence of some symptoms associated with autoimmune conditions, such as LGS(3).
- Bone broth - Consume 2 cups of homemade bone broth daily. Broth is rich in vitamins and minerals and is a direct source of collagen, chondroitin and glucosamine, which can help to ‘heal & seal’ the lining of the digestive tract(4). You can find out favorite recipe here.
- Sip herbal tea - Enjoy at least 4 cups of peppermint/lemon balm/chamomile tea daily. These teas help to soothe inflamed areas of the digestive tract and relieve constipation(5).
- Functional health tests - We suggest doing a microbiome stool test and a food sensitivity test. The microbiome test will help to uncover the state of your gut microbiome and whether there are any bacterial imbalances. The food sensitivity test will reveal your immune response to over 90 common foods and provide an individualized diet plan. You can find out more about these tests here.
Herbal, Superfood and Supplement Therapy
- Probiotics - Take 100 billion units of probiotics each day. This helps to boost the population of good bacteria in the gut and, as a result, gently crowd out the bad bacteria. Supplementing in this dosage will help to reduce symptoms such as excessive flatulence and abdominal pain(6).
- Saccharomyces Boulardii – take 250 mg of saccharomyces boulardii (SB) twice daily. SB helps to restore and strengthen the lining of the intestines and reduce bad bacteria that may be causing damage to the intestinal cells.(13)
- L-glutamine - Take 4,000 mg of L-glutamine twice daily. L-glutamine is an important building block required for the gut lining. Supplementation helps to rebuild and repair the lining, providing optimal integrity(7). It has also been found to reduce the risk of infection(8).
- Aloe Vera - Drink ½ cup aloe vera juice daily. This helps to soothe inflamed areas along the gut lining(9). It also has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects in the body. Other plants that have similar properties include licorice, marshmallow root and slippery elm.
- Curcumin - Take 140 mg daily. Turmeric’s active extract, curcumin, has an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial action that helps to ease symptoms of inflammation(10). To boost the absorption of the curcumin, consume turmeric with black pepper & a form of quality fat like coconut oil.
- Peppermint essential oil capsules - Take 1- 2 enteric-coated capsules daily or as abdominal discomfort arises. The active ingredient in peppermint essential oil, menthol, helps to reduce abdominal pain and bloating by relaxing smooth muscles within the gut(11).
- Stress reduction - Practice yoga or meditation daily. This allows your gut sufficient time to heal by reducing the stress of a busy day.(12)
Ready to make a change but not sure where to start? Take your pick from a range of inspiring programs tailored to your specific goals. Our guided programs include everything from meal plans, guided meditations, sleep, cleansing and more. They'll support and empower you to improve your health and be the best you can be!
The Food Matters Clean Eating Program
Our in-house nutritionists have designed this program to help you regain your confidence in the kitchen, take the overwhelm out of cooking, and help you reset your mind and body over 21 days. Learn how to prepare nutrient-dense meals that the whole family can enjoy with meal plans, shopping lists, helpful nutrition tips, and more.Find Out More
At Food Matters we believe that education is an essential aspect to any healing process. The more we know, the more we are empowered to make change and understand how to decode the messages our bodies are telling us. Here are some suggested resources for you to check out to support you on this journey.
Hungry for Change
Your Health is in Your Hands
Hungry For Change exposes shocking secrets the diet, weight loss, and food industry don't want you to know about; deceptive strategies designed to keep you coming back for more. Find out what's keeping you from having the body and health you deserve, and how to escape the diet trap forever.Read More
Food Matters Gut Matters Book
Are you suffering from gut related issues? Begin to understand your inner ecological system and discover the action steps you can take right now to help promote a healthy & thriving gut!Read More
- NCBI, J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Jul; 124(1): 3–22.
- Monash University, Gastroenterology. Sept 2017.
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Vol 21, 2002, Issue 6. Aug; 2002.
- NCBI, Amino Acids. 2009 May;37(1):105-10.
- Science Direct, Phytomedicine. 2015 Nov; 22 (12): 1063-1070.
- NCBI, Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2010 Sep; 3(5): 307–319.
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- Herbal Medicine in The Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis. Saudi J Gastroenterol. 2017 Oct; 18: 3-10.
- The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2004; 10 (6): 1015–1018.
- Journal of Gastroenterology. 1997 Nov, 32:765.
- American Journal of Physiology, Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology. 2001, Jan; 280 (1): G7-G13.
- Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, 2008, 43 (7), p 842-848
This article is provided for your general information only and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional advice, particularly medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek medical advice from a qualified health practitioner which takes into account your personal circumstances, general health and medical conditions.