Leaky Gut or the “medical” terminology for it is Intestinal Permeability.
(Please keep in mind the things I suggest are not intended to be medical advice, as I am not a medical professional. Do talk to your health care team for any medical advice required. I only provide what I have researched for your information.)
Did you know that your gut is where just about everything that happens to you health-wise occurs?
Well, here’s what the scientists now know about the gut and what affects it has on your health and well-being. This is something Dr. Axe has talked about forever it seems.
What is Leaky Gut – my version is – when the tight junctions in your intestinal tract become weak, open up, and allow food particles, bacteria, and other such things through into your body causing your immune system to go on the attack. Which makes your body react in very serious ways. But what does it have to do with the Thyroid?
Well, as Dr. Izabella Wentz has mentioned – heal your gut and you will go a long way to healing your thyroid, especially Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. For that matter – any autoimmune disease.
Because there are so many ways your gut can be affected, it is really important to know what the symptoms are and what can be done to remedy them.
What kind of symptoms should you look for? Well, here are a few for you to think about: allergies, ulcer(s), GERD, chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, headaches, brain fog, memory loss, excessive fatigue, joint pain, candida.
WOW, first clue – allergies! Well, that I have multiples of and have suffered with allergies just about all of my entire life. If you have allergies, it’s the first clue that you have leaky gut. Children also suffer from leaky gut, but no one ever identifies it until it is way too late. Getting children to eat properly is part of the problem, so it’s a good thing to get them to start to eat the right way from the beginning.
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacteria that is known to cause ulcers in many if not all people infected with it. I have suffered with ulcers multiple times a year since I was 20 years old and back then, they thought that ulcers were brought on by stress. Doctors would put you on an ulcer diet consisting mainly of “milk and bread” – WOW, was that wrong or what! Two of the most invasive foods on the planet, for me, anyway. So instead of making it better, it actually made the problem worse. They also put me on Valium to help “calm me down” so I wouldn’t get so stressed. I hated taking those pills a) because they made me so sleepy, and b) I couldn’t do anything until it worked its way out of my system which could have been a day or more. Oh, how I would like to get my hands on those doctors today. Of course, when I took my anatomy/physiology course way back in the late 80’s they (scientists) discovered that this H. pylori bug was what caused ulcers and could be treated with antibiotics.
Now, antibiotics are known for killing off good and bad bacteria, so that is not always the appropriate way to deal with H. pylori, but in a pinch it will do the job. You would just have to make sure to put back the good bacteria by eating yogurt with probiotics while taking antibiotics. I take probiotics daily just to help my gut along, but I’m still nagged by my gut just the same.
So, if taking care of H. pylori doesn’t help the gut, you have to look a little further into why it is still causing issues. Could it be other infections or parasites that are destroying your very important digestive tract? Well, there are many other reasons why you could have leaky gut!
How about GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease)? This happens after you eat and the food, instead of staying in the stomach, comes back up the esophagus into your throat causing a painful burning sensation. This is a very unpleasant experience that usually causes you to take an antacid or PPI (proton pump inhibitor) like Zantac, Pepsid, or one of the other over the counter or prescribed antacids. These drugs are not good to take over the long term as they will cause all sorts of other health issues you do not want to face, such as: altered gut environment (reducing you gut’s natural acid content), impaired nutrient absorption, increased risk of bone density issues, cardiovascular events, kidney disease, and dementia.
So if you can’t take PPI’s what are you supposed to do? Well, if you want to make changes that are more permanent, you will change your diet – that’s #1 in my books because I know that after doing the elimination diet for a month and starting to reintroduce foods back, I first stopped having GERD symptoms, then they returned once I started to eat the foods that were my danger foods. So perhaps trying to eliminate foods that you “know” are the issue would be your first line of defense (acidic and spicy foods, mint, smoking, chocolate), then see what happens when you reintroduce them back into your diet. If they cause a serious enough reaction, you’ll know not to eat them again for a very long time or at least when you do eat them do so with very small amounts. Decrease alcohol consumption. I know that’s a big one for some, but I know it’s another trigger for me, so I avoid alcohol except to try a tiny sip on very rare occasions now. Raise the head of your bed with a few books (at least 6″), so that your head is above the rest of your body while you sleep, thereby helping to keep the food down in your stomach and intestines. You could also try using the OTC (over the counter) antacids like TUMS, or Rolaids to help with your upset stomach before heading for the stronger ones. I haven’t had to resort to any of these for about 3 years now and I’m much happier about it.
Having chronic diarrhea or constipation is not nice to deal with ever. So, first make sure there isn’t something more serious causing those issues such as IBSD (irritable bowel syndrome disease) before trying anything else. But, if you have these issues, it is because your gut is not healthy and you need to find out why. As I mentioned above you could have an infection, or a parasite that could be causing these issues that you are not aware of. It’s always best to have a talk with your health care provider, whether a doctor, naturopath, nurse practitioner, specialist or functional medicine doctor to help you find the root cause of your issues.
Gas and bloating are the result of your stomach and intestinal tract not being able to effectively break down the foods and wind up producing gasses that can get trapped. That trapped food/gas can cause bloating which can cause mild to extreme pain before being able to pass it through. It can be caused by an intestinal infection or disease, Celiac disease or lactose intolerance
Bloating/gas can be caused by eating/drinking the following foods/drinks: Carbonated beverages, eating gassy foods, eating too fast, swallowing air when chewing gum. Some foods to avoid: broccoli, beans, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, apples, peaches, pears, hard candy, lettuce, milk and milk products, onions, sugars, and whole grain foods.
Brain fog/memory loss/excessive fatigue can all be caused by a leaky gut as well. First make sure you are getting the appropriate amount of sleep at night (between 7-8 hours is what everyone “needs” to deal with life). If sleep is not the issue, then it probably is related to diet. Food can be a problem if it is causing systemic inflammation in your body, which might also travel to the brain through that “not so tight junction” in your intestinal tract. If that’s not the issue, then you need to see your doctor to find out if there is a disease or infection at the root of your brain fog/memory issues/excessive fatigue.
Joint Pain is also a result of leaky gut causing inflammation throughout the body. If you are having joint pain, first try changing some things about your diet. It’s really strange (or not), that whatever you put into your body, it either will work well with it or it won’t. Everyone is different, so it’s up to you to see what things work for you or doesn’t. I know when I’m reading information on blogs/articles I always try to read the comments from others. It’s really interesting to see how different things affect the different people out there. Some can eat bananas until the cows come home – not me as I have an allergy to latex and the food end of things with latex includes bananas, avocados, watermelon and kiwi fruit amongst others – that’s me though. Some others might have a problem with eggs, beans, legumes, etc. while others don’t. It is all dependent on the chemistry in your own body. So trying different things to see what affects you is the part you have to control, no-one else. Even a doctor can’t determine how much pain you are in unless you tell them. (i.e. the Rheumatologist pressed on a few of my knuckles the other day and almost sent me through the roof of her office with just a light touch, OUCH!)
Infections/parasites are almost always at the root of issues people face in their bodies, without knowing it. Yeast infections like Candida are amongst those types of infections that hide until you reach a point at which they become a serious problem. Unless you know what you are looking for, you might miss evaluate your problem and just think its nothing. Take it from me, it’s not nothing! If you feel the least bit off and you can’t put your finger on whatever it is that is causing you issues, have yourself checked for infections/parasites. See your health care practitioner to get advice on what to do to get rid of the infection/parasite. Fungal infections are also part of this so if you have a toe or finger fungus, there is likely an infection (likely yeast) in your body causing it and it needs to be taken care of as soon as possible.
So if you find you are experiencing any of these symptoms, my suggestion would be to try an elimination diet to see if there are foods you are not tolerating well. You’ll be able to tell once you start to reintroduce them. Then proceed to eliminating them for a 3-6 month period of time and try to reintroduce again. If you are still having problems, eliminate them for a year and try again. It’s the only way to help heal your gut and get back on track to a healthier you.
I think I might have grossed some of you out, but these are everyday issues facing a lot of people today. I’m sorry if it’s caused you to be uneasy, but it’s something that has to be addressed and where better than here!
I’m hoping you are not suffering from any of the above issues, but if you are, please work with your health care team to take care of your specific issues.
Have a wonderful day and week ahead.