Your gut (intestinal tract) is a gigantic barrier between you and the outside world. Spread out flat, it is likely bigger than the house you live in. This complex membrane barrier must allow select nutrients to be absorbed, and keep toxins and nasty microbes out. A leaky gut (an abnormal finding) allows a variety of unwanted compounds to pass through tight junctions along the intestinal wall and leak into your blood stream. Symptoms from a leaky gut vary from gastro-intestinal issues (like bloating, abnormal gas, cramping, and food sensitivities) to systemic symptoms associated with high inflammation that impact our immune system, brain function (depression and anxiety), skin problems, aches and pains, and auto-immunity.
Eighty percent of the body’s immune system is in the gut and eighty percent of serotonin, a chemical that impacts mood and brain function, is produced in the gut. So it should be no wonder that GI problems impact your health in many ways.
A few common causes for leaky gut are:
- Gluten sensitivity –your body mistakenly produces antibodies that attack gluten that you eat and damages your intestinal lining in the process.
- Using medications (such as Advil, Aleve, Ibuprofen, Naprosyn, and Celebrex) which literally punch holes in the intestinal wall and cause it to leak and sometimes even bleed.
- Dysbiosis -a lack of good microbes in the intestine allowing an excess of harmful-inflammation producing microbes to multiply
Other food allergies
After having spent decades evaluating patients in my clinic, I have realized that anyone with unexplained, persistent health problems should ask themselves, “Do I have leaky gut?” Very often, I’ve found that treating people for leaky gut with a detailed treatment plan can make a world of difference to people with unexplained health issues.
The good news is that the treatment for leaky gut syndrome just became easier, as my friend and colleague, Dr Josh Axe, has been talking about treating leaky gut for years, and he has now finished his first book, “Eat Dirt”. It includes meal plans, recipes, a quiz to help you identify your specific gut type, and much more.
Eat Dirt shows readers how to re-establish healthy gut bacteria and heal a leaky gut. He calls his book Eat Dirt because our ancestors got good bacteria from dirt that came with their food. These days, you don’t have to eat real dirt. Instead, Dr. Axe will show you how to heal your gut with fabulous foods that are easy to make and enjoy.
I highly recommend this book to help restore optimal gut function, especially for people with chronic health issues.
The only caveat that I need to make on Dr. Axe’s new book is what I find with most recipe books today, in particular that some of his recipes ask you to heat oils past their smoke point. So if you see a recipe calling for coconut oil at medium-high heat, know that you’ll either need to keep the heat to medium or medium-low, or start with avocado oil at medium-high heat, then add some coconut oil towards the end after you reduce the heat to a simmer for its added flavor.
I wish you the best of health!
Dr. Steven Masley