Focus ~ Food ~ Fitness


Lesson 4 - Digestive Health

Gut & Digestive Health


Is something wrong with your inner tube? The inner tube of life that is your digestive system? It is likely that you suffer from (or have suffered from) some type of digestive disorder–irritable bowel, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn, reflux, gas, and things too gross to mention in print.

And you are not alone. Over 100 million Americans have digestive problems. The number three and seven top selling drugs in America are for digestive problems costing us billions and billions of dollars. There are more than 200 over-the-counter (OTC) remedies for digestive disorders, many of which – most unfortunately – can create additional digestive problems. Visits for intestinal disorders are among the most common to primary care physicians.

And that’s not even the worst news.

Most of us do not recognise or know (including most of your doctors) that digestive problems wreak havoc over your entire body leading to allergies, arthritis, autoimmune disease, rashes, acne, chronic fatigue, mood disorders, autism, dementia, cancer and more.

So having a healthy gut means more to you than just not being annoyed by a little bloating or heartburn! It is central to your entire health. It is connected to everything that happens in your body. That’s why we almost always start helping people treat chronic health problems by fixing their gut. 

Good gut health

The health of your gut determines what nutrients are absorbed and what toxins, allergens and microbes are kept out, and therefore it is directly linked to the health of the total organism. Intestinal health could be defined as the optimal digestion, absorption and assimilation of food. But that is a big job that depends on many other factors. For example, the bugs in your gut are like a rain forest – a diverse and interdependent ecosystem. They must be in balance for you to be healthy.

There are five hundred species and 3 pounds of bacteria in your gut; it’s a huge chemical factory that helps you digest your food, produces vitamins, helps regulate hormones, excrete toxins and produce healing compounds that keep your gut healthy. Too many of the wrong ones like parasites, yeasts or bad bacteria, or not enough of the good ones like lactobacillus or bifidobacteria can lead to serious damage to your health.

Many diseases that seem totally unrelated to the gut, such as eczcema or psoriasis or arthritis, are actually caused by gut problems. By focusing on your gut you can get better.

Your entire immune system (and your body) is protected from the toxic environment in your the gut by a layer only one cell thick. This thin layer covers a surface area the size of a tennis court—yet it’s basically containing a sewer. If that barrier is damaged, you will get sick and create an overactive immune system, producing inflammation throughout the body.

And then there is your second brain, your gut nervous system. Your gut, in fact, contains more neurotransmitters than your brain. It is highly wired back to your brain and messages travel back and forth. When those messages altered for any reason in any direction – from the brain to the gut or the gut to the brain – your health will suffer.

Then, of course, your gut has to get rid of all the toxins produced as a byproduct of your metabolism that your liver dumps in through the bile, and if things get backed up, you will become toxic.

And in the midst of all of this, your gut must break down all the food you eat into its individual components, separate out all the vitamins and minerals and shuttle everything across that one cell thick layer into your bloodstream for you to stay healthy.

Why your gut may be in trouble

Even in a perfect world, our gut has a hard time keeping things balanced. But in our world there are many things that knock our digestive system off balance.

What are they?
  • Our low fibre, high sugar, processed food, nutrient poor, high calorie diet that makes all the wrong bacteria and yeast grow in the gut leading to a damaged ecosystem.
  • Overuse of medications that damage the gut or block normal digestive function – things like anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, acid blocking drugs, and steroids.
  • Chronic low-grade infections or gut imbalances with overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, yeast overgrowth, parasites, or even more serious gut infections.
  • Toxins damage the gut such as mercury and mould toxins.
  • Lack of adequate digestive enzyme function – which can come from acid blocking medication use or zinc deficiency.Stress can alter the gut nervous system causing a leaky gut and changing the normal bacteria in the gut.
It is so important to understand that many diseases that seem totally unrelated to the gut, such as eczema, psoriasis, or arthritis, are actually caused by gut problems. But by focusing on the gut you can get better.

How to get gut health

So how do you keep your gut healthy?
  • Eat whole unprocessed foods with plenty of fibre: vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Eat real food - mostly plants.
  • If you think you have food sensitivities try an elimination diet. Cut out gluten, dairy, yeast, corn, soy and eggs for a week or two and see how your gut feels and what happens to your other symptoms.
  • Treat any infections or overgrowth of bugs like parasites, small bowel bacteria, or yeasts.
  • Take digestive enzymes with your food.Take probiotics, healthy bacteria for your ecosystem.
  • Take extra omega 3 fat supplements which help cool inflammation in the gut.
  • Use gut-healing nutrients such as glutamine and zinc.
If you want to be healthy, you have to get your gut working properly. 

Leaky Gut Syndrome

The GI condition commonly known as “leaky gut syndrome” has been gaining a lot of attention lately for several reasons:
  • A growing body of research has linked leaky gut to a number of “seemingly unrelated” health concerns and chronic diseases.
  • As more Americans are affected by poor diet choices, chronic stress, toxic overload and bacterial imbalance it appears that the prevalence of leaky gut has reached epidemic proportions. 
  • The medical profession is just now agreeing this condition even exists! This last point is especially shocking to me because “intestinal permeability” has been discussed in the medical literature for over 100 years!
Leaky Gut Symptoms List

You would be surprised at how many health conditions are a result of having leaky gut. The father of modern medicine Hippocrates said “All disease begins in the Gut” and research is now proven he was absolutely right.

Essentially, leaky gut syndrome (“intestinal hyperpermeability”) is a condition that happens as a consequence of intestinal tight junction malfunction. These “tight junctions” are the gateway between your intestines and what is allowed to pass into the blood stream. Your tight junctions keep things out like toxins, microbes and undigested food particles.

But having leaky gut is essentially like having the gates broken from your intestines to your blood stream so many of these particles that should never have been able to enter have now gotten through. When this happens it causes inflammation throughout your body leading to a variety of diseases.

According to a study published in a Norwegian medical journal this process “is implicated in the onset of disease include several acute and chronic paediatric conditions that are likely to have their origin during infancy” and has been linked to:

Allergies
Asthma
Autism
Autoimmune disease
Eczema and psoriasis
Inflammatory bowel disease
Rheumatoid arthritis
Systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS)
Type 1 diabetes

So how do you know if you have a leaky gut? Keep a watch out for these 7 leaky gut symptoms.

The 7 Signs You Have Leaky Gut

1. Food Sensitivities – People affected by food sensitivities oftentimes find that leaky gut is to blame. Because of the onslaught of toxins that enter the bloodstream, the immune systems of people with intestinal hyperpermeability are on overdrive mass-producing various antibodies, which makes their bodies more susceptible to antigens in certain foods (especially gluten and dairy).

2. Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Researchers from Hungary have recently uncovered that elevated gut permeability is oftentimes localised to the colon in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis. Another study suggests that, for Crohn’s disease patients, leaky guy is prevalent in a majority cases and even up to 10% – 20% of their “clinically healthy relatives,” which suggests a potential genetic component. Zinc supplementation has been found to be quite effective at tightening up the intestinal tight junctions in these cases.

3. Autoimmune Disease – The key to understanding how leaky gut can cause an autoimmune disease is through the research done on a protein known as “zonulin.” According to a 2011 article published in the journal Physiologic Reviews, Zonulin is the only physiological modulator of intercellular tight junctions described so far that is involved in trafficking of macromolecules and, therefore, in tolerance/immune response balance. When the finely tuned zonulin pathway is deregulated in genetically susceptible individuals, both intestinal and extraintestinal autoimmune, inflammatory, and neoplastic disorders can occur.” Eating gluten can oftentimes trigger this dangerous cascade. University of Maryland, School of Medicine researchers have uncovered that gluten “activates zonulin signaling irrespective of the genetic expression of autoimmunity, leading to increased intestinal permeability to macromolecules.”

4. Thyroid Problems – One of the autoimmune diseases that leaky gut syndrome may directly affect is Hashimoto’s disease. Also known as “chronic thyroiditis,” this disorder can lead to hypothyroidism, impaired metabolism, fatigue, depression, weight gain, and a host of other concerns.

5. Malabsorption – Various nutritional deficiencies result from leaky gut include vitamin B12, magnesium and key enzymes that help digest food. It is recommended that people with leaky gut supplement with a whole foods based multi-vitamin and live probiotic to not only help digest the food that they eat, but to make sure that they get the vital nutrition that they need.

6. Inflammatory Skin Conditions – First described over 70 years ago, the gut-skin connection theory has described how intestinal hyper-permeability can cause a slew of skin conditions; particularly acne and psoriasis. Generally, dangerous creams and drugs are prescribed for these skin disorders, yet they can oftentimes be fixed by healing the gut!

7. Mood Issues and Autism – According to a study published in the journal Neuro Endocrinology Letters, leaky gut has been shown to cause various neurocognitive disorders. For example, the inflammatory response characteristic of intestinal hyperpermeability triggers the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and other chemicals that induce depression. Regarding autism, a study was just published this past January in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience describing the “vicious circle between immune system impairment and increasing dysbiosis that leads to leaky gut and neurochemical compounds and/or neurotoxic xenobiotics production and absorption.” The idea is that the “metabolic pathways impaired in autistic children can be affected by genetic alterations or by environment-xenobiotics interference.”

What the Medical Community Has to Say About Leaky Gut Syndrome

WebMD refers to leaky gut as “something of a medical mystery.” No wonder, because it isn’t even taught as a diagnosis in medical school! “From an MD’s standpoint, it’s a very grey area,” says gastroenterologist Donald Kirby, MD – Director of the Centre for Human Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic – “Physicians don’t know enough about the gut, which is our biggest immune system organ.” And to make matters worse, Government agencies have also contributed to the confusion. According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS),

There is little evidence to support this theory, and no evidence that so-called “treatments” for “leaky gut syndrome”, such as nutritional supplements and a gluten-free diet, have any beneficial effect for most of the conditions they are claimed to help. Yet, not everyone agrees. In the words of Linda A. Lee, MD – gastroenterologist and Director of the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine and Digestive Centre – “We don’t know a lot but we know that it exists.” Nevertheless, “In the absence of evidence, we don’t know what it means or what therapies can directly address it.”

This is an important to point to keep in mind

In the medical world, if there are no standard diagnostic criteria for a disease, there are no specific therapies or treatments. Moreover, if there are no “proven” treatment models, then most MD’s are left with no other choice than to travel along the “safe path” and prescribe drugs; which, in this case, are oftentimes Prevacid or generic ant-acids like Tums. Because most of the medical community denies its very existence, it’s critical that you understand what leaky gut is and what to look out for in case you or a loved-one is affected by it. This way, even though your doctor may not pick up on the clues, you’ll be armed with the knowledge that you need to make the necessary lifestyle and dietary changes.

How Do You Repair Leaky Gut?

If you think that you might have leaky gut after reading this article, then we have two very important things to tell you:

You don’t have to suffer any more because there is hope! If you follow these 4 steps to heal leaky gut, you can put your body in the position where it can very well heal itself. We are not saying that it’s a cure-all, but these 4 steps to heal leaky gut have helped countless people over years and we believe that it can help you as well!

Healing A Leaky Gut

Leaky gut syndrome is a rapidly growing condition that millions of people are struggling with and don’t even know it. From the sound of it, you might think leaky gut syndrome only affects the digestive system, but in reality it can lead to many other health conditions. According to research, the cause of your food allergies, low energy, joint pain, thyroid disease, autoimmune conditions and slow metabolism could be leaky gut symptoms progression.

What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Think of the lining of your digestive tract like a net with extremely small holes in it that only allow specific substances to pass through. Your gut lining works as a barrier keeping out bigger particles that can damage your system. When someone has leaky gut (often referred to as increased intestinal permeability), the “net” in your digestive tract gets damaged, which causes even bigger holes to develop in your net, so things that normally can’t pass through, are now be able to.

Some of the things that can now pass through include proteins like gluten, bad bacteria and undigested foods particles. Toxic waste can also leak from the inside of your intestinal wall into your bloodstream causing an immune reaction.

Leaky Gut Symptoms and Progression

This leads to inflammation throughout your system and can cause symptoms, such as:

Bloating
Food sensitivities
Thyroid conditions
Fatigue
Joint pain
Headaches
Skin issues like rosacea and acne
Digestive problems
Weight gain

One of the biggest warning signs that you may have leaky gut can be that you’re experiencing multiple food sensitivities. Partially digested protein and fat can seep through your intestinal lining, making their way into your bloodstream and causing an allergic response. This allergic response doesn’t mean you’ll break out in a rash all over your body, but it can lead to one of the symptoms we’ve mentioned above. If left un-repaired, it can lead to more severe health issues like inflammatory bowel disease, IBS, arthritis, eczema, psoriasis, depression, anxiety, migraine headaches, muscle pain and chronic fatigue. Another problem with leaky gut is that it can cause malabsorption of vital minerals and nutrients including zinc, iron and vitamin B12.

What Causes Leaky Gut?

There are four main causes of leaky gut which include:

Poor diet
Chronic stress
Toxin overload
Bacterial imbalance

The most common components of food that can damage your intestinal lining are the proteins found in un-sprouted grains, sugar, GMO’s and conventional dairy. The problem with un-sprouted grains is that they contain large amounts of antinutrients or nutrient blockers called phytates and lectins. Lectins are sugar-binding proteins that act as a natural defence system for plants that protect them from outside invaders like mould and parasites. This is good news for plants but bad news for your body. Your digestive lining is covered with sugar-containing cells that help break down your food. Lectins gravitate toward this area and when they attach to your digestive lining, it damages your gut and causes inflammation.

Lectins and Foods that Cause Leaky Gut

Lectins are found in many foods, not just grains, and consumed in smaller amounts, your body will do just fine with them. But foods that have large amounts of lectins are more problematic. Some of the lectins and foods that cause leaky gut include wheat, rice, spelt and soy.

Sprouting and fermenting grains reduces phytates and lectins, making these foods easier to digest. GMO and hybridized foods tend to be the highest in lectins since they have been modified to fight off bugs. Also, gluten–containing grains will damage your intestinal lining and cause leaky gut syndrome. So while you are working to heal leaky gut and cure autoimmune disease, stay away from all grains, especially ones that contain gluten like wheat. Once your gut is healthy, you can add back in grains that have been fermented and sprouted to eat occasionally.

Conventional cows milk is another food that can cause leaky gut. The component of dairy that will harm your gut is the protein A1 casein. Also, the pasteurization process will destroy vital enzymes, making sugars like lactose very difficult to digest. For this reason, we only recommend buying dairy that is raw and from A2 cows, goats, or sheep.

Sugar is another substance that will wreak havoc on your digestive system. Sugar will feed the growth of yeast, candida and bad bacteria, which will further damage your gut. Bad bacteria actually creates toxins called exotoxins that damage healthy cells and can eat a hole into your intestinal wall.

Other Factors that Cause Leaky Gut

Chronic stress: It weakens your immune system over time, which cripples your ability to fight off foreign invaders like bad bacteria and viruses, leading to inflammation and leaky gut. To reduce stress, I recommend getting more sleep, schedule fun into your week, rest one day a week, meditate on scripture, and hang out with positive, uplifting people.

Toxins: We come into contact with over 80,000 chemicals and toxins every single year, but the worst offenders for causing leaky gut include antibiotics, pesticides, tap water, aspirin and NSAIDS. We recommend buying a high-quality water filter to eliminate chlorine and fluoride and look to natural plant-based herbs to reduce inflammation in your body.

Dysbiosis: Finally, one of the leading causes of leaky gut is a condition called dysbiosis, which means an imbalance between beneficial and harmful species of bacteria in your gut. For many, this imbalance can begin at birth because of a C-section or because the mother didn’t have a healthy gut herself. The overuse of prescription antibiotic drugs, tap water with chlorine and fluoride, and the lack of probiotic-rich foods contribute to this imbalance of good and bad bacteria.

Leaky Gut and the Brain

Another topic we want to quickly discuss is how leaky gut can affect the brain. If you’ve ever seen a child with autism experience a mood swing, this can be caused by intestinal permeability. Gluten-free and casein-free diets have proven effective for many children with autism because these proteins can leak through the gut and then recirculate and act on the brain similarly to an opioid drug. This is also why leaky gut syndrome has been linked to other psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. So, in many cases, if you can heal the gut, you can heal the brain.

The 4-Step Plan to Heal Leaky Gut

The good news is there’s a solution to successfully healing leaky gut. There is a four-step process that includes:

REMOVE foods and factors that damage the gut
REPLACE with healing foods
REPAIR with specific supplements
REBALANCE with probiotics

Here’s the protocol we have used over the years that has helped them see incredible results.

Remember, the top foods to remove that cause leaky gut are sugar, grains, conventional meat, conventional dairy and GMO foods. The top toxic exposures to eliminate are tap water, pesticides, NSAIDS and antibiotics — but remember to always consult with your physician if he or she has prescribed these for you.

The Leaky Gut Diet and 5 Healing Foods

If you suffer from leaky gut syndrome, you’re overdue to consider adopting a leaky gut diet. Here are the five foods and supplements to heal your leaky gut.
  • #1 Bone Broth – broth contains collagen and the amino acids proline and glycine that can help heal your damaged cell walls. Do a bone broth fast for three days to help heal leaky gut and cure autoimmune disease.
  • #2 Raw Cultured Dairy – contains both probiotics and SCFA’s that can help heal the gut. Pastured kefir, goat’s yogurt, amasai, and raw cheese are some of the best.
  • #3 Fermented Vegetables – contain organic acids that balance intestinal pH and probiotics to support the gut. Sauerkraut, kimchi and kvass are excellent sources.
  • #4 Coconut Products – all coconut products are especially good for your gut. The MCFA’s in coconut are easier to digest than other fats so they work well for leaky gut. Also, coconut kefir contains probiotics that support your digestive system.
  • #5 Sprouted Seeds – chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds that have been sprouted are great sources of fibre that can help support the growth of beneficial bacteria. But if you have severe leaky gut, you may need to start out getting your fibre from steamed vegetables and fruit.
Also, consuming foods that have omega-3 fats are beneficial — anti-inflammatory foods like grass-fed beef, lamb and wild-caught fish like salmon.

Top 5 Supplements for Healing Leaky Gut

There are many supplements that support your digestive health, but we believe the most beneficial leaky gut supplements are l-glutamine, probiotics, digestive enzymes, aloe vera juice, quercetin, NAG and licorice root.
  • #1 Probiotics are the most important supplement to take because it helps replenish good bacteria and crowds out bad bacteria. We recommend getting probiotics in both food and supplement form. I see people all the time only follow part of the protocol in healing their leaky gut syndrome by removing the damaging irritants. But the part they often leave out is re-inoculating their gut with beneficial bacteria that will keep bad bacteria at bay. So load up on both probiotic-rich foods and take at least 50 billion units of probiotics daily from a high-quality brand.
  • #2 Digestive enzymes (one or two capsules at the beginning of each meal) ensure that foods are fully digested, decreasing the chance that partially digested foods particles and proteins are damaging your gut wall.
  • #3 L-Glutamine is critical for any program designed to heal leaky gut. Glutamine powder is an essential amino acid supplement that is anti-inflammatory and necessary for the growth and repair of your intestinal lining. L-glutamine benefits include acting as a protector: coating your cell walls and acting as a repellent to irritants. Take 2–5 grams twice daily.
  • #4 Licorice Root (DGL) is an adaptogenic herb that helps balance cortisol levels and improves acid production in the stomach. DGL supports the body’s natural processes for maintaining the mucosal lining of the stomach and duodenum. This herb is especially beneficial if someone’s leaky gut is being caused by emotional stress. Take 500 milligrams twice daily.
  • #5 Quercetin has also been shown to improve gut barrier function by sealing the gut because it supports creation of tight junction proteins. It also stabilises mast cells and reduces the release of histamine, which is common in food intolerance. New studies have also shown its effectiveness in healing ulcerative colitis. Take 500 milligrams three times daily with meals.
If you can follow the above protocol, you are well on your way to successfully treating your gut for good.



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