The lining of your digestive tract is just one cell layer thick. These highly specialized cells, called enterocytes, form a barrier between you, your bloodstream, and your immune system, and the outside world that comes in through your mouth in the form of foods, bacteria, medications, and toxins.
These cells are cemented together with proteins called tight junctions, which form a protective barrier that ensures that everything you eat is properly processed by the enterocyte cells in a way that your body can handle without getting sick.
When these proteins, or tight junctions, break down, you get “Leaky Gut.”
There are many ill effects of leaky gut. As a result of your immune system being exposed to foods and bacteria and chemicals it was never meant to see, it can flip into a permanent state of “on” sending a constant barrage of inflammatory chemicals through your body.
These immune chemicals and the inflammation they cause can lead to symptoms as diverse as acne, eczema, food sensitivities, hormonal imbalances, body pain, brain fog, insomnia, and even autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability, is common. It’s hard to know exactly how many people have it because few doctors test for it. But the good news is, there is a way to heal leaky gut.
Here are 5 simple things you can do to heal leaky gut syndrome for good.
1. Cut out toxic foods from your diet.
Gluten, dairy, sugar, processed foods, pesticide treated foods (aka GMO crops), and alcohol, all mount an assault on the sensitive cells that line your gut. If you want to heal leaky gut syndrome, we recommend cutting out these foods for at least three months and avoiding them in excess thereafter.
2. Reduce stress.
Stress hormones attack and break down the tight junctions that hold the cells that line your digestive tract together. When you reduce stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine through rest and relaxation, eating mindfully, and meditation, these tight junctions can heal.
3. Take digestive enzymes.
Enzymes taken regularly with meals help break down large proteins and bacterial products that can damage the lining of the gut. We recommend a broad spectrum enzyme like this one from Xymogen.
4. Eat more healthy fats.
N-butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid, helps feed the cells that line the gut and help them heal. Your gut bacteria can produce more n-butyrate if you feed them soluble fibers in fruits and vegetables. You also can get n-butyrate in the form of Ghee, which is clarified butter. Another source of healthy fat is coconut oil, which contains medium chain fatty acids that are good for the gut!
5. Get some sleep.
Make sure you’re getting at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to ensure you’re giving your body and brain the time it needs to rest and recover. It’s while you’re asleep that your mind is able to fully process the day and create new memories. Sleep or lack there of not only impacts our brain’s ability to process, but other mechanisms in our body related to immune function, disease resistance, and heart health. Even just one night of poor sleep can make you more irritable, increase carb cravings, and bring on brain fog. Sleeping less than 7 hours a night on a regular basis has even been associated with more adverse health effects, such as weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.