What is Leaky Gut?
I listened to an excellent talk by Dr. Susan Blum through my studies at IIN and she spoke at length about the issue of leaky gut. I am reading Dian Shepperson Mills’ book and she discusses this issue as well and connects it to endometriosis.
I’ve written in the past about the importance of healthy gut flora, most of which is to regulate your immune system (a big deal if we are ever to heal endometriosis). This barrier to your intestines is extremely important for your overall health. Dr. Blum describes it as your inner skin.
These cells that line your intestines are supposed to be connected tightly together. With leaky gut, these cells are destroyed and separated open so that large pieces of food, microbes and toxins get into your body — absorbed by your bloodstream — before they are fully digested.
Your immune system then reacts to these foreign entities and attacks them, creating symptoms of typical food sensitivities — gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, brain fog, fatigue, skin rashes, headaches, arthritis or muscle pain.
Once you have antibodies in your body that attack these foods as foreign entities, and these foods continue to be ingested, then a chronic inflammatory reaction happens in your body.
I believe leaky gut is something that I have, and reckon that most women with endometriosis have it as well, especially if you’ve taken birth control for a long period, taken multiple doses of antibiotics and/or pain pills, including over the counter NSAID’s. All of these damage your intestinal lining and contribute to leaky gut.
Your gut wall is also destroyed by gluten sensitivity and by Candida overgrowth. If you have multiple food sensitivities then you likely have leaky gut.
Once your delicate digestive wall is compromised, your immune system works less effectively and a vicious downward spiral begins. Leaky gut is the culprit behind many auto immune diseases and a big factor, I believe, with endometriosis, as most of us have additional autoimmune diseases in play.
How to Fix Leaky Gut?
The best way to address leaky gut is by restoring healthy intestinal flora.
According to Dr. Susan Blum there are specific foods that help to heal your intestinal lining:
- Yogurt (I’d stick to non-dairy)
- Kefir (also non-dairy)
- Fermented foods (like kimchi and sauerkraut)
- Prebiotics – found in vegetables and fiber
- Ghee and coconut oil
- Glutamine – can be found in animal protein as well as beans, cabbage, beets, spinach and parsely
In addition to these foods, I recommend adding in a good probiotic — look for one that is refrigerated and has biotics in the billions. (I take one by Nature’s Way called Primadophilus Optima. It has 35 billion CFU and 14 different probiotic strains).
I also recommend taking digestive enzymes (I prefer Vitalzym).
It is also recommended to remove problem foods (those that are causing sensitivities) for at least six months, as immune cells have a memory of these foreign invaders and will continue to attack them if not enough time is given away from them.
The top foods that cause sensitivities include gluten, dairy, soy, corn and eggs.
The best way to see if you have a sensitivity is to remove the food from your diet for three weeks then reintroduce it back into your diet. Eat it several times a day and see how you feel, how the body reacts.
If there is a food sensitivity in place, then your intestines are in a near constant state of inflammation, as your body literally attacks this food as a foreign invader. This chronic inflammation does nothing good for those of us with endometriosis.
On the Positive Side?
Since removing problem foods from my diet I’ve noticed a significant reduction in my pain and a vast improvement in my digestive functioning. It has been nearly three years since I started an elimination diet, and since that time I’ve noticed that my sensitivities have lessened quite a bit.
While I do my best to stay away from my biggest aggravators — gluten and dairy — I do find that if they slip into my diet, the result is not as dramatic as it once was. It still doesn’t make me feel great, so I’ve opted to stay away.
My cravings for gluten and dairy have nullified. I don’t miss them. I find that feeling better is worth the sacrifice.
I started supplementing with L-Glutamine about six months ago and I believe this has had positive impacts. I no longer get eczema breakouts on my hands (sign of leaky gut) and I’ve noticed less breakouts (another sign).
Have you tried an elimination diet? Had any success healing leaky gut?
I’d love to hear from you 🙂